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Kerry Beal

Mangeons à Montréal

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I was asked to act as an oral examiner for the College of Family Physicians in Montreal for the spring exams and I jumped at the chance. I immediately checked to see who was available to come along. Anna was unable but Kelly (plusone) was in. We wasted no time getting train reservations to come up on Thursday the 6th.

So it was a bit of a shock last Friday when I got an e-mail asking me when they could expect that I'd arrive at the exam center - apparently I read things wrong - this weekend they are marking exams - last weekend was the oral exams! Doh!

Well, the train tickets were non refundable, the hotel was booked, I had the time scheduled off work - so no point cancelling.

So Thursday morning bright and early (well not bright yet cause it was so early) we jumped on the train with our 100 lbs of luggage and set off for Montreal. Our first pictures are breakfast on the train - fresh fruit followed by an omelette with leek, potatoes, mushroom and zucchini. It was a pretty good meal for travel food.

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We arrived at the hotel a little after 1 and decided to grab a bite in the hotel restaurant - called la Coupole - which seems to get pretty good reviews. They had a prix fixe lunch - we shared the Caribbean striped bass fritters and the Bocconcini and tomato salad.

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A palate cleanser of a green tea, lemon, basil and rum did it's job admirably.

Kelly opted for the Lobster Sandwich on tomato bread, grilled fennel guacamole and homemade potato chips. I enjoyed the Black Angus tartar, and frites with mayo.

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Desserts were Creme Brulee and fresh fruit.

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Dinner Thursday night at le Club Chasse et Peche - the Hunting and Fishing Club.


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)

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Thursday dinner - our first away from home - le Club Chasse et Peche - the Hunting and Fishing Club.

Shared apps as usual - oyster and sweetbreads with local shrimp (not quite sure what is local to montreal in the way of shrimps) and green peas.

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Mains - for Kelly - pan seared Amberjack with edemame and soybeans and a nice slab of grilled foie on a bed of barley risotto, poached quail egg on top.

Mine - Boar two ways - roasted filet and braised belly.

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Dessert got eaten before we remember to photograph.

It was a coconut cake with coconut ice cream, roasted medjool dates, drizzled with truffle honey and topped with crisp shards of dried coconut.

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I must say I've been rather amused with the idiosyncratic nature of the restaurants we have been in. In the Hunting and Fishing Club a lot of the lights were hand made - from old crystal vases and decanters, with a bit of plaster thrown in. And the hand washing sink used a rainhead shower fixture in place of the tap.

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Friday we swam, enjoyed the spa (though not sure what fun Kelly had getting beaten with sticks), then headed out to meet with Nathalie and Claude from Nobelhaus - the Thermomix importers in eastern Canada. I had wanted to meet them and have the opportunity to check out a couple of the TMX cookbooks, not having gotten one when I bought mine used. I also wanted to see what would be involved in facilitating getting a unit for any of my chocolate students who decided they wanted to purchase one. We had a lovely visit - they are truly delightful people. Claude fired up the TMX and made us a lemon granita in about 3 minutes. He pulled out a lovely citrusy ganache from the fridge for us to taste when we started talking about how well the unit makes ganache.

After meeting with them, we stopped at a boulangerie, an excellent little cheese shop and a charcuterie to pick up some munchies for the room. Kelly couldn't wait until we got back and ate her 'Mon Dieu' pastry in the subway on the way back. It was croissant dough, almonds and chocolate - with powdered sugar to make sure you don't arrive home clean.

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Friday night - Joe Beef.

We weren't sure what to expect - the place was far smaller than I realized - I had read it was small, but was still taken aback at the size. We arrived before the rush, and were able to decide which table we wanted, but you knew you'd be cheek to jowl with all the diners around you by the end of the evening.

When you arrive you look at the offerings on the black board and decide what you'll be having. The waiter was friendly, engaging and happily explained everything on the menu (which was of course all in french). He came back to let us know that the wine chosen wasn't 'drinking well' and brought a couple of other bottles to show to help with the decision.

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A plate of salami and lightly pickled vegetables was brought to stave off starvation, along with wonderful bread.

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To start we shared oysters, bone marrow and a soft shelled crab.

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We probably should have quit there and gone home sated, however we ordered BBQ ribs (no picture for some reason) and the pork chop with clams. Made for great leftovers for breakfast this morning though.

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By now we were bonding with the people at the next table - sharing our frites and mayo with them and snapping pictures of their appetizers. Hope to see them down in the Niagara area this summer.

