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Everything posted by fedelst

  1. This Saturday Lesley Chesterman's column features the 'impeccable service of Guy et Dodo' that moribund French restaurant in the Les Cours Montreal, that most the world has just about forgotten. The odd thing about this article is, that it is the location of my most horrific restaurant service experience, and it I am surprised that it would even hit the list of anyone’s fine dining list, let alone be reviewed for (what is it) the one 1000th time. Perhaps this is truly an indication that our fair city is in desperate need for more fine dining establishments. I would at least look outside our island to such places as AU TOURNANT DE LA RIVIÈRE, in Carignan before going back to review humdrum establishments such as Guy et Dodo… or perhaps I never got over my most enjoyable evening with Mrs. Morali some years back. Perhaps, it is all in the line of duty to go back every few years, to update your reviews, and perhaps Guy et Dodo has improved, but after my experience, don’t count me as one to test the waters again. So, what happened? I am glad you asked. Grab a drink, and enjoy the ride ………….……. I admit this incident goes back some years, but is cherished as one of my most memorable dining experiences. Unfortunately, memorable due to the non-stop events that lead to what would have been a challenge for a screen writer to even imagine as the content for a sitcom. The setting is a late fall weekday evening at about 7:30, the restaurant is a very empty Guy et Dodo, with only 2 tables occupied at opposite corners of the restaurant. I arrive with my girlfriend on time to our reservation, which is clearly not needed this night. We are seated by the Maître’d directly in front of the entrance. We ask to be seated in a more comfortable location; I suggest a nice table closer to the center of the establishment. The Maître’d assure us that a small side table will be far more cozy. We accept his judgment. As the night goes on, we start to question this as our table was located to the edge of the bar right next to the service inventory, and glasses. Through the next few hours, we are continually being squeezed by wait staff each time they need a glass, spoon coffee cup or napkin. As we sit at the table waiting, we realize after 10 minutes that the service staff are few and far between, and not interested at all in offering any service what so ever to us. (Note: We are both young business people at the time, and were in our early 30's. We were not badly dressed, or rude, but perhaps we did not fit their vision of what they were looking for as a desired client). Noticing a couple menus on the edge of the bar, my date had reached over and helped herself them. About a half hour later we had been able to get the attention of one of the wait staff, who we informed, that we were ready to order. He promptly came back and asked if we would be interested in a drink. We placed our orders for drinks as well as our dinner at the same time. I ordered the clam soup, she ordered the boudin blanc, and we both ordered the Salmon Tartare. After ~ 20 minutes our drinks arrived, ice melted and a bit watery. After another 30 minutes our soup and boudin arrived. The boudin were fine, but the soup had been sitting for a bit too long and had been reduced to a point where the soup was gummy, and so salty that you could almost feel crystals forming. I informed the waitehr that the soup was inedible, and was offered a replacement. I refused as my date had already finished her starter, and did not wish to delay dinner any longer. After an hour of patiently waiting for our main meal, I finally notice Mme. Morali and motion to her to come over. I mention that we have been waiting for an hour for dinner, and were getting quite hungry. To which she regales us in a story about how there was a tragedy in the kitchen, and that the chef has severely cut his hand in the preparation of the Salmon tartare and that there was blood everywhere, and that she was afraid she would have to call an ambulance to tend to the cut, as it was so grave. I expressed empathy over the situation, and asked for her to please cancel our order for (nice pink) salmon tartare, as her story had caused me to become rather queasy, and that I have truly lost my appetite. She would not take no for an answer, and told us that our plates would be out immediately, to which she turned on her heels and made a bee line for the kitchen, and promptly returned with 2 plates of nice pink salmon tartare that she ceremoniously positioned 4" above the table in front of both of us, and dropped simultaneously on to the table. Not heeding our better judgment due to the onset of hunger, we ate the few small lumps of Salmon. As we were just about to put the last bite into our mouths, Mme. Morali returns to the table with 2 bowls of cold fries which she casually drops on to the table in front of us, causing both bowls to tip on their landing. Now totally concerned for our safety, we decide to pay the bill and leave before she thinks up further antics. That evening we could not help but ponder what was happening at Guy et Dodo that would cause such a series of events. Yet, nothing within the scope of reason was evident. We did nothing to offend anyone. After all, the soup was truly inedible, and the story of the bleeding chef with a kitchen full of blood was more than enough to turn anyone off. We chalked it up to a bad night.. The following morning, I just could not take it anymore, and I decided to call Mme. Morali and ask her myself what happened. BIG MISTAKE.. HUGE MISTAKE!!!!.... I mentioned to Mme. Morali who I was, and that I appreciate the reputation that her restaurant has, and was just perplexed at why we were the victim of such a series of events.... to which she retorts... " ah, Mr. XXX perhaps you should go back to eating with plastic knives and forks as you are so accustomed to at MacDonald's....Then Click and a dial tone. Hmmmm... Clearly there are some deeply rooted issues I am not aware of. That evening, I mention to my Girlfriend the conversation I had earlier on. Now we are both totally confused, and have determined that someone is in serious need for a hug, or Prozac, or something. Fast forward 2 years, I am standing at the arrivals section fo the Martinique airport with my girlfriend and her aunt (... Oh did I forget to mention her aunt was at the time a prominent minister in the Quebec Government... I guess I did...oh well)waiting for her uncle to arrive, when all of a sudden Mme. Morali comes rushing up to my girlfriends aunt like an old friend. Being very aware of the story, the aunt immediately introduces her neice and her Boyfriend Mr. XXX, when Mme. Morali's jaw hits the floor, and she disapears as fast as she arrived. Caveat emptor. One might come to the conclusion that we had done something or anything to offend the staff or guests. I swear to you, other than ask to move from a cramped table right in front of the door to the mall, we had not made a peep. Go figure.
