Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saturday, April 26th

our last day and...guess what...another late start! we took the metro up to the marche Jean-Talon, this ENORMOUS market in the northern part of the city. it was unbelievable--tons of fruits, meats, cheeses, whatever...we sampled some of the most delicious tomatoes I've had in a while, and also grapefruits and plums (bought some plums for the trip home)...we stopped in a cheese shop there, the Fromagerie Hamel, and samples cheeses for like half an hour, seeking illegal raw milk young cheese to take home. in the end we bought five cheeses we liked. we also bought bread for the trip home, and contemplated sausages, but decided against it.

we also bought a strange fruit I'd never seen, which I imagine everyone else has--an orange passionfruit? it looks completely different from the familiar purple wrinkly passionfruits, with a smooth, brittle (almost eggshell-like) orange skin...the seeds inside are not tart at all, either, but a bit like guanabana.

we wandered up to Schwartz's for a smoked-meat sandwich lunch. although the line looked intimidating, it actually moved pretty quickly, and soon we were at a table with four Turkish women. we decided to split a single sandwich (between priya and I, not with the Turks)

fries, classic smoked meat sandwich, halfsours, mayonnaise-free coleslaw, and black cherry sodas. of course we got medium fat, not lean (heard it was dry and horrible) and not fat (heard it was just ALL FAT).

it was so good that I actually ordered another one (but only ate half of it). I'd thought it was going to be just like Katz' pastrami, but it wasn't, really. first of all, you didn't get nearly as much as at Katz' (not a complaint, really...the sandwich was also literally half the price, 5 bucks as opposed to 10-13. and the texture was different, more oily and drier, it seemed; more corned-beef-like than pastrami-like, but with a much different flavor.

a couple of movies later, we were ready for dinner. we went to a little place called L'Express, a "classic French bistro" (we had ditched out on our 10:30 reservations, but didn't seem to need 'em now that it was nearly 2am...the place was not empty, but not even half-full). after our hearty day, we just wanted something lighter. so we got cokes, frisee with lardons salad, and octopus-lentil salad.

the frisee with lardons salad turned out to be NOT LITE AT ALL. of course it came with a poached egg, which is good, but it also came with craploads of cubed ham and emmenthal cheese, as well as TONS of lardons. good, but overwhelming.

Friday, April 25th

another very late start. we headed to St. Viatur Bagel for breakfast (at 2pm) to try the famed Montreal bagels at a place supposedly "better than Fairmount Bagel". the bagels were odd-looking, very thin, and tasted very much like a soft pretzel--quite sweet, though. we split a plain one and then went to our real lunch, to a place recommended by a friend of priya's.

it was a Guyanese place called Jardin du Cari (Garden of Curry?). we got a ginger beer and a sorrel soda and two rotis--goat, and chickpea-and-potato.

both were delicious + cheap + large! then we scooted over to the famed Fairmount Bagel for another plain bagel for comparison. it was darker and more cooked than the Viatur bagel, and still kind of pretzelly. decent, but not blow-your-mind amazing. priya threw her half away (we were pretty full).

we strolled around waiting for priya's friend adam to arrive and met up at a supposedly awesome cooking shop called Les Touilleurs. it had some fancy and cute stuff, but was ultimately disappointing--pretty small, not much selection, very overpriced. very sad. we did go to several more cooking stores as we killed time waiting for our giant dinner and made a bunch of small purchases--kitchen timers, tea spoons, et cetera.

finally it was 8:30 and time for our reservation at Au Pied du Cuchon. we met simon at the restaurant and were seated within fifteen minutes or so. nevertheless, they gave us a round of beers on the house for waiting, I guess--St. Ambroise, since they were unfortunately out of the house PDC brand.

I had never eaten foie gras in my life before, so this was going to be quite a first experience. we decided to order family style and try as much as possible...

first, deep-fried cubes filled with liquid foie gras. you had to put the whole cube in your mouth and bite it and "shoot" the hot liquid, else it would squirt everywhere. they were called cromesquis, I believe. we'd also ordered a goat cheese and golden beet salad, hoping for some fiber, but there were basically no greens on it! oh well. the chevre was delicious.

then came one of the best dishes of the night: a pancake topped with bacon, cheese, fried potatoes, foie gras, and maple syrup. like the most decadent breakfast of all time. alongside it was an order of the dish that had put the restaurant on the map: foie gras poutine, with two thick gravies and a large lobe of foie gras laid atop cheese curds and french fries (fried in duck fat, of course). both dishes were amazing. so far, foie gras was treating me well.

which was good, because the drippiest and richest was yet to come. a lamb shank studded with garlic and cooked with lentils was absolutely delicious, yes, but the highlight was the pied de cochon itself: a pig's foot (with an attached leg, the size of a person's arm, almost) stuffed with foie gras, topped with a lobe of foie gras, on a bed of cheesy mashed potatoes, with a thick creamy mushroom and snow peapod gravy...we had to turn the hoofy part away from priya, but in the end we ate pretty much all of it. it was very very meaty, with huge chunks that just pulled away from the knobby bones of the leg and foot, and whole garlic cloves floating here and there, infused with thick rich creamy foie gras...the very thought of it almost makes me sick now, but it was so, so good.

before and after:

of course we saved room for dessert. unfortunately, they had run out of tarte de sucre (sugar pie; Simon claimed they only make two per day. really?) so we had two orders of pouding aux chômeurs (pudding for the unemployed, perfect for the recently-laid-off priya). this was basically a piece of bread/cake soaked in a dish of thickened, delicious maple syrup. perfect for all of us, as it turned out.

and the total bill? $60-70 each, including a glass of wine for adam and me. amazingly low for what we got, I think! we spent more at Montee du Lait (about $80 each with wine bottle, tip, tax, etc.)

would eat at PDC again, most definitely. but maybe not for quite some time.

and I know this is ostenstibly a food blog, but how about a picture of DISFEAR taken at the late late show at Katacombes?

