Friday, October 14, 2016

Rachel's Rice Pudding, UK

Pudding.  One of my favorite desserts, as un-fancy as it is.  I just like the stuff, what can I say?  I like regular pudding, rice pudding, bread pudding, and of course the more sophisticated spins on them like panna cotta, crème brûlée, etc.  There is a reason these all have labels on my blog!

And I'm not even talking about restaurant quality pudding, with additional garnishes and flourish.  I even like packaged pudding.

Of course, not all packaged pudding is created equal.  In fact, most often, um, it isn't actually very good, and tastes like plastic, like Snack Packs.  But then there are winners, like Juan J's rice pudding.

Rachel's turns out to be in the later category: seriously good packaged pudding!

But, you can't find it in the US.  Rachel's is a UK company, that makes dairy products, including milk, butter, and yogurt, but also ... desserts!  The dessert range includes a chocolate pudding, traditional rice pudding, and coconut rice pudding.

I don't think Rachel's is especially fancy in the UK.  It is sold in grocery stores, corner stores, and, where I found it, just stocked in the little kitchens in my office.  I'm sure I'd get sick of it if I had daily access to it like that, but, I was beyond thrilled to find it there, and happily devoured at least one a day ...
Traditional Divine Rice Pudding.
"Pure indulgence without the guilt. Made from the very best organic milk, our delicious creamy traditional Divine Rice is slow cooked to give it its traditional creamy taste. Delicious eaten hot or cold and containing less than 5.5% fat, it makes dessert a course worth waiting for."

This was really excellent rice pudding, especially for a packaged variety.

The rice had a nice chew to it, and was a mid-size grain.  I loved the slightly al dente nature to it.  The base was very creamy, but didn't have a ton of flavor itself, as it was the plain, "traditional" flavor.  It was great with some fresh fruit added on top.

The container also had instructions to serve it warm, microwaving it.  Eventually, I managed to wait the minute it would take to heat one, and tried it that way.  It was also good, more comforting when served warm actually, but I think I prefer it cold.

Overall, a plain pudding, yes, but a very good one.  I'd love to try the coconut version.
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Thursday, October 13, 2016

IT'S-IT Ice Cream

IT'S-IT.  The OTHER San Francisco treat.

I don't know about you, but I hadn't ever heard of IT'S-IT, until I came to San Francisco.  Within about one week of arriving though, I knew IT'S-IT.  I rode past their factory alongside the 101 every day.  And, at that time, my office had a freezer stocked with IT'S-IT for me to enjoy, daily.  (I know, life was tough).  Somehow, I probably only ever had a handful of them back then, when they were abundant and everyday.  I missed out.

It had been several years since I had an IT'S-IT when I was at a party with them, so I tried one, as there were no other dessert options.  And then a few weeks later, they were being randomly given out on the street.  And then, again, just a few weeks later, our pastry team was short staffed, so they ordered us IT'S-IT.  All of a sudden, IT'S-IT was back in my life.

So, for those not from San Francisco, what is IT'S-IT (besides a really hard to properly type name?).  They are ice cream sandwiches and the company has been in production in San Francisco since 1928, really, a pretty impressive feat.  To be fair, until the 1970s they were available exclusively at Playland (which no longer exists).  From there, they opened a shop in SF, and by the 1980s, they were being shipped to a few other states.  You can get them anywhere in the US now, if you order online.

So, the products?  IT's-IT makes ice cream sandwiches.  Only ice cream sandwiches.  The original version was two oatmeal cookies, filled with vanilla ice cream, dipped in chocolate.  They now fill them with a variety of ice cream flavors, like chocolate, strawberry, mint, cappuccino, and of course, everyone's seasonal favorite, pumpkin.  I also learned that they've mixed things up and have introduced "Chips IT" with chocolate chip cookies instead of the oatmeal ones, and a "Big Daddy" with more chocolate biscuit-wafers, but, the majority of the items they produce are the classic IT'S-IT.

Anyway, these aren't my favorite ice cream treat ever, but, the ice cream really is higher quality than what you find in most packaged ice cream novelties, as is the chocolate coating, and the cookies, while I don't love them, do work great for ice cream sandwiches.
Standard IT'S-IT Packaging: Chocolate.
All IT'S-IT come individually wrapped.  The logo color changes out based on the flavor (pink for strawberry, green for mint, and so on).
Vanilla: Inside.
"A large scoop of vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, and dipped in dark chocolate."

