PANCAKES BY THE GALORE

Inspired by Shrove Tuesday, Originating from Around the World by Judith Lerner

   I had been wondering which pancakes in Berkshire County would be worth eating, so I called every establishment I could think of to find out whether they serve pancakes or pancake-like foods and, importantly if they do, do they make these pancakes starting with flour, eggs and milk, no boxes, no mixes?

   Interestingly, I turned up about two dozen who make their pancakes or round waffles from scratch, many more than I expected. From plain buttermilk pancakes to crêpe Napoleons to naturally gluten-free buckwheat and rice flour Bretagne galettes, we have many and interesting choices from the top of Mount Greylock over the mountain into New Lebanon, east to some sugar shacks and south almost to the Connecticut border.

   Big Shirl's Kitchen claims the best pancakes in North Adams. "Oh, yes. From scratch," they said. "We have chocolate chip, blueberry, triple berry which is blackberry, raspberry and blueberry and we always have them."

   Big Shirl has stiff competition from BrewHaHa's whole grain Big Blue [pancakes] with buckwheat and oat bran and BrewHaHa's round multigrain waffles with oat bran and wheat germ.

   "We make [the waffle] plain," said chef and owner Barry Garton. "But we serve it with strawberries or blueberries or chocolate chips or butterscotch chips or banana or peanutbutter chips, and maple syrup we've been getting from South Face Farm in Ashfield since we had the diner; since 1989."

   The Red Carpet in nearby Adams makes plain or blueberry pancakes. Also in Adams, Bascom Lodge serves the best pancakes-with-a-view, with maple syrup, from mid-May through October.

   Just down the road in Williamstown, chef Chris Bonnivier makes both white buttermilk and cracked wheat pancakes he serves with maple syrup from Ioka Valley Farm.

   Ioka itself is open Saturdays and Sundays during sugaring season, serving its own pancakes — buttermilk, blueberry, chocolate chip, butterscotch chip, apple-cinnamon, pecan and M&M — with Ioka applesauce and maple butter; and waffles that get as decadent as a triple stack with ice cream, Ioka Strawberry sauce and whipped cream.

   Traveling east, The Charlemont Inn serves its pancakes every day of the year until 2pm.

   As they have for the last 52 years, Gould's Sugarhouse, in Shelburne, is serving their pancakes and old fashioned waffles, "made on our old big waffle irons," said Helen Gould, every day during sugaring season and for seven weeks after Labor Day.

   In Ashfield, just off Route 116, South Face Farm is open weekends with their white, whole wheat and blueberry pancakes and their round waffles.

   Some of the most interesting variations on pancake themes can be had from Central County restaurants.

   Pittsfield's Brix and Brulée's serve the round cakes only at Sunday brunch.

   Brulée's has plain, blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes on their buffet. Co-owner/manager Cara Peckham promises crêpes "with different toppings" from time to time.

   Brix serves only galettes, French crêpes of the style made in Brittany.

   "They're made from buckwheat flour and rice flour and are gluten-free," manager Joad Bowman explained.

   "The fillings change each week," he said.

   The popular sausage, cheddar and raspberry jam filling is available most of the time.

   "The rest are whatever the chef is in the mood for," Joad acknowledged.

   Pittsfield's Café Reva and On A Roll Café serve pancakes.

   Open every day, On A Roll serves lemon ricotta or strawberry granola pancakes only for breakfast. Café Reva serves her pancakes all day and also serves round waffles.

   Café Reva chef/owner Aura Weiss offers either buttermilk or more substantial 12-grain-oat breadcrumb pancakes and waffles. She always has loaded blueberry; raspberry; strawberry; chocolate chip; peanutbutter; or banana-pecan with her own caramel sauce.

   Custom combinations are endless: 12-grain banana-Nutella; white chocolate and pistachio waffles topped with fresh mango and raspberries and cinnamon glaze syrup; a 12-grain waffle topped with mascarpone cheese, fig jam, fresh strawberries and house granola; a savory bacon waffle with fresh salsa, avocado and sour cream. Her father-in-law makes the maple syrup in Hancock.

   Aura and her assistant Nick LeClair both noticed more people coming in for pancakes the week before Lent last year.

   In addition to her tangy pancakes with yogurt, a bit of cornmeal and buttermilk in the batter, Shelly Williams makes ricotta-farmer-mascarpone cheese blintzes many weekends at Haven, in Lenox. Fresh, seasonal blueberry; sour cherry-almond; coconut-pineapple or banana-chocolate chip are some flavors. Williams serves only Ioka Valley Farm Grade B maple syrup.

   Michael Ballon, chef and owner of Castle Street Café in Great Barrington, has been known to make pristine blintzes for summer brunches past which he serves with only sour cream and whatever fruit is in season.

