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Mr. Fagioli

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Everything posted by Mr. Fagioli

  1. Sounds to me like <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=avenue+charland,+montreal&sll=45.569442,-73.634276&sspn=0.026407,0.02635&ie=UTF8&ll=45.570013,-73.640285&spn=0.026407,0.02635&z=15&iwloc=addr&om=1">Charland </a>, which has a small strip of Italian stores tucked away, including Boulangerie & Patisserie Salerno @ no. 2411. Salerno was open 24/7 last I checked, but it's been at least a year since my last visit. Decent slab pizzas, calzone, some of the pastries pretty good. Bread doesn't live up to its looks.
  2. I don't know Lesley Chesterman personally and haven't dined at QdC, but I have, just now, read the intemperate rant in the restaurant's newsletter. It's incredibly silly. First, the author claims that LC has enormous influence over the fate of Montreal restaurants, and even the city itself -- that she "impounds the future of our city with the power of her pen." Uh, really? Just because she's the Gazette's fine-dining critic? These people know that the Gazette is the city's third or fourth most widely read newspaper, right? And that if Gazette readership alone is what makes or breaks your restaurant, you're in deep trouble, right? And that there are two anglo weeklies that are also pretty widely read and that occasionally review fine dining establishments? (Though not QdC so far, AFAIK.) But then instead of providing examples of LC's supposed omnipotence, we are told about two restaurants that closed some time after she raved about them (one of which, at least, did not close because it was unsuccessful), and there is a suggestion that unspecified Italian restaurants lost business because she stated a preference for homemade pasta. Are they serious? Although there's obviously a large dollop of sarcasm here, I do believe they are serious...and seriously out to lunch. If you want to be indignant about the excessive power of the critic, at least tell us about some specific places that have, arguably, suffered from her barbs. The "arguably" is totally -- and I mean totally -- absent here. Finally, the suggestion that LC doesn't love Montreal is just ridiculous. Anyone who has read her posts online knows she's a major booster. The newsletter rant seems to be saying a critic's duty is to support the entrepreneur who takes a ballsy risk and makes it pay off. In effect, that the Q deserves 4 stars because they went big, and did well, at a time and in a place when doing so was a huge risk. That is nothing less than preposterous. Part of your risk includes the risk of slings and arrows. Suck it up. While it's true that a critic needs to be thick-skinned and be prepared for angry reactions, aren't recipients of criticism well advised to exhibit similar qualities? If there's inaccuracy, make sure it's corrected, by all means. But when we're talking about matters of taste, isn't letting it slide the honourable, albeit difficult, thing to do? A campaign to unmask and/or force the dismissal or resignation of a critic seems petty, childish and unprofessional in the extreme. This piece oozes an attitude that I just do not want in the room when I sit down to eat. These people seem to believe "we have nothing more to learn, if anything is not to your liking there is something wrong with YOU." That kind of attitude does not bode well when I am about to drop a large number of hard-earned dollars on a meal. Perhaps the restaurant should be more concerned by the faceless members of the dining public who have given more than a few lukewarm reports on sites such as Chowhound. I suspect that kind of feedback has a much more immediate impact on people's dining decisions than do write-ups in newspapers. It's called word of mouth, and it's not all good when it comes to QdC. This laughable newsletter does not help. Au contraire...
  3. There's a homebrewing supply store at St-Dominique and Villeneuve. I haven't been there in a long time, but they should have a wide selection of malts in various states. Fresh yeasts, too, though probably none you'd want to use for baking. Choppe A Barrock [this is the spelling in Canada 411; other sources say Chope, which makes more sense] 514-282-9553 4709 St Dominique, Montréal, QC H2T 1T7
  4. Normally I would agree, but I came across something interesting on another site (after the fact, unfortunately): some savvy shoppers got good deals on interesting bottles by asking about "orphan" bottles. Seems that at some outlets, managers were willing to discount just about anything that was down to the last bottle or two. Take this with a grain of salt, of course, since it's just something I read elsewhere (scroll to the bottom).
