Browsing: Restaurant Features

Guest Bloggers: Boo and The Frenchman-Bon Apetite a Montreal

May14

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Here is another installment from the travelling duo, this time from Boo.

My husband, known as the “Frenchman” on this blog, and I visited Montreal for the first part of our honeymoon, before flying to Greece. The Frenchman is native to Quebec, yet had not been back as an adult. Even though it had been twelve years since he had last visited, he felt right at home, and even mentioned moving there one day. But realistically, that won’t happen, we love the Wee One and time at Lester Beach too much! We also love Montreal for many reasons, including the amazing shopping, bicycle friendly streets, rich history, and the strong political interest and mobilization of the young people. However the top reason to visit Montreal is the food. All our favourites: amazing lattes, poutine, smoked meat, craft beer, crepes and croissants! So here is your eating guide to Montreal.

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We ate a lot of poutine in Montreal, which made it easy for us to compare and decide on our favourite poutine joint.  One of our favourites, and a favourite to Montrealers is La Banquise.  Open 24 hours a day, La Banquise is the perfect place to go morning, noon or night. If you go around dinner time, you will wait in line for a while, but it is so worth it.  With over 30 different types of poutine, there is something for everyone.  The variety ranges from poutine with pogo sticks, to smoked meat and pickle, and everything in between.  We chose La Matty, which had bacon, peppers, onions and mushrooms, and La Boogalou which had pulled pork, coleslaw and sour cream.  What makes Montreal poutine different from anywhere else is the sweet, soft French fries and the large squeaky cheese curds.  We had no problem finishing our large portions.  And if you are worried about the extra calories in poutine, just hike up to Mount Royale or rent a Bixi bike and you will be sure to burn it off.  Honourable mentions for poutine joints also include Chez Claudette, located just around the corned from the brew pub Dieu Du Ciel!, or poutineville, where you can make your own combination of poutine toppings.

La Banquise on Urbanspoon

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Another must have in Montreal is their  famous smoked meat.  Schwartz’s is world famous for their smoked meat, and let me tell you, it is worth the hype! There is a line up out the door any time in the day, because people just cannot stay away. Schwartz’s has been in business since 1928 serving the same recipe: delicious stacks of smoked meat.  The restaurant itself also hasn’t changed in the slightest, which only adds to the charm.  We sat facing the kitchen, and was able to talk to the recent owner, who showed so much pride in his restaurant.  So much so that he had to stick around to watch us take our first bite into our sandwich of smoked meat on rye. Our satisfied grumbles put a grin on his face.  The smoked meat is so tender that is feels as though it melts in your mouth. This place is famous for a reason, it is the best smoked meat you will ever have in your life, so be sure to go!

Schwartz's Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen on Urbanspoon

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For a very unique dining experience in Montreal, with delicious food, visit ONOIR, where you eat in complete darkness. Experiencing complete darkness for a hour or more may be scary for some, but it is amazing how it boosts your other senses, including taste.  You order before going into the dark restaurant, but I would suggest getting the surprise meals to get the full experience.  There is a set price for a two course or three course meal, and whatever you end up having, I assure you it will be delicious.  The chef is a master of combining tastes that please your pallet. It is fun to attempt to guess what you are eating, and we did a pretty good job at guessing almost everything on our plate. The restaurant hires visually impaired people as their wait staff, and a portion of the proceeds go to local associations that support visually impaired individuals.  It is a culinary experience you will not forget!

Onoir on Urbanspoon

Montreal has many reasons to visit, only one of them being the food.  Be sure to visit La Belle Province and taste all that it has to offer.

Kath’s quote: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.” –James Michener

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Calabria Market

May13

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If you have had the good fortune to travel to Italy, as I am blessed to have, your love of authentic Italian cooking has likely stayed with over the years. My first sojourn was when I was fresh out of university. I distinctly remember the evening that I tasted pigeon for the first time. More recently my husband and I returned to celebrate a special anniversary and the memories of the pizza, sauces, pasta and salads have prompted us to make travel arrangements to return to Italy again this fall.

