A stroll through New York City’s blintz district reveals a range of takes on this traditional Eastern European dish of tender crêpes wrapped around sweetened farmer’s cheese, which can be breakfast or dessert.
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At Veselka, a diner-style restaurant situated in New York City’s East Village, the fare reflects the neighborhood’s deeply rooted Ukrainian community—stuffed cabbage, goulash, and borscht are staples, along with blintzes. Here, the crêpes are folded into quarters, dusted with confectioners’ sugar, and eaten with a bright berry compote. When it was founded in 1954, Veselka (the name means “rainbow” in Ukrainian) was simply a newsstand serving takeaway lunches; today, early-lunching old timers and late-night club kids keep the tables crowded 24 hours a day.
Just down the street from Veselka, B&H Dairy is a kosher storefront that seems to be made for skinny people, because I can barely squeeze myself and my appetite through the room to a table that claims to seat four. A very tall man behind the counter shouts my order into the kitchen—four blintzes, please: cherry, blueberry, apple, and cheese. Here the fruit compote is rolled up with the cheese into the crêpe, which is then sautéed until lightly browned and crisped, a bit of filling oozing out of the ends in a beautiful mess. B&H Dairy opened more than 80 years ago; not even a gas explosion on the block in 2015 was able to shut it down.
Cheese Blintzes with Raspberry SauceThese soft, rich, mildly sweet cheese blintzes are easy to make and even easier to make ahead.
Russ & Daughters Café
Sitting on Orchard Street in lower Manhattan, trendy Russ & Daughters Café is a polished 21st-century offshoot of the 100-year-old Russ & Daughters shop a few blocks away. I rub elbows with hip patrons perched on stationary stools at a marble-top counter to nosh on smoked fish served on wooden boards. Blintzes follow; at Russ & Daughters, they are about the size of an enchilada and are tightly wrapped, with their ends tucked in to contain the filling while they’re browned on the griddle.