Thought that our favourite 4 a.m. Québécois tradition of Poutine was just for alcohol absorption? From February 1st to the 7th, 30 of Mtl’s buzzing joints (amateur and pros of Poutine) will be rolling out the red carper for squish squish cheese and gravy sauce. With part of the proceeds going to the Montreal Canadians Children’s Foundation, it’s hard to feel guilty about the gluttonous journey you are about to embark upon. Prices range from 5$ to 10$ and you can even vote for the best poutine in town. The crucial question that now remains…with or without Ketchup mon chum???
Well no surprise here, I am going to this event. It costs 20$ with proceeds going to the Tablée des chefs and the Kids Help Phone, gets me 6 cupcake+ a drink and a pre-show to what is to be expected at the Big Cupcake Camp later this fall! I guess I will have to fight crime and save the world one bite at a time this Sunday!
Well it was only a matter of time before ‘shabby-chic’ restaurant Laurier Gordon Ramsay spiraled down. My review on the restaurant from a few months ago definitely echoed the sentiments of this article by Lesley Chesterman from the Gazette.
Gordon Ramsay’s name will be removed from the venture, as it will be from now, known as just Laurier BBQ. I guess it was too candyland to think that a high-caliber brand like Ramsay would grace Montreal with its presence and culinary genius longer than he did. He didn’t really show us anything close to what his Michelin star restaurants in London prize him for.
If you do come back to Montreal Gordon, piece of advice: lay off the microwaveable moka cake…
Je t'aime en chocolat---An event just for US chocoholics!
For those who remember, a couple of years back, Montreal had its very own chocolate festival called le Salon de la Passion du Chocolat. It was a a magical weekend filled with aromas, sights and tastes of all things cocoa. This great ode to chocolat has since disappeared and left me in a state of eternal yearning for more sweetness. I even went as far as Bromont ;) for the Chocolate festival to get my fill. But as an urbanite, I cannot always make it out to yonder for my treats.
Well, like a ray of sunshine parting the stormy clouds of my search, the first edition of Je t’aime en CHOCOLAT is here! On the pre-Valentine’s weekend of the 11th and 12th of February 2012, it’s happening @ Marché Bonsecours.
The finest of chocolates, brands, and a great fashion show of duos combining the artistic flair of both Quebecois designers like Anne de Shalla and Dinh Bà and master chocolatiers Christophe Morel and Claudine Desnoyers. And best of all??? The entrance is Free! So no excuses not to head over for some cocoaphrodisiac!
I’ll be there, containing myself from licking everything in sight! For those who won’t get to go, I’ll make sure to take plenty of pics and eat my through it all just for you!
Does this LOOK like a typical hot dog bun covered in layers of mayo, guacamole and a squirt of yellow mustard? Ummm, yea. IS THIS a typical hot dog bun covered in layers of mayo, guacamole and yellow mustard? HELL NAH!
Introducing the COMPLETAZO from la Chilenita, your friendly neighborhood Chilean buibui. First of all this hot dog is mammoth size, hence why it’s called the “complete”. The bread is a thick and crusty sandwich bun that is toasted, the mayo is rich and abundant, and the guacamole, made in-house (always get my vote for the homemade stuff) is creamy and salted just right to add punch to the steamed or grilled wiener. The element of surprise, if it doesn’t excite you already, is the Chilenita salsa, the fresh cilantro, lime, an tomato combo has just the right amount of acidity to break through all that ooey gooeyness! Douse it with hot sawouce and you’re all set. Next time you need a midday pick me up, stop at any of their 3 locations in the Plateau/Mile-End. For those of you who can’t handle it, they have a Completito (heavy on the wuss factor since it’s half the size, but same great taste!)
Oh, I failed to mention, but this place has the BEST EMPANADAS EVER! They are fresh,12 amazing flavors, and you can get them in half a dozen or a dozen for that next office party! My fave is the Chilena. Ground beef, hard-boiled egg, olives sauteed onions. Just wash it all down with a Pineapple Jarrito, and we’re in business folks.
When I lived in the downtown core, which is now Koreatown/Chinatown II, my idea of chinese food were the Wok Cafe and Le roi des nouilles (now replaced by an All you can eat Korean bbq place). While these places still hold a special place in my heart since I discovered salt and pepper shrimp and kung pao chicken there, I am always in search of more.