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An authentic pasta sauce recipe literally bursts with spritely tomato flavours, enhanced by herbs, onion and garlic. The pasta itself is firm and yet tender to the tooth and salads offer up vinegary goodness with every bite. This describes my recent lunch at the Calabria Market  (139 Scurfield Blvd ) perfectly. I was teaching in the area (restaurant food and beverage service to be exact) and had forgotten to take my lunch. Since I was solo, I wanted to quickly run in and fetch something, but I was hoping to avoid fast food. Remembering that the Calabria Market serves a couple of daily lunch specials, I decided to give them a try.

The pasta special on this particular day was ravioli in a hearty meat sauce with a crisp salad and plenty of buttery garlic toast to lap up the abundant sauce. Calabria’s recipes all originate from the Momma of the family owners ( Cathy & Vicky and their father Frank Fodera). The Italian region that they are from is, not surprisingly, “Calabria” which makes up the toe of the Italian boot.

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I plunked down at one of the provided tables, noting that most people ordering from the kitchen window were taking their lunch to go. I ate as much as I could possibly manage. The taste were so divine, I didn’t want to stop. But finally, with restraint, I was able to lay down my fork and take half away for my lunch the next day.

With a quick glance at the market shelves I grabbed a box of truffle mac and cheese, with a little bottle of truffle oil for extra measure and paid for these along with my $8.50 lunch special.

Calabria Market & Wine Store on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: My handshake is as firm as cooked spaghetti. So, do you prefer your introductions with Alfredo or marinara sauce?”  Jarod Kintz

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Guest Bloggers: Boo and the Frenchmen-Montreal’s Best Coffee Spots

May13

Boo and the Frenchmen are currently on their long awaited honeymoon. Greece is their current location but en route, they spent a week drinking coffee, beer and noshing in Montreal.

From the Frenchman:

During our stay in Montreal I had to make sure we checkout the hottest coffee shops in town. Everyone that knows me knows I love my coffee, more specifically lattes. I even got my wife Boo addicted to coffee, or perhaps turned her into a coffee snob like me. To me, coffee is more than just another cup of joe, or something to keep the buzz goin’. I usually associate drinking coffee with relaxing and/or enjoyable moments. That’s why I had to make a list of coffee shops we would visit since we were on our honeymoon.

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After a little research I had found 3 of the top places that are running the coffee scene in Montreal: Café Olympico “Open da night”, located in the heart of Mile End, is a bustling coffee parlour that was open in the 70’s. Inside you will find a large espresso machine behind which a barista is frantically making one coffee after another. There was constant chatter in the background and seemed to be a favorite spot with locals as many poeple came in and greeted the baristas like old friends. What I found different about this coffee shop is how they expertly poured the espresso and steamed milk right in front of you on a high counter. Usually the drink is made behind the machine, in this case you got to be part of the making adding to the whole experience. This was definitely one of our favorite spots(we went twice), the espresso was delicious and felt just right being mixed with creamy steamed milk. They serve their own house blend; a secret recipe as described on their website.

Café Olimpico on Urbanspoon

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Next we went to Cafe Plume, nestled in Le Plateau de Mont Royal. I would consider this one a neighborhood coffee shop, frequented by students and hipsters alike. When we walked in I was greeted with a familiar sight; bags of Phil and Sebastian Coffee Roasters. We must have walked in at a busy time as we had to wait a little bit to find a seat, which we did by the window. The atmosphere is quite inviting with bright lights, a brick backwall, chairs and tables and stools running along the window. That day they had the Nueva Llusta blend, and both Boo and I had lattes. A delicious choice so much so I had to have an espresso shot of that same coffee. The staff is very friendly and knowledgable; I ended up having a little chat with the barista about the different coffees they serve including Verve Coffee.

Café Plume on Urbanspoon

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We also went to Cafe Myriade, situated right off of St-Catherine in the shadows of l’Universite de Concordia. When we arrived we could tell this was a popular student hang out. Amid tables busy with young people in animated conversations we waited in line to order our lattes, our favorite as you can tell. We were lucky to get our coffees just as a table was vacated near the front window. The espresso machine dominates the counter, making it plain they are serious about their coffee. And we weren’t disappointed. Again our taste buds were greeted with the delicious taste of a fresh and well roasted blend, this time from the Square Mile Coffee Roasters. I must say checking out these coffee shops just enriched our visit in Montreal, knowing we were going to taste some of the best coffee this city can offer. You don’t have to be a coffee snob by any means to enjoy a trip to these locations; the friendliness of the staff, the atmosphere and the tasty drinks they will serve you will be enough to give you a great experience.