Oops, forgot the quirky picture - the buffalo in the bathroom. A little out of focus - but I was up a couple of glasses of wine by then.

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Edited by Kerry Beal (log)

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Today started out a good food day, but went steadily downhill. Breakfast was a combination of leftovers from dinner and some of the lovely cheese, quiche and pastry that we'd picked up on our travels yesterday. We headed out to find a USB card reader so I could get the pictures off the card in my camera - for some reason the computer was failing to see the card. Then we went in search of the high end SAQ (Quebec liquor store) to find some of the sherry that we had finished dinner with last night while bonding with the people at the next table. It was Michel Couvreur P.X. Vin de Liqueur. Lovely stuff, figgy and rich.

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Then off to the Jean Talon marche - by now we were getting a little peckish and headed into a sushi joint - not a good choice. If there isn't a fellow with a big knife behind the counter - probably not the sushi place you want. I've never had sushi with a piece of fish so thick that you couldn't bite through it into the rice.

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But we had a lovely jaunt around the market - sampling wherever we went. I bought a couple of cheeses - god knows we need more cheese in the room - but there was this wonderful cloth wrapped cheddar and a fabulous goat cheese - so I couldn't resist. The creme de marron crepe renewed my faith in food.

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From the market we headed off to find Schwartz's deli to get some vacuum packed Montreal Smoked Meat to take home. The search for chopped liver continues tomorrow - Schwartz's doesn't carry it. I welcome any suggestions.

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We rushed on home from there to get ready for our dinner at Toque. It's getting late now, so I'm signing off - but tomorrow am I'll tell you all about how Toque tanked!

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Looking forward to the rest of the report!

Cheers,

Geoff

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Excellent report Kerry..sorry I can't help with the chopped liver..haven't been home in far too long. Looking forward to more...

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Ok - so Toque - apparently not pronounced like the ski hat - a member of the Relaix and Chateaux gastronomy group. It started out with great potential - but went rather seriously downhill by the end of the evening. Very disappointing when we paid about the most I've ever paid for a meal.

I've grown accustomed to the habit of maitre de's trying to seat two unknown single women in the worst seat in the house - and since it was early, with very few seats occupied, simply redirecting him to the seats we preferred was not a problem.

We had decided on the tasting menu early in the game in hopes of trying a variety of novel and interesting items. There were two options - with and without foie - so of course we wanted the foie. The wine pairings included 'regular' or 'premium' wines - Kelly opted for the premiums - I stuck with water this time around (wanted to keep my photography skills at their best). Of course it was asked if there were any food allergies or dislikes - the only limit was Kelly's - raw onion of any sort (including scallions) was out. It appears that one of their main flavour enhancers is scallion in it's various forms.

The wait staff seemed to be divided into male (who were allowed to take orders and discuss the food) and females (who were allowed to refill your water glass, bring new cutlery and pick up plates). And I must say the female wait staff were dressed in about the most unflattering outfits I've seen in a while.

The amuse for the entire house was Asparagus Milk with Scallion foam. Kelly's came sans foam. Tasty - though not earth shattering.

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Kelly's first wine came - a dry Reisling - good but a parsimonious portion given the cost of the wine pairings. It went very nicely with the Scallops with Rhubarb and Wasabi foam - also included - lots of tasty little cucumber bits. It was suggested we just tilt the shell to eat - not a terribly good suggestion given the quantity of ingredient on the shell and the fact that the wasabi foam was preventing everything from moving forward off the shell into your mouth.

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Next up - Sea Urchin with radish cream, little slices of radish, scallion oil (olive oil for Kelly I believe) and again the ubiquitous cucumber bits (and the ubiquitous flowers on top). Kelly was brought a glass of SSFW (some sorta french white) - tasty enough with the uni. Lovely combination of flavours - my only objection - the little urchin spines in mine - kind of detracted from the silky creaminess of the dish.

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Next up the foie course - this was accompanied by a sweet Alsace wine - didn't taste all that exciting on it's own, but was a perfect foil to the foie. At this point the place was filling up and we were starting to notice a slight disconnect between the sommeliers visits and the food presentation.

The foie was the best dish of the evening by far. Grilled, on a piece of poached daikon, with apple water with oolong tea, honey gellee (yum!) and 'citric' with nutmeg on the side. And flowers! I suspect the grapes were poached in the apple water. I've never had citric acid served on the side of anything - but it certainly worked with the foie.

