Browsing: Restaurant Features

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.

 

 

Lobster Summer at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

July13

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Recently, I had the opportunity to assemble a number of my social media friends on the patio of the Southside Keg here in Winnipeg. The occasion was the opportunity to get a detailed look at the Lobster Summer menu features.

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We sipped upon a lovely and refreshing cocktail that had been specially concocted for our evening as we awaited the last of the group.

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First up was the Szechwan Lobster which also contained crispy shrimp and asparagus spears. The latter tasted even better than asparagus tempura which I happen to love. The sweetness of the accompanying sauce offset the spiciness. The crisp white wine that had made its way around the table, didn’t hurt either.

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These crispy lobster tacos were a hit too.

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Already a fan of The Keg’s Shrimp Gratinee, this special version with these huge chunks of lobster was utterly decadent. The sweet lobster was baked in butter, garlic and herbs and would have been scrumptious enough without the inclusion of a goey cheese blend. This dish in particular was so good that we all broke off pieces of bread to dunk into the escargot dish divets to soak up every last drop.

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The colourful Surf + Turf arrived next. The mini filets were perfectly cooked to medium rare.

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Haven eaten lobster rolls on Cape Cod, I was not prepared to be so impressed by The Keg’s version. The sparkling taste of the chilled seafood could shine as the mayo was added with a light touch and the grilled brioche added that crispy buttery taste that I crave.

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As if all these amazing tastes had not been enough, it was time for dinner. As we donned our lobster bibs we posed for this group shot. I thought that we all looked like patients ready to see our dentists!

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This was what a one pound lobster tail looked like. Can you imagine how huge the whole crustacean must have been? The meat was dense with sweetness and flavour and I thought I might have died and gone to shellfish heaven.

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For another perspective, this is how big the shell of that baby was.

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The star of the show was still to come- a two pound whole live lobster. These were flown in the morning of our meet up from Nova Scotia. One of the guests who hails from Newfoundland demonstrated how to take apart the gorgeous creature with her bare hands.

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Look at all that beautiful lobster meat and that was from a single claw.

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The remains of our eating adventure may have best demonstrated what a lovely time was had by all.

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Of course no meal is perfect unless it is shared with good friends. It is hard for me to imagine that I had never met anything of these good folks (with one exception) before I ventured into the blogisphere. Missing was our friend Shel Zolkewicz.

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Katie Nicholson of CBC fame, also writes for Pepper + Vine. In the foreground is Robin Summerfield who has a fabulous cookbook on Winnipeg Chefs that will be coming out this fall. You may also know her from her years with Peg City Grub.

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Natalie Bell also uses the Peg City Moniker. She is Peg City Lovely.

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Photographer Ian McAusland is the only person in this group that I had crossed paths with in my previous career.

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This is sparkplug Susie Parker of Sparker Strategy Group.

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Rebecca Hadfield writes Relish when she isn’t making gourmet granola bars or teaching a spin class.

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Ron Cantiveros co-publishes the Filipino Journal. He has written 74,000 tweets from his account.

Kath’s quote: Perfectly prepared lobster are “not unlike hot curds, juicy and tender, and sweet as scorched honey from ocean depths.”-Kenneth Robert

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

Jonnie’s Sticky Buns

July9

D travels for business and I often take the opportunity to dash about town, picking up solo treats to sustain me while he is away. Jonnie’s Sticky Buns at 941 Portage Ave has plenty of street parking in the area, to run in and walk out with a late breakfast and a treat for later in the day.

I first met Jon McPhail when he opened the neighbourhood bakery. At that time a hearty bunwich like the one that I tucked into, was not available. The local hang out has evolved over the years to the thoroughly satisfy their many customers. I understand doughnuts are the new rage-I’ll take a cinnamon bun any day.

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The Breakfast Bunwich starts with a just baked roll, to which a perfectly cooked egg was placed. By this I mean: not one with a runny yolk that leaks out of the sandwich and all the way down your arms to the elbows.  The gooey Bothwell cheese, chorizo sausage and sweet curry ketchup elevated a typical breakfast sandwich into a category of its very own.