   Chef John Gosselin makes gingerbread pancakes at Rumpelstiltskin's in Lenox every weekend. He often has Rumpelberry pancakes with pureed banana and berries; crunchy oatcakes with raspberries and raspberry sauce and other sorts.

   At Wheatleigh, also in Lenox, chef Jeffrey Thompson makes buttermilk pancakes, griddle cakes that could be lemon pecan or could be served with his own pear and cranberry marmalade. He also makes crêpes.

   "The crêpes are more butter-sugar-lemon at breakfast and they're folded or rolled, not crisped," Jeffrey said.

   "For dinner crêpes, we roll them with a stuffing and pan-sauté them or bake them in the oven so they crisp up," he added. "We make the crêpes in a pan, as usual, but then we cut them with a round ring cutter. We stack them as a Napoleon. Right now we are putting an arctic char tartar between layers of crêpes [for the Napoleon]. Or we roll them with a mushroom duxelles and cheese, then pan-sear to crisp them."

   The Southfield Store in New Marlborough, Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Caffe Pomo d'Oro and Nook & Cranny both in West Stockbridge and the Hitching Post in New Lebanon, N.Y. all serve their from-scratch pancakes.

   The chefs at Bombay Grill on Laurel Lake in Lee are originally from the South Indian State of Kerela. Bombay offers two very different types of fermented lentil pancakes. Better-known are delicate, crêpelike dosai which are rolled around fillings like potato. Less familiar, thick, soft, spicy uttapam with fresh chilis and onions in the batter, are served with a sambar (a hot lentil and root vegetable stew) and a cooling dish of fresh coconut chutney.

   In South County, Adam Zeiminski, chef and owner of Café Adam in Great Barrington, serves crêpes with a lemon ricotta-wild Maine blueberry filling and fresh maple syrup at Sunday brunch during maple syrup season.

   Martin Lewis serves pancakes he makes from his mother's recipe at his restaurant, Martin's, in Great Barrington.

   "She gave the basic and the apple. Then we go from there," he began.

   "What my mother used to do, she'd load them up with all kinds of stuff, [Here] we also make stoneground whole wheat; and buckwheat with all different kinds of fruit in season — blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, peaches, plums. We have special buckwheat-banana; sometimes buckwheat-peach. On the Fourth of July we had red white and blue pancakes with banana, strawberry and blueberry. Every day is a diff pancake special," Martin said.

   "I get my maple syrup from Canaan, Ct., from Mead's; they make it right over the border," he finished.

   Perigee in South Lee has no pancakes, only round Belgian waffles for their Sunday brunch.

   Owner Dawn LaRochelle said, however, "The waffles have been so popular that we have moved them into a breakfast-for-dinner spot on our dinner dessert menu."

   For dessert the waffle is topped with vanilla ice cream, triple berry sauce, chocolate sauce and caramel sauce.

   "Even though, after a dinner, this dessert could easily be shared by four people, we have customers who manage to finish it all by themselves," Dawn laughed.

   All the restaurants listed below make their pancakes, waffles, blintzes, dosai, crepes and galettes from scratch.

BASCOM LODGE summit of Mount Greylock Adams (413) 743-1591 http://bascomlodge.net/ Daily in season; May 15 through October 31, 8am to 10am. Serving pancakes with maple syrup or fruit at breakfast.

BIG SHIRL'S KITCHEN 780 Massachusetts Avenue North Adams (413) 664-2070 Facebook Daily 6am to 2pm. Chocolate chip, blueberry and triple berry (blackberry, raspberry and blueberry) pancakes.

BOMBAY GRILL 435 Laurel Street Lee (413) 243-6731 www.fineindiandining.com Lunch 11:30 to 2:30; dinner 5 to 10, Sunday to 9:30; Sunday buffet brunch 12 to 3; closed Monday. South Indian dosai, rolled or folded fermented lentil crêpes with various fillings; and uttapam, a 10-inch, thick, spicy fermented lentil-rice pancake with tomatoes, peppers, onions and chilis cooked inside batter and served with spiced vegetables and coconut chutney; on appetizer menu.

BRIX 40 West Street Pittsfield (413) 236-9463 www.brixwinebar.com Sunday brunch 10 to 2. Gluten-free buckwheat flour and rice flour Bretagne (pronounced Bri TAH nya) galettes (Northern French crêpes); fillings change each week; a popular, frequent filling is sausage, cheddar and raspberry jam.

BRULÉE'S 41 North Street Pittsfield (413) 443-0500 http://brulees.com Sunday brunch, 10 to 3. Plain, blueberry and chocolate chip pancakes; crêpes from time to time with different toppings.

CAFÉ ADAM 325 Stockbridge Road/Route 7 #4 Great Barrington (413) 528-7786 www.cafeadam.org Sunday brunch 11:30 to 3 Crêpes with a lemon ricotta-wild Maine blueberry filling during maple season.