Enter Kanbai. Surrounded by flashy lights and neon signs everywhere, this is a clean and more sober-looking Szechuanese restaurant, except for the big red sign at the entrance. At first you think Japanese influences with the decor, and you’re not off. Kanbai took over a ramen joint that inhabited the locale previously, this also explains the name.
What makes it FO REALZ lies in the menu. Chicken feet and pig intestines as staples of a menu can be pretty indicative of the authenticity. Also, when I asked the owner’s wife, who was quite charming (even when trying to communicate with us in pseudo-English), why the much talked about Ma Po tofu was not on the menu anymore, she said that the regulars never ordered it, but now that there were more foreigners, they might reintroduce it. I love the idea of my dining companion and I being foreigners in a land we had lived in practically all our lives!
Since my foreigner friend and I didn’t feel as adventurous as usual, we decided to order the more popular items of the menu. The beef tripe would have to wait until my next visit.
This is the fish in chili oil soup. Don’t be put off by all that chili, on a spice-o-meter scale, it was a 5 for us, so maybe a 7 for those who aren’t used to it. Tender turbot? Tilapia? Well whatever, it was yummy, and it could feed 3 people easily. The broth was perfect to add piquant to the steamed rice we ordered for it. And at only 12$, we coudn’t complain.
We also ordered a plate of sizzing eggplant which was wonderfully textured and seasoned. And it tastes even better in leftover chinese the next day!
Eve though we were only 2, and we should have stopped there, our eyes got hungry for the pork belly in pickled cabbage. Now this is not a dish for all. My companion was not a fan, and it could be because of the extremety of flavors. The fatty caramelized pork belly and sour mustard leaves are not items everyone identifies with. I found it irresistible.
I do hope the fate of KanBai does not follow most of the other chinese buibuis of Montreal. This one has some real backbone! That’s probably on their menu too!
I guess before we even get into the meat and potatoes, or in this case the pancetta poached eggs (sorry for that bad joke), I’ll quickly go over the PoP-Up concept.
Pop-Up, wassat? According to an article in the The Star:
"Pop-up restaurants have been, er, popping up, in recent years in Los Angeles, New York and London. Often the restaurants pop-up at cafés or diners that would otherwise be closed during the evening, run for a limited time and then close-up. Sometimes, the pop-up magicians are already plotting their next event. These restaurants are for foodies in the know — urbanites so attuned to the ebb and flow of the restaurant industry that they know, whether by rumour or mass email, that the next “it” spot is on its way. Their mission will be to dine there before the resto disappears, whether that happens a day, a month or an entire season after opening night."
Today, my brunching companions and I sauntered over to Lustucru on Parc for the Caroussel Pop-Up Brasserie. The team settled in for 2 week-ends, with today being its last day. I had tried a few pop-ups in Toronto in the past but never in Montreal.
It was called the Hangover Brunch, and I thought it fitting for my state of mind at 12:30pm on a Sunday. The setting is great, Lustucru is a convivial bistro, playing with the idea of rustic and the menu for the Caroussel Pop-Up Brunch was in that trend.
it was a 22$ menu with 4 different items. We were all feeling for some decadence, so here were our picks:
Omelet stuffed with 14 arpents cheese and chives, with a side of brunch potatoes.
Poached egg smothered in espelette hollandaise sauce and tomme cheese, topped with matchstick fries
Duck confit in buckwheat crêpe, layered with mornay and chive sauce
The verdict: Although 22$ is steep for brunch, the dishes were well conceptualized and well executed. The crêpe was thin and crispy on the edges, and the duck confit paired well with the creamy mornay sauce. The espelette hollandaise with poached egg had a kick that is often overlooked. And the omelet was nice and fluffy with the pancetta being a welcome change from boring old bacon.
As for whether the Hangover Brunch is worthy of its name…well after a night of Hendricks and cucumber water, it’ll definitely cure what ails ya!
Waiting to see where you’ll pop-up next team Caroussel!
So obviously I can’t describe in such limited time what 3 Amigos does to me every time my shadow touches even the street it sits on. It was funny when I didn’t know any better and I was a 19 year old first-year university student. It was acceptable because I had no smart phone equipped with restaurant apps, no laptop to sit down at Cocktail Hawaii with in search of the next most authentic flavors Montreal had to offer. I wasn’t well-versed versed in foodie culture/lingo and couldn’t afford the Food Network on my cable picks.
