A Weekend in Montreal through Pictures-Part 1

July31

I still have so much to share with you about my recent trio to Montreal so I am going to let these pictures tell the story.

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The view from my high perch at the Marriott Chateau Champlain.

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Through the distinctive windows of the hotel.  Look at the little ones at floor level.

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Loved the unusual presentation of the delicious items at our welcome reception put on by our hosts at the hotel.

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Seafood tacos-yum.

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Hand cut potato crisps.

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Sliders with carmelized onions.

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Duck poutine-amazing.

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Off to the Jesse Cook concert, part of the International Jazz Festival. We had fantastic seats.

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A stop at one of the free concert stages on the walk back to the hotel.

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Architectural contrasts.

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My nightime view before snuggling into my cozy bed.

Kath’s quote: “Taking pictures is savoring life intensely, every hundredth of a second.” -Marc Riboud

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Sushi Terrace

July30

Glowing recommendations about Sushi Terrace have made their way to me, from Canstar readers to the sales person where I was recently vehicle shopping. Knowing that my sushi aficionado (aka Boo) would enjoy the eating adventure, we headed out to the Westwood neighbourhood.

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We were the sole diners that evening but there were many persons who were warmly greeted by the husband and wife team who own the restaurant, when neighbours arrived to pick up “to go” orders.

We had no idea about the portion size so ordered a tempura to start, a couple of rolls and a traditional Korean dish. Suffice it to say, the mixed tempura was a meal in itself and we took half of our selections home for lunches.

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Included in the tempura basket were two savoury spring rolls, two succulent prawns and a bevy of veggies including a squash that we could not identify, along with sweet potato, broccoli and more. The sweet chili and soy dipping sauces were plentiful and we ate our fill.

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But of course, there was still more to come. Undaunted, we pressed on. All three rolls included seafood: the “Burning Love” special, the “Happy Mouth” (I got a kick out of the name) and the Crunch Roll. My daughter could detect the heat from the “Burning Love” but all I sensed was the delicious melding of cucumber, red roe, shrimp and torched salmon. The “Happy Mouth” lived up to its name with variations of the above with silky avocado added for good measure. My favourite were the Crunch Rolls as I love the popping sensation of the fish eggs in my mouth along with the additional crunch of crispy panko flakes.

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The grilled marinated beef of the Bulgogi dish was more delicate than I expected, so we had a few tastes of that too.

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As a lovely surprise and the perfect ending to our meal, was a beautiful orange that had been cubed and then placed back into the carved out peel.

Owners Jooncheol EO and her husband JINHEE JEONG (they spelt it with the caps), were delightful hosts. Each time she came to the table with a dish, she perfectly placed the plate for us to feast with our eyes before we tucked in.

Even though we are centrally located, Westwood was a bit of a jaunt for us. Even if you make the trek from the east of the city, you will not be disappointed.

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Kath’s quote: “Making sushi is an art, and experience is everything”. -Nobu Matsuhisa

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Da Emma -Montreal

July24

Some of my clearest memories surround food. Others are connected to the warm display of affection. D might remember the date and year that we were in a certain country but I will remember the same circumstances differently-with tastes and aromas and specific ingredients or that love was present in the room or emanating from the kitchen.

Case in point, when D and I traveled to the Amalfi coast in Italy to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, one meal sticks out more clearly than any other. It was a lunch that we shared at a place called Cumpa Cosimo, way up high on the mountainside in Ravello. The restaurant had been run by the same family for decades. All the dishes served were Netta Bottone’s family recipes and she still supervised the cooking, greeted all of the guests herself and then collected everyone’s Euros before they departed.

More recently I have had the opportunity to dine at Restaurant Da Emma in Old Montreal. Emma Risa is a Montreal restaurateur that I was equally fascinated in meeting and knew that my memories of the evening would similarly stay with me for years. We were hosted by Ocean Properties associated with the Marriott Chateau Champlain which had been our home base for the weekend and the evening was the piece de résistance of our remarkable Montreal itinerary.

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Housed in Montreal’s first prison for women, the walls were impossibly thick but contrary to what you might first expect,

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the ambiance was warm and inviting.

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But to the food…we started with bruschetta where I confirmed anew how much I love fresh garlic and tomatoes and crunchy baguette.

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Next up was eggplant which featured thin layers of my favourite vegetable and a delicate tomato sauce.

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For my main, I chose “Piglet” even though I felt awkward about ordering something with such a cute name. The skin was crunchy, the silky fat melted away and the meat was perfectly seasoned and prepared.

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The highlight of the evening though was the invite to meet Ella.

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Perhaps you can see why I remembered my meeting with Netta in Ravello, now?

Netta had hosted the likes of Jacqueline Onassis, Humphrey Bogart and Mariah Carey.

Ella had hosted George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonny Depp.

In both cases, I was in good company.

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Kath’s quote: Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” - Sophia Loren

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

Bon Ami Louis-Just Opened

July22

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This fabulous location on the Provencher St. Bridge has remained empty as the city searched for a suitable tenant. WOW! Hospitality Concepts knew that the summer was the perfect time to stroll across the bridge in either and drop in for a bite with a view of the famous junction of the Red and Assiniboine River, but making that same trek during one of Winnipeg’s winters was not quite so pleasant. As a result, the restaurant will be open during summer months and the space will be a special event venue during fall, winter and spring.  I understand that businesses have already begun booking their Christmas parties in the space even though the venue opens today!

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Chef Luc Jean pictured above is bilinqual, as is Irene the assistant manager at the new restaurant. Providing additional service for persons strolling the Provencher Bridge will be this “to go” window, where the team will serve up poutine,

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burgers made with hand-formed patties and premise-made barbeque sauce,

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and ice cream sandwiches concocted when frozen chocolate mousse is slatered between two home-made cookies.

