Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Café International

I got an email asking me if I wanted to come for a free (FREE!) lunch/dinner at Café International in little Italy and try the food. I said no, of course. Ha. Of course I was totes in!

Since, 1968, this establishment has been serving up authentic Italian food from pasta to risotto to pizza! I love all of those thangs. OK, it's a lot of carbs, but when you gym it up 15 hours a week, you're good. I went for lunch. Why? Main reason was that, hey, I know there are going to be less people at lunch, therefore, more attention on ME and more food for ME. Oh, I know, I'm totes smart that way.
The place itself looks like it could use a pick-me-up: white paneled ceiling, old floors, badly lit dining room and old lookin' tables. The chef tells me that they are inviting bloggers so that we can tell dem peeps to go eat there because the last few years have been a hard hit for Little Italy. I think it's been a harder hit for Café International. They've been there longer than most but apart from a couple things here and there, haven't changed much of the decor. So now they are stuck with regulars that are about to croak (low blow, I know) and Italian gangsters. OK, that last one isn't true but I swear there was a group in there that looked very questionable! One of the only cool thing is their neon blue sign outside, which still looks great and means to say 'hello please come in'. It's also a huge space with around 80 seats inside and 20 on the terrace.

I got there and... no one knew I was coming. It felt like when I went to 'La Petite Mangue' with Val and it took 3 people and 12 minutes to finally have someone realize that I was there as a blogger. I'm already not too fond of saying 'hey, I'm a blogger: look at me, look at me' but when I got there, they were not expecting me. They had to go get the chef and even he seemed a bit in the dark at that point. But he was uber nice and we settled on him bringing out small portions of many awesome things. Many. Awesome. Things. Sounds just about right to me!
1st: house ham with aioli and arugula. Yes AND yes. The aioli was amazing with just the right amount of garlic in there. It was nice and thick. The ham was very tasty, somewhat on the salty side but I don't mind that too much when it comes to ham. Hello, home made! It was rather tough at some points so that wasn't as pleasant. The arugula added a certain earthiness to the dish and rounded it off. Oh and they brought grilled bread which was perfect with the ham. No butta, just awesome grilled bread. Yes to the yes.
2nd: house prosciutto with sprouts and squash mostarda. I think this might be part of why they are struggling to have more clients. I mean, who sells mostarda anymore? And why put a handful of sprouts on the plate. I am not a rabbit. No, but seriously. They have a delicious product like home made prosciutto and they put a tree beside it on the plate. No. Alright, so the prosciutto was aged 18 months and right on the damn ball. On. The. Ball. It was salty and soft and was just melting on my tongue. Yes. You could see that the chef took pride in this, as he should. This is why it was weird to me to put it with grass and mostarda. Speaking of mostarda, it was actually good. My last souvenirs of it were not awesome. I really liked the texture and the temperature. It was at room temperature and I guess that's what does it for me and mostarda. Wow, you never here THAT. The taste of the squash came through just enough.
3rd: pizza with pistachio pesto, mozzarella and house bologna. I gotta say I was never a fan of bologna. Neva. My friends would have that in their lunches in high school and I was all like 'ew'. It just tasted too strong for me and a bit fake. But this one was dsamn good. Ya, THAT good. It could have had a tiny bit more salt but it was still a bit crunchy and my taste buds really loved it. The dough was so soft and airy and pretty much a perfect A+. The pesto wasn't pesto though: it was more like pistachios here and there and some oil. It was nice and different to have pistachios on my pizza, but it sure wasn't pesto. I gotta say that it was a lot of bread. A LOT. Although it was like biting into a cloud, it was still bread. I forwent (yes, I use fancy words now) half of that loveliness.
4th: calamari and octopus salad on a bed of mesclun with a tomato, onion, caper and basil salsa on top. What do I despise more than mesclun? Nothing. Nothing is worse. I hate it so much I don't even know how to describe my hate. OK, I'm going to take a chill pill. Chill pill taken. In all honesty (and you guys know how brutally honest I can be), I wish the chef had never served me this dish. A, because it was not up to par and B, because it lowered the overall score for the food. The calamari were squishy, therefore either overcooked or undercooked. Look, it's crazy annoying to cook these bad boys so just don't risk it. You don't really need em' on your menu. The octopus wasn't as bad and had a charred taste to it which was 100% better than the calamari. The salsa was fresh tastin' and capers gave it a nice twist. The whole thing was very much overdressed and so everything kind of became soggy. Oh, ooooooh, I found the thing I hate more than mesclun: soggy, wet mesclun.
#5: gnocchi with tomato and basil sauce. See, if only all my courses could've been as small as this...The gnocchi were, for a lack of a better word, divine. Yep, that's right! They were just perfect: the perfect texture, the perfect taste, the perfect size. The tomato basil sauce was simple, yet very flavourful and the parmesan on top added that extra twang (yep, I'm goin' with 'twang' here!) we all like. That big-ass-GMO basil leaf was only there for colour, I'm guessing. Because, well, although I would totally just eat a leaf like that, I don't know many people who would.
#6: mushroom risotto. I was starting to go into a food coma. This was a huge portion, yet again. The waitress told me that she had hinted to the chef that he should serve risotto next and she was super proud. She was saying how no one actually makes risotto at home because it's so time consuming. I didn't think mentioning that I am quite the risotto making expert would be a good idea. I do make a mean lobster-stock oyster mushroom risotto tho. The rice itself was perfect: a risotto should always keep some kind of bite to it and be all rich and creamy. Rich and creamy are probably my favorite adjectives when it comes to food. Mmmm. The waitress asked if I wanted some pepper and extra parmesan --because there was already some in there--and hells yes I wanted extra parmesan. Let's make something clear; I will always want that extra parm. The mushrooms were nicely cooked but I would have liked a bit of variety instead of plain ol' button shrooms.
#7: tiramisu. This coffee tastin' dessert is not usually my fave. But this one. Oh! This one was...oh! Yes, that's a foodgasm if you haven't noticed. It was creamy, it was soft, it was nutty, it was coffee. It was gone in 2.5 seconds. Hands down the best tiramisu I've eva eva tasted.
Service was really good. Well, it had to be, didn't it? I mean, they knew I was there to write a review. At first, the waitress was kind of shy, bringing me the menu and mineral water. But then she started being friendlier, probably because I was there, eating 7 courses, for about 8 hours. OK, 1 hour and a half. Still. The chef served the plates and, although he seemed really introverted, would talk to me about the restaurant and about the dishes.

