Written By: Marie Spada
W A F F L E /// No More. The Waffle Affair’s Sweet & Savory Waffles are Mouth-Wateringly Delicious. When you think of waffles, what do you envision? If you’re like most of America, you probably picture a wheat cake with a grid design, syrup and toppings galore. But what if I told you not all waffles require toppings? What if I said there is a place where the flavor is in the batter, and even though you can add toppings, they really aren’t necessary? Mind. Blown.
At the Waffle Affair in Newport Beach you can experience waffle heaven. The Waffle Affair was born when a group of professional women from Newport Beach took a trip to Belgium and discovered that not all waffles are created equal. These hand-held delights came in sweet and savory flavors, were sold on the street and in restaurants, and were enjoyed all day, not just for breakfast. After falling in love with the concept, the women came home and quickly brought their experience to Newport.
Joanne Laufer Milo, 61, a Corona del Mar woman, author and Type 1 diabetic, gathered her team of friends and family and dogs, for the 20th year in a row, to do her own unique Walk to Cure Diabetes around Balboa Island. Joanne has raised over $200,000 over the years for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF: Improving Lives, Curing Type 1 Diabetes).
The 142 Shooting Stars gathered early Sunday morning, October 25, 2015, in Newport Beach to raise money and support to find a cure for diabetes. They also shared in renewed friendships and camaraderie, over mini waffles and coffee, provided by The Waffle Affair, co-hosted by the owners of the restaurant and the Milos. The walkers sported Shooting Stars t-shirts designed by Joanne and printed locally by Colors, Inc. Tees in Santa Ana. There was plenty of talk and laughter, 10 beautifully behaved dogs, plus a fabulous walk around Balboa Island, all decorated for Halloween.
Irvine Rotary Club has been a long time, strong supporter of the Shooting Stars, having contributed over $50,000 over the past 18 years … and they showed up in full force this year with 36 Rotarians and their families.
Joanne Milo started this team 20 years ago … and has been living with Type 1 diabetes for just over 50 years. Two years ago, she published her first book, The Savvy Diabetic: A Survival Guide, a how-to survival guide for diabetics and their loved ones. It offers tips and tools for coping successfully and with a sense of humor, while dealing with hospitals, doctors, emergency rooms, travel, families, and just plain living with diabetes, every day, 24/7. She wanted to share the lessons she has learned, hoping her insights and experiences will help diabetics and their families and friends.
The Waffle Affair, which opens in early December at Bayside Center, will serve an inventive take on a Belgian classic. The new eatery will offer 21 flavors of waffles that boasting a crispy exterior that opens up to a fluffy interior. Unlike other similar shops, The Waffle Affair will bake its toppings—like prosciutto and Gruyere—into the batter for a closer marriage of flavors. “When I spent time in Belgium, I became addicted to the Liège waffle,” says co-founder Laury Zetrenne. “I could have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.” (thewaffleaffair.com)
I’ve always been more of a waffle person than a pancake person. As a kid the only breakfast I really liked was waffles, especially with strawberries and whipped cream. I did not like pancakes and to this day am not a fan. I did not like eggs, though I love them now. But give me a waffle and make it crispy and I was a happy camper. Too bad I’m not a kid growing up in modern times when waffles seem to be all the rage in food. I would have loved to eat myself into oblivion at Newport Beach newcomer, The Waffle Affair without worrying about the consequences.
And if you too are a waffle lover and fortunate enough to be in or around Newport Beach you can satisfy your waffle cravings with one of The Waffle Affair’s delicious gourmet creations for breakfast, lunch or a snack. Located in The Bayside Shopping Center near Balboa Island, The Waffle Affair serves up a wide assortment of made to order Belgian and Liége style waffles you can enjoy in their sophisticated, elegant café with a cup of Illy coffee or take them with you to go.
So what was the inspiration for these delectable treats? After travelling through Belgium co-founders Laury Zetrenne, Julie Tsang, Cindy Dickey, and Lisa Favor were inspired to create and perfect their own waffle making technique, bringing light fluffy waffles that are crispy on the outside and infusing them with both savory and sweet flavors. With these waffles it’s not about the topping, it’s about the waffle and what’s inside them!
After sampling flavors like Banana’s Foster, Red Velvet, Chocolate Chip, Cannoli, Gingerbread, Proscuitto di Parma & Gruyere, Genoa Salami & Fontina, Roasted Turkey and Havarti, Hotdog and Mustard, and their Liege (Belgium style) at their Grand Opening Ribbon Cutting Ceremony last week, I have decided the Gingerbread and Canoli are my favorite sweet treats and the Genoa Salami & Fontina is my favorite savory waffle. With so many to choose from there’s something for everyone and you’ll probably have a hard time choosing just one to order.
At first glimpse, The Waffle Affair could look like another Bruxie or Iron Press knockoff.
But there’s no bold fold here. Instead, the boutique Newport Beach bakery is all about the waffle – offering more than 20 different flavors infused into the batter.
“We are so different from everything else,” co-owner Laury Zetrenne said.
The bakery-cafe, nestled in a strip center on Bayside Drive near Balboa Island, opened last week.
Zetrenne and her three female partners have been working on perfecting their recipes for more than two years, gleaning ideas from popular waffle shops and food trucks across the country. Though the menu is Belgian-inspired, Zetrenne said she’s Americanized her waffles with a less “bready” recipe.