Now, there is simply no excuse. When there exists more than a dozen familial, authentic, and good for the soul mexican restaurants such as Le petit coin du Mexique, Itacate, El Rey del Taco or Amaranto, why would I choose to go back to a place like 3 Amigos? Aren’t I sick of eating stale bland Doritos tortillas scooped up from a metal container next to the bar? That Provigo whole wheat tortilla that contains the overcooked, over-salted shrimp drenched in butter and “homemade” guac sure is original. And last I checked, Chicken Mole isn’t supposed to taste like chocolate syrup, but I guess in an effort to mask the dryness of the breasts, one must do what is needed.
Sigh…My relationship with 3 Amigos is like trying to break up with someone that you’ve shared almost a lifetime with (it can be anywhere between 6months to forever). You KNOW there’s better out there for you (Itacate has it’s own homemade hot sauce that you have to request), something more loving (try the chicken enchiladas verde at Amaranto), more caring (I recommend the Tacos al pastor at El Rey), and that will treat you better (finally a Mole worth it’s name at Le Petit Coin du Mexique). But you just can’t seem to let go, because you grew up together. A very significant part of your life was shaped in it’s presence, or with it in the background. When you venture out and resolve to never go back to it because it drags you to the ground, you still hope that one day, that taco will change. It’ll be softer, wiser, and respect that you made the choice to eat it.
But I know with time, I’ll look back and even be embarrassed that it took me this long to kick that tex-mex chain to the curve. But don’t judge me if you happen to see me with a sombrero hat inside for a birthday, it’ll probably be a moment of weakness that I’ll get over soon enough.
Because everyone should have one good friend living in a penthouse in Old Montreal to throw dinner parties
So now that you know what the setting was, here is what was in store for the menu:
Saucisson sec- Jamon de Iberico- Rosette de Lyon
Oysters (including our very own Oyster shucker Litt, flown in from the depths of the Laotian marshlands)
Foie Gras and pate de coinc (fruit gelée)
Plat de résistance:
Pan-seared Duck breast, drizzled with balsamic raspberry coulis prepared by master chef of wild game JF
Scalloped potatoes au gratin with cheddar and Gruyere
le Compté- Roquefort- Selle sur Cher goat cheese- Chimay cheese- Epoisses
Homemade Caramel and Chocolate Profiteroles flawlessly baked by the lovely Dominique
We popped a Veuve Cliquot 2002 to pair with the briny oysters and salty saucisson. The foie gras and coinc’s richness was cut by the Sauternes 2002. A break in the middle to decant and appreciate the tannins of the Grand Vin de Chateau Latour bought at the domaine in 2002 by our host and avid wine connoisseur. When we sat down to our beautifully marked duck and creamy potato gratin, we looked around at each other smiling. We were drunk with the aromas of opulence wafting in the room. I couldn’t believe that yet another two services awaited us.
We were on to the Cheese platter.My favorite was the Epoisses that JP had brought. I am not a usually a fan of pungent fromage. But as I sat there enjoying my 6th glass of wine, this time a 2002 Cos d’Estournel, I felt adventurous. Verdict: I fell in love with stinky cheese then and there. The texture, the taste and even the smell just hypnotized my palate and I can never go back!
Catered by seamless conversation and laughter, great company and Queen rhapsodizing in the background, our secret dining club whined down with 40 year old Porto and salted caramel profiteroles. I felt like royalty- and not the Real Housewives of New Jersey, I’m talking the Not A Joke crystal chandeliers, marbled floor and velour-suit gangsters!
I raise my glass to all my friends that night, and espeically to you JP, our charming host and sort of my Merlin the Magician, you unlocked a door that I had yet to uncover!
Everyone I know has a trademark recipe. My roomie Dan has his famous secret family recipe meatballs, one of my bffs Zohra has her Algerian couscous and tagine recipe, and yours truly also has a signature dish. These can be dishes that were passed down from generation to generation, or copied from The Joy of Cooking. This is the dish that everyone knows you for. The dish you can never fail, and that you use as a secret weapon, either to impress your date or to show up your arch nemesis.