And now, the scores!

Food: 8 (that damn calamari!)
Service: 9
To answer your question, YES I ate everything. And to answer your second question, YES I am a pig. I left on my bike and I'm serious when I say that I don't remember anything from around St-Zotique/Clark to Pine/St-Urbain. It's like I blacked out! Food coma!!! I would definitely go back, especially for the tiramisu. I do hope that they revamp the place to get more customers tho. It would be worth their while.

Cafe international Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, June 17, 2016

Caribou Gourmand

I was invited to the [rather soft] opening of le Caribou Gourmand last week by Cat, a girl I used to work with at Juliette et Chocolat, also known as my worst professional mistake, aka the bosses were butts. I'm being nice here. Anyhoot, getting back to the Caribou! 

It's located in the Mile-End/Outremont. Who knows now with the extended boroughs and the neighbourhoods and the adjacents and what have yous. Point is, there are around 8000 restaurants around just looking for yo love. And they will do whatever is necessary! This is why every single establishment that opens its doors must be damn special and have a damn good idea.
It wasn't the most awesomest (oh, it's a word) of days to have this event. It was raining and flinging flanging cold and winter had decided to come back in June. JUNE, people! My homegirl Lea was meeting me and her bus was running late so I actually had to go in before dying of hypothermia. I'm being totes serious here. 
The space is actually quite small and rather cozy. There is a long bar that transforms into a high table, so you feel like you're kind of PART of the bar. You know, like, if you reach far enough, you could actually serve yourself your own drink! Hahaha. Dudes, I totally have to try that! The front wall completely opens up and that would have seemed 1000% cooler (no pun intended) if it wasn't -8 degrees outside. I'm exaggerating, it was -4. Oh but I must mention that when two girls started smoking right outside, I felt like I was smoking both their cigarettes. At the same time. So that wasn't too awesome. I've smoked. I've been there, I've done that. I dson't wanna dso it anymore.
There's slate everywhere, or I guess slate colour. It's actually nice, it fits. I felt like taking out my chalk and drawing on the tables. Cause, you know, I's got a chalk reserve in ma bag. And there I go, babbling again. It seems rather 'industrial' with pipes everywhere but also kind of the opposite, with a wall made of tree trunks, plants on the walls and big ass caribou antlers on another one. There's about 25 seats in all, but I'm sure there's more on a regular night. OK, hopefully there's more on a regular night.

Aight, so basically, beer was 3$ and wine was 5$, which I thought was just about right on. Some itti bites were going to be offered so that we could get an avant-goût of their menu. Seriously, I've been to huge mother freakin' restaurant openings where soooooo much money is spent on all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-drink and then BAM, they close. Just like that. I'm just gonna go ahead and name Kyozon and Vicolo as examples.
Beet carpaccio: pecan, grapes, maple and tarragon. Tasted really fresh and the grapes were a perfect match. The beets were cut into perfect cubes, which made it that much better. For me, anyway. I had a hard time finding that maple vinaigrette tho. The pecans were good but any nut would have been good in there; it was there for the texture more than the taste, I found. Oh, I sound so sophisticated. OMG, I should totes meet the queen. Or... not? Moving on...
Salmon rillettes with pink pepper corns and tarragon. Oh, except it was definitely dill in there. Yep, I know dill when it's dill. Does that make sense? No. Was it tarragon? No. Anyhoot, I've grown to love dill over the past couple months so I liked it. The pink pepper corns were awesome in there, again a great match. Points for everyone! The bread got kind of soggy with all the waiting time in the kitchen, I can only presume. And although this was good, I felt like it needed more originality. This will not get you waves of people. Waves. People. Disclaimer: I swear I haven't taken any drugs.


Yes, this dumbie forgot to take a pic. I'm gonna blame Lea, it's easier that way (sorry gurl!). Chicken liver mousse. Which, by the by, sounds about 800 times more refined in French; 'mousse de foie de volaille'. No? It was close to perfect and smooth as a baby's butt. You know, people say that all the time. Well, damn it, it's true. I can honestly say that all the babies' butts I have touched (wow, how creepy do I sound on a scale from 1 to 1 million?) were uber duber soft. Hence, this was damn smooth. Little gerkins, very thinly sliced added some texture and a briny flavour that paired really well with the richness of the mousse. Mmmmm. Mmmmousse. 

Damn it Lea! Last bite was beet coulis, dijon mustard 'mousse' and cracklings. Cracklings: funny word. Ha! Cracklings: pork meat that has been roasted and then confit (confied?).  The bad thing about this was that the vessel for this dish was a spoon (you know, those appetizer spoons that look like it could be for your wonton soup) and so it was really hard to get everything in your mouth in one shot. So then I had to pick at it with my hands and that was on the 'meh' side of things. Anyhoot, the meat was really nicely cooked and was oh-so-tender (A+), the beet was nice but a bit too earthy for this and the mustard was overwhelming. You know... too much of a good thing (I loves me some good mustard).

Service was good. I mean, we were seated right by all the waitresses so it wasn't that difficult. I was kind of disappointed  that we only got to taste four things and even more disappointed when the waitress would pass by with the same bite we had just had. 

And now, the scores!