All IT'S-IT use the same "old-fashioned oatmeal cookies".  They are a hard style cookie, and have a nice heartiness to them, but, not really my sort of cookie ... if I was just eating a cookie.  The firm nature of them is helpful for an ice cream sandwich, and they hold up well.

The entire sandwich is dipped in dark chocolate, covering the cookies and the ice cream edges.  The chocolate is great, and my favorite part actually.  It really is quality chocolate, better than most standard ice cream novelties.

The vanilla version is the most basic, and I didn't find the vanilla ice cream particularly notable.  The vanilla flavor and the oatmeal cookies was a nice combination though, and I thoroughly enjoyed my basic Vanilla It's-It.
Chocolate IT'S-IT: Inside!
"A large scoop of chocolate ice cream, sandwiched between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, and dipped in dark chocolate."

The next time, I went for chocolate.

The chocolate version has, well, chocolate ice cream inside.  Besides that, it is identical to the vanilla: same cookies, same chocolate shell.

The ice cream had a nice chocolate flavor, and was shockingly good for packaged ice cream.  I really liked how the chocolate coating and this chocolate ice cream went together.  My favorite flavor.
Pumpkin IT'S-IT: Inside!
"A large scoop of pumpkin ice cream, sandwiched between two old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, and dipped in dark chocolate."

Finally, I tried the pumpkin one mostly out of curiosity, not because I love pumpkin spice everything season.

The cookies were again the hard style I didn't really love, and I again really liked the chocolate coating.  The ice cream was creamy and melted nicely.  The pumpkin flavor was actually pretty good, not too spiced, no getting punched by nutmeg here.

Overall, good, but I preferred the chocolate.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Dessert from Osha Thai

Randomly one day at work, my co-workers decided to go out to lunch, a rare occurrence, since our office serves amazing food, for free.  But sometimes it is nice to get out of the office, but I sadly had meetings, so there was no way I could join.

Of course, they asked me for recommendations, and I suggested Osha Thai, not because it is amazing, but, it really is the only place nearby that I thought might be able to seat a group of 10+ without any reservation.  They were successful in their venture.

But alas, I wasn't able to join, and was stuck scarfing down my lunch in-between meetings.  So why am I writing this?  Well, because I have awesome co-workers, who know that I adore dessert.  They brought me dessert!

I don't think I've ever had dessert at Osha before, as I'm usually stuffed from a big meal there, however, I have tried tons of desserts from their casual takeout location, After Osha, on several occasions, like the fascinating pandanus tapioca with kettle corn and coconut cream, or the even more crazy water chestnut coated in tapioca served with coconut milk .  This was my first regular Osha dessert, and it was decent.
Mango Sticky Rice. $10.
"Sweet sticky rice served with mango topped with coconut cream."

The Osha dessert menu has a lot of amazing sounding options, including "Bangkok Cotta & Black Sticky Rick: Thai style silky panna cotta served with coconut black sticky rice".  I love panna cotta so much that my blog as a label dedicated to it.  I love sticky rice, particularly black sticky rice.  This sounded awesome!  But alas, not available for takeout.  Nor are some of the other tempting sounding creations, because they need to be served hot and fresh, like  tempura fried ice cream, or crispy banana summer rolls.

But the one thai dessert staple that I could get delivered to my desk was mango sticky rice.  I'm not complaining.  I love mango sticky rice.

Of course, mango in the US is not amazing.  This mango was no different.  Ripe, but just not very flavorful.  It made me yearn for Sydney mango!

The sticky rice was quite good though, exactly what I wanted.  Still a bit warm.  I'm sure it would have been even better hot and fresh.  The rice was nicely sticky, cooked well, not mushy, not crispy, with a good sweetness to it.  I liked the sesame seeds on top for a little crunch.

It was drizzled with coconut cream, always a key component, and garnished with a single raspberry.

Overall, this was pretty solid, save the mango that was just typical US mango, I can't fault Osha on that.  I would have really liked more of the coconut cream however, there just wasn't much.  Still, better than the version from Modern Thai.

The $10 price seems a bit high, for half a mango and a ball of sticky rice, compared to other local options like Bang San Thai, where I had a decent version for $4, or the mediocre $7 from from Thai House 530.