  5. Of course there are going to be some people interested in all three sales who don't have the budget for all three, and the SAQ risks alienating some customers as a result. Some people may have blown their budget on last weekend's manager's sale too. But on the whole, I think the segments are probably distinct enough for their purposes -- or affluent enough. BTW, I don't have the Signature flyer in front of me, but I believe the caveat about small bottles only applies to the online sale from today through Saturday. (One Sauternes, one vintage port, and the Capitel.) IIRC, most of the ones in the Signature sale are 750s. Do you have the English version of the Signature flyer? There's a serious production gaffe in the French version: they used the exact same blurb for a Gewurtztraminer SGN and a Spanish red.
  6. You really think there's much overlap? Bordeaux primeurs are mainly for serious collectors and speculators, most of whom have long since put in their orders; this other one appears to be an inventory-clearance sale aimed squarely at relatively inexperienced collectors looking for (relative) bargains. What's the slogan again? "Finally! An excuse to expand your cellar!" or something like that. And while we're on the subject, there's also an online clearance sale, 20% off saq.com orders of selected products from now until Saturday. Careful, the fancy dessert wines are mostly in 375 ml bottles.
  7. Geez, sf&m, you ought to know that "food" shows are not really about food anymore. They're about travel, comedy, advertorial & tie-ins (ever see "Thirsty Traveler"?), extreme feats (of eating, drinking, animal herding), etc... just about anything but food. This is nothing new, and the goat-milking thing is obviously simple pig-ignorance, not intended to be particularly offensive. Anyway, there will be a tomato-peeling contest in my kitchen sometime in August or September. If Blumer can peel a bushel of plum tomatoes in my 40°C hellhole in three minutes or less, I won't kick his ass. Edit: Oh wait, I see that the request is for July. In that case, the contest will be "Bobbing for corn on the cob."
  8. Why not just skip Eggspectation altogether? It's as nothing-special as nothing-special gets. May I suggest Reservoir (9 Duluth E.) for an interesting gourmet breakfast? Be warned that the Fairmount and St-Viateur bagel shops have no seating whatsoever. You buy your bagels, and possibly some smoked salmon and cream cheese, and scram. The St-Viateur people do have a café, but it's on Mont-Royal, not St-Viateur (which is one of Montreal's great streets, IMO). Fairmount will make you a lox and cream cheese sandwich, too, but you'll have to find someplace else to eat it. One possibility in either case is Café Olympico, corner of St-Viateur and Waverly, where there's no problem bringing your own bagels and such. As for wine, don't forget to search SAQ.com for what you want, make sure you can't get it closer to home (generally cheaper), check that it's in stock at the SAQ (click "Outlets" when you have something you want on screen), and then, even if it shows up as "in stock" on SAQ.com, call the outlet in question to make sure it really is still in stock, since the online inventory system works in mysterious, asynchronous ways.
  9. I love how nobody got your April Fool's joke Francois ... genial. ← Funny, I was loving how everybody got it and ran with it, including Shelora. A T-Fal iron? Edit: Oh wait, T-Fal irons really do exist. I hope poor shelora isn't scouring the markets for little April fish to steam with it...
  10. For best results, use a genuine Saguenay Fish Iron, at least a 15-pounder, preferably a 20. In a pinch, a 12-pound Gaspé Fish Iron can also be used. Google "poisson d'avril" for more details.
  11. I was really impressed with the Matua Paretai Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc...but not $30+ impressed. A really complex and unique NZ sauvignon blanc with a looong finish. If it ever shows up at the SAQ or a resto wine list and you feel like splurging and already like the style, it's worth a try. The same winery's chardonnay was OK, but not nearly as memorable. Also from NZ: Kim Crawford pinot noir 2004. As you might expect, this is quite lively and "fun". Looking forward to drinking this soon. One disgusting abomination: Wyndham Estate sparkling Bin 555 Shiraz. The regular flat version is a pleasant mass-market wine and a hit at parties; add bubbles and it's just so completely, utterly, unremittingly wrong. Edit: Just noticed that there's a recently revived thread on sparkling shiraz. Seems the abomination in this case may be a function of cheapness, since the style does have something of a noble history. Shame to be introduced to it with something that was (to me) so appalling. Big disappointment with the Leon Beyer Cuvée des Comtes d'Eguisheim pinot gris 2000. Lots of mushrooms in the nose and mouth, low acidity, watery mouth-feel, weak finish. The agent insisted the mushroom aromas and flavours were normal and the wine was fine, but as it happens the very next bottle was corked. Should have asked for a whiff of that one for comparison. Only $49.50 at your local SAQ Sélection; hurry while supplies last. Tasted a whole bunch of other stuff, but don't have my notes with me. Mainly new world wines, much of it cheap stuff I wanted to know about without having to get a whole bottle.
