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elise h | Oct 3, 200110:10 PM     9

The picnic organizers held their final strategy and tactics meeting at Toutatis Crepe House. Toutatis was recommended by fellow chowhound garcon, who is well qualified to opine on French delicacies.

Toutatis is located near the 12th Street Bart station in Oakland. The decor is grayed blues and yellows - very European. Casual, without looking like it tried hard to be casual. On one wall is the Brittany flag. Brittany is the heartland of buckwheat crepes. The flag had stripes and what looked like 15 Christmas trees. The trees turned out to be representations of brave ermines (animals in the weasel family). In the back are 5 patio tables surrounded by olympic sized rosemary, sage, hibiscus, and hydrangea bushes - a garden oasis in the city.

Our waiter was very friendly, efficient, and helpful with our crepe concensus decision. We started with a creamy mushroom soup composed of portobello, shitake and button mushrooms. Very smooth and amiable flavor, served in deep bowls. We ordered 3 savory crepes. All were excellent. Unlike buckwheat crepes I've sampled at other places, these crepes had no bitterness. We found out that the owner makes a special effort to get this fine buckwheat flour.

Number one was "la super complete", where the crepe enveloped egg, swiss cheese, smoked ham and mushrooms. You choose whether you prefer your egg scrambled or sunnyside. Our sunnyside egg looked like the peering eye on the back of the dollar bill, atop the pyramid structure.

Number two was ratatouille, starring the usual mediterranean veggies. This time, the crepe was a circular construction.

Number three was Chamonix, named after the city at the foot of Mont-Blanc, beloved by skiiers. Its configuration was an angular geometry. I liked the fortifying combination of potatoes, raclette cheese (think fondue), smoked ham, swiss cheese, and green onions. This braced us for a return to foggy San Francisco.

The dessert crepes caused a commotion at the table. Aumonieres was a peasant's purse filled with carmelized apples and drizzled with caramel sauce. The carmel sauce was freshly made with European sweetness - meaning not cloyingly sweet. The string of the peasant purse was licorice definitely more sophisticated than the licorice swizzles of our childhood. Banana slices (abstractions of coins?) and puffs of whipped cream circled the purse. If this is a peasant purse, can you imagine a queen's purse?

Our fruit crepe was pear, chocolate, and toasted almonds. Since I binged on chocolate in my youth and have a polar reaction to it now, I'll leave this for a fellow chowhound to comment upon.

In contrast to the glitzy, bejeweled aumoniere, the honey and lemon crepe looked like a poor country cousin, a plain jane. Well this plain jane had character. Just the right blend of lemon and honey. With far fewer ingredients and without the fuss of the aumoniere, this crepe stands tall on its own.

The classic drink to accompany the crepe is cider (also from the Brittany region of France). We sipped Domaine Eric Bordelet Brut Tendre. Apparently, quality ciders are not imported in great volume into the US; this was one of them.

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