Sunday, August 19, 2007

Montréal and its Best Restaurants

This is the start of a new serie about the Best Restaurants of... I'll start with Montréal and I'll cover my adoptive Toronto and all the cities I've visited. Anyone who knows me well, knows I know and love my food! Enjoy the postings and I hope you'll take a couple minutes to share YOUR favorites places to eat: a name, a city and a few descriptives words would be great!

You cannot talk about Montréal without talking about Steamed Hot Dogs! It all started on the Main at the Montréal Pool Room although Les Frites Dorées (is it still open??) was far superior. But nowadays, you just have to head to a La Belle Province franchise and you can't go wrong! Enjoy it all dressed, the cabbage is a must and sprinkle some paprika on top.
Another favorite is the egg rolls from Yangtze on Van Horne. However, I have to admit I've never been there, I get my supply from my montréaler friends James and Anna who brings me dozens (and dozens!) when they visit for my annual BBQ party. Quite a treat!
Also on the chinese front, a must is Zen at Hotel Omni Mont-Royal on Sherbrooke St. It's an all-you-can-eat a-la-carte type of menu and you get to sample great chinese delicacies such a the not-to-be-missed Pekin Duck.
You must head to Buffet La Maison Kirin in Chomeday or Brossard if all-you-can-eat buffet is more your style. You must try the deep-fried spinach: not available in many chinese restaurants and very tasty!
Let's not forget Panama Restaurant on Jean-Talon East for the best greek roasted chicken ever! If you want pork souvlaki, do what the server told me and go somewhere else! Their specialty is the roasted chicken and it's a fabulous one! Pair it with a village salad and some fresh tzatziki and you have a real feast! My mouth is watering just thinking about it!!
Last but not least: Schwartz's. The best Jewish deli in Canada!
Enjoy the culinary tour!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Went to my first Ribfest today! Always thought I was missing something when I couldn't go to the July 1st Ribfest at Centennial park in Toronto. I've seen on The Food Network great shows on Rib and Chili challenges and always wished I was there. Well I was at the Quinte Ribfest today and left somewhat dissapointed. It's often like that when I have anticipation and expectations. I first lined up at the corn and potatoes stand for a roasted yam and with my luck, they ran out of yams less than 10 people ahead of me! Next, I lined up at the shortest line-up for ribs.: Thirsty Cactus. They had 5 ribs & chicken vendors, 1 corn/potatoes booth and 1 fries/blooming onions vendor and the lines were pretty long everywhere; the ambiant smoky smell was tantalizing!!
I ordered a Alabama pulled pork sandwich and a chicken/rib combo for lunch tomorrow. The sandwich was fabulous but when I opened the combo dinner container, I was dissapointed: I assumed it would be 1/2 chicken and 1/3 rack of ribs (because of their prices separately) , but no!!! it was 1/3 of 1/2 chicken (the wing and 1/2 of the breast part~ the leg, thigh and larger part of the breast not in sight...) and just 2 ribs (from the small end) and the tip. Much too expensive for such little pieces. I had to remove the chicken skin coz it was not even crispy. Other than the the BBQ sauce put on it after the cooking, the chicken was not really tasty. I make better chicken in my charcoal smoker and I definetely make baby back ribs as good!
Just come over for my annual BBQ party every year, in late june, to have a taste! 2007 was the 6th edition and well attended (49 plus the cook (me!) and 2 dogs and 1 cat!) by hungry guests! Looking forward to the 2008 one!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Meet Nita

This my cat Nita (short for Juanita). She's almost 6 years old now and we've been together since she was 4 months old. She was given to me as a companion to my then aging english setter, Diego. He's now been gone for almost 2 years so it's only Nita and I. She's a petite girl, 7.4 lbs only and really enjoys exploring the outdoors, she a real cottage cat and even sneaks some naps on one of the muskoka chairs! But she still loves coming back to her indoor comfort! Her dog trained her well!

Pizza Day - part 3

Here's the trial for dinner with the last of the pizza dough ball: garlic breadsticks. I wanted to twist the sticks before cooking but after cutting them I realized that by twisting them, the grated parmesan would fall off; so I left them flat. Unfortunately, the taste was not up to par: too cooked (or maybe the dough too stretched?!) and lacking in zingy taste. Oh well, can't be a success each and every time! Anyone with suggestion for an improved version?

Food for Thoughts

My friend Betty Anne just dropped by to say hello this fine afternoon, we sat down and chatted for an hour or so. Ever since she left, my mind has been in effervescence, boiling with challenging concepts! Where to start? Where to start? So many question-provoking thoughts to share.

Let's takle this one: In life, you need 3 legs to stand on: the Work leg, the Family leg and the Community leg. Hummm, as I'm pondering changes because my Work leg is a bit sore, Betty Anne reminds me that changes to my Work leg could wobble and even break off my Family or Community legs. So where would I be standing?? In a better situation or in a worst one?? I might need to re-evaluate some of the changes I was about to make - she really threw a curve at me.

How about this one: Betty Anne suggested I do a spreadsheet to evaluate as objectively as possible, components in my life. That's why I'm including this picture: this is my view as I'm writing right now. We can all agreee that that's worth a 10 out of 10 right now, but maybe it's worth only a 1 in February. Actually, Betty Anne have never been here in February, otherwise she would know it's also a 10!! The lake is ever-changing and provides constant fascination. What's worth barely a 1 in February is living here; there's nothing fascinating about frozen pipes or not being warm enough.

Who needs a therapist or psychatrist if you can have a Betty Anne in your life?? I am very lucky! BA is a good friend, to me but also to many people. We don't chit chat over the phone or even over the internet, we see each other maybe twice a year, but I know that she is the person I can count on if my life is chaotic and I need help sorting it. Over 2 years ago, when I decided to change my life drastically and quit my job in Toronto to move to the middle of nowhere hoping for a better life, even though Betty Anne was supportive of my decision, she was worried for me. And she told me so. She kept in contact and I could hear the relief on her voice when I told her I found a job at a decent company, close to my new home. I wish you all a Betty Anne.

I have much more to share about BA and my conversation with her this afternoon ~ stay tuned! And thanks for stopping by Betty Anne, I needed it.

Pizza Day - part 2

Here's lunch: minced garlic, cheddar cheese, sliced tomatoes, herbes de Provence and fresh basil from the garden. Caramelized onions would have been a nice add-on but I just didn't want to spend the time!! It was delicious but next time, I'll add more cheese and more tomatoes.

As you can see, traditional pizzas like all-dressed or "canadian" just don't tickle my fancy!! Please feel free to share your favorite toppings combination that are out of the ordinary; I need to expand my experimentations!!

Pizza Day

I go through this every once in a while and I'm right in the middle of it right now: using up all the food in the frrezer and in the pantry! I'm trying to keep my grocery purchases to a minimum with only fresh staples and want to eat what I have already stored.
I've been thawing a pizza dough ball overnight and separated it in 3 portions this morning. The first one went for a breakfast pizza. On the BBQ of course, as I do not have a real full function over; only a convection/microwave combinaison oven that does not brown or broil. I took a packet of Apple-Cinnamon instant oatmeal, mixed it with I-Can't-Beleive-it's-Not-Butter margarine (no more butter - only margarine in the freezer!) and sprinkled with more brown sugar and more cinnamon. A few minutes in the BBQ and voila! it's nice and brown and ready to delight me!!

I'm already thinking about the lunch one: no pizza sauce, no pepperoni in stock, so it will probably end up a "white" pizza or maybe I should call it a flat bread?