Opening our first International Bistro was a major undertaking in and of itself. Deciding on and then creating offerings for our new home presented a new set of unique challenges.
The menu process began several month’s prior to the actual building of our Forney TX location.
Originally, we planned to offer a simple menu of Crumbzz Cakes, coffees and tea’s. Because of our Executive Chefs worldwide travels included a compilation of recipes from countries around the world, our vision of a tasting pavilion morphed into an international bistro. With that change, we realized we would need much more than the planned simple menu to compliment our beautiful new home.
As with our cakes, we wanted each and every offering to be special. We soon realized that creating dishes that lived up to our cakes was not going to be an easy task.
The first step in the process was deciding on what to offer. Early on, we decided that every dish had to compliment our brand; upscale, the finest quality, no preservatives or additives and unique. This also meant that we would be focusing primarily on breakfast and lunch offerings.
Locating the finest quality ingredients for our offerings was the easy part. We had built wonderful relationships with quality suppliers for our crumb cakes and would be able to expand on those relationships to procure the ingredients we required for our new offerings.
It soon became clear that, our biggest challenge would be the creation of unique offerings.
We knew our crumb cakes were special and unique but they had attained that reputation over hundreds of years. We had to create dishes that would be at that level, from the start, in a few short month’s!
How to make a better egg
Although we use eggs from cage-free chickens for our crumb cakes, eggs are pretty much eggs and there is no way we could find to make a better egg. So we set out to make a better egg dish.
Our first domestically focused dish was a pretty logical creation from an economic and environmental sense. The making of our crumb cakes leaves us with an enormous amount of egg whites. Making an egg-white omelet solved not only the economic and environmental issue but also provided our international bistro guests with a healthy breakfast alternative.
To make our omelet special we added garden fresh baby spinach and just the right amount of parmesan. Light and fluffy, our egg white omelets are now a big hit at the bistro.
Our second egg dish was much more of a challenge. We really wanted it to be special and special meant a soufflé. Egg soufflé’s are notoriously finicky to make. One has to be well versed in their creation to make a great one every time.
From J Stephen’s trips to France, we had a couple of great recipes, but we still worked month’s on getting our process down to where we had confidence we could produce a genuine French soufflé every time. Our Béchamel is one of the keys to our success. It is light and creamy and adds a wonderful silky texture to each soufflé’.
The choice of the finest Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses was another factor. There is such a difference in flavor between the finest Gruyère and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses and their counterparts that we were more than willing to pay the difference in price (which is as substantial as the taste differences.)
Adding locally grown, fresh shallots was the final touch in producing a soufflé that we believe is second to none.
Searching the world for the finest waffle
There are good waffles and bad waffles. As is our DNA, we wanted not just a better waffle, we wanted something special. Something no one had experienced.
We knew that the finest waffle came from Belgium and so it was on to Belgium to find out what was so special with their waffles. Chef J Stephen’s trip resulted in bringing to America a totally new type waffle, the Liège Waffle.
Authentic Guafre Liege waffles are one of life’s great treasures. Caramelized sugar glistening on the most delicious buttery-sweet goodness beneath.
Originating in Liège Belgium, the original waffle recipe is nearly impossible to find. In Belgium, chains like Belgaufre have taken them far afield from their 18th century brioche roots.
In the U.S., chains use inferior sugar (because of cost) or produce substandard pre-made frozen balls of dough from Europe (because of the savings in labor and time).
We realized early on, to enjoy the unique taste of this very special waffle, we would need to go back to the original recipe’s and make it from scratch ourselves.
Our research led Chef J Stephen to a small waffle maker in Liège Belgium who tirelessly worked with us to produce “authentiek” Liège Waffles.
Our initial attempts failed miserably because of the mechanical failure of traditional U. S. waffle machines (the unique characteristics of a Liège Waffle quickly destroy’s regular waffle machines). And so, we invested in a custom Liège Waffle maker from Belgium.
Two month’s and $3,600 later, we had our waffle makers and were on our way to constructing our very own Liège Waffles.
Our “original” recipe was complimented with our own personal touches to produce a Crumbzz Liège Waffle.
Topped with our own Cinnamon Streusel Butter, they are truly the finest waffle you will ever taste.
A Look to Mom for an Italian Twist on Pancakes
Just as we used J Stephen’s 400 year old family recipe from his dad’s side of the family for our crumb cakes, his mom’s family recipe provided the basis for our Gamberia Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes.
Named after the beautiful Villa Gamberaia in the hills of Florence, where J Stephen’s mom’s family heritage originated, our Gamberaia Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes provide our guests with a uniquely Italian twist on the traditional pancake.
Although Ricotta pancakes taste like traditional buttermilk pancakes, Ricotta add’s a fluffy, moist texture that is often lost in the more traditional buttermilk pancake.
The addition of fresh blueberries, powdered sugar and our family’s lemon butter topping, adds an Italian flair that produces an unusually light, refreshing pancake that can’t be beat.
Our own Homemade Ice Cream
As ice cream lovers, we knew it would only be a matter of time before we produced ice cream to compliment both our cakes and our waffles. In addition, many of our clients love the idea of adding a dollop of ice cream to our old style soda’s. And so, we set about creating our very own ice cream.
Making ice cream is a fairly simple process that most anyone can do. Making GOOD ice cream is also not a giant reach… at least from a development standpoint.
The key to good ice cream is in the butterfat content and in the use of natural ingredients. Finding the right method to incorporate that rich butterfat into the ice cream is key and can be quite a challenge to accomplish.
Most providers did not provide the butterfat richness we required to make a truly superior ice cream.
Our research also confirmed that the longer it took to freeze our product the more likely it would be to form ice crystals. The more ice crystals the less creamy the ice cream.
We eventually found a provider that would provide us with cream that had a sufficient butterfat content and we eventually figured out how to incorporate that creamy butterfat to get us half way there to the perfect ice cream.
About the same time we overcame our butterfat challenge, we learned of a way to make ice cream that would virtually eliminate ice crystals. That method is called Liquid Nitrogen.
Using Liquid Nitrogen to fast freeze our ice cream produces a wonderfully creamy finish that can’t be found in store bought ice cream.
And so we came to our last challenge… the flavor
We knew we wanted to incorporate the wonderful flavor of our cakes in our ice cream. The flavor we eventually chose was clearly the logical choice.
Vanilla is an important flavor of our signature crumb cake and the original vanilla in the family recipe was the finest from Saigon, and so vanilla bean carried on the tradition of being the base flavor of our homemade ice cream.
The end result of all our efforts is our Vanilla Cinnamon Crumbler. A delicious blend of homemade vanilla ice cream, infused with cinnamon streusel and topped with our oven toasted crumbs.
These are just a few of the dishes crafted by the great chef’s at Crumbzz. As many of you know, we went on to craft thirty original international breakfast and brunch dishes from across the world and Chef J Stephen continues to travel on his quest for the next great dish.
J Stephen’s travels are now moving from Europe to Central America and on to South America. Who knows what he’ll find down south, but what we do know is it will be special and unique.