Robbie Kane started Medina Café 7 years ago. Desperate to open and without a kitchen for months, he started serving coffee and, well…what he’s now most known for now, waffles. With a few waffle irons in the window, he started making beautiful Belgian-style waffles with innovative sauces like chocolate lavender, before foodies caught on to them being more than just a pancake alternative at a greasy spoon.
His new location on Richards also houses celebrity chef Jonathan Chovancek of Bittered Sling, who gave me some tips from a chef on how to throw a waffle party worthy of a kitchen professional.
Five Rules of Thumb
1. Jonathan and Robbie both insist that the quality of ingredients is key. Make sure you have the best eggs, butter and vanilla, as a good foundation is critical.
2. The perfect waffle will have great flavour; consider leaving your dough to ferment overnight to develop a great yeast flavour.
3. Make sure the waffle has a lovely golden brown colour as it will have the best caramelized flavour.
4. The waffle iron makes a difference. A heavy iron keeps the waffles from being too airy and holds the proper consistency.
5. Heat distribution and limiting heat loss is also important. Most low quality irons will drop in temperature drastically when opened and the batter is poured in. A solid waffle iron will ensure even heat and caramelization
Belgian waffles are a yeasted variety, which traditionally has a large grain sugar called pearl sugar. Here’s a recipe to try.
According to Jonathan, when it comes to pairing waffles with toppings, anything goes, but keeping it seasonal is the best tip for maximum flavour. Do a variety of sauces with different flavour notes and textures, like sweet, fruity and bright, chunky, creamy and smooth.
Medina served their waffles with a raspberry caramel, white chocolate pistachio and rose water, quince cranberry compote, dark chocolate and peach bourbon. Here’s a recipe from Jonathan for a blueberry sumac and juniper preserve, and some other suggestions of other condiments you can try.
Other Helpful Tips
1. Label all the sauces and condiments so guests can decide between what they’re in the mood for. I have a large roll of craft paper that I use to cover the table; with a sharpie, you can just write directly on the table with arrows pointing at dishes.
2. Depending on the size of the party, consider having a few machines. If you don’t have access to multiple machines, pre-make the waffles, and reheat them in the iron to crisp them up before serving so all your guests can enjoy at the same time.
Jackie Kai Ellis is the owner and baker of Beaucoup Bakery, CEO/co-founder of The Paris Tours, JKE, Bespoken, Recette and The Invisible Thread. To Learn more about her, follow her on Twitter @JackieKaiEllis.