Food: 7.5
Service: 8

There are about 127 restaurants on my to-go list so I'm not sure this made the cut. I'll get back to you on that ;)

Caribou Gourmand Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Last week, a bunch of us (a bunch is technically a number higher than 5---true story) from the gym were going to a restaurant to celebrate the birthday of our lovely... I'm gonna call her twerking queen or TQ for short. Why TQ? Well, long story short, she gets down on all four during zumba and well, you know how it goes :p
We had reservations for 9 PM. Gosh, last time I ate that late...well, I don't remember the last time I ate that late. Avesta is a Turkish restaurant and y'all know how much I love trying new stuff. This was definitely going to be new. We all knew it as 'you know, that place with that old woman in the window making lavash'. Except we didn't use the word 'lavash' but now that I know what it is, I can totes use it. Lavash, lavash, lavash. Oh, it's very thin bread that you can use to scoop things up like hummus or eggplant dip or more hummus. Hummuuuuuus.

Anyhoot, in hindsight, to be 8 rowdy girls (oh, and 1 boy---not forgetting you Gus!) in a quiet restaurant with veiled waitresses that seem even quieter than the restaurant itself was not the best of ideas. But hey, it made me discover a whole new cuisine!

The place itself is actually much bigger than what it looks like on the outside. Tall ceilings make it look even larger. There are a mix of tables and booths with beautifully designed table cloths. Turkish (I can only presume) music was playing: sometimes soft but sometimes it almost seemed violent! Hahaha! Yes, let's play violent Turkish music, no one said, ever. I officially don't know what I'm writing. 

Let's talk food, shall we? When we asked the waitress how many appetizers we should get, she wasn't helpful at all: she gave us the 'favorites' and proceeded to bring us ONE plate (yes, for EIGHT people) with three regular sized appetizers (you would think that they would have increased the size to match the number of people!). It's a good thing some peeps around the table had ordered their own!
Totes sorry about the pic. Just couldn't make it look pretty.
Hummus, Börek and the special Avesta (eggplant with red peppers). Let's start with the hummus. I love hummus. I am a huge fan of hummus. My 20 month old nephew lives for hummus (OK, I just needed to put a nephew fun fact in here). Unfortunately it didn't taste like much, obviously lacking in taste. I mean, it wasn't unpleasant per se, but it needed some lemon or sumthin sumthin. Plus, the consistency was too liquidy and actually hard to scoop up with the lavash (see, I did it again!).

The Börek, which is flaky dough with ground beef and potatoes was nice at first but then I became overwhelmed by the amount of dough. And THEN it just felt like I was eating somewhat of a shepperd's pie. When I moved back to Montreal for university way too many years ago, my mom used to make me a bunch of frozen meals and pâté chinois was a pretty recurrent one. I got oh-so-sick of it and didn't eat it for many decades (I'm slightly exaggerating here). I've eaten it again over the years but this brought back memories. Memories, man!

