A good portion of my life revolves around food, so its not surprising that a good portion of my travel revolves around food. Our trip to Montreal last weekend was no exception, from our arrival until our departure.
Due to our two hour delay, by the time we got to Montreal we were starving. Stumbling along St Laurent Boulevard we happened into L’amere aboire. From the outside it looks like a pub, so we assumed we could get some decent food. What we quickly discovered is that not only do they brew their own beer, including my favorite Elephant 10, but their menu is fantastic. Crisp fish and chips, a twist on nachos that included pulled pork, black beans, tomatoes, and cheese, and frites with homemade aioli dipping sauce. We walked in a wee bit cranky, and starving and walked out ready to conquer Montreal!
That evening we embarked on a recommendation from everyone’s cranky traveling chef, Anthony Bourdain.
Joe Beef was both a meal and an experience. You squeeze in the front door and queue up to be seated while pressed up against the backs of chairs while waiters swirl around you. The menu is written, in French, on a chalkboard the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. We managed to decipher about 75% of it, however our darling waitress was more then happy not only to walk us through it, and answer all our questions, but also to give us her recommendations.
The menu that night revolved heavily around lobster, so we went with ribs braised in lobster bisque (to die for), spaghetti with bisque as the sauce and chunk of lobster the size of your palm, and half a cold lobster pulled out of its shell and tossed with a light sauce and stuffed back in. The cold lobster was on a seafood platter with six different other types of seafood, all prepared cold and served in their own shells for maximum deliciousness.
We also got their signature filet, wrapped in bacon, and served with an unidentifiable veggie and homemade sausage on the side. The sausage was amazing, the steak was steak, but the veggie was amazing. It was light, and fresh, curled around itself. It turns out it was a fiddlehead fern. Yes, a fern like your mom has in her house. According to our darling waitress it has to be cooked three times other wise its poisonous, and is only in season for a few weeks a year, and we just happened to hit it right!
Now after a cocktail, a shared bottle of wine, and three delicious courses I thought I was imagining the buffalo head in the bathroom. But I wasn’t, so I named him Earl.
The next morning we awoke shockingly hungry, so we treked to the newly open franchise of Juliette et Chocolat, conviently in the Quartier Latin. Not remotely shocking a large portion of the menu revolved around chocolate, including about 20 different kinds of hot chocolate.
I went with a milk chocolate brew with hints of caramel, and a caramel truffel on the side. Now in addition to ALL the chocolate, the menu also had amazing buckwheat crepes. The hubs and I split one filled with tuna (actual flakes of real tuna, not the canned nonsense), tomatoes, cheese, and caponata which gave it a hint of heat and flavor. The combination of the sweet chocolate and the savory crepe was the perfect choice to kick start our Saturday.
Since we had a large breakfast rather late (which is what happens when you didn’t get home from dinner the night before till after 1), we did not get hungry again till mid-afternoon. Being in Montreal we had to find some poutine, and find it we did. For those unaware poutine is fries, with gravy, and cheese curd. You can either have them plain, or add your choice of meat. We choose bacon.
That night we had managed to score a reservation at Au Pied du Cochon, yet another favorite of our good friend Anthony’s. The vibe here was completely different than Joe Beef’s. As opposed as a quiet place to chat and worship your food, Au Pied dy Cochon is a loud, thumping place to see and be seen (not to sound old but I yelled at my friends the whole night and only heard about half our conversations). The food was also a bit bolder and brasher but still amazing. We started off with a seared foie gras served with a balsamic sauce. I dream about that foie gras and someday I hope to be reunited with its crispy exterior and warm melty inside goodness. Sticking with the theme of the night the next dish up was a rich and spicy tartare served with hunks of grilled baguette, giving a gorgeous crispness to the soft, melty tartare.
Now the real piece de resistance was the duck in a can. No you heard me, duck in a can. The can contains a duck, foie gras, garlic, balsamic, garlic, and thyme. Once all of that is shoved in the can is sealed and is then boiled for 27 minutes. The presentation is almost as good, since they open the can and pour it out onto a slice of bread for you. It was rich and light all at the same time.
After yet another feast our only option on the way to the airport the next morning was every Canadians favorite, Tim Hortons, for a quick box of Timbits (although I really though Timbits would involve some sort of meat product). However they were light and delicious and not teeth hurtingly sweet.
I boarded the plane on Sunday full, happy, and dying to come back!