Exactly 40 days after Christmas, an appealing French festival takes place every year that needs to become just as much of a tradition in Perth!
Crêpes are the focal point of Chandeleur on 2 February - a day that has both Pagan and Roman Catholic origins.
Most importantly, we can join in this tasty French tradition by enjoying crêpes in Perth as a way of celebrating light, life and the sharing of abundance.
How the Feast Began
In pre-Christian times, there were mid winter celebrations of the renewing fertility of the Earth and the forthcoming spring. These ideas now play into the more recent tradition of eating circular crêpes on 2 February, which many liken to the sun or circle of life.
During Roman times, around the 5th century, the pope added a tradition to this time, which involved blessing candles and distributing them to churches. This is how the name Chandeleur came about, which is rooted in the French word for candle, 'chandelle', and is known as Candlemas in English.
How does this all relate to eating crêpes in Perth? Well, the pope also distributed galettes (savoury crêpes) to the poor who came to Rome for the festival, creating the link between the mid winter celebration of light and today's French crêpe feast! Eating crêpes with various delicious fillings is supposed to remind us about giving food to the poor in the depth of winter.
In addition, the French came to believe that making and sharing crêpes from wheat stores would ensure prosperity and a successful harvest in the coming year. They made certain of this by adding yet another tradition to the day, which some still observe. While (successfully) tossing a crêpe with one hand, hold a coin in the other, and you will invite wealth into your house. An alternative way to bring prosperity is to place a single coin on top of your fresh crêpes, let it cool down before rolling it in paper, and then hide it in a drawer or cupboard for a full year.
Chandeleur also happens to be Groundhog Day in the United States, which has similar beliefs attached to it. In the Northern Hemisphere, 2 February is a mid point in winter and traditionally a time to look forward with hope to the approaching spring weather, the quality of the year's crops and the prosperity of the community.
While Americans wait for the emergence of the groundhog to determine the weather pattern that lies ahead, the French simply believe that rain on La Chandeleur will mean 40 more days of showers, while a clear and sunny day means winter is almost over: 'Quand il pleut pour la Chandeleur, il pleut pendant quarante jours!'
Of course in Australia, we're in the height of summer on 2 February, but just like Christmas, we won't let this deter us from celebrating crêpes in Perth! Remember this French specialty isn't the same as the English or American version of pancakes. Crêpes must be light and wafer thin, cooked to perfection, ideally by someone who's had years of practice!
On Chandeleur, crêpes must be eaten at dinnertime instead of breakfast which sounds like a great excuse to indulge in both savoury and sweet versions with various fillings. Galettes are savoury and made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten free, whereas crêpes are usually sweet. However, many crêperies will offer both sweet and savoury crêpes.
So where do you go to find places to eat crêpes in Perth on Chandeleur? Read on for a selection of six of the best cafes and restaurants in Perth serving crêpes and galettes.
Shafto Lane, Perth
Situated right in the heart of Perth is a restaurant that brings a little piece of France to a 19th century stable building behind iron gates and along a cobble stone path.
As the name suggests, The Crêperie specialises in French crêpes, both sweet and savoury. The savoury galettes come with a range of imaginative fillings, like farm goat cheese, honey and rocket, or the Italian inspired prosciutto, ricotta and rocket pesto. For a super-French flavour, go for lots of brie with pepper or be brave and try the French snails with escargot butter.
Sweet crêpes are equally delicious. Alongside the favourites - lemon and sugar, or Nutella - try their dark choc and passionfruit, apricot jam and cocoa beans, or blueberry coulis and almonds.
It's traditional to drink cider at Chandeleur, and this venue serves up French ciders as well as the Australian Hills apple and pear ciders, and a selection of French apéritifs, wines and champagne. As you dig into your crêpes, Perth will begin to feel a million miles away!
The Crêperie is next door to the wonderful Stables Bar, which is also worth a visit, or choose from any number of bars and pubs around the city to make a night of it.
This place is also a great option before visiting His Majesty's Theatre or after a shopping spree in stylish King Street.
35 Mends Street, South Perth
This relaxing spot, just two minutes' walk from the grassy foreshore of South Perth, is one of the best places to eat yummy snacks like pies and home-made sandwiches, freshly baked croissants, and a tempting range of savoury and sweet crêpes.
Choose from the list of suggested fillings, or decide for yourself and have your crêpes made to order! Savoury gluten-free crêpes might be wrapped around smoked salmon with sour cream, chives and fresh lemon, roast pumpkin with spinach, cheese and toasted pine nuts, or chorizo with tomato, parmesan and basil.