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From here things went rather seriously downhill. The pinot was brought - and pretty much finished, while we waited, and waited for the next course.

When it was finally brought - different waiter this time - he described it as Cavatelli with rabbit, shitaki mushrooms, spinach and parmesan shavings. Now I'm damn sure it isn't cavatelli - but I can't find the name of the appropriate pasta shape this morning. The parm shavings were lovely - the rest - not so good. There was scallion oil on this one too - and they had put it on Kelly's portion as well. The lapin bits tasted and had the texture of overcooked liver. We each ate a small amount and then stopped. About an hour later, when the girl took away the plates - no comment was made on the fact that we hadn't eaten it - in fact in the entire meal, no one asked if we were enjoying the food.

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At this point, getting rather hungry, we got into the bread basket and started playing with the food.

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The wine came, a tuscan red - again long before the food. When it finally came it was brought by one of the female staff, placed down, described as 'chicken' and with a little circle of her finger - ferns. I think there was some mention of chocolate sauce and maybe morals. It was a little nubbin of breast that tasted lemony, a rolled thigh that was the weirdest texture ever (I suspect sous vide past the point of no return) and a little drum that was so tough I gave up trying to cut it for fear of sending it skittering across the room - and it really wasn't the place to pick it up in your fingers. I did manage to get the initial waiter to stop and describe the dish - apparently there was asparagus in there too. And we identified some deep fried herbs of some sort. The waiter did seem to notice that we hadn't eaten the thigh or drum on this dish.

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Next up - the cheese course. The waiter did stop by to see if we wanted wine with it - as the pairings had run out - but by then we were getting rather fed up (but not really fed). Disappointingly the cheese course contained lots and lots of scallions - on both plates. It was described as Charlevois cheese with croutons and caramel.

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We explained to the waiter when he saw Kelly's cheese course uneaten and pushed around on the plate, that again there were scallions in the dish. At this point we decided to skip dessert and head out - told the waiter we were ready to leave and waited for the bill. No sign of it - so we got up to figure out where to pay - this put the front desk staff in a tizzy - and while we were waiting - the waiter was seen bringing out 'special desserts' to placate us. He tried to talk us into staying, but by then we really were really tired and hungry and wanted out of there. So we paid the outrageous bill and headed out into the rain to find a taxi back home.

Changed back into jeans, got out our umbrellas (nice hotel - they supply big umbrellas) and headed up the street to get pizza.

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Yes, this was indeed a VERY disappointing meal at Toque. This restaurant was recommended by fellow e-g'ers and also by some of the local chefs in our Niagara Area. Not sure if we hit an off night, but I suspect that this restaurant has just simply lost its joie de vivre.

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Lovely thread! (I am a Montrealer, so biased.) :laugh:

To answer your query upthread, the 'local' shrimp here come from Matane in the Gaspesie.

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Thanks Gus, that makes sense. Have you been to Au Pied? We are heading there tonight.

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How disappointing for you both. I am pulling for you to have a fantastic meal and a great time tonight at Au Pied.

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Beautiful photos!

Too bad about Toque. Although I enjoyed my dinner at Toque last fall, I liked my meals at Le Montee, APDC and the now-closed Bronte better.

Hope you have a good experience at APDC tonight. Loved their take on the lobster roll, which was topped with foie gras, and served on challah. Also liked the marinated smoked sausages (Saucissettes fumées marinées) & pudding chomeur. Be prepared for massive portions. Looking forward to seeing the photos ;-)


Edited by phoenikia (log)

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APDC tonight. An excellent experience.

Here is the famous chair.

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I think they just reopened from renovations on May 4th - not sure how the place differed before, but there is still a big pizza oven in the middle of the room.

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We started with the Foie Gras Cromesquis - deep fried foie squares. I think if I were to make them at home I'd go for smaller foie balls. The instructions are to pop the whole thing in your mouth (or wear them). You kind of choke on the liquid contained.

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Next up - Plouge a Champlain - buckwheat pancake, potatoes, maple cured bacon, foie, maple syrup - I'm sure there was more in there somewhere. Quite wonderful.

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We also had a half portion of foie poutine - can't go to ADPC and not try that. Wonderfully crisp fries, nice big white cheese curd, the traditional brown gravy plus a cream sauce and a nice chunk of perfectly seared foie on top!

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We then shared a Melting Pot - a enamelled cast iron dish with cheesy, garlicy mashed potatoes, boudin, sausage, belly and other pork. That finished us off.

