Archive for the 'Montreal' Category

Montreal’s Best Food Offerings – 3

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

Montreal is a foodies town, but that does not mean that it is easy to find top-notch vegetarian food.

Best Vegetarian Breakfast — Olive et Gourmando homepage. Review – Olive et Gourmando

l’Avenue’s breakfast is worth consideration — wonderful omelettes, generous sides — good for kids; wheelchair accessible; no reservations. 922 Av Du Mont-Royal E, Montreal, phone: 514-523-8780 Like a few of the restaurants in this section, there are some concerns about inconsistent service, but the food s excellent. Maybe in tough times, whatever concerns the staff has had will be put aside, and everyone will make sure every diner has a great experience.

If you eat eggs Montrealers love breakfast/brunch at Chez Cora, Montreal. There are several locations. If you have a problem with service, complain. Customers who did got their concerns listened to and gift cards to boot. No-one can be excellent at this price-point all of the time, but this is a solid middle-of-the-pack place. Most people really enjoy the food and that’s important.

La Paryse on 302 Ontario east, near St-Denis, has veggie burgers that are really good and home made and even a non-veggie will enjoy them. This one comes with herbed sour cream, tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, salsa, lettuce, and mayonnaise. The whole thing made for a fresh and flavorful (and quite filling) meal. But, you will be surrounded by most people eating animal meat, so you decide. And, this set of restaurants tend to be hole-in-the-wall size, so in winter, when waiting, that’s a problem. Strangely, you have to order their excellent fries, separately. phone: 514-842-2040

In the good weather, farmers and vendors at the public Marché Jean-Talon offer plenty of vegetarian options, but in this season’s weather, I suggest the Armenian-Syrian restaurant nearby which has well-regarded vegetarian food. Alep: in Little Italy neighborhood, 199 rue Jean Talon E, Montreal, Quebec, Canada phone: 514-270-6396 Price range: $10-$25. Get reservations.

More another time. Enjoy!

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Best Food Offerings – 2

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Here are more chances to find special meals in Montreal. Here’s a fun roster to use as a guide, for any category which interests you.

Best Breakfast: Olive et Gourmando homepage. Review – Olive et Gourmando

The city also has seven outposts of Eggspectation, and they all do brisk business all day serving funky, creative breakfasts with loads of egg options. The menu is extensive and includes other choices like burgers, steaks, salads and desserts. Prices are fair, and portions are huge. They also are a franchise and outlets in Maryland and Virginia, near Washington, DC.

Best Smoked Meat: There are other contenders, but Chez Schwartz Charcuterie Hébraïque de Montréal (known simply as Schwartz’s), at 3895 bd. St-Laurent, north of rue Prince-Arthur in Plateau Mont-Royal (phone: 514-842-4813), serves up the definitive version of regional brisket. But some caution that one should check-out Main Deli, across the street, recommending their excellent smoked meat and charbroiled steaks. And, yet again, for others, their favorite is the last of the “real” Jewish deli in Montreal — Snowdon Deli on Blvd. Decarie in Snowdon.

You can read more about the most generally-recognized favorite Schwartz’s Deli, Montreal.

Best Bagel: With a local Hasidic Jewish community, even native New Yorkers have to give it up for Montréal’s unique bagels. They are sweeter and chewier than those produced south of the border. Both St-Viateur Bagel & Café, at 1127 av. Mont-Royal est in Plateau Mont-Royal (phone: 514-528-6361), and Fairmont Bagel, at 74 av. Fairmont ouest in Mile End (phone: 514-272-0667), are the places to compare and discuss which represents Montrealers better.

Fairmount Bagel Bakery has bagels which are lighter and more aerated than New York style bagels. The secret to them is the soft water so that makes them hard to duplicate elsewhere. They also use egg and honey right in the dough and they hand roll the bagel in sesame seeds. You can also enjoy non-traditional, modern flavors like: chocolate chip, sun dried tomato and muesli but the sesame bagel is the most popular and it is baked around the clock.

Best Chocolate: In the French tradition of enjoying sweet breads for breakfast and snacks, consider a stop at La Maison Cakao that are famous for brownies, chocolates and ice creams. If you saw the film “Chocolate”, you will instantly feel that you know Maison Cakao. This little room at the eastern edge of the Plateau has the most delicious aromas in town. Edith Gagnon is a graduate of Quebec’s Hotel and Restaurant Institute, where she majored in chocolate.