  12. If it's reasonably priced and the food is decent, and if they can make full use of the outdoor space (not sure if there are regulatory barriers), it should be a hit with people who work in the three nearby office buildings. This bit of the Plateau is almost a junk-food alley, and there's a crying need for more good mid-range lunch spots. If it's a fancy BYO oriented to dinners, I'd be less optimistic...but good Italian BYOs aren't exactly lurking on every corner, so it could work as long as it's not a menu of boring old standards. I wish them luck, too.
  13. I thought the poster was clear that he just doesn't like maple syrup. And even if you do like it, that page is a weak link. It's the only one in the whole feature that doesn't talk about Quebec products (even though the province accounts for 80% of world production, as mentioned later in the issue). It's oddly placed, many pages away from the maple-oriented recipes. And as a maple lover, I have to question the emerging foodie preference (recently heard elsewhere) for C-grade syrup over A and AA. "C is for Cooking," as far as I'm concerned, and even then it usually has all the subtlety and finesse of a 2 x 4 with a rusty nail sticking out. But, hey, here's hoping C-grade syrup catches on. It will make it easier to snag the good stuff in the spring. That said, it is a very nice issue. That one page is the only thing I've noticed that's worth complaining about...but that doesn't mean it shouldn't be discussed.
  14. Vin, you're right that I shouldn't be too hard on Toronto, as I do know that the city has plenty of that authenticity I value so much. But I would also be willing to bet that the concentration of corporate offerings is much higher than it is here. As for Schwartz's, to each his own. The meat was nothing special when I went a couple of months ago (my medium-fat was too dry and way too salty), and I can remember way more bad attitude than good from the waiters over the last 20+ years. So, it's not the place for me anymore, but I'm still happy it's there. Sorry if this is again off-topic, but I wanted to come back to those two points.
  15. I'm no fan of Schwartz's food, nor of the grumpy waiters, nor of the fact that it's a bit of a tourist trap (the fate of most "institutions"), but I think it has a cultural significance beyond the food. It's emblematic of what makes the Main special: variety and authenticity up and down the street, and the lack of corporate fast food but for one Subway and one Second Cup. The coexistence of the humble and the swanky, the old and the new. It's reassuring to have survivors like this, and I say the more the better even if I (we) don't personally treasure each and every one. Was the old St-Laurent Bakery the best bakery in town? No, but we lost something important when it closed. Was Warshaw's terrible in almost every way in its last few years? Yup...but it's still a loss IMO. Do we really want to lose more of our authentic "institutions" even if some of them are a little long in the tooth? Places like this are (were) bulwarks against the Toronto-ization you say we need to guard against. I agree that we need to do that, but I just don't see how Schwartz's undermines the cause. Schwartz's or Shopsy's? EuroDeli or Pizza Hut? Caffè Italia or Starbucks? Vieille Europe or Loblaws? Taqueria Mex or Taco Bell? Few of those places are the best in their class, and none is especially inventive, but they are at least part of the community and not just corporate "locations." So they don't have much to do with our French roots...they are still part of our Montreal roots! I believe that this kind of independence and durability is just as important as being new and inventive. I would even argue that the survival of such places helps create an environment where the new and original can thrive. To me, that's why our tired old has-beens are worth celebrating.
  16. Small heads up: Capitol, the Italian butcher/charcuterie/grocery on the south side of the Jean-Talon market, next door to Poisonnerie Shamrock, will be closing for renovations for three weeks starting Monday the 23rd. I don't know just what they'll be liquidating beforehand, but I think it's fair to assume there will be some deals to be had from now until then. Perishables would be a good bet. And here's a "before" shot of Jean-Talon market proper (complete with unknown joker) -- can't wait to be able to start taking "after" shots!
  17. Actually, I said I believe it's a bad communication/marketing strategy, whether it's deliberate or de facto. APDC would be better off with well-written English. And a more accessible site. And more useful information. Or even no site at all. Somehow I doubt you'd argue that French-language tourism marketing copy should be sloppy and uncorrected, because in France they like to think of us as simple coureurs de bois. Yet that is exactly what is being done, deliberately or not, with all kinds of English copy: we are putting a demeaning stereotype on ourselves.