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The only disappointment of the evening was the wine - the bottle just got funkier as we drank it and after about a glass we really didn't want any more.

We didn't have room for dessert at APDC, but after a bit of a walk around we ran into a creperie and had a lemon crepe. A nice crispy crepe, lemon juice and a bit of lemon sugar sprinkled on the top. A perfect ending to the night out.

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For authenic chopped (chicken) liver & other traditional Jewish delights, I recommend stopping by Chez Papa Ernies (Ernie the Caterer) located at 5839-5845A Decarie (South side of Decarie, corner Bourret) 514-385-0000.

http://www.erniethecaterer.com/

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Headed out this morning and hit France Decor - picking up a couple of 3/4 sheet pan sized silpats and an oval disher. Then on to Chocolat-chocolat to cruise through all the molds and boxes and books. Picked up several new molds - god knows I needed some more, some boxes and a copy of a new book Sweet Gold 2.

Here are pictures of the two rooms containing boxes and the mold room - where I spent a good hour going through everything.

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Tonight was not a good picture night I'm afraid. We had a couple of friends join us for dinner - after 3 changes in our reservation for La Queue de Cheval in the past few days - we changed restaurants at the last minute and hit ristorante Cavalli on Peel street instead.

Started with some lovely breads - olive breads, walnut bread.

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The kitchen sent Wild Shrimp tempura with jalapeno and sesame mayonnaise.

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Wine followed - a nice bottle of Brunello - very tasty.

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Starters included Pickled veal filet, truffle aioli, king oyster mushroom salad and parmesan shavings, (which I seem to have missed taking a picture of) Grilled eringy, shitake, oyster mushrooms, candied bacon, diced tomato vinaigrette and parmesan, and Oysters with wasabi and lime shallot vinaigrette.

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This is where the pictures went completely down hill - the first is supposed to be Braised veal cheeks with roasted root vegetables, bok choy and a chanterelle foie gras sauce (badly out of focus). I totally screwed the pooch on the picture of the Grilled veal chop with a porcini rub, torta mascarpone caramelized onions, polenta, aspiration , radicchio from Treviso - so you won't see it here. Finally a rather sorry picture of the Grilled swordfish served with a tomato, caper and clam sauce with bitter-green vegetable sausage.

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The kitchen sent out a dessert plate - a variety of little items to enjoy.

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Apparently still missing my ability to focus this morning - even though I didn't start the day with a hair of the dog.

We headed out for a quick breakfast before leaving for the train - and to grab another suitcase to bring home all the stuff we bought. Somehow the extra one I brought just didn't have enough room.

We went to a restaurant called "Eggspectation". I had the Breton eggs benedict, Kelly the Eggstravaganza - eggs with french toast.

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Lunch on the train was pork tenderloin with a grainy mustard sauce - not the most exciting meal I've eaten on a train. Contributing I'm sure was the fact that we hadn't eaten breakfast all that long before.

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Wow! The pictures of the food you guys ate on your trip look delicious! Ok, with the exception of the tartar - I will never be convinced it is food to be eaten without the benefit of a little heat....but that is just me.

Were you successful in picking up the 3/4 pan silpats? It has been a few years since I stopped into France Decor and Chocolat Chocolat so I wondered if they had some neat new things?

The mold showroom looks huge! Must have been hard to choose :biggrin:

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Wow! The pictures of the food you guys ate on your trip look delicious! Ok, with the exception of the tartar - I will never be convinced it is food to be eaten without the benefit of a little heat....but that is just me.

Were you successful in picking up the 3/4 pan silpats? It has been a few years since I stopped into France Decor and Chocolat Chocolat so I wondered if they had some neat new things?

The mold showroom looks huge! Must have been hard to choose :biggrin:

Yes indeed - got the 3/4 sheet pan silpats.

Mold showroom is great - asked one of the girls to show me her favorite molds - ended up with a Kama Sutra mold. I'll have to sell those ones under the table the the school fun fair this year.

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Looks like a great time Kerry. What were you able to find out regarding the Thermomixers?

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Wow, did I eat ALL that !! I have to say that of all the places we dinned Joe Beef was my favourite followed by Hunting and Fishing Club and Au Pied.

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Looks like a great time Kerry. What were you able to find out regarding the Thermomixers?

We discussed the possibility of me having a couple around if students who come want to buy one.

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re Toque "Next up - the cheese course. The waiter did stop by to see if we wanted wine with it - as the pairings had run out "

Incredible, and tacky, that the pairings werent designed to carry thru.

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