CAFÉ BREWHAHA 20 Marshall Street North Adams (413) 664-2020 www.cafebrewhaha.com Serving 7am to 5pm; closed Wednesday. Big Blue pancakes made from Hodgson Mill natural whole grains with oat bran and buckwheat; and round waffles with wheat germ and oat bran; served with strawberries, blueberries or choice of chips such as chocolate; South Face Farm maple syrup from Ashfield.

CAFÉ REVA 238 Tyler Street Pittsfield (413) 442-6161 Open Wednesday through Sunday 6am to 2pm. Buttermilk or 12-grain breadcrumb pancakes and round waffles in flavors beginning with plain to blueberry; banana-Nutella; banana-butter pecan with housemade caramel syrup; weekend specials such as mascarpone cheese, strawberries and fig jam; savory bacon with house salsa, avocado and sour cream; family-made maple syrup.

CAFFÉ POMO D'ORO 6 Depot Street West Stockbridge (413) 232-4616 www.caffepomodoro.biz Breakfast Wednesday through Monday 8 to 12. Serving buttermilk or berry pancakes.

GALA RESTAURANT AT THE ORCHARDS HOTEL 222 Adams Road/Route 2 Williamstown (413) 458-9611 www.galarestaurant.com Serving pancakes daily 7am to 12pm. Buttermilk or cracked wheat pancakes with Ioka Valley Farm maple syrup.

GOULD'S SUGARHOUSE 570 Mohawk Trail/Route 2 Shelburne (413) 625-6170 www.goulds-sugarhouse.com Open for spring sugaring season until Sunday, April 24; also open for fall season from Labor Day weekend, September 3 through October 23; daily 8:30 to 2 sharp. Serving pancakes, old-fashioned 9-inch round waffles and more.

HAVEN 8 Franklin Street Lenox (413) 637-8948 www.haven.berkshireculinary.com Weekdays 7:30 to 11:30, Saturday 8 to 3, Sundays 8 to 2. The buttermilk-yogurt-cornmeal Haven pancake different every day (such as banana chocolate chip, sour cherry-almond or pineapple-coconut); frequently blueberry in season. Ricotta-farmer-mascarpone cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce or apple butter many weekends.

HITCHING POST CAFÉ 538 State Road/Route 20/22 New Lebanon, NY (518) 794-9092 Serving Monday through Saturday 8 to 2, Sunday 7 to 3. Different pancakes every day such as mixed berry-granola pancake.

IOKA VALLEY FARM 3475 Main Street/Route 43 Hancock (413) 738-5915 www.iokavalleyfarm.com Saturday and Sunday only, 8 to 3 during sugaring season, February 12through Sunday, April 10. Buttermilk pancakes with add-ins like chocolate chips, M&Ms, apples, pecans, blueberries.

MARTIN'S 49 Railroad Street Great Barrington (413) 528-5455 Breakfast daily 6 to 3. Many pancake choices: Martin Lewis's mother's own plain or apple pancakes; changing daily specials, with and without seasonal fruit cooked in, including stoneground whole wheat-plum-peach; buckwheat-banana or buckwheat-peach; chocolate chip-oatmeal; red, white and blue (strawberry, banana and blueberry) on the Fourth of July; served with Mead's maple syrup from Canaan, Ct.

NOOK & CRANNY 4 Albany Road/Route 102 West Stockbridge (413) 232-7957 Daily from 6:30 to 3, to 2 Sunday. Plain, blueberry and apple-caramel pancakes.

ON A ROLL CAFÉ 75 North Street Pittsfield (413) 236-5671 http://onarollcafeandcatering.com Breakfast daily 7 to 11, to 1 Sunday. Lemon-ricotta or strawberry-granola (using housemade granola) pancakes with maple syrup.

PERIGEE 1575 Pleasant Street/Route 102 South Lee (413) 394-4047 www.perigee-restaurant.com Sunday brunch 10 to 2 and dinner nightly from 5 to 9, closed Tuesday; Round Belgian waffles with strawberry whipped cream for brunch or with ice cream, berries, chocolate and caramel for dessert.

RED CARPET RESTAURANT 69 Park Street Adams (413) 743-9781 Breakfast 5:30am to 2pm. Monday through Saturday, to 12pm Sunday. Plain or blueberry pancakes.

RED LION INN 30 Main Street/Routes 7 & 102 Stockbridge (413) 298-5545 www.redlioninn.com Breakfast 7 to 10. Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 10:30 Saturday and Sunday. Plain or blueberry malted buttermilk pancakes; Ioka Valley Farm maple syrup.