  2. Face it.... You know we are all doomed when you find COSTCO selling frozen Sushi made in France. ..... Sushi has just gone too main stream. Any joker with a bowl of rice and a bamboo mat will put anything in there and name it after his cat. The last real sushi I had was in Japan town in San Francisco in a tiny 14 seat place that hade 3 tables for 2 and the rest at the bar. I thought I knew sushi, but once you try real sushi, it is a true epiphany. Perhaps one day, someone Japanese, who has attained the level of Sensae in Japan will actually come to Montreal and make authentic sushi. As I recollect, in Japan it takes 8 years of training before the they are christened Sensae. Perhaps this is just tradition, but sushi is more than just some fish on rice... and if I ever see a sushi bar pushing smoked salmon and cream cheese on their menu... RUN!!!! Fast... On a slight different side, I do have respect for Korean Sushi, which holds few pretenses, and is typically sold without raw fish or seafood. Rather, it is made with cooked shrimp, etc. and raw veggies. It took some getting used to, and for the most part the well prepared stuff is pretty good. At least you won’t be bowing to the porcelain god due to some bacteria picked up from old mis-handled raw fish.
  3. I can't provide names, but I can provide locations. On Decarie just south of Sherbrooke is a good Korean Grocer. large volume and good clientele. Fresh Home made products. St. Catherine West Near the corner of Fort. Clean, high volume, good client flow. Fresh home made products. Sherbrooke St. West. (a few blocks) East of Cavendish. Good, but not as wide a selection of home made products as Decarie or St. Catherine West. I don't understand one thing.... Every year the Korean grocer on Decarie has boxes of some of the largest and most flavourful Fuji Apples packed into boxes with Korean labeling. The product inside has stickers from Washington state. Clearly these are packaged for export to Korea. Why is it that the Fuji's we find in the grovery stores never even hold a candle to these? You might almost believe that they were exported to Korea and back to Montreal.
  4. I am sure that I will get death threats for making this public knowledge, but if you are looking for high end appliances at excellent prices.... Basically demo's, showroom models, etc. Go to: Pierre Duret Service 1717 Rue Vercheres Longueuil, Qc It was nice knowing you all. And remember, you have no idea where you got this tip.
  5. Good points. Let me state for the record, that I have nothing to do with Bofinger (am not associated), and am typically very critical of any meal that I eat in a restaurant. It is my perspective that if I am going to pay for a meal, I should be presented with a product that is worthy of the price paid. I have discussed with one of the partners at Bofinger their concept, and asked why they chose to open a Q joint, in a city that has had limited success in establishing such an operation. I also discussed their mixed reviews. Instead of providing a lengthy explanation, he came out with the menu items in question. Specifically the potato salad, and Brisket. As I already had Pulled pork on my plate, I got to sample this as well. Having been smoking (food) for the past 25+ years, I have developed an appreciation for properly smoked food, and the ability to identify creosote coated junk. If your smoker is billowing thick clouds of smoke, you do not want to eat what is in that smoker. Smoking is a process requiring time, patience, good quality raw materials, and above all clean wood. The pulled pork at Bofinger has an unmistakable Smokey taste to it. It is a clean product, as in, it is not pulled and soaked in a thick sauce cloying the flavor of the meat. It is kept moist with its own juices and a small addition of a vinegar based sauce. I believe the review you were referring to was an article in one of the free papers, where the reviewer tries to come off as an expert on Q. [if you re-read this review, you will find that a lot of his commentary is actually plagiarized from Chowhound. This would not be the first time a supposed ‘restaurant critic’ had borrowed copy. I can cite one critic who had taken complete paragraphs from David Rosengarten’s journals]. The brisket has a smoke ring around the perimeter of the sliced meat, a sign that the meat was slowly smoked at low temperatures. If anything, I find the prevalence of smoke in the brisket a bit strong; but considering that the brisket just came out of the smoker, and had not been left to sit, it had not been given the opportunity to mellow. As for the sides… The slaw is a thick hand cut oil and vinegar based salad, laced with mustard seed, and herbs. It may not be your typical St. Hubert variety, but it certainly is a good slaw. As for the Potato Salad, the owners suspect that their reviews were based on single visits, and in the first 5 weeks of operations (when the reviews were published). They state that what had started out as a small batch recipe had been multiplied over time to accommodate a higher volume of business. Honestly, I could care less. What matters is, is the potato salad worth eating? or is it as awful as the reviews pan it… The answer is, the potato salad is made with fresh red bliss potatoes, in a not too heavy mayo based dressing, with herbs, and I believe green olives. The Potato salad was well seasoned, very fresh, and I would certainly say it rivals a good home made product, and would definitely order it again (a bit of snipped dill would be a great addition (in my humble opinion)). My comments about distinct Q style