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I waited all day to sample my next treat- a whole grain sticky bun. My Mom, who made the greatest cinnamon buns I had ever tasted, would be hard-pressed to duplicate this. Yeasty and standing tall, I split it down the middle, grilled it and lavishly applied the butter. If you are going to splurge on all those carbs and sugars, you might as well do it up right!

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Jonnies is one of those perfect places that takes a simple concept, sticks to it and excels at it.

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Kath’s quote: “Sticky cinnamon buns belong to Philadelphia… This is a bun of true cinnamon flavour, of a stickiness incarnate.” –Best Recipes of 1949 (This Week Magazine) I would beg to differ Mark Kurlansky!

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Keg Garry St. Patio

June27

If you live on the Canadian prairies you know how short summer is and likely find ways to be outside as much as possible. When the three sisters decided to convene for an evening recently to officially kick off summer, the Keg Garry St. Patio was high on our list. The established landscaping is beautiful, as is the water feature and outdoor fireplace. We met early to find the perfect table amidst the after work crowd.

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The evening started with strawberry basil mojitoes that were as refreshing as they looked.

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But so was the beer

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and my glass of merlot for that matter.

Soon appetizers to share of tuna tartare and crispy shrimp arrived.

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Sister #2 who was not certain she would like the taste of raw tuna, dived right in. Since you can scoop the fish and chopped avocado up with a crispy wonton noodle, she decided she did!

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The crispy shrimp is a new favourite especially when swiped through the delicious dip that it is accompanied with.

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We are all steak lovers but were looking for an entree on the lighter side so we were delighted when our helpful server indicated that there was a marinated flank steak and grilled shrimp combo on special that evening.  We decided to share the huge entrée three ways and each ordered our own loaded baked potatoes.

Not only was the steak perfectly marinated and cooked but when it was served pre-sliced it was so easy to divide up. By coincidence the shrimp skewer came with three enormous shrimp (I always laugh inwardly when I describe shrimp that way).

With no room for dessert, coffee or after dinner drinks, we settled in for a real good catch up and then headed off into the still beautiful evening.

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Kath’s quote:

“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather; 
To cheer one on the tedious way, 
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down, 
To strengthen whilst one stands” 
 Christina Rossetti, 

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Jimels International Cuisine

June19

Every once in a while, a special moment occurs in my new found career as a food writer. I wanted to sample the services of one of the restaurant home delivery services (Just Eat) and order a solo supper as my husband is traveling for business. I have spotted Jimels International Cuisine as I have driven past it on St. James St so it was on top of my list.

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Although not well versed in Philippine cuisine, I knew that I had enjoyed every dish I had tasted. So I scanned the on line menu and placed my order for 2 House Specials- Tortang Talong (eggplant omelet) and Creamy Sisig (grilled marinated chicken). When the delivery arrived I was blown away by the beautiful presentation, even in those utilitarian Styrofoam containers and the volume of food for the money spent.

I immediately called the restaurant to compliment them and spoke to Imelda (“like the lady with the shoes”-she said) Abao. Her husband calls her Mel and his name is Jim, hence “Jimels”. The sweet woman was absolutely delighted by the call. In fact, she indicated that I was an answer to her prayers. They had come up against some hard times when someone ran off their savings. They were attempting to get back on their feet via the restaurant but she shared: “We have good food and we have lots of space. We just need more customers”.  I told her that I would try to spread the word. The response to a Facebook post and a Tweet was very positive from my followers. Hopefully that and this column will parlay into some business for them.

The suggestion to give them a try isn’t solely based on philanthropic motives; the two dishes that I sampled were excellent, utilizing fresh ingredients with a light hand for seasoning to let the natural flavours shine through.

Imelda shared her secret ingredient through her tear-filled voice: “love-we cook with love”.

Kath’s quote: “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift.”-Laurie Colwin

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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