RUMPELSTILTSKIN'S AT THE VILLAGE INN 16 Church Street Lenox (413) 637-0020 www.villageinn-lenox.com  On breakfast buffet 8 to 10:30 Saturday and Sunday; daily July, August, October. Pancakes of different sorts; gingerbread pancakes regularly on menu; Rumpelberry pancakes (pureed banana with berries, usually raspberries and blueberries; raspberry oatcakes (with whole oatmeal in the batter) with raspberry sauce.

SOUTH FACE FARM Watson-Spruce Corner Road (off Route 116) Ashfield (413) 628-3268 www.southfacefarm.com Saturday and Sunday through sugaring season, Sunday, April 3, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Serving white, whole wheat and blueberry pancakes, round waffles and more. Boiling sap.

SOUTHFIELD STORE 163 Norfolk Road New Marlborough (413) 229-5050 www.southfieldstore.com Sunday brunch 9 to 2. Pancakes available.

THE CHARLEMONT INN 107 Main Street/Route 2 Charlemont (413) 339-5391 www.charlemontinn.com Breakfast daily 7 to 2 every day of the year. Pancakes available.

WHEATLEIGH 11 Hawthorne Road Lenox (413) 637-0610 www.wheatleigh.com Breakfast 8 to 11, Sunday brunch 10:30 to 1:30, dinner 5:30 to 9. Breakfast griddle cakes, buttermilk pancakes and sweet crêpes; savory crêpes for dinner.

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Here is a recipe to make your own crêpelike Russian blinchiki. Tanya Bogaevskaya of Pittsfield makes these during the pre-Lenten Russian Orthodox week called Maslenitza (MAHSS len EETZ uh): Pancake or Cheese-Fare or Butter Week.

BLINCHIKI

2 eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably sunflower

2 cups milk or 1 cup milk and 1 cup water, at room temperature

Dash of vanilla, optional

1 1/2 cups flour 1 teaspoon baking soda

Pinch of salt

Butter or oil spray for frying

Fillings of choice (3 are listed below)

   Whisk together eggs and sugar. Whisk in oil, milk, water if using and vanilla if using.

   In a larger bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt.

   Gradually whisk milk mixture into flour mixture or use an electric mixer on a low speed. Whisk or mix for a few minutes until batter is smooth and liquid with the consistency of heavy cream.

   Over medium heat, heat an 8-inch pan. Brush pan lightly with butter spray lightly with oil. Hold the pan in one hand. With the other hand ladle a scant 1/4 cup batter into the center of the pan. Rotate the pan, tilting it from side to side to spread the batter out evenly to form a very thin layer on the bottom.

   Turn the blinchik over when.

   As soon as the batter on top no longer flows and the underside is light golden, flip the blinchik and cook for an additional 30 seconds. You don’t want to burn it. It takes about 90 seconds to prepare one blinchik.

   Flipping method: With a butter knife, gently loosen the edges of the blinchik from the pan. Run the knife under the blinchik to completely free it from the pan. Place the entire length of the knife under the blinchik and flip it to the other side.

MAKES ABOUT 16 8-INCH BLINCHIKI

   Serve with butter, sour cream and jam, honey or maple syrup for sweet blinchiki. Use meat of your choice, caviar, smoked salmon or salted hearing for a savory version.

   Roll blinchik over filling or fold to make a triangle or stuff with fillings in the following manner and sauté before serving.

   Place 1 tablespoon filling slightly off center of the blinchik. Carefully fold all edges into a neat packet over filling.

   In vegetable oil, lightly fry the blinchiki on both sides until golden brown.

   Serve hot, topped with sour cream or fresh berries if you’re stuffing with cheese.

   Apple filling:

      Granny Smith or other sour apples

      Sugar to taste

      Vodka or cognac

   Peel, core and thinly slice apples. and sprinkle with sugar and vodka or cognac. Marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Use as blinchiki filling.

   Cottage cheese filling:

      1 cup cottage cheese

      1 egg

      1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

      1/3 teaspoon vanilla sugar

      Vegetable oil, preferably sunflower, for frying

      Sour cream for garnish

      Finely grated lemon or orange zest, raisins or other dried fruit or nuts, optional

   Mix all ingredients. Place 1 tablespoon filling into the center of each blinchik. Fold sides into packet over filling.

   In vegetable oil, lightly fry the blinchiki on both sides until golden brown.

   Serve with sour cream.

   Meat filling:

      1/2 onion, chopped

      2 tablespoons vegetable oil, preferably sunflower

      12 ounces ground beef or sliced cooked turkey, minced

      3 to 4 tablespoons sour cream or vegetable stock

      Salt, pepper and chopped fresh parsley to taste

   Sauté onions in oil. Add meat. If using raw meat, cook fully. If using cooked meat just heat it. Mix meat well mixed with onions. Add stock or sour cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper and parsley.