I'd get this again, but I'd prefer to dine in so I can get one of the other options I was eyeing!
Osha Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Augustiner Keller München

On my recent visit to Munich, nearly every person I asked for restaurant recommendation from said to go to Augustiner Keller.  But, they weren't really telling me to go for the food.  It was more about the beer, and the experience ... not exactly a match for my interests.  Augustiner Keller is the largest beer garden in the world.  I don't really drink beer.

The first night we were in town, Ojan's work group had a big dinner there.  He came back not impressed, and told me I'd hate it.  He said it was an experience, but, he didn't really want to return himself, and he had another dinner scheduled there later in the week that he wasn't looking forward to.

Yet everyone kept recommending it, and, it was close to the office.  So, several days into the trip, my colleagues headed there.  I decided to eat dinner at the office and then join them for dessert, since I knew the desserts were supposed to be at least decent, and hey, this way I'd get to finally try a real German dessert.

Or so I thought.

The Space

Augustiner Keller is really two different establishments: a beer garden and a restaurant.  Both are quirky in their own ways, quite distinct, and massive.
Outside Beer Garden.
Outside is a beer garden, with big screens showing sports, and a counter where you order food, wait for it out in a little shack, and seat yourself.  I imagine that on a sunny afternoon this place is quite popular.  As it was, it was a rainy evening, and it was still pretty busy.  It was there that my co-workers had gathered, so they could watch the game on the tv screens.  This area is massive, with picnic tables going as far as the eye can see.

When I found my co-workers, they had only giant beer steins and equally massive pretzels on the table, so, I quickly went to the counter area to order dessert, only to find that the limited menu outside did not include dessert (besides an ice cream freezer).  Don't get me wrong, an ice cream freezer is an exciting thing, but I had just left my office with a stellar ice cream freezer, and wanted a "real" dessert!

(In case you are wondering, of course I tried the mega-pretzel, and, it was actually quite good).

Thus, I convinced some of them to join me inside so we could order from the dessert menu.
Front Hall.
The second half of the establishment is a restaurant, with outdoor and indoor seating, and table service.  It has a much more extensive menu, and a real kitchen.  Like the beer garden, it is also massive.

This photo shows just the calm front hall.  There is also a downstairs that you can reach from this area, and two side outdoor patios.

And then the main dining hall.
Main Dining Hall.
The main room was a sight to behold.  Like a giant mess hall, with huge, long tables running the entire length of the room.  Parties are seated where they fit.

It was packed and quite loud.  Each table had a basket of normal sized pretzels waiting on it.

The decor was fascinating, ornate woodwork, paintings on the ceiling, and massive round light figures with exposed bulbs.

It looked like a scene from history books.
Stage.
There is also a stage inside.  With a painting on the wall behind it.

Instead of a band setup though, there are tables.  And, within a few minutes of our being seated, people were seated up there.  Where they special?  We have no idea.  It was totally weird to have people up there.

Even more amusingly, Ojan said the night he was there, the stage was filled with diners, and there was a live band ... off on the side, rather than on the stage.

I feel like there must be a story here.

Dessert

So, dessert.  The server came over, asked if we were hungry, and I said, "yes, for dessert!"

He handed me two menus, all in German, and walked away.

The first menu was the classic menu, with items always available.  The second was the daily specials.  Both had 4-5 desserts on them.  Again, all in German.

I pulled out handy Google translate on my phone, and got to work.  Several minutes into my fun translating (which, works really well with the app by the way, you just hold it up and it translates in real time, totally amazing!), one of my co-workers said, "hey, do you just want me to translate it for you?"  It was then that I remembered he was Austrian.  To be fair, he lives in New York now, I know him from his time in San Francisco, and before that he lived in Melbourne, so he speaks with an Australian accent.

Anyway, once we translated the menu, we were ready to order, and our server did come back in a reasonable amount of time.

One diner is gluten-free, so he ordered the only thing that seemed gluten-free (Bavarian cream with berries).  The rest of us decided to share things so we could try several.  There were 4 of us, and I knew that the desserts would all be huge.  Of the 4 of us, one person said he didn't want dessert, and one was stuffed, so I suggested we get only two desserts.  Yet somehow we got three.  It was definitely too much dessert, but, we did order the top three things I wanted to try, so, not all a bad thing.
Ofenfrische Dampfnudel in der Honigkruste mit heißer Vanillesoße.
"Freshly baked dumpling in the honey crust with vanilla sauce."