So what is this amazing dish that masks my lack of culinary skill through bedazzlement? It is the famous Beer in the Butt Chicken :) I can’t take all the credit for this one- I was inspired by the A la Distasio show during the Joe Beef episode. It is so simple to make, and yet comes out as a true masterpiece.
Here’s what you need:
1 whole chicken (get the free-range organic kind if you can, the universe will thank you)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Take 3 tablespoons of the St-Hub’s BBQ powder and pour it into the beer can. Give it a little shake so the powder mixes with the beer. Put the beer can into a baking/roasting pan. Stick the chicken onto the beer can. The chicken has to stand upright in the roasting pan.
Then, take 2 tablespoons of the BBQ powder and mix with the olive oil in a bowl. Give your chicken a full-body massage with the mixture. Once you’ve got the whole chicken covered, sprinkle salt and pepper onto it. This is what makes the chicken skin so crispy. Before putting it into the oven, cover the neck of the chicken with the onion half. I would recommend using a kebab skewer to keep it in place.
Pop that baby in the oven and let it cook for 1-1h30 depending on how big your chicken is and how archaic your oven is.
If you are like me, the question going through your mind should be: “Um, isn’t that beer can going to cause an explosion and blow me up with it?” Well luckily, that will not happen! I can assure you from having made this recipe about 7 times now, that I’ve successfully put this fear to rest.
The reason we stuff the chicken with the beer can is to make the meat tender and juicy. While in the oven, the pressure from the beer can combined with the BBQ powder rises up and showers the chicken continuously. We never have to open the oven to baste it. All the juiciness simmers in the roasting pan, as a perfect base for a gravy.
Once the chicken has cooked, take it out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. Everyone will bask in its glory for a few minutes, even going as far as christening it with names. My friends and I have decided that Wilfred was a lame name for any poultry to have.
To slide the chicken off the beer can, wait until the beer can is no longer hot or use kitchen gloves while someone holds the chicken for you.
Carve and serve with rice, veggies and your favourite gravy recipe. Bouyah! Bragging right are yours until the next dinner party.
I leave you with this thought-provoking question: What’s your signature dish?
Having grown up in the “hood” of Parc Ex before moving to suburbian Ottawa, I had several hispanic friends. So churros, empanadas, and fried plantain were no mystery to me. But there was one item from the Salvadorian kitchen that escaped me until my early 20’s. Pupusas. When I first heard the word pronounced, I thought it was a doll made of hemp and stuffed with straw that little children used to ward off evil at night. Imagine my surprise to find out that a pupusa was in fact an edible and tasty treat. Wiki describes it a thick, hand-made corn tortilla stuffed with queso (cheese), frijoles (refried beans) or chicharron (chopped porc). I call it nuttin' but luv for yet another South American nation.
In the event you do not, like most people, have a Salvadorian friend willing to labour over the stove to make these for you, there are other options.
Sabor Latino (previoulsy known as Marche Andes-featured above) or La Carreta are both great bets for different reasons. If you want to see them made on the spot by Pupusa fairies, then Sabor Latino has a sassy older woman who makes them on the weekdays. You better know what you want, because she’s a busy one! It’s more of a cantine-style stop-and-scarf-down atmosphere. Also they are stingy on the sawwws, and me no like that!
La Carreta is a restaurant, so if you want a sit-down experience, this is where I suggest. My iconically beautiful, high-cheekboned friend Sophie introduced me to it as we felt in the mood for alimento de la comodidad comida reconfortante (I hate you Babel Fish Translate). We ordered one of everything on the menu. Chicken tamalitos, fried plantain to share, some sort of refried black bean pie and of course, the star of this article: the pupusa (3$ each). We ordered a refried bean, a cheese, and a fried pork one.
When those suckers got to the table, we hurriedly layered them with curtido (coleslaw) and their no-bottom tomato salsa. Time to dig in…how did I feel? As if the Pupusas fairy had slapped me 5 times across the face for not giving credit to this delicious creation sooner! The refried bean and cheese was the best of the bunch. It was so rich with the pipping hot beans and corn tortilla. The coleslaw broke up the gooey cheese nicely and the tomato salsa (mixed with their in-house hot sawsss) added the zing to the dish.
