Side dish 

French connection

The crêpe craze has officially hit Colorado Springs, as evidenced by the fourth crêpe outfit to open in less than a year. Wholly Crêpe, inside Chapel Hills Mall (1710 Briargate Blvd., #429, wholly-crepe.com), began service of authentic sweet and gluten-free savory French crêpes and European coffees on May 18.

Owners Blandine Brutel and Aline Chambre are French and Belgian, respectively, and became friends only two and a half years ago after meeting while shopping at Whole Foods. Brutel, the primary cook who's originally from Lyon, formerly ran a crêpe catering service locally and trained in a Brittany crêperie for a period, but is otherwise home-taught.

"What differentiates us [from other local spots] is we have truly authentic fillings," says Brutel, adding that her low price points match her mall setting. She also uses traditional buckwheat flour.

"In France, you don't have to put a lot in to get a good crêpe," she says. "If the crêpe has a good taste, you don't need a lot of filling — you also want to taste the crêpe itself."

Pellet passion

"Just set it and forget it," says Henry Taylor, aka "BIG Sarge" of his beloved pellet grill, which he calls a "whole different animal."

BIG Sarge is not surprisingly the 42-year-old retired Army man turned engineering subcontractor (his soldiers gave him the nickname) behind BIG Sarge's Grill (3117 S. Academy Blvd., 391-6881), which grew out of a mobile vending business and opened as a restaurant on May 1. Having noticed a need for more vendors at such events as the annual Colorado Balloon Classic, BIG Sarge, a big backyard barbecue fan, had organized a cart, which he says became popular enough to inspire the "leap of faith."

About the grill: BIG Sarge bought it from Old Colorado City's Barbeque Mercantile, which also sells a variety of pellet flavors as well as the sauces and spices BIG Sarge has mixed-and-matched to create his signature flavor.

"The food that comes off that grill is so phenomenal," he says. "It's darn near impossible to over-smoke like others do."

Beyond barbecued ribs, chicken and pork, look for classic Southern sides and bestselling cornmeal-battered Cajun catfish, which rather than prepared in common fillets, is cut chicken-finger-style into fun finger food.

À la carte

• Attend Tri-Lakes Sparkles, from 4 to 7 p.m., Sunday, June 27 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (304 U.S. Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake, trilakesarts.org). The fundraiser, benefitting the Center, Chamber and a transportation service for Tri-Lakes residents in crisis, features a rare sampling of more than 60 international sparkling wines paired with apps and music. Tickets are $35 ($30 in advance).


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