From the standard menu, we picked the dumpling.  I will admit, this is not quite what I was expecting, as, uh, it didn't look like a dumpling, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Basically, it sorta reminded me of hybrid between a bread pudding and a doughnut?  The dough was super soft, fluffy, and had an underlying sweetness.  Sorta like any good, fresh, sweet roll from a bakery.

It was surrounded by vanilla custard.

It was served warm (both the dumpling and the sauce), which I really appreciated.

Overall, this was pretty good.  I liked the warm bread and the custard.  It was my favorite dish, one other diner's second favorite, and the other ranked it tied for second place.
Ofenfrischer Rahmapfelstrudel mit Vanillesoße und Sahne.
"Applestrudel, straight out of the oven, served on a creamy hot vanilla sauce."

When every person has talked to me about dessert in Germany, they've told me to get an apple strudel.  Never, ever what I'd pick, as I don't like apples really, but, I decided if there was a time to try the iconic German dessert, doing it in a group at a famous beer hall might as well be it.

My opinion was exactly as I expected.  Yup, it was filled with apple.  I love pastry, and, the strudel form doesn't provide much pastry.  Just lots of apples.

Of course, I liked what came with it, a generous puff of whipped cream topped with little berries and a mint leaf, and an entire dish full of "vanilla sauce" to pour over it.

As I've been known to just eat bowls of crème anglaise, it should come as no surprise to you that I did the same here.  The others found this to be odd behavior, saying things like, "And you aren't even drunk!" or "Do you realize how many miles you'll have to run to burn that off?"

Clearly, these folks don't know me very well.  This is totally normal behavior for me, and, honestly, is it really any different than eating a bowl of custard pudding or ice cream?   Yeah, I didn't think so.

Anyway, I didn't care for the strudel, because, apples, making it my least favorite, but it was the favorite of one diner, and tied for second for the other.
Topfenstrudel mit Vanillesoße und Walnußeis.
Finally, we also picked a daily special dessert, another strudel.

This one was filled with a cheese filling, it reminded me of ricotta cheesecake, so I'm guessing there was some ricotta or cream cheese involved.  Again, not enough pastry to evaluate the pastry, it was all about the filling.  I like cheesecake, but, I didn't really see a reason to serve it like this.  Clearly, not the dessert for me.

On the side was the same vanilla sauce and generous amount of whipped cream.  These were again good, and of course, I again ate them by the spoonful.

But, this dish also came with something special: walnußeis.  That is, walnut ice cream.  The ice cream was really, really, really good.  Loaded with caramelized nuts.  It was super sweet, the nuts added a great crunch, and, I totally stole the entire tiny scoop.  Seriously good ice cream.

This ice cream was, hands down, the best item of the night, making this my second favorite dish overall.  One other diner ranked this last, as he loved the apple strudel and the dumpling, but the other also ranked this first, saying, "That ice cream is really, really good!"
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Monday, October 10, 2016

IHOP, 2016

Another year, another couple sets of free pancakes: one for my birthday, and one for my anniversary of joining the IHOP Pancake Revolution.

And, another year of loving IHOP.

If you'd like, you may start with my reviews from 201220132014, and 2015 if you wish to read about a lot of pancakes.

August 2016, Fisherman's Wharf Location

I arrived around 10am, on a Saturday, at the location near Fisherman's Wharf.  The place was bumpin', but I was able to snag the last counter seat, as I was dining alone (seriously, friends, why y'all not want to join me at IHOP?  Its GOOD!).

Side note: I actually do kinda like visiting IHOP alone, as I find it fun to people watch the other diners (usually a fascinating set of individuals, very different from my usual crowd) and I love to watch the restaurant in action.  This visit was a good reminder of what an impressive operation IHOP can be.

The counter provides a view directly into the busy kitchen, and I was amazed by the pace of orders flying out of the window.  Every time I looked up the pass was loaded with more and more plates.  The limiting factor seemed to be the time it took the servers to apply the final touches and bring them out to tables.  Since it was busy o'clock, they were operating both passes, one on either side of the kitchen, and seriously, they were full the entire time.

Watching the staff was fun, but also watching the different orders was fun too.  I had been pondering ordering the special croissant-waffle hybrids that just came out, and I was able to see a few go by.  I sorta wished I had tried them.