are based on the fact that the pit crew are not working on recipes from other locales, and have based their product entirely on maple wood smoking. Although this works well for most meats, I find it too strong and not suitable for seafood or fish. But then again, they don’t serve seafood or fish. They have invested in a good sized professional smoker, and are capable of producing a consistent quality product. The sauces, although named for other regions, are atypical of these regions, except for the base concept. Rather, although the sauce may be called Atomic Alabama or Memphis Magic, these are their own twist on a cider based or a Tomato based product. Actually, I find the Atomic Alabama sauce to be on the relatively medium side, and heavily based on simmered onions, Closer to a spicy Sabrette’s sauce than anything typical of Alabama Q. Bofinger may not be the world’s best Q, but it is good Q, and represents what I see as a contender for what I would define as a distinct flavor typical of Quebec tastes, and resources. Having tried Q throughout the US, and smoking my own, I have come to appreciate the regional differences, and can identify good from bad. Would Bofinger win in a cook off? Well certainly in Montreal, and probably in Canada. As for compared with others at a US National cook off, they may not be the first prize winner, but you would not see the judges spitting and gagging. I give them credit for their effort, and their ability to establish a decent Q joint in Montreal….. and for the fact that they serve the ever critical draft beer to go with their meals. I challenge any critic to go back for a second or third visit. If after these visits they declare that the food is not smoked enough, or the sides to be unfit for consumption, then I question the ability of the critic.
  6. Face it, the North has been given a bum rap when it comes down to Bar-B-Que. Each state south of the Mason-Dixon boasts their own style, and each regional bar-b-que style is respected for what it is. We don’t see Memphis joints looking to emulate Kansas City style, and Texas wouldn’t dare produce anything that was not authentic Texas style. So, why is it that the North East (and to the North, Canada) have not been given the right to establish their own Bar-B-Que style? Go into any Q joint north of the Mason Dixon, and you will see most every joint boasting ‘Memphis’ ‘Texas’ or ‘Kansas City’ style Q or sauces. God help you if you find Adirondack, Bangor, Cleveland or Seattle style Bar-B-Que as the selling point. I expect that someone in each of these regions has elaborated their own Q Style, but I have never seen it being marketed. Is this to say, that anyone attempting to establish a Bar-B-Que style in any of these regions using their own unique taste would be insane? Or for that matter, if one were to open a Q joint in a region void of any true local bar-B-que could they possibly succeed in staking their own flag in the soil and start Q culture in their region? Let’s consider virgin territory, Quebec, La belle Province. If you talk to anyone about bar-b-que, they think rotisserie chicken. Don’t even ask, This is what it is called here, and there is no way you can change that. We have established Montreal Steak Spice, which is a bit of a surprise as up until it was branded as such, it was just Steak Spice, pretty much the same mix as you could get anywhere, but the Montreal name makes it a bit more quaint and marketable. Other than our Rotisserie Chicken and famous steak spice, there is no true Q culture here. A few weak attempts have been made in establishing Q in Quebec, yet none have gone in whole hog, and actually established a proper Pit team, and a menu focusing on Bar-B-que only. That is, not until recently. I respect the efforts of other establishments that offer Q as a part of their menu, but BowFinger at 5667 Sherbrooke St, West in Montreal actually went the distance. Having sampled a number of items from their menu, it is clear that this joint has established a clearly Canadian Bar-B-Que flavor. Smoking only on Maple, the Bowfinger product had a distinct flavor that screams Canadian. Add to this, their home made sauces, we find a product that does not resemble Texas, Arkansas, Tampa, or anywhere else, it is as distinct as the province of Quebec. I appreciate the quality of the Bar-B-Que expertly prepared by most of the Bar-B-Que joints that I have sampled throughout the North East, but have to classify them as ‘Southern Extensions’ with their claims of ‘put the South in Your Mouth’ and the alignment of their menu to their attempt to emulate ‘authentic’ southern Q. It is a shame that more joints do not attempt to establish a distinct regional Bar-B-Que flavor, and take the lead from BowFinger. I believe that we will see with the success of these joints, that more will come on the wagon, and ultimately, we will have a defined and established regional Q style.
  7. Open the top of a food processor after grating fresh horseradish until it has rested until it has sat for at least one half-life. The fumes can knock out a small village. Due to visits to the emergency ward over the past 30 years, and wasting too much of my life waiting for a doctor, I now keep a container of individual use tubes of cyanoacrylate (also known as Crazy glue). Very convenient for the replacemetn of severed finger tips, and joining cut skin. Don't laugh, this is exactly what has been used by the ER doctors on a couple of occasions. ...Better yet, Keep your eye on the apple while you pare it...But the glue is helpful.
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