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At the media preview event last evening, we also sampled brie and walnut croustinis, pictured above. As well as an amazing one of gravlax (smoked salmon), horseradish enhanced creme fraiche and a sprig of dill.

 

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As mentioned, poutine will be available at the take out window. I am also hoping that these scrumptious French fries-one variety with a chipolte aioli and a second with parmesan shards and truffle oil, will be available as well.

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There were two flatbread tart flambees that you must try. The crust was impossibly thin and crispy and the generous fillings overflowed with each bite. The one pictured above contained chicken and artichokes.

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We particularily loved the fig jam, proscuitto and arugula flatbread. We encouraged friends who sat with us to try the fresh figs when they venture to Italy in the upcoming weeks ahead. D and I often recount our memories of picking fresh figs for breakfasts in Sicily!

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Desserts were lovingly deconstructed and reconstructed, like this redo of a lemon merigue pie. The delectable shortbread cookie, meant that it could be picked up and consumed in a couple of bites.

The wine and beer lists were simple but well-thought out. We looked over the more extensive dining menu and spied some offerings that we look forward to returning for.

Kath’s quote: “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”-Francois Minot

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

10 Montreal Foods Not to be Missed

July17

On a recent visit to Montreal, I had the very good fortune of being hosted by the Marriott Chateau Champlain and Tourisme Montreal. I was in perfect company to compile this top 10 list.

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1. Poutine, any kind of poutine but if you can get your hands on duck poutine as pictured here, even better!

Upon arrival, I was invited to a welcome to the Mariott cocktail reception. We were high up in the Presidential Suite with a gorgeous view of the cityscape with Mount-Royal on the horizon. What a wonderful way to start the weekend.

That evening we headed out to the Montreal International Jazz Festival and took in a Jesse Cook concert. He and his musicians were amazing, the audience was lively and the entire evening so much fun.

The next morning I indulged in the sumptuous offerings of the Marriott Chateau Champlain’s breakfast buffet in the Restaurant Samuel de Champlain. The made to order omelet was so terrific that the next morning I had another!

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 2. Thirst quenching kombucha at raw food sensation Crudessence.

We were off on a scooter tour of the Montreal neighbourhoods of Plateau Mount-Royal, Mile End and Little Italy. After winding our way through the beautiful trails on Mount-Royal we had worked up a thirst. Kombucha made from fermented green tea, rose and schizandra berries was just the ticket.

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3. Foraged wild mustard greens at Fou du Chef in Marche Jean Talon

We only had time for a quick stop at one of the largest fresh markets in North America: Marche Jean Talon. I could have stayed for hours meeting the multigenerational stall keepers and perusing their succulent offerings.

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4. Sesame bagel from the Fairmount Bakery in Little Italy.

With another stop at this 65 year old bagel stop I learned that a Montreal bagel is distinguished by three characteristics: they are hand-rolled, they are put into a bath of honeyed water and then baked in a wood-fired oven. This resulted in a texture that was crispy and chewy. Sesame seeds have adorned the bagel since a regular customer complained that the original poppy seeds got stuck in his teeth.

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5. Chocolate dipped strawberries at the Marriott Chateau Champlain.

After the scooter tour we had the opportunity to stretch out back in our beautifully appointed rooms at the Marriott Chateau Champlain. I had just closed my eyes when there was a knock on the door. When I opened it I grumpily told room service that they must have the wrong room because I hadn’t ordered anything. He politely responded “No Madame, these are courtesy of the hotel”!

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6. Pasteis de nata at Cantinho de Lisboa

The next morning we were off on a walking/tasting tour of Old Montreal stopping first at this gorgeous Portuguese “Canteen” where we tasted a version of cappuccino using Brazilian coffee beans and these traditional tarts that tasted to me like a luxurious crème brulee.

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7. Macaroons (or any of the exquisite pastries) from Maison Christian Faure.

The highest compliment that I can pay to Chef Faure, who was visiting with friends at a nearby table in the Maison was that his macaroons surpassed my memories of those eaten at the legendary Laduree on the Champs-Elysees in Paris!

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8. Award winning Quebec artisan cheese at Bourlingueur Bistro.

I am well aware that Quebec cheese makers are amongst the greatest in North America and certainly the best in Canada. I understand that it is because their ancestors brought their cheese-making skills with them from Europe. The Bourlingueur presented them perfectly with a simple torn  baguette so as not to camouflage any of the taste.

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9. Maple syrup from Haut Bois Normand.

This is the maple syrup brand that friends from Quebec bring me as gifts. I love the vintage look of the cans. The purity and clarity of their product is unsurpassed, in my humble opinion. We visited with one of the handsome family members at his shop in Marche Bonsecours.

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10. Montreal Imperial Cookies!

Our family loves the Imperial cookies (we also call them dream cookies) that are made by Manitoba bakeries, but (dare I say it?), I liked these even better. They follow the protocol of raspberry jam between two sugar cookies but they are dusted with icing sugar instead of being covered with a white glaze and the former is my preference. I saw them often from downtown coffee shops to the airport. Of course the heart shaped cut out, captured mine. This sighting at the airport made me feel loved by Montreal. I love you too and cannot wait to return in a couple of months.

Kath’s quote: “Montreal, however diminished, is still to my mind the most agreeable city in Canada. And this is because the two cultures not only confront but also continue to enrich each other. Looking beyond to-day’s quarrels, it remains a life-enhancing mix”.-Mordecai Richler

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

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