But, it is so hard to go past the pancakes, as IHOP just makes amazing pancakes.  I did try a new variety this time.  While I didn't love my flavor choice, I was glad to try something new.
Red Velvet Pancakes (toppings on side). $10.29.
"A Seasonal Favorite! Red is your color. You get 4 rich red velvet pancakes topped with cream cheese icing & dusted with powdered sugar. So sweet you’ll think twice about sharing."

I was torn between the cinn-a-stack (as always) and the red velvet.  I'm not sure why I picked the red velvet, but, my server told me it was good pick.  They normally come drizzled with the icing and topped with whipped cream, but I asked for my toppings on the side so I could add them on as I pleased.  I also asked for butter, so I could have some bites simply with butter and syrup.

The pancakes were reddish, but not quite as vibrant as the photos in the menu.  More brownish, really.  Like all IHOP pancakes, they were large in diameter, but were thinner than the buttermilk based pancakes.  I did wish they were puffier, but, they were cooked fine, a bit crisp on the outside.  The pancakes had a subtle chocolate flavor.  Fine, but not particularly interesting.

I set about finding the perfect bite.  I had the toppings that came with the pancakes, plus the 4 standard syrups (strawberry, blueberry, butter pecan, old fashioned) on the table, and I also asked for the Sugar Free syrup.

The butter was Grassland brand, whipped salted butter, scooped out of a huge bucket.  I'm curious how much butter they go through in a day, as nearly every order comes with a big scoop on top.  It was very generic butter, nothing special about it.  A bite with just butter was pretty boring.

The whipped cream was Dairy Star brand, from a can.  Decent whipped cream, for canned whipped cream.  It went really well with the icing.  I easily finished this off, and decided I wanted it with nearly every bite.

The cream cheese icing came out of a squeeze bag, likely IHOP's own mix.  It was super sweet, and I actually liked it.  I originally slathered just a little on, and quickly found myself coating my pancakes in it.  I didn't really taste the tang from cream cheese though, but, it was good sweet icing.  It went well with the whipped cream too.

I also tried all the syrups, as always.  The pancakes didn't really go with any of the syrups.  The blueberry was a total flavor mismatch.  I wanted the strawberry to work, I think because in my head the pancakes were red and so was the syrup, but it didn't really work.  I wanted the butter pecan to work, since I like that syrup, but, the slightly bitter chocolately pancakes were an odd match with the sweet, buttery syrup.  I tried a few different ways, with icing and/or with whipped cream, but I never found a syrup match.

I do have good news though.  The sugar free syrup has been replaced!  It used to be Cary's brand, and now it is Smucker's.  I liked the Smucker's a bit more, it was thicker, with a richer flavor.  But, still, not what to have with these pancakes.

In the end, these were fine pancakes, but I wouldn't get them again.  Best bite was definitely loaded with icing and whipped cream, totally, totally not breakfast appropriate.
Leftovers: Topped with Cream Cheese Whipped Cream and Candied Pecans.
I did have one leftover pancake, which I brought home to freeze.   If you don't already realize this, pancake freeze beautifully.  Wrap them up tight, tuck them away, and enjoy a pancake breakfast anytime.

I never defrost my pancakes, just wrap them fully in foil and stick them in the toaster oven at 350-400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  They warm up, all moist and fluffy, almost steaming themselves.  Then, because I like a bit of crisp to them, I open up the foil (or toast them on the rack) for a final minute or two.  Honesty, just as good as fresh, and always such a treat when I decide I randomly want pancakes.

I knew I needed to basically turn them into desserty pancakes though, so I mixed up some cream cheese whipped cream, drizzled them with plenty of syrup, and threw on some candied pecans too.  This worked pretty well, and unlike the version that IHOP served, I was able to taste the complimentary tang from the cream cheese.

September 2016, Lombard Street Location

For my second pancake set, I visited the smaller Lombard Street location.  I had plans to have friends join, but, plans fell through at last minute.  Undeterred, I went alone.

I had a lovely time.
Booth ... for one.
I was seated in a booth, normally for four people, by myself.  This location doesn't have a counter or small tables, so, I got the comfort of a very large space, all for me.

I was in a tiny side area, with only 4 tables.  It really was tranquil and a nice relaxing experience.

Even though I had only 3 tables to people-watch at, that was more than enough.