On the sweet menu are the obligatory sugar and lemon, Nutella and salted caramel crêpes, or go for raspberry coulis, banana or pear, with choc sauce, roasted almonds and ice cream,
La Patisserie prides itself on serving great coffee too, offering its own blend created with Grand Central.
Before or after your crêpes, Perth Zoo is only just over fives minutes' walk away and a fun place to take the family, or soak in the Swan River and city skyline from the foreshore. This is also a fantastic option if you're staying at The Peninsula Riverside Serviced Apartments, within easy strolling distance.
La Galette de France
160 Hampden Road, Nedlands
The owners of La Galette, who began by serving crêpes in Perth's old Subiaco Station Street Markets, believe in sharing all things French by immersing customers in the sounds and tastes of their beloved country. They have now established a restaurant in the old Perth suburb of Nedlands, near the University of WA and Swan River.
As well as being named for the traditional savoury crêpes served here, La Galette has a full range of French cafe meals, served to the background sound of French radio music and news. In true French culinary style, food is created using quality butter, not margarine, and you can be sure your meals include fresh produce, free range eggs and organic flour.
Galette and crêpe fillings are simple and tasty, basically cheese plus ham, onion, tomato, egg or mushroom. Alternatively, opt for a combination of bacon with mushroom, onion and cream, smoked salmon with sour cream, chives, lemon and spinach, or chicken and mushroom.
The list of sweet crêpes suit the Perth palate, containing all the usual suspects - sugar and lemon, Nutella, salted caramel or maple syrup. Suggested combos include strawberries with strawberry coulis, chocolate ganache sauce and roasted almonds, or caramelised apples and salted caramel sauce - both dishes served with vanilla ice cream.
La Galette is perfectly located for a day out in Kings Park, five minutes' drive away, or on the Swan River foreshore at Matilda Bay. Somerville Auditorium is a few minutes' walk away, so follow your Chandeleur crêpes with a Perth Festival Film. On 2 February, Everybody Knows will be screened, with the fabulous Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, in English and Spanish with English subtitles. This one will be popular, so book now!
Check out The Windsor in the popular Perth Luna Cinema chain too, just five minutes' drive from La Galette. Our article on How to Celebrate Popcorn Day runs you through the best cinemas in Perth, and what a great combination of treats - crêpes and popcorn!
Michele's Crêpe Suzette
Michele's has become an establishment in Fremantle Markets, very popular with locals and visitors alike who will tell you that this is one of the best places to eat crêpes in Perth.
Due to its popularity and the markets being open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday only, this crêperie will require you to wait awhile. But that's what WA stands for, so take it easy and enjoy watching the crêpes being cooked, tossed and filled right in front of your eyes.
This is where you'll find crêpes to suit every diet and taste. There are vegetarian crêpes, dairy free crêpes, wholemeal crêpes, egg free crêpes, and of course some tasty meat and sweet options.
Menu examples include a chunky Beef Creole with spicy sauce, a Cheese Special with sun-dried tomatoes, onions, olives and oregano, the popular Chicken Parisienne with mushroom sauce, and Shrimp Provencale with garlic, tomato and wine sauce.
Veggie crêpes might be filled with spicy lentils with cheese, tomato and onion, or mushrooms with cheese and spring onions. Various dessert combos use strawberries, Nutella, bananas, ice cream and more. The fresh coffee here is pretty good too!
Scoop Gelato & Crêpes
Mundaring Village Shopping Centre, Perth Hills
Another fabulous day trip with crêpes is to the Perth Hills, where Scoop Gelato & Crêpes in Mundaring brings you the best of Italy and France, serving gelato, savoury or sweet crêpes, and great coffee.
The menu isn't fancy, but there's a good selection at very reasonable prices. Various filling are made up from simple ingredients like ham, cheese, egg, pineapple, chicken, smoked salmon, avocado, spinach and tomato.
There's Nutella, honey, salted caramel and whipped cream for the sweet crêpes, and of course they must be accompanied by gelato.
What the Flip!
Check the website for current locations: whattheflip.com.au
Watch out for the What the Flip! crêperie van - a moveable place to eat crêpes in Perth. This team creates crêpes for any mood, offering the basic favourites, more unusual fillings, and the chance to imagine your own combo into life.
Savoury suggestions include the Meat Lover featuring chorizo, ham and bacon with tomatoes, cheese and salad, Chicken Teriyaki that tops the grilled meat with teriyaki sauce, cheese and mayo, or a Spicy Spanish mix of chorizo, jalapeños, capsicum, tomatoes, cheese and salad.
Sweet crêpes can be filled with combinations put together from berries, nuts, cream, caramel, chocolate, Nutella, bananas and ice cream.
Go to the WTF! website to find out where the van is on 2 February, and check their latest filling choices when you arrive. Then just have fun getting creative with your crêpes!