She imports blocks of Barry Chocolate from France and heats and swirls it into delectable bonne bon-bons. Her chocolate crusted citrus is sublime, and her ganache (mixed with Earl Grey tea and bergamot) is an astounding blend of flavors. Gagnon is also meticulous in presenting her chocolates.
La Maison Cakao
1351-1391 Avenue du Mont Royal Est, Montreal, QC H2J 1Y7, Canada
5090 Rue Fabre, Montreal QC, H2J 3W4
check which is currently open to the public
Phone: 514-598-2462

Best Ice-Cream: I know that you’re not likely to want ice-cream while wandering Montreal’s streets this month, but in the summer, head to Le Bilbouquet, an artisanal ice cream maker. Be sure to sample of some maple ice cream, which is utterly divine.
4864, rue Sherbrooke O.Montreal, Westmount
1311 Avenue Bernard, Montreal


Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Montreal’s Best Food Offerings

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

Montreal is a Foodie’s heaven and as Canada’s Thanksgiving Holiday is long gone, now it is time for the Americans to flood the scene over Thanksgiving vacation!

Montreal’s Best Restaurant: As you’ve seen in past articles, most people believe that Chef Normand Laprise’s Toque! is an exceptional integration of nouvelle cuisine and classic French cooking technique, but there are many other excellent choices in their particular category, so here goes!

Best Classic French Bistro: Plateau Mont-Royal’s most Parisian spot is L’Express, which I’ve also written about in the earlier Montreal restaurant series. This is where you come to see what the Francophone part of this otherwise most-Anglophile city in Quebec. One might observe, that apart from well-made food, with the ambience of the black-and-white-checkered floor to the grand, high ceilings, this is where Old France meets New France. L’Express, Montreal

Best Vegan Restaurant: This is the standard-bearer since 1997. Plateau Mont-Royal’s Aux Vivres has been delighting vegans, vegetarians — and the meat eaters who love them — with a 2-language menu of delights and innovation. Their meticulously made food includes: vegetarian pate, chilis, mezze, baked-to-order chapati sandwiches, rice bowls, salads, burgers, daily soups and specials, lassi, fresh juices and smoothies, organic coffee and chocolate combo and more. They are prepared in the cafe using seasonal, organic and local produce. You can learn more at their website:Aux Vivres – Vegan Montreal. Maybe try it for brunch. Be sure to try the coconut “bacon”. They are located at 4631 boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montreal. phone: 514-842-3479

Best Guilty Treat: Poutine This is a plate of potato french fries (frites) drenched with gravy afloat with fresh-made cheese curds. It’s a bedrock of moderately-priced, Québec comfort food which tastes much better than it sounds, especially when made by experienced chefs. The key to a great poutine is a light gravy, raw milk cheese curds (which are kept out of the refrigerator to retain their “squeakiness”) and then fresh, crispy hand-cut chips (fries). It is also made to order so that the chips are never soggy. La Banquise offers about 28 variations of poutine and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s a mecca for college students. Yes, Montrealers love poutine THAT much!

The heat from the freshly cooked chips (underneath the cheese) and the hot gravy (on top) ensures that the cheese curds melt. Use a fork. The key technique is to wait a few minutes. Let them melt and then turn the chips over with your fork to ensure that the cheese curds are dunked under the gravy and fries.

La Banquise, Montreal Poutine located at 994 rue Rachel est, 514-525-2415, near Parc La Fontaine’s northwest corner. It is not wheelchair accessible. When it’s very busy, they may accept only cash. Menu is only in French.

Frite Alors (Always Fries!) is another poutine place, with several outlets.
3497 Boulevard Saint Laurent, Montréal

More, next time!

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Normand Laprise – Montreal’s Best Chef 2

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Here’s more about Normand Laprise, whom many think is Canada’s Best Chef, but he certainly holds the title for Quebec and Montreal and he developed Québécois nouvelle cuisine.

His Vieux-Montréal flagship restaurant is Toque! and it is one of the few that prestigious Relais & Châteaux recommends. You will need to reserve even 2 months ahead, sometimes more and dinner for 2 will be at least $250.

Please read my article Toque! Montreal – Best Restaurant and Part 1 of this series: Chef Normand Laprise

Master Chef and owner, Norman Laprise, is concerned about all facets of the food he brings in to create your meal. He is one of the few highly regarded by the esteemed Relais & Châteaux and Normand is in the company of culinary royalty like Patrick O’Connell, Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

Normand says is increasingly important for us to research where ingredients come from. He cares about sustainability, traceability and methods used by the growers or the suppliers. One particularly sensitive issue is the choice of the fish he serves. Many of the world’s oceans are being severely over-fished, sometimes to a point where certain species of fish are endangered.

