It’s a rainy day in Newport, Pembs. The long, bright windows are rapidly blurring with steam from the body heat as customers peel off their damp coats, unravel scarves and sink into receptive chairs.
A dog settles and the chatter of conversation hums. The familiar blast of the coffee machine intermittently pitches through, a siren of comforting familiarity.
Saloon doors swing and a young woman clad in a gray apron, switch of yellow, emerges, laden with a plate piled high with waffles hot from the kitchen. Heads turn. Slathered with custard rich ice cream, gently softening in the heat, the waffles are carried swiftly to where the couple are sat, in the nook to the left of the window. Two spoons, one plate, a shared communion.
I observe from the counter and understand the resonance of this. So much more than sustenance to fill a gap, the waffles promise comfort, intimacy and are the stuff of memories.
A year since we closed our doors, people still reminisce about those waffles. My head chef spent time getting the formula spot on and was rightly proud of her end result.
All recipes begin with a code to decipher and it lies in the skill of the cook to refine and adapt, a careful balance between ratios, flavours and handling, a skill which comes only through hard won experience.
This is the recipe for the waffles we served in the cafe. Try them, adapt them and make them your own. Reduce the sugar content and serve them savoury or consider the season to keep them current. Writing this on a sunny September afternoon, I’d dress them with blackberries and cobnut cream, in a nod to the autumn as the summer retreats.