Thursday, April 24th

we got a late start and started the day off by strolling through old montreal. ended up stopping for a quick late lunch (first meal of the day tho) at a little cafe called Creme de la Creme, where we got croque monsieuers. nothing special, but pretty decent, with very spicy mustard. biked all afternoon around the waterfront and got some maple syrup congealed on snow and wrapped around a stick as a snack on the way back. napped and woke up in time to make our 8:30 re-reservation at Montee du Lait. (our photos were poor due to the poor lighting, so I opted not to post them here...)

Montee du Lait had an offering of 4 choices, anything on the menu, for $44. (up from the $40 we had heard). we opted for that and picked out our eight dishes.

first, we had warm scallops with cucumber and parsley sauce, covered by a garlic cracker. it was simple but quite delicious, one of the best dishes of the night. we also had wild bass tartare with new Quebec green beans. again pretty good. it game with a garlic mousse of sorts and roasted red peppers.

then we had langoustine beignet and aspic, fried and breaded langoustines with a weird little cube of aspic next to them. they were pretty good.

the highlight of the night was suckling pig belly over white beans with mustard yogurt. the pig belly had a molasses crust that was insanely delicious, hard and crispy and a great contrast to the soft layers of falling-apart pork and fat. we also had a charcuterie sampler which included blood sausage soup in a shot glass (creamy, blended broth with a deep rich livery flavor that priya did not like at all, so I finished it), uncooked smoked bacon and parsley salad (great contrast between the salty cool pink bacon and the crisp of fresh parsley), and a ham croquette (which was greyish brown inside, like pork rather than ham, but REALLY delicious).

we chose to expend two of our selections on four cheeses:
1. Le Pizy (soft white one that we thought was the least good)
2. d'Iberville (stinky yellow cheese that was AWESOME coupled with the figs, mentioned below)
3. Monnoir (which we liked enough to buy some later to eat on the train home)
4. Bleu d'Elizabeth (it was good. for a blue. I don't really enjoy blues.)

they came with a simple side of stewed figs that was outstanding and really improved some of the cheeses.

finally, as our last course we selected a lemon parfait, so rich as to be almost like a cheesecake. it had candied lemon rind on top and a toasted meringue cloud on the plate next to it. it was absolutely delicious (priya was mad for it). we rounded out the night with a couple of beers at Reservoir with Simon.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wednesday, April 23rd

back from montreal, where there was much food to be had. some of it was disgustingly over the top, but it was wonderful nevertheless.

the train was scheduled to leave NYC at 8:15am and was not scheduled to arrive in Montreal until 7pm, so we packed a huge amount of food. priya made quinoa with dried cranberries, almonds, apples, curry powder, shallots, and mint; I brought some pickles from Guss' and some cashews, raisins, and chocolate chips; priya brought fried chicken from Whole Foods and hummus and carrots and also made pita chips and hard-boiled eggs. when we laid out our spread on the train, the people around us (who were eating squished microwaved hamburgers from the dining car) stared in a combination of naked greed and not a little incredulity.

we finished barely a quarter of the food, even though the train was delayed for 2.5hrs at Canadian customs, causing us to miss our 9:30 dinner reservation at La Montee de Lait. we didn't get to dinner until almost midnight, so where else to go except for La Banquise for latenight poutine?

Classic poutine and poutine with mergeuz, onions, bacon, and, I think, hotdog?

then to Casa del Popolo for unsweetened hot chocolate and a chocolate muffin. it was past 1am and, although we were wide awake, everything seemed to be shutting down! so we went home and to bed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

quick dinner #2

looking for another not-too-difficult meal this week, I made a huge tray of turkey meatballs (following Toby's recipe, which is derived, I think, from my uncle's) and froze half of them. I also made a big pot of tomato sauce--kind of puttanesca-y in that it had an anchovy base and included capers and some olives--and froze half of that, too.

then for dinner I had a meatball sub (with provolone) made with those meatballs and that sauce, with broccoli rabe with parm reg and garlic on the side. the next day I had proper pasta and meatballs with the sauce.

quick dinner #1

I made a roast chicken for dinner several days ago, and it was only OK, so, faced with throwing the rest away or making myself eat it for dinner before it went bad, I decided to instead turn it into some sort of vaguely curryish thing. I brownfried a crapload of onions, added ginger and garlic and turmeric and red chilly powder, then some chopped-up tomatoes, and finally pieces of the chicken I'd pulled off the bone (along with a little butter). some water and cream, cooked it down a bit, added coriander leaves, and there you go (on the right side of the plate). it was kind of overly shredded, almost like a Caribbean curry, and it was only OK, definitely not the kind of thing I'd make for a guest, but a good dinner thing. I had it with scallions & cauliflower cooked with black mustard seeds and urad dal that I'd made a couple of days ago, and with a bowl of cut-up mango on the side with a little rose essence tossed in. that mango+rose thing was actually pretty good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

dinner last night (Thursday 4/10):

east: beef and sweet potato curry (using petit filet)
west: indian-style tamarind okra
south: mango chutney with ginger (made by priya)
north: paratha (fried from frozen raw dough)

I made the beef and okra simultaneously...took about 2 hours total (with 1.5 hours of simmer time during which I washed dishes and stuff). it was the first time I had tried either recipe, both modifications of julie sahni recipes.

overall they were both very good, except that the okra was incredibly oily (even though I had put in LESS oil than the recipe called for) and both were undersalted (I chronically undersalt stuff). no big deal.

I also got to freeze 2 servings of beef and 2 servings of okra for another day.