So I gotta give it to you Pupusas fairy, you showed my tastebuds the way! Also, I wanted to apologize for drinking Inca Kola with my dish. I’ll be sipping on horchata next time we meet crazy lady…
Gordon Ramsey was like my James Bond. On Kitchen Nightmares, he’s the avenger of evil with his pledge to ransack disgusting kitchens full of rancid meat and sprouty onions. On Hell’s Kitchen, he beats the rookie chefs to the ground until they can deliver the perfect beef Wellington. And on Master Chef, he’s the stern but kind (eat your heart out Joe) judge who helps amateur chefs be all that they can be. He was my television hero…well next to Julia Child (no one else can chug a bottle of Brandy and pass it off as a “tasting”) and Nigella Lawson, who makes peeling potatoes look downright diRRRty.
I knew that it would be an eternity before I could save up enough $$$ to order even an amuse-bouche at one of his Michelin-Star restaurants. So no one was more ecstatic than I to find out he was reopening the old Laurier BBQ to his liking. The first time I went, during the opening, there was a fire truck scene as my reservation was being called up! It prompted a shutdown. Kudos to you Ramsay, that publicity stunt had me wishing I was one of those 70 year old patrons juggling their wine glass and drumsticks casually waiting to get back in.
So when the stars finally lined up, and I sat at the cozy white booth, I felt that nothing could ruin this experience of my exceedingly high expectations for an upscale St-Hubert.
So what’s my verdict? Well if you haven’t guessed by the title, here is the only thing on the menu that didn’t heavily disappoint me and my silly school-girl crush.
Yes that’s right, Sliders. First off, I never order sliders as an entree, but I guess the abundance of in-house kosher pickles at my disposal on the table got me a little crazy. These all-beef babies were dripping with juice from the perfectly cooked meat. The cheddar and mac sauce brought a tangy yet rich flavour to the patties. And those buns! Finally, just like I always pictured on highway billboards. It went downhill after that.
In order of taste from "Meh" to "I’m sorry I even thought about it":
The side dish (no main dish made the cut) of macaroni and cheese with smoked meat
The namesake rotisserie chicken, make sure you ask for a boatload of gravy
Too creamy and sweet Crab Roll
Smoked Salmon a la plancha with fried cassava chips
and for dessert, because I still held the faintest of hope:
the ever-popular Moka cake - microwaved as per tradition, but brought to us in a seeming afterthought, since the sugar had enough time to separate from the rest of the cake.
It was neither the best nor the worst experience, just the most enlightening. Instead of feeling like it was a privilege for me to be his patron, he’ll have to work his potty-mouth tush off to earn me as a client. Maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath on that though. ;)
Do you remember Twoonie Tuesdays at KFC? Not the Y-generation one with a drumstick and dried up macaroni salad. I’m talkin’ back in da day thicky-thigh/breast/leg, double-fried, gravy-oozing chicken and all the fixins…For those who don’t remember, it’s better that way. Know of anything that’s worth the while and your hard-earned 2$ coin nowadays?
Enter Cartel. It’s a street food inspired bar. The heavy accent being on the bar since it does spice up what blandtrocity lies on icky Crescent street. The vibe is similar to M:BRGR. The pretty waitresses in khaki shorts and crisp white shirts wearing riding boots were all smiles and perk. We, as those in the know, decided to sit at the eternally stretched marble bar. Viktoria, our barmaid served us a great Bloody Ceasar and Tenessee Highball to fit into the scene. I definitely recommend the Bloody Ceasar since it’s always a dance to try and find the balance between spicy and salty, and Viktoria did the drink justice. Also, I was showered with a bowl of tart olives that accentuated the briney flavor of my drink.
The highlights at Cartel, let’s not beat around the bush: their isakaya-style Tokyo chicken yakitori and chicken Karaage. The first, eaten hot with a dollop of spicy mayo and teriyaki sauce, simply melts in your mouth. The second is like popcorn chicken and perfect for sharing as their most popular item on the menu.
Claims to its “epicurian” street food status, the tacos were a must try. You can’t go wrong. Served on homemade tortillas with creamy guacamole or tomatillo sauce, my favourite was the duck and caramelized onion. Beer-battered Baha fish and short rib were also on my short list.
