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September 11, 2020

An idea born in the USA!

The original idea for the Buckwheat blessing came from our American cousins. One day, long before we had opened the doors to our first small breakfast restaurant, I visited Boston with its excess of restaurants that occupied every street corner. Even then, my dream was to own my own modest restaurant that would provide a future for my little pups. As you can imagine, I gazed enviously at those breakfast establishments, even if at the time, nearly all of them were open 24/7.

On that fall weekend, alone in my carbon black Renault 5 manual convertible, I roamed the main roads of Boston searching for a future that I needed desperately to arrive.

I had only been driving manual for a few months and the cabriolet objected each time I shifted. How bold of me to head down to Boston in a used clunker that I had no real idea how to properly drive! But it was a convertible, and I felt like all of Boston belonged to me alone.

And it was so easy to find a mouse hole to park it. I spotted a sign that read “Breakfasts,” and in no time at all, I had parked the car and entered.

At the table next to mine I witnessed an unusual breakfast dish being presented to an elderly man holding a knife and fork as if they were combat weapons. And the waitress, who was the same age as the customer, returned to the table with three jugs of syrup, each a different colour, and some sort of soup bowl filled with a dozen small individually wrapped pads of butter

- “Strawberry, blueberry and fake maple syrup,” answered the waitress to satisfy my intrepid curiosity.

- “John loves butter,” she continued. “His wife passed last year."

Not fully understanding the connection between his deceased spouse and the butter, my eyes fixated on the plate containing three extra-big sausages, each rolled up in a fairly thick pancake and secured firmly with a large toothpick.  

The waitress insisted that I try the house specialty, PIGS IN BLANKETS, served with no less than three types of syrup!

“Where are ya from?” slipped suddenly from the man’s lips, dripping with blue syrup.

After our little back-and-forth, the “pigs in blankets” eventually arrived accompanied by their trio of syrups and the same amount of butter that was served to my fellow diner.

I could easily do better, I remarked to myself, though the idea definitely had its merits.

And nearly 15 months later, after my second restaurant had opened, the idea popped back into my head when I noticed a customer at the counter rolling up their breakfast sausages in our thin buckwheat pancakes and devouring them after dipping each mouthful in a large ramekin of molasses.

My daughter, to whom I had recounted the story of the American pigs in blankets, insisted that we tweak the idea and introduce a new dish to the menu.

She set to work almost immediately at the hot griddle, wielding a spatula and attempting to stuff three little piglets into their crêpe coats. With one poking out its hoof, the other its tail, and another its snout, my daughter suggested adding some grated cheddar inside the pancakes that would hold the pudgy delights in their crispy blankets when it melted. She then placed the three snuggly wrapped sausages on a large round plate and sprinkled them with extra-strong cheddar. A mix of beautifully cut fruit added the finishing touch. And voilà! THE BUCKWHEAT BLESSING was born. Served with real maple syrup or drizzled with molasses, the breakfast dish was an instant smash.

Despite the demands imposed by our successful Canadian expansion, I have always taken the time to visit the U.S. two or three times a year. I go to explore the breakfast restaurants, the vast bookstores and the lobster shacks along the East Coast when in season. I am an incorrigible snoop, a tireless seeker of everything related to the restaurant profession, food, and especially, breakfast.  

Okay! I’ll stop there, since I won’t be crossing the border any time soon. And besides, since the almost obligatory confinement of the planet’s entire elderly population, I have been escaping through my cookbooks. I have to admit, it’s going quite well. No clunker to park, no need to twist my neck to ogle my neighbour’s plate and definitely no need to suffer the customer officer’s scrutiny of every last cent I spent.



Psst: To put the finishing touch on the story of this wonderful U.S. trip, nothing could be better than a splendid saying from the celebrated physicist Albert Einstein, who was born in 1879 in Ulm, Germany, and died in 1955, in the university city of Princeton, NJ, USA: Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.