One table was a regular.  Nearly every staff member came by to say hi.  She ordered a burger, and the server noted, "oh, and I know you don't want the mayo on it".  Really a personal touch I didn't expect at IHOP.

The next table was a couple, who each ordered big melt sandwiches, with sides (fries and hashbrowns).  But as soon as my pancakes arrived, they added on a full stack of pancakes on the side, (because "they looked so good")! Oh, IHOP.

The final table was a lady who ordered "a double bacon cheeseburger, extra bacon, but hold the cheese, I'm trying to go light".

Let's just say, each one of these tables was a source of amusement for me.

Service was remarkably good.  My server was friendly and totally on top of things.  He even offered me a box the moment he saw me slowing down.  My food arrived quickly (long before that of anyone around me, which I thought was a bit odd, but welcome).  Overall, it was a lovely visit.
Double Blueberry Pancakes. $10.29.
"Double up on the blueberries! You’ll get a stack of four fluffy pancakes filled with blueberries, then topped with sweet, warm blueberry compote and creamy whipped topping."

I did that thing again where I went there with a plan (to order a Criss-Croissant, the croissant waffle hybrid available only for a few weeks), and instead did something totally random.  Switching my order last minute to pancakes, when I know how much I love the pancakes isn't totally crazy, but going for the blueberry ones, when I still haven't tried the Cinna-a-stack or cheesecake ones, is.  When do I ever get blueberry pancakes?

I don't know why I did this, to be honest, besides that I was alone and knew I couldn't finish a whole stack in one sitting and would want to bring them home, and the cinna-a-stack seemed not appropriate for saving to freeze since they are layered with icing and filling, and the cheesecake ones just felt too decadent.  But why blueberry?  They just jumped out, and I wanted to try another buttermilk base.

The "Double Blueberry" nature of these comes from the fact that there are berries inside the pancakes and they come topped with a blueberry compote.  I forgot to ask for my toppings on the side as I usually do, but, in this case, it wasn't a problem.  In addition to the compote, they were topped with a squirt of standard canned whipped cream.  No butter on these due to the other toppings.

The pancakes were really nicely made.  Large, fluffy, light pancakes with a good buttermilk tang.    Really a great base.  The berries inside were huge juicy blueberries and were plentiful.  They were perfectly cooked, really textbook execution of good pancakes.

On top was the blueberry compote.  It was ridiculously sweet, basically, berries in goo.  While that may not sound great, and it clearly wasn't fresh berries, I enjoyed it.  I decided to use the entire portion of compote on the top pancake, so it was crazy sweet, and no syrup was necessary on that one.  There certainly wasn't enough compote to cover the full stack, but, I was happy to move on to experimenting with the syrups.

Overall, a really fantastic stack of pancakes, and I'd gladly get these again, as boring as they are in comparison to other IHOP options.
Syrups.
The only flaw was the syrup containers.  All 4 provided on the table were crazy sticky.  And, uh, one was missing its lid.

I again sampled all the syrups with my pancakes.  The strawberry one I really liked this time, it was sweet and fruity, and went really well with the blueberry in the pancakes.  The blueberry was also fine with the pancakes, but, the compote was much better than the syrup, so it paled in comparison.  The Old Fashioned, and sugar-free (back to Cary's at this location!) were both fine, boring plain fake syrup.  The butter pecan was the only one I didn't care for on this trip.
Leftovers, Take 1.
As I explained, I partially picked the blueberry pancakes rather than some of the layered creations because I wanted to bring half the stack home to freeze.

The first time I pulled one out, I was actually heading to another brunch, but it wasn't until later morning, and I really wanted something sooner, as I was up early for no reason.  Pancakes to the rescue.

This pancake reheated perfectly.  I served it with a pat of butter and real maple syrup, that I both warmed up and drizzled on cold to compare.  I was a bit shocked though when I realized that the maple syrup was good of course, but, I really just wanted butter.
Leftovers, Version 2.
So, when I went to have my final pancake, I skipped the syrup entirely, and just melted on a pat of butter.  

The pancake was again awesome, although I did crisp it up a bit too much (my own fault, I was busy making pour over coffee and not paying enough attention).  And, don't judge, I realized that I needed more butter.  For a giant IHOP pancake, more than one pat of butter is required.

I'd gladly get these pancakes again, freeze them, and just serve them with butter.
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