The 'Special Avesta' is charbroiled eggplant and red peppers with parsley, garlic and olive oil. I don't really have anything to say about this. It actually tasted tomato-y and that wasn't supposed to be part of the ingredient roster. The parsley in there kind of made it taste a bit off in my opinion. The garlic added a certain je ne sais quoi that I really liked tho. But, we all know I'm biased because I'm the garlic queen.  Think of it as a good or bad thing, it's just who I am. Half the time, my breath smells of garlic. OK, that's not true. Only a quarter of the time :)
If I'm gonna eat at a Turkish restaurant, i better order a specialty. I'm still in the dark as to why not EVERYTHING on the menu is a Turkish specialty in this Turkish restaurant but hey. Hey. HEY! I had Manti: tiny dumplings filled with ground beef, topped with yogourt and crushed garlic with some red pepper paste and oregano on and around it. It LOOKED like a piece of freakin' art. Oh, and then I remembered that I'm lactose intolerant. F*ck me. See, I'm very newly intolerant to lactose. You know, lactose, that thing that makes dreams come true. Hahaha. Everything awesome (except for seafood) has lactose in it damn iiiit. Why? Why, God, why? Point is, on top of forgetting this fact, I have a knack for ordering the most lactose filled dish on menus. And then I regret it later. Ugh. Anyhoot. It was a LOT of yogourt. I could just imagine how much farting was going to ensue. Ha. Haha. But seriously. It was too much of a good thing. The garlic was great in there tho. I mean, yogourt and garlic is always a good match. The little balls of meat were very tasty and well seasoned and actually quite awesome. The chili part didn't taste much like chili: I actually had to look at the description to find out that it was supposed to be that. The oregano made the dish even more beautiful but didn't add much, taste wise. I wanted an extra zing in there. Dried oregano, for me, is like an umbrella in a tornado; it's just worthless. That's right, I went there.
Service was weird. Our waitress asked if we were ready to order before giving us the menus. She seemed uber nervous to serve as many people and they so did not look 'ready' for a big group even if we had reserved. We had to ask for water. I'm not even going to start with that. Our bodies are made of 70% water and we need it to survive. Oops, I started. We also got our plates at different times. I'm not talking 5 minutes apart, I'm talking at least 10 minutes. That wasn't cool man. Not cool. Oh and they didn't clear our tables when we were done. Argh.
And now, the scores!
Food: 6
Service: 5

It was nice to try Turkish food but I don't think I'll be returning to Avesta. Imma gonna find me another Turkish restaurant. Or maybe not.

Avesta Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, June 12, 2016

MTL Bakeoff!!!

I was once AGAIN not able to attend an event. Grrrr. J-A was kind enough to go in my stead and as a dessert lovin' girl, she was pretty diddly damn happy to replace me. Plus, she is pretty much the person that runs the food part of the COOP HEC (where I did my management internship for ITHQ) so, mmmyyaaaa, I can say that I trust her with food. 

Dimanche dernier, alors que les pauvres cyclistes du tour de l’île maudissaient mère nature, j’étais bien au chaud à noter des desserts (poor me…). La première édition du Mtl Bakeoff, organisé par The Lincoln Apartment Bakery, se tenait au local Air de Tango au 4324 Boul St-Laurent. L’événement, avait pour objectif d’élire le meilleur pâtissier de Montréal et une partie des profits ont été versés à la Mission Old Brewery.