My frantic fooder companion kept shoving spoonfuls of his green papaya salad in his mouth between the bites to cleanse the palate before the next dish.
If you feel like splurging, they do have daily specials, such as our crispy duck wrapped in smoked meat and charred pancetta, glazed with miri soy sauce.
Why did I pledge to give my Twoonie Tuesday piggy-bank to Cartel? Because during this day, all tacos are 2$. That means I could very well try their 6 flavours, be full and not break the bank. With Hockey night in the background and a Bloody Ceasar during their Happy Hour, what more could I ask for? Because sometimes, a girl just wants cheap tacos in a classy joint!
Everyone has had THE craving. It’s 9 p.m. on a Monday night. You’re staring proudly at a plate of baked salmon and wild grain rice you’re about to eat as part of kicking off your week to shedding the unwanted extra winter/summer/fall/spring weight you carried around all year. You feel it, it’s the beginning of good habits, and you can picture yourself as the girl with wind-blown hair in a white halter dress walking on the street being stared at in awe or the hot Hispanic paralegal from the law drama you’re watching…(It’s I Hate Monday Syndrome).
Suddenly a commercial break interrupts you and your happy thoughts. You know the one, the kid and her dad sharing an endearing moment together over a plate of, you guessed it! Grilled cheese. 30 seconds, it’s all it takes. You look at your plate of fake n’ bake fish and cardboard rice and think FML!
Scouring the aisles of your grocery store in your flannel pj’s and house coat (such a far cry from that Colombian paralegal you were 5 minutes ago), only one thing is on your mind: Grilled Cheese. Processed single-wrapped orange cheese: check. Loaf of the cheapest white bread so it can soak up all the butter you’re going to slam it with: check. No name ketchup bottle. Don’t judge if you haven’t tried this combo: check.
You hurriedly walk back home, smiling giddily while passers-by tag you as the neighborhood crazy cat lady in your outfit and funny stride. You turn up the non-stick pan and let the butter sizzle. You prepare the sandwich and lay it on the bed of trans fat. The sound of the contact is bliss. When it’s on the crispy, golden, burnt side, you plop it onto a dish, cut it across and squeeze some ketchup over it.
Deep inhale, bite and FAIL! You knew you should have put 3 more slices of cheese in there, it’s not oozing like on TV. Also, the bread is crunchy, but being such low-quality, gets stuck on the roof of your mouth. The butter is all greasy on your hands (excuse me Gordon Ramsay, we don’t all have cast-iron pans). So what was to be the perfect Grilled Cheese left you feeling a void that needs to be filled up by chocolate now. DOUBLE FAIL!
So imagine my sheer delight in finding this wonder on a Sunday brunch outing! I couldn’t believe my eyes as I sat at my window booth at Beauty’s Luncheonette sipping on my chocolate milkshake. My perfect Grilled Cheese. Thick slices of real creamy cheddar cheese gushing out of the fried just-right sweeter Challah bread. It had such appeal, with the salted butter glistening on the surface, crisp outer shell with a soft inside. Separating the slices, it was fit for a commercial. I dipped it in some ketchup and tasted all the goodness that only comes from an all-day breakfast joint griddle. Oh how I wish there was a snowstorm in the middle of August so I could call off sick. I’d sit on my couch, dunking this Grilled Cheese into a bowl of Parmesan and tomato soup while Breaking Bad is streaming in the distance.
My craving was finally satisfied. I knew that anytime I wanted, I could just saunter over to Beauty’s for a little bit of comfort and nostalgia. Mastercard would call this Priceless. And my ‘I Hate Monday Syndrome’ got all that more edible.
1. Choose a non-upscale caribbean restaurant, luckily for you, there’s quite the selection in the city. My favourite is the Jardin du Cari. They spruced up the place since they moved from St-Viateur to St-Laurent but the velour Guyana poster and fake ceiling plants still grace the walls. Thank God!
2. Check that the place mats are plastified (yes it’s a word…) and only serve a few signature dishes. This way, you can ensure that they’ve got sufficient portions of everything and it’s freshly made.