  18. I happen to visit a lot of Quebec-based tourism & hospitality industry sites. The sad truth is that the English versions are very often unprofessional. I'm just speculating, but I think it may be deliberate in many cases: people trying to appeal to American tourists probably want to emphasize the foreignness of their little slice of Quebec, and having English that's "too good" could undermine that goal. The obvious way to achieve the requisite foreignness is not to ask a pro to do a deliberately bad job, but to hire an amateur (bonus points for a francophone amateur). Although I've reached the conclusion that some people consciously adopt this strategy, I don't think it's a good idea. There are any number of ways to communicate our province's charm without resorting to broken English. Now, in this specific case the translation is so terrible that you could say APDC has set a new standard to which the rest of the industry can aspire. Disclaimer: I'm not saying my speculation & hypothesis necessarily apply to Au Pied de Cochon. It may simply be about pinching pennies.
  19. Crap. At one time I would have been eager to lobby carswell to make you part with your $137.40, but now I've moved on to wines with 3-digit price tags. ($9.95)
  20. A recent Wednesday-night visit to Café Via Dante held a surprise: some very good live music. No singing or dancing, but it lent the place a nice warm ambiance. I don't think they do this on weekends, though. For singing and dancing, you might have to stray from Greek or Italian into Spanish or Portuguese. For example, the Spanish Social Club has, IIRC, two Flamenco nights a week (Wed., Sat.). Not sure it's really classy enough for entertaining clients, though...
  21. You're thinking of the Sala Rossa (red room) upstairs. The pink (Rosa) room downstairs has some yummy, inexpensive tapas. Definitely a cut above the down-home Spanish places like the Social Club, but not haute either. It is silly to name the rooms Rosa and Rossa when so few people have enough Spanish to notice the difference...
  22. Do you mean who makes the best bagels or which resto serves the best bagels? If the former, you'll have to decide for yourself. The field is narrowed to two candidates: St-Viateur and Fairmount. Each has its partisans. Prompted by rave reviews on this and other boards, I've recently bought several dozen from Fairmount and remain convinced that, despite their worrisome trend toward obesity, St-Viateur's are superior: less sweet, breadier and not smothered in seeds. As a Fairmount partisan, I acknowledge that my sweet tooth may be the decisive factor...though I think my preference for the poppy bagel might also come into play. In neither case is the bagel especially overwhelmed with seeds, IMO. Bagel etc. (note the old-school plural of "bagel") is a shadow of its former self. No comparison to the days, about ten years gone, when they smoked their own meats and stayed open most of the night. Still a decent place for an omelette and a cup of (ordinary) joe, but the home fries are among the items that just haven't remained what they were. Burgers are now served on something uncomfortably similar to a standard mass-produced bun.
  23. This is not my scene at all, but I've often walked by a place called Les Caves Saint-Joseph (on St-Laurent, west side, just below St-Joseph). Very fancy-looking, and to judge by appearances it's certainly oriented to those who know and love their wine. I never seem to see anything written about it, it never seems very busy, and yet it's been going for at least a year, maybe two. Is this some kind of a hidden gem, or a fancy façade for mediocrity?
  24. Interesting question...I would guess that the answer lies in the Irish immigrants being largely assimilated into the French Canadian working class without developing much of a public culinary culture. (Though they probably did contribute to working-class Québecois cuisine -- e.g. weren't they the originators of pâté chinois?).) AFAIK, today's Irish pubs have little or nothing to do with the mass of 19th century Irish arrivals here. Some of those pubs may serve corned beef, but I have no idea which ones do. Check the Old Dublin, perhaps. Eastern European Jews, on the other hand, were also low on the economic ladder but did bring/develop a significant deli/lunchcounter culture. They came more recently than most of the Irish, and didn't assimilate nearly as much. Hence the persistence of smoked meat.
  25. More peppery sightings: Super Marché Andes (4387 St-Laurent) has a decent selection of Goya-brand dried peppers right now (ancho, pasilla, couple of others) that look to be in good condition (except the chipotles). Forgot to note the price, but everything's usually quite reasonable there. Fresh pear cactus also on offer today.
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