Le principe était simple : j’avais 3 coupons de dégustation avec mon billet régulier. Les billets VIP donnaient droit à 5 coupons et d’autres coupons à 3$ l’unité étaient disponibles. Je devais ensuite noter mes 3 desserts sur 10 pour chacun de ces aspects : originalité / apparence / goût. Les pâtissiers étaient divisés en 2 : les «amateurs» et les «semi pro». Un total de 11 semi-pro étaient présents et 8 amateurs. Donc, 19 desserts à goûter, mais seulement 3 coupons. Le choix était difficile!! Les vainqueurs ont été nommés par cinq juges du domaine de la pâtisserie et par l’audience. Trois vainqueurs au total : vote du public pour le meilleur dessert / vote des juges pour le meilleur dessert amateur / vote des juges pour le meilleur dessert semi pro.
En arrivant, j’ai reçu un dépliant (en anglais seulement) décrivant les juges et les différents items à déguster. J’aurais bien aimé une description des pâtissiers (par exemple, est-ce que les semi pro ont des boutiques? Si oui, où? Des spécialités? Les amateurs sont présents pour quelle raison? Est-ce qu’ils ont créés leurs desserts?...). Juste avant le go pour aller se servir, on nous a offert une sympathique démonstration de décoration de biscuit. Dommage que l’aménagement de la salle ne permettait pas à tous d’en profiter; seuls les 15 personnes très rapprochées de la démonstration pouvaient tout voir et entendre.
Ensuite, le temps de goûter!! J’ai attendu un peu pour aller me servir parce que tout le monde s’est lancé sur la longue table en même temps. Ça aurait été judicieux de séparer la table en 4 sections, réparties dans la salle. Par exemple, utiliser les 4 murs de la salle pour diviser l’amas d’affamés qui se jette un peu partout en même temps, devant les desserts qu’ils trouvent les plus appétissants.
J’ai choisi 2 desserts chez les semi pro : un «brownie-cheesecake- toffee butter cake with salted caramel and buttercream filling» (Chrissy Ross) et un «chocolate cupcake with dulce de leche filling, topped with vanilla buttercream and bacon» (Kathleen Orellana). Chez les amateurs, j’ai choisi le «chocolate and raspberry cake with whipped vanilla filling, raspberry compote and fresh raspberries» (Lauren Galerio). Bon, dans un sens 3 dégustations c’est en masse lorsqu’on regarde ces descriptions, mais je dois avouer que j’ai sélectionné mes options par la grosseur de la portion servie et le degré de «ça a l’air solide cochon!!» J’aurais pu choisir un petit macaron, un cake pop ou un sablé, mais bon, dans ce contexte, size matters… Dans le futur, peut-être suggérer un format de dégustation standard pour l’ensemble des pâtissiers. Je n’étais clairement pas la seule à faire mes choix selon ces critères et donc de très beaux produits ont été peu populaires car moins «gargantuesques».
La salle était pleine; c’était sold out! Est-ce que c’est dû au grand nombre de participants qu’il faisait aussi chaud à l’intérieur? Je ne me plains pas de la température; mais les desserts oui! Avec l’effet de la chaleur, la crème au beurre perd sa texture agréable. Sachant cela, j’ai décidé de garder une partie de mes desserts pour les réfrigérer à la maison et les essayer plus frais. La différence est énorme… Mes 3 desserts étaient nettement meilleurs au frais.