3. Order some palouris (fried lentil balls) as appetizers. Douse them lightly in a little Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce (found in a ketchup bottle). Don’t go heavy on the spice or your tongue will slowly disintegrate…
4. As a main course, a choice of chicken, goat or shrimp roti awaits you. I have a sweet spot for the goat because 1)I don’t ever eat goat otherwise, and 2)Jardin du Cari has a tender meat that almost melts to the touch. Anyway you go, ask for pumpkin inside the roti. It’s a delicious puree with a touch of sweetness to offset the spice and curry you’ll be ingesting.
5. Put the knife and fork away! Turn the roti around so you can unfold it on the plate. OK so there’s a lot that can be done esthetically here, but the aroma and taste of the curry transport you to a Guyanese kitchen on a Saturday evening for supper.
6. Starting on the outside and working your way in, tear pieces of roti that you will be using to scoop up your goat curry and pumpkin. For first-timers, you may use a fork to grab the meat and sauce to fold gently into your roti. Eventually, there will be more goat, potato and curry sauce than roti left, so either order another plain roti to continue your route or at this point, grab the fork and knife and finish it off.
7. Put the roti in your mouth. Close your eyes. Just let the rich flavor of the spice-infused curry, pumpkin and roti dance on your palate.
8. Finish off the meal with a refreshing Peanut Punch. Made in-house, it’s like a peanut sundae shake with a taste of the Islands.
9. Grab a wet nap or wash your hands because otherwise, you’ll be tempted to lick your fingers all the way home.
Not a dying fad if they're THAT fingerlickin' good!
Les Glaceurs has IMO the best red velvet cupcakes in town, hands down. I throw it out to all you frantic fooders to find better in the 514. By now, cupcakes are something of a dying fad, overrated and exaggerated! So says WHO NOW??? I pledge to never let my love for sweets be controlled by a TV series of cougars on speed wearing couture. I raise my tall cold glass of 2% milk to all those who push the envelope on cupcake-making.
Why did I pick the red velvets from Les Glaceurs? They are constant in keeping their cake scarlety chocolate and moist. Most importantly, their cream cheese icing is perfect, melt-in-your-mouth, balancing the fluffy decadence of its foundation. Hard to achieve as a feat, so hats off Les Glaceurs, and keep it coming. I ordered some mini 2-bite cupcakes for a birthday, great idea, you can try different flavors, but you have to order at least 24hrs ahead for them and its a minimum of 12 (15$). Put a twist on that housewarming gift or next office potluck.There is a tourist vibe because it’s location lies at the gates of the old port, but you can’t win em all! They are expanding to the downtown area, next to the Eaton Center, so you can bet it’ll be part of my weekly sugar fix.
2 words: Vietnamese sub. Or Banh Mi as it is more commonly known. The crunchy bread roll filled with meat, pâté and mayo is elevated in flavor by just the right amount of marinated daikon and carrots, fresh coriander and green diced chili. All the elements of sweet, tangy, salty, crunchy and piquant are in one bite.
The question you need to ask yourself is whether to stick with the classic or venture off into other-worldly meat territory?
Normally, I’d play it safe and get the classic, layered with cold cuts. It just takes me back to memories of my family being introduced to these sandwiches back when I was kid. It was on one of our ritualistic Sunday trips to Marché Jean-Talon or marcher Jeen-Taalun as my parents affectionately mispronouce it. After we ransacked the produce shacks, we headed to the Asian grocery mart on St-Denis. And to our left, at the deli counter among the fried tofu and red bean paste gluten pies, were a freshly made stack of Banh Mis being saran-wrapped by the attendant. He spoke no English nor French and my parents were only slightly better-versed, but in the eye contact and the head nod, we got 4 of those babies to go. First of all, this is when I realized for the first time that immigrants have a universal code to communicating and I was thoroughly facinated by this exchange. Secondly, geting back to the food, the texture, the odd flavor combination and the coriander made us all happy on that Sunday afternoon. It was a perfect snack to tide us over until we waited for our rice and five-curry supper. From then on, my dad attempted the construction of these subs every so often, but it never could compare to that first encounter.
Fast-forward to 18 years later and me oogling at the chalkboard at one of my fave Banh Mi dives in Chinatown, Hoang Oanh on St-Lo, to pick up a few of these for a barbecue (people will love you at any gathering if you show up with them!). And at less than 3$ a sandwich, it’s easy on the piggy bank. I opted for a couple of the classics and feeling adventurous, I also grabbed a grilled beef, a Banh Mi sausage and a pork rib combo. They are all made to order, so you can opt out of the chilis if you choose.
