My sister wasn’t kidding when she warned me my weekend with her in Montreal would be a total foodie weekend. All of our time there was devoted to food; if we weren’t eating, we were shopping for food delights, and if we weren’t shopping for food delights, we were eating.
And there are a lot of great restaurants and foodie shops in Montreal, that’s for sure.
On Friday night we headed out to the FoodLab; located at La Société des Arts Technologiques, the restaurant styles itself as a “labo culinaire” (culinary lab?) and in keeping with this, the chefs experiment constantly with the menus, which are themed according to country. The theme for our evening there was “l’ete au sud de l’Italie” (summer in the south of Italy, if my rusty French is accurate).
After some deliberating, we decided to share the antipasti with burrata cheese and bread. There were six kinds of antipasti on our platter, and the most delicious was a bright summery green fava bean tartine. We oohed and aahed over this one, and Dawn vowed to recreate the recipe when she got back home. Which she did, by the way. She searched online and found this recipe for Fava Bean Puree at the James Beard Foundation; she tweaked it a bit (the version we had didn’t have rosemary so she used a bay leaf instead) and she says it’s very very similar to what we had.
It was my first time eating burrata cheese, too; a very lovely soft cheese but apparently a little hard on the wallet. Dawn also warned me to always buy burrata cheese from Italy; the Canadian version is not, apparently, as good (although much easier on the wallet).
After our dinner, we walked around Old Montreal; there’d been a downpour earlier which had cleared the heat from the city, and it was a beautiful, cool summer night. We ended up at the Kitchen Galerie where we indulged in oysters – so good!
The next day we went food shopping, hitting a bunch of gourmet food stores; I didn’t buy all that much, since I’m not the cook in the family and wasn’t too sure what would be appreciated and used in our pantry. I did buy a lovely chocolate chili rooibos tea, though – I’ve been trying to find one for ages (they’re usually made with black teas, and I wanted a non-caffeinated version). I also bought some lovely rosemary and sea salt bagels from St-Viateur Bagel (which, unfortunately, I forgot to wrap in plastic, so they weren’t quite as good the next day).
On Saturday evening we dined at Le Comptoir, a lovely little bistro restaurant that also does some experimental things. We decided to share a number of plates, as it was difficult to choose just one thing. We ended up with a ravioli dish, a shrimp ceviché, Albacore tuna carpaccio and the absolute highlight of the evening: Paleron de boeuf braisé, cassolette de petits légumes, gnudi, estragon, sauge & citron. Or … braised chuck! Yes, chuck. We were both amazed when the waiter brought this dish to our table:
It was very, very tender and tasty and, as you can see, nicely pink. This is not the way chuck turns out for us when we cook it here, that’s for sure! Dawn asked the waiter how it was made; he told us it was braised for 48 hours in a 50° oven.
(Dawn intends to replicate this dish, too, using a 150° oven, since that’s the lowest setting on consumer ovens.)
After our dinner, we strolled along boul. Saint-Laurent for a bit, before deciding we weren’t so full we couldn’t have more … oysters! We ended up at the Maestro S.V.P., where I learned west coast oysters have a hint of watermelon flavour. I think they’re my new favourites.
On Sunday we checked out of our hotel and then headed toward the Marché Jean-Talon, Montreal’s biggest public market. Dawn stocked up on veggies for the week, along with a vast assortment of deli meats (I didn’t know there were so many different kinds), cheeses and handmade pasta. I was a little too timid to try any of the deli meats but I did buy a couple of bison sausages for Ward, some pear and coriander yogurt and some lovely soft cheeses.
And then we started on our six hour drive home. It was a lovely, lovely foodie weekend. I haven’t been exercising for the past few months because the weather’s been too hot for running, but I’m promising myself I’ll start again soon. Because it was that kind of a really really good foodie weekend!