A couple of months ago, I joined a Meetup
group for food bloggers in the Atlanta area. I figured it would be a good way to meet like-minded people, and perhaps expand my knowledge of Atlanta food trends.
This past Saturday, the organizer of the group, Mandy Turchin (author of The Self Trained Chef
), arranged for bloggers to experience the cuisine of Chef Keira Moritz at Pacci Ristorante
. We were treated to three separate courses, all adeptly prepared in the kitchen of the AltoRex Rooftop Lounge
by Chef Keira and her talented team of culinary professionals.
The original plan was for the group to dine alfresco, enjoying the rooftop seating and fire pits of the trendy AltoRex lounge. However, it was so windy and raw outside we wound up standing around the prep tables in the AltoRex kitchen, holding our plates and being entertained by the lively wit of Chef Keira and her crew.
To start, we were treated to a grilled caesar salad, complete with house-made dressing (emulsified before our very eyes), focaccia croutons and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. This was followed by gnocchi drenched in a sage brown-butter sauce and topped with toasted walnuts and Gorgonzola. My favorite dish of the day came next – Crespelle (Italian crepes) stuffed with a brown-butter pear ricotta cheese mixture. We finished with S’mores on the roof and and an assortment of coffee (spiked with the liqueur of our choice), hot chocolate or hot cider.
|Pacci Ristorante, located adjacent to Hotel Palomar in Midtown Atlanta. The decor is elegant, managing to be modern and classic at the same time.
|Clockwise, starting at left: Grilled Caesar Salad; Chef Keira and our Meetup Organizer Mandy Turchin; Brown Butter Pear Crespelle; Chef Keira and her Pastry Chef make the best of a windy situation, using a blowtorch to toast marshmallows for s’mores.
Chef was kind enough to provide recipes for those of us who requested them. I was thrilled, because all I could think about was getting home and replicating those pear crepes! Of course I had a wonderful time engaging with the other bloggers at the event, and having a chance to catch up with Troye from For the Joy of Food
was an extra special treat; but let’s face it, I love to cook and eat so having the opportunity to recreate this dish was right up my alley.
Given my current plan to use up my pantry stores before going out and buying more food (not to mention the fact that we are currently snowed in for what could be a couple of days), I was left with a bit of a conundrum. I had no ricotta cheese in the house.
What I did have was some milk, cream, citric acid and rennet. So I made my own. It was a bit more delicate than the store-bought whole-milk version that Chef Keira used, but it did the trick.
I had a couple of ripe pears from our produce box delivery a couple of weeks ago, and they were perfect for this application.
I also adapted the crespelle recipe slightly so that I could incorporate whole-wheat flour in place of the all-purpose it called for. What you’ll see below is the original recipe with my substitutions in parentheses.
Brown Butter Pear Crespelle
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
yields: 12-15 crepes
Ingredients for the Crepes
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water (I used 1/4 cup)
1 cup flour (I used 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour)
3 tsp melted butter
Ingredients for Filling
4 pears, peeled, diced (I used two)
3 cups whole-milk ricotta (I used about 1 cup fresh)
1/4 cup sugar (I used 2 tablespoons demerara)
1/2 stick butter (I used 2 tablespoons butter)
- Combine eggs, milk, water and melted butter. Whisk to combine
- Slowly add the flour, whisking constantly to avoid lumps
- Allow to rest while you prepare the filling
- Melt butter in a saute pan
- Add the diced pears and cook until soft and butter is browned
- Once cooked, combine pears, butter, ricotta and sugar
- To cook the crepes, spray a small omelet pan with cooking spray
- Place over medium heat to warm
- Add 1 oz. of batter and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan
- Once edges begin to release from the pan (after about 30 seconds), flip over and cook for another 10 seconds
- Remove the crepe to a flat surface and allow to cool
- Continue cooking remaining batter in this way until you’ve used all the batter.
- To make crespelle, take one crepe and place a dollop (about a tablespoon or so) of filling in the center. Fold crepe in half to form a half-moon shape. Fold in half again to create a triangle.
- Garnish with a sprig of basil or mint and a drizzle of brown butter.
A special thanks to Chef Keira and her Executive Sous Chef, Joey, and to all the members of her staff who made the experience so enjoyable for everyone. And a thank you to Mandy for organizing everything.
And, so that you can enjoy Pacci as much as we did, they’ve been kind enough to provide our readers with a coupon for a free dessert or carpaccio with the purchase of an entree:
It’s valid through February, with the exception of Valentine’s weekend. If you haven’t already tried this gem of a restaurant, here’s your chance. Try the grilled Caesar – it’s great. And if those crepes are on the menu – make sure you order them, too! Otherwise, just come to my house and I’ll whip up a batch for you.