Au niveau de l’originalité, le gâteau brownie m’a impressionné par le mix de tous ces ingrédients! Ça prend du talent pour assembler tout ça (et le couper…). Le cup-cake, je crois que le bacon et chocolat, ce n’est plus trop «in», mais je n’avais jamais gouté! Je confirme; ce n’est pas trop mon style. Mais tout le reste (dont le dulce de leche filling évidemment) était très bon. Finalement, le gâteau aux framboises (dessert d’une «amateur») était vraiment l’ultime mariage entre la fraîcheur de la framboise et la richesse du chocolat. Mon coup de cœur! C’est d’ailleurs pourquoi j’aurais aimé avec la description des participants. Est-ce que c’est la recette de la pâtissière-to-be ou c’est du Ricardo vraiment bien interprété?? Si elle a vraiment créé ce gâteau, il faut la financer pour qu’elle parte sa propre pâtisserie!!
Le pointage: Brownie-7  Bacon-7 Framboise-9
Mention spéciale à l’assiette de dégustation qui était très éco-friendly en bambou biodégradable. L’organisatrice principale, Jess, était super sympathique comme tous les compétiteurs et le personnel sur place (pour la plupart des bénévoles / commanditaires). Bref, un événement qui a besoin de quelques ajustements, mais qui était somme toute très agréable et m’a permis de faire de belles découvertes!
Pour votre info,
Audience Choice Winner: Melissa Di Peco (Smores macarons)
Amateur Runner-Up: Lauren Galerio (Chocolate Raspberry Cake)
Amateur Winner: Genevieve Vielleux (Key Lime Cupcakes)
Semi-Pro Runner-Up: Eva Bendayan (Lemon Cake, choco bark)
Semi-Pro Winner: Sapna Patel (Mini Eclairs)

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Tête Carrée

I love it when someone invites me to try their restaurant. I love it even more when they send me a nice email to go along with it. Tête Carrée is a food stand opened from Thursday to Sunday in Marché Jean-Talon. I visited last week with my homegirl Isa.