“Our waffles are a little crispier on the outside. If you’re into flavor and texture, I think we nailed it,” she said.
Savory and sweet waffles are created with top-line ingredients – from Madagascar vanilla to Vermont white cheddar. Everything is baked in. No toppings. No sandwiches.
Savory 8-inch waffles come stuffed (not folded) with paper-thin layers of Genoa salami, prosciutto di Parma or tiny bits of smoked bacon. Playful “Bits & Dips” are eight bite-size portions baked with chunks of breakfast sausage or hot dogs.
On the sweet side, Waffle Affair offers a classic Liège waffle, as well as flavored waffles: red velvet, chocolate chip and vanilla bean. Prices range from $3.75 to $10.
The shop’s “only the best will do” attitude extends to its food presentation and decor.
Waffles come on white plates with silverware, instead of paper boats. Illy lattes are served with hefty foam in tall slender glasses. The 1,300-square-foot space is adorned with sleek white tufted poly-vinyl booths, a chandelier and contemporary tabletops and chairs.
Two women visiting the shop on its second day called their cheddar and bacon waffle “indulgent and rich.”
Zetrenne said the varieties are meant to satisfy any craving, whether you are jonesing for a sweet snack or a hearty meal. Ultimately, she hopes diners will see Waffle Affair as a luxury one-of-a-kind experience with items such as the red velvet waffle topped with a heaping scoop of cream cheese frosting.
“I’m sure you can find a red velvet waffle somewhere, but it won’t taste like this.
The new Waffle Affair in Newport Beach offers more than 21 types of sweet and savory waffles including traditional waffles and daily specialty waffles such as Liége and Madagascar Vanilla Bean. Each waffle is baked fresh-to-order with signature ingredients incorporated into the batter—no toppings required.
The Waffle Affair’s co-founders Laury Zetrenne, Julie Tsang, Cindy Dickey and Lisa Favor traveled through Belgium and came home to perfect a batter after years of trial and error—their goal was to create a delicious waffle perfectly crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside.
In addition to the daily offerings, a menu of rotating specialty waffles such as Lemon Burst, Café Au Lait, Earl Grey Tea, Red Velvet and Toasted Coconut are also available as well as seasonal waffles such as Pumpkin Spice and Gingerbread.
The menu also showcases entrée size savory waffles with premium ingredients mixed into the batter such as Prosciutto di Parma & Gruyere Cheese, Oven Roasted Turkey & Havarti Cheese and Cheddar & Cherry Hardwood Smoked Bacon. Other unique menu offerings include Waffle Bites (Powdered Sugar or Cinnamon Sugar) and Bits & Dips (Breakfast Sausage & Maple Syrup or Hot Dogs & Honey Mustard or Spicy Mayo). Sweet specialty treats include Waffle Crisps, Crispy Cannoli, Chocolate and Caramel Sundaes and Crisps with Berries & Cream.
To complement the waffle menu, you can also order gourmet coffees by illy, including specialty espressos, dark roast coffee, handcrafted hot and blended lattes, along with a selection of Dammann Frères imported teas.
When I wrote about The Waffle Affair earlier this year and predicted it was going to be "another waffle sandwich shop", their PR person e-mailed me and set me straight. "Waffle sandwiches aren't even on the menu, they offer modern variations on authentic Liége, and all ingredients are incorporated into the batter," she said. Now the shop is open, and by golly, they're sticking to it.
The press release even says this: "Elevating the waffle from breakfast snack to an epicurean specialty with its clean and elegant presentation, The Waffle Affair eschews the "waffle sandwich" and the idea of simply using the waffle as a foundation to support toppings."
And perusing their online picture menu (which you can also do), I see no waffles being used in pairs as bread for a sandwich...but they did still manage to stuff a lot of sandwich-like fillings into a few of theirs, such as the cheddar and bacon, which are baked into their waffles. As the press release says, "no toppings required."
So I'll happily eat my words. (Insert pun here about eating the waffles)
On Tuesday, December 9th, we celebrated our grand opening with friends and family to introduce our modern take on authentic Liége and Belgium style waffles in our sleek brand new space. At the event, we teamed up with the non-profit organization Breast Cancer Angels to give back to a cause near and dear to our hearts. Breast Cancer Angels helps to address the ancillary needs of those in Orange County who are currently in treatment for breast cancer and help to provide people with food, supplies, gas, other day-to-day items, pro-bono legal services, and much more.
Thank you for those who celebrated our opening with us, and feel free to learn more or donate to Breast Cancer Angels here: http://www.breastcancerangels.org
The holiday spirit is in the air in Orange County. From special culinary visits with Santa Claus himself to holiday themed theatrical performances, and even the chance to learn holiday cocktail tips from master mixologists, OC has no shortage of holiday themed fun and activities. Looking for something new? A restaurant opening and complete hotel re-imagination provide something bright and shiny with a bit more substance than a tinsel filled wonderland.
The tantalizing scent will evoke nostalgic memories of the holidays and inspire new seasonal joy. Gingery, warm, crispy on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside.
You will give thanks for this handheld crispy pumpkin pie. Cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, a lovely melange of spices with fall colors and warm tones.
An exciting and better way to enjoy your favorite dessert all day long. Crispy on the outside, luscious and moist red velvet cake on the inside with hints of chocolate.