Traveling with my work crew is generally pretty fun, but if there’s one thing that is a constant stress it’s finding a place to eat. We’ve got a couple of picky eaters, a host of food allergies, dieters, and we’re usually rolling about seven deep — so when we find a place that works, we stick to it. While we were staying in Auckland, we stumbled across the Shore Rd. Cafe in Remuera, a tonier area of Auckland — they serve fresh, simple fare with a mediterranean bent, with ample gluten free and vegetarian options. We ate there nearly every day we were there. The space was good, the food was great, and the staff was so kind and accommodating (it didn’t hurt that our host/waiter, David, was sexy as hell. Jake gave me grief for mooning over him, but there isn’t a court in the world that would convict me given the exhibits — your honor, if it pleases the court, consider exhibits a through c: his eyes; his accent; his ass. The defense rests, your honor).
One of the menu items, their green fritters, had me hooked immediately. Fluffy fritters with spinach and cumin, stacked with hearty slices of middle bacon, all topped with a perfectly poached egg, hollandaise, and smear of guacamole. They were divine. After spending the final two days of our time in NZ in New Plymouth, and then three days in Brisbane, by the time I got home I was in outright withdrawal from these pancakes. After a brief search, I found that they were adapted from a recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. This morning, David made them for me as a post-birthday surprise and they were just the same as I had them at Shore Rd. The LA Times has the recipe for the fritters with lime butter as it appears in Plenty, whereas here I’ll just include the fritters:
1/2 pound spinach, washed
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup (½ stick) butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2/3 cup milk
6 green onions, finely sliced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 egg white
Olive oil for frying
1. Wilt the spinach in a pan with a splash of water. Drain in a sieve and, when cool, squeeze hard with your hands to remove as much moisture as possible. Roughly chop and put aside.
2. Combine the flour, baking powder, whole egg, melted butter, salt, cumin and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the green onions, chile and spinach, and mix with a fork. Beat the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold it into the batter.
3. Pour a small amount of olive oil into a heavy frying pan and place on medium-high heat. For each pancake, ladle 2 tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. You should get smallish pancakes, about 3 inches in diameter and three-eighths-inch thick. Cook until you get a good golden-green color, about 2 minutes to a side. Transfer to paper towels and keep warm. Continue making pancakes, adding oil to the pan as needed, until the batter is used up.
4. To serve as they do at Shore Rd, pile up 3 warm pancakes per person with a slice of fried middle bacon between each, top with a poached egg and hollandaise, and a side of guacamole.