While he doesn’t have an official blacklist. He and his team put a special emphasis on purchasing and serving mostly local species and working with well-managed fisheries (one that also use sustainable practices like line-caught or hand-gathered fishing), rather than those using bottom trawling. Trawlers damage the environment severely when dragging a fishing net along the sea bottom. Too many unwanted species are caught and are not even thrown back, if they survived the experience, when hauled aboard.

That’s why it is possible to find tuna on Toqué’s menu only a few times a year; it comes from Nova Scotia where it has been line-caught by a fisherman Normand knows.

So, I encourage you, when you buy fish in a shop or eat in a restaurant, to ask where it comes from first – whether it is from a sustainable source, whether it is an endangered or over-exploited species. Overfishing is certainly preventable and fixable. I hope that, collectively, we will make critical long-term changes for the health of our oceans.

The same is true of land animals and their husbandry and also the farmer’s treatment of their land, for animals and food plants. Normand grew up on a farm, so he knows that excellence can be attained with concern and knowledge, without need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. He offers only the best food — seasonal, usually organic and always grown with care and respect.

This first recipe uses line-fished mackerel from Îles de la Madeleine. In case your budget does not allow you to visit Laprise’s expensive restaurant, try one or more of the recipes listed, as a chance to enjoy his expertise. Follow the guidelines carefully. You’ll find even a few more online if you search.

Normand Laprise’s Mackerel

Normand Laprise – Homemade Potato Chips and Smoked Herring Dip

Chef Normand Laprise – Shrimp Salad with Savoy Cabbage

Normand Laprise recipe – Cauliflower Soup & Pan-seared Mushrooms

900 Place Jean-Paul-Riopelle, near rue St-Antoine
phone: 514-499-2084
open for lunch, now, too: 11:30am – 2:00 pm Tuesday to Friday
An affordable table d’hôte menu served in 60 minutes sharp!

His new French brewery style restaurant, Brasserie T! Is now open in the Quartier des spectacles, near the Montreal Contemporary Art Museum.

Brasserie T!
1425, Jeanne-Mance
Montreal, Quebec

At least peruse the recipes to see whether you feel Normand’s palate will be compatible with your palate’s sense of flavor and cuisine.


Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

Normand Laprise – Montreal’s Best Chef

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Chef Normand Laprise, of Montreal’s best restaurant, Toque!, is considered the founder of Quebec haute cuisine sending it from a staid tradition into a visionary future; he is always surrounded by teetering stacks of local, hand-selected ingredients about which only the best is ever considered. The food is local, organic, seasonal and he is dedicated to protecting our planet. He’s a great example to other chefs to be responsible role-models, only working with sustainable foods, especially sustainable, well-managed fisheries.

Recently, Normand Laprise was awarded the insignia of chevalier of the Ordre National du Québec, which is the highest distinction granted by the Quebec government. The premier of Quebec underlined Laprise’s contributions to the advancement of Quebec gastronomy onto the global stage — both as a beacon for tourism and for the export of artisanal foods made famous by him and the chefs he’s teaching.

Normand is a wiry, earnest man with a ready smile and a thick Quebecois accent. He became one of Canada’s most influential chefs when he opened Toquè in Montreal almost five years ago and now he is poised to become a major player in New York City, as well, with his recent opening of Cena.

Laprise stresses that his cooking is built around one principle: fresh produce is the heart of good food. He grew up on a farm in Quebec, so he knows the culture and care and flavor of fresh, good food.

Studying at the culinary academy in Quebec, he became disillusioned by the disdain and total lack of innovation. He left for France to study with famous chefs like Jean-Pierre Billoux, at Hotel de la Cloche near Dijon.

Laprise’s techniques may be French, but he is firmly a North American chef. He delights in the robust ingredients of this continent, like: roasted venison with a jus flavored with spruce tips, or seared foie gras with rhubarb compote, baby corn and pumpkin seed oil. He’s not delicate with his flavor. They sing an American opera.

In this tough economy, more people have been concerned that this expensive restaurant was out of their financial league, so Normand opened his more moderate brasserie in Montreal, called Brasserie T!

Please read my original article about Toque! Montreal – the city’s Best Restaurant

More about Normand next time, along with some ways to discern if your palate is likely compatible with his.

Montreal Archive

©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review