30 May, 2013

Montreal: The place to eat

Jadeite In all honesty, it took me some time to post this (back-dated) piece. But there was no way I couldn't share my tasty experiences with you! 

The food was amazing, some of it cooked by my host, Chow with Chow.

Living in Hong Kong, markets like Jean-Talon (Marché Jean-Talon) in the heart of Montreal just make me drool. And even if some things seem kind of expensive, it’s just full of delicious product that I want to take home and… cook. Surrounding the fresh produce are a few stalls selling pre-made goods, including the best sea-salt caramel macaron I have ever eaten and some interesting looking polish pastries.

There are also a few shops selling all things Maple, but I was told by my good host that those products can also be found cheaper, elsewhere. Which was a good thing, because I could not resist the vintage style packaging, which I secretly wanted to take home to use as a pen-holder or something.

A short walk south from the market is little Italy. You know what that means? Cannolis. That’s what it means. I have this constant hankering for a good churro and while I know these two things cannot be compared, how can you say no to a good cannoli?

Try Alarti-Caserta at 277 Dante, Little Italy. Luckily for me, they have small and large sizes (this was a long trip, at some point I had to think about my heart, if not my waistline). I also wanted to try their sfogliatelle, which was what I was given the last time I tried to order a cannoli in Sheffield, UK (I know, what did I expect? It was yummy though).

But among the pastries and some of the most extravagant cakes I have ever seen, were other yummy things that I didn’t get to try (heart, waistline, remember?), like this nutty tart. Mmmm. I will have to go back to Montreal sometime.

And after that, full as I felt (ssshhh, I ate other things before we got to Alarti Caserta) we walked through Mile End, looked, tried on and walked south more to the Plateau where I fell in love with a home-ware store called V de V Maison.

But we had to walk more, because I know that Montreal bagels are good. ChowwithChow had brought them to me in HK before. They were calling me. I wanted to try one of those, fresh.

In case you’re not familiar or lucky enough to have friends in Montreal, their bagels are different and known for being really good – some people actually don’t want to eat a New York bagel, because hey, it’s just not their style. These little puppies are boiled in sweetened water and then baked in a wood fire oven. Sounds complicated, doesn’t it? That’s why it’s best to eat them fresh and from a place that only does bagels.

// There is more to it, but I’ll let wikipedia explain that.) //

So, we took our route past coffee shops and shoe shops and hairdressers (she needed to trim her bangs) and I ‘found’ myself by FairmountBagel (because I cried “what about the bagel?” Even Chow had eaten enough by then).

Located at 74 Fairmount West, these guys have been making bagels since 1919 and my taste buds told me that experience was worth it, even if my tummy wasn’t in the mood for stretching exercises.

The only thing I missed was the Marmite. But hey, this lox was ridiculously good too.

I still had more places to go on my trip, so sadly I didn’t bring bagels home, but I did head to a supermarket one Mont Royale Avenue (av. du Mont-Royal) to get less perishable goods. And oops! We passed by La Maison du Macaron, which I was told is one of the best in the city.

The lovely Chow bought me a box of the printemps-été 2013 collection: Mango and black pepper, strawberry and rhubarb, raspberry and lime, strawberry and basil and of course, I tried their sea salt caramel too. I’m obsessed with caramel. I’m obsessed with salty & sweet. So what can I say? This was a trip of flavour combinations (check out the pops at The Hyppo in St Augustine ).

Oh, and at the supermarket I picked up some cheese and a jar of Dulce de Leche (for some reason, it’s a regular staple in Canadian supermarkets), which I’ve been saving up for making some Argentinian alfajores, now the weather is cooler in HK. I’m going to add some pink Himalayan sea salt to mine, along with that coconut rim. (Warning: there are lots of bad recipes for these on the Internet…)

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