Louis XIV was never a man to believe in understatement. When he decided to renovate his father's hunting lodge in the little village of Versailles, the final result was a palace that still staggers the imagination. It served not just as the home of the king, but also as his seat of government and a residence for all the aristocracy of France. Much of French culture and style was developed in these sprawling hallways, while courtiers conspired and intrigued in a never-ending scramble for power and influence.
The Hall of Mirrors is the most impressive part of the palace. Its walls are lined with mirrors, which in the seventeenth century were an incredibly expensive luxury. The workmen who made them had to be enticed from Venice, at the time the only place where the technology to make mirrors existed. The Venetian government was so enraged at the loss of their monopoly that it dispatched assassins to eliminate the renegade craftsmen.
Every corner of Versailles is stuffed with paintings, sculpture, and furniture, all overlaid with gilt and silk. It remains a remarkable monument to the man who was revered as the Sun King, and enjoyed being portrayed as a Roman god.
The breathtaking splendour of the palace spills out into it's gardens, which are dazzling in their symmetry. Laid out in 1661 by André Le Nôtre, they stretch out into the horizon in an enchanting display of manicured lawns, tree lined hedges and colourful flower beds. As you walk deeper into the gardens, you will see many lovely marble sculptures, imposing fountains and even an orangery with orange and lemon trees.
Taking in the grandeur of the palace and it's gardens can be exhausting. We revived ourselves with a pitcher of cider and crepes! Crisp crepes with lacy edges remind me of South-Indian dosas, made with fermented rice and lentil batter. Stuff them with eggs, ham and cheese like the French or with spicy potatoes as in India and you have yourself a fabulous treat!
Buckwheat crepes, also known as galettes have a deep, earthy flavour that pairs well with savoury fillings such as eggs, ham and cheese. Serve them with a side of Ratatouille or a fresh salad for a delicious meal.
Try your hand at making Indian crepes, a delicious variation made with chickpea flour.
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup (1/2 cup+2 tbsp) all purpose flour
Salt to taste
11/2 cups milk
1/2 cup water
4 tbsp melted butter, divided
Grated Gruyere cheese
Thinly sliced ham
Freshly fried eggs
Combine both flours and salt in large mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs, milk, water and 2 tbsp butter until well blended and lightly aerated. Let stand 15 min.
Warm 1/2 tsp butter in large non stick frying pan or crepe pan set over medium heat.
Add about 1/3 cup of the batter and swirl the pan in a circular motion to evenly distribute the batter in a thin layer over bottom of pan.
Cook until batter dries up on top and edges are crisped, about 1-2 min.
Sprinkle some of the grated cheese on crepe, top with ham and a fried egg.
Fold over edges of crepe in a rectangular package, leaving just the egg yolk exposed. Sprinkle some salt over egg yolk if desired.
Cook some more until crepe bottom is crisped up to your liking, about another min.
Serve crepes hot off the stove and repeat with remaining batter, butter and fillings.