We might be a culture based on convenience, but if there's one area of take-out that Europeans roundly beat us in, it's the waffle. Over there they call it a gaufre, and across Europe, especially in Belgium and some parts of France, you can find stands that package waffles exclusively to go. We didn't really understand how the sticky breakfast treat would translate to a hand-held snack, but we've noticed them cropping up around San Francisco and decided to give it a go.
In a perfect world, every day would start at the Ferry Building with a liège waffle and a latte. Hot out of the iron, the waffle is plopped into a coffee filter and served warm in a convenient and adorable presentation. The waffle has a crisped golden exterior that gives way to a soft inside with a buttery, croissant-like flavor -- it's like one of those dense brioches that's somehow light at the same time. The only crunch comes from the small pieces of sugar that have caramelized on the outside.
Chris Bottorf is gearing up to celebrate the one year anniversary of the day he stumbled into starting a waffle pop-up. We're glad he did for the sake of waffle innovation everywhere. Bottorf's most popular flavor is a chocolate malted waffle he adapted from a recipe in his grandmother's Joy of Cooking, but he also serves up imaginative waffles in flavors like sweet potato, buckwheat-pancetta, buttermilk with bacon and breakfast herbs, cornmeal made from antebellum cornmeal his brother sends him from South Carolina, and a breakfast sausage and potato crumble which he calls "pretty rad." For his genre-bending waffle doughnut, Bottorf puts a plain doughnut (from Bob's Donuts) down in the waffle iron then tops it off with waffle batter until it fuses into one ridiculous breakfast treat. And then there is the waffle grilled cheese, which Bottorf jokes that he's nicknamed "The Widow Maker." Dare to try one at his anniversary party at the Biondivino Wine Boutique (at Green & Polk) on Sunday, Aug. 5 (Noon to 5 p.m.).
A regular at the SOMA StrEat Food Park, the waffles from this truck are a testament to the beauty of the treat as a vessel. Made with the Belgian pearl sugar particular to a liège waffle, these are more like the Belgian waffles most of us grew up with. We initially ordered a waffle with no toppings, but found that a bread-y interior and a crumbly, rather than crispy, exterior made our mouth a little dry. Still, nothing a little Nutella and some complimentary whipped cream couldn't fix.