Cafe Myriade on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.” Ronald Reagan

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Dining with New Foodie Friends

May12

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My husband D and I enjoy dining with new foodie friends as we did recently with Canstar reader and contest winner Janice Sawka and her guest, at The Keg Steakhouse + Bar Southside location on McGillivray Blvd. The co-workers and pinball aficionados toasted the evening with a French 75 Martini and a Ginger Crantini.

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As soon as we could stop talking about our favourite Winnipeg restaurants, the friends selected appetizers of Tuna Tartare and Baked Brie. Janice was determined to try something that might have typically been outside of her comfort zone.

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After mustering up the gumption, she was surprised at the lovely texture and subtle flavours of the tartare. Tartares have French origins when a meat or fish is finely chopped and served raw. She also enjoyed the tastes of Mushrooms Neptune and Crab Cakes that we shared with her.

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For their salad course, The Keg’s renowned Caesar salad and a nouveau Spinach Salad were chosen. Janice was tempted by the addition of chèvre (goat cheese) and the chardonnay vinaigrette on the spinach one.

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D tried the Wedge salad for the first time.

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I waited and had my salad as my entrée. I love this new option on the Keg menu.

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Janice was still working her way through both her appetizer and salad when her Sirloin Oscar entrée arrived.  She was happy to indulge in both seafood (shrimp and scallops) and one of The Keg’s excellent steaks, all in one dish. The asparagus and béarnaise sauce were her “icing on the cake”.

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But speaking of sweets, dessert was yet to come.  My husband suggest a mini-dessert trio of butter tart, fudge brownie and crème brûlée (literally: burnt cream) for the undecided.  Janice considered and then concluded that the famous Keg Billy Miner pie was her choice, if she could request that it not be served with caramel sauce.  The Keg is always happy to accommodate substitutions, so everyone got exactly what they wanted.

Our server Cory was more than gracious with us when the dining room emptied, as the four of us sat and chatted about dining in Italy, Seattle and Jerusalem and where next our food adventures may take us.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”-Mae West

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

Noodles in Grand Forks, ND

May6

Duh-I learned the difference between noodles and pasta this weekend. Noodles are cut and pasta is extruded. I saw both demonstrated at the CIGI (the Canadian International Grains Institute).

The weekend prior, D had been a real trouper as I had spent the morning shopping at my favourite store : Gordman’s in Grand Forks, ND. I thought it only fair that he choose where we would go for lunch before we headed north on I29 and home to Winnipeg. I expected another place where the emphasis was on the libations served not necessarily the food. This is because he had not brought his glasses or an extra pair of contacts with us and he couldn’t drive. To be able to indulge in a couple of brewskies on a Saturday afternoon and not worry about the highway drive was an unexpected opportunity for him. He decided instead to go for the food and let the craft beer sampling await another time away.

He had hoped that NOODLES & Company was not a chain. He hadn’t remembered that we had visited Noodles in the Mall of America with the family, whilst in Minneapolis.  Indeed, we had pretty low expectations when we pulled up. Turns out, we were absolutely delighted by our bowls full of noodles.

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D decided upon the Japanese Pan Noodles with a grilled chicken breast. I also chose a chicken breast, but mine was the Indonesian Peanut Sauté. His bowl was full of caramelized udon noodles in a sweet soy sauce. Mine was a rice noodle stir fry in a spicy peanut sauce. Both had broccoli, carrots, Asian sprouts and cilantro.

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Mine came with more crushed peanuts and a wedge of lime.

Technically from what I learned at CIGI, “Noodles” should be called “Not Just Noodles” since it serves a wide variety of pasta as well.

Lunch turned out to be a refreshing change from typically fast food. Now, if only we could get Noodles to come to Winnipeg….

Noodles & Company on Urbanspoon

Kath’s (random) quote: “Mr. Jesmond made a peculiar noise rather like a hen who has decided to lay an egg and then thought better of it.”-Agatha Christie

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Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

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