The verdict: The grilled beef and the pork rib subs were savoury and were a nice contrast to the marinated daikon. I added some kimchee that I picked up in C-Town, which definitely brought a bit more character to the sandwiches. The Banh Mi sausage was overly salty for my tastebuds and a little overcooked, but in all fairness, I was at a gathering with freshly grilled sausages, so the vietnamese counterpart never got a chance!
I’m still on the search of the best Banh Mi in the 514 or 438. I’ll be posting a top 5 on Frantically Fooding a some point.
All that being said, I still prefer the Classic cold cut combo. It could be because I’m still trying to figure out the different types of cuts they use in the sandwich and my ego won’t let me Google this info! And maybe there’s also a part of me that wants- every time I take a bite of a Banh Mi- to get transported back to that moment in time when I learned that food knew no language barrier and that was a beautiful thing.
Montreal, in all its eclectic beauty, is a city of lushes. So no surprise that wine bars and charcuterie comptoirs are popping up in every hipster-dictated district. One of the front-runners of this trend is la Buvette chez Simone. I think part of it’s popularity and charm could be attributed to Simone…Who is she? What does she look like? Is she the type of lady who would sit in a parc reading Poe and throw day-old breadcrumbs at swans or does she jet-set from vignoble to vignoble trying to find the perfect pairing for the signature rotisserie chicken at this Parc Ave hotspot? Your guess is as good as mine!
I head over there in the summer months to bask in the sunshine on their earthy terrasse filled with beautiful people in coral lipstick and grandma booties. To make my tanning experience more enjoyable, there is an interesting wine list by the 1/2 glass, full glass and bottle. Great idea since it gives me a chance to appreciate a chardonnay, a pinot noir and a riesling in one sitting, with prices ranging from 3$-10$ per glass.
The tapas plates served by 1/2 or full portion are delightful as well. I get to create my own charcuterie platter. My personal faves: homemade duck rillette, rosette de Lyon and Riopelle cheese (although overpriced for a slice of cheese that comes from our own backyard).
The fried accras (cod fishcakes anyone?) married to a curry mayo are a MUST HAVE. Visually appealing with layers of flavour and texture, these balls make my eyelashes flutter a little faster. Order a couple of them to round out the charcuterie platter to heighten your Thursday 5à7 experience. For those who are like Yours Truly and prefer going to a wine bar to pour your emotions into a bread basket rather than into a bottle, you might like what follows.
BAM! The organic rotisserie chicken, seen in it’s 1/4 portion (careful exercise in restraint here), gracefully sits on a bed of roasted veggies like sweet potatoe and carrots. All the juices dripping from the surprisingly moist chicken to the veggies to the wooden board scream for you to soap it all up with their selection of artisanal breads. This is an item that runs out fast so don’t get any ideas of sauntering in 1 hour before closing to order it. I’ve tried, and cried myself back home.
So for the hip, young ambiance, the simplistic decor, the array of wines chalked out on the blackboards and the good eats, it’ll become, if it hasn’t already, one of your fave neighborhood winering hole. And since la Buvette has been pretty inconsistent and experimental in the dessert category, best to keep the sweet tooth for the eye candy around you!
Next to my name, in the event I happen to pop up in a bootleg garage sale dictionary, you will most certainly find a perfect synonym: FOOD…but wait, before you throw the F-bomb at me as just another die hard Foodie or a snobby elitist reviewer, let me define this passion of mine further.
All my fondest memories with my family and friends have been related to eating with feelings, which in essence is what Fooding means. As a child, my parents reassured me it was healthy to eat 5 servings of rice in one sitting. Finding ways to enjoy that 5th serving of rice started my anxious, hurried, passionate love affair of spices, side dishes and savoury fares. Now, I dedicate my free time and my waistline to all the emotions that food represents to me. No need to be alarmed, I’ve done extensive research as to whether this was a medical disorder. I’ve concluded with the help of unreliable online sites that it is just a part of who I am.
So everything related to food, food events, food trips, and food techniques is accessible in Frantically Fooding. So I graciously invite you to wear your best (PJs or Black Tie) and Food with me!