So you get there and immediately, friendliness oozes from the place. The girl and the two guys are extremely nice and smily. I like smily people. They have samples of their pizzas (mama loves her samples--which is why I also love going to Costco) for the passers by to taste. I quickly meet the dude that is the instigator of Tête Carrée, and I love his enthusiasm. I also like the way he thinks: we were going to get most of the menu to be able to rate more thangs for my blog. Lovin' it. He actually was head chef at Le Garde Manger (hello, I'm a HUGE Chuck Hugues fan. I may (or may NOT) have followed him during one of his visits at ITHQ when I was a student there.

What's cool about this place is that hey, they are actually located IN the market. Right smack IN it. So they get to cook the hell out of fresh veggies and what not. Oh and the chef created this mix between a nan bread (heeeello!) and a flat bread to make sure the bread never gets stale (ok, I realise 'never' is a big word here), can get re-heated without changing textures AND can be put in the oven without browning. It was fluffy goodness, that's what it was. Very savoury and well balanced. Oh, and they sell it too. What.

The place itself is, well, tiny. It's a booth for Heysus' sake. But they are making the most out of it, making it look really darn cute and welcoming with hanging plants and a table at the back. Oh, and they change the menu every so often, when produce become in season. I LOVE that.
After sitting, we had a refreshing lemonade because it was hella hot. Unlike today, when it feels like winter might be creeping back extra early. They had two kinds: lemon and rhubarb. Hello, I'd be a fool not to have the rhubarb one. Although it was not a bad drink, it didn't taste anything like rhubarb. Don't get me wrong, it was tartness all the way like rhubarb is but that was it; just the tartness transpired. As I said, not a bad sip-o-juice but not a rhubarb lemonade kinda taste.
Yes! Lunchtime! We were uber happy to be able to taste 4 pizzas! Pizza? What! FOUR pizzas? Whaaaaat!

Let's start with the asparagus one. Or the 'Jean-Talon' they called it. May I just mention that i arrived a week too late because they made this with fiddleheads the week before and I would have loved to taste THAT. I loves me a good fiddlehead. Come to think of it, I haven't eaten one of those bad boys in the last year. Gosh. Back to dem asparagi! They were DEEEE-licious. As fresh as can be, charred on the grill, per-fec-tly. Ok, that's it, I'm going back NOW. Did I mention there was homemade ricotta under there? Yep. Homemade. This was so worth messing with my lactose intolerance. With a bit of oil, it was the perfect summer bite. It could have used a tad more salt tho... y'all know how I feel about salt.

Tomato basil (or the Little Italy): the basil was nice and very fragrant and there was this wonderful little garlic oil, made in house (or in booth?) that I wanted way more of. What? I loves my garlic! The tomato was under seasoned and a bit bland to be honest. Not my fave.

Smoked salmon, capers, onions (or the Mile End): this, we felt, was all-around unoriginal. I mean, OK, Mile End bagels... I totes get it. But as ingredients, these are go tos for many a-people. MANY. Everyone. I wanted more originality. Apart from the lack of excitement, it was good, but it was missing something like lemon perhaps. Something to bring out the aromas.

Pulled ribs (or the Quartier Latin): this was a very busy piece-o-bread. A busy bee one might say. OK, no one would say that except me. The meat was very savory and had a great BBQ taste to it. The coleslaw on top was oh-so-fresh, adding just what was needed to round out that dish. The chipotle mayo was a nice little surprise that my taste buds very much appreciated! It was hot and tangy and paired awesomely with the meat. The whole thing became a bit wet though under all those layers of ingredients. But who cares right? It was just so happy in ma mouth.
The dessert pizza. Or the holy-shit-this-is-amazing-and-freaking-heavenly pizza. Fresh Québec strawberries, maple syrup, pecans and lemon balm. It tasted fresh and just sweet enough. As a base on the bread, there was lovely labneh, which equaled out the savoury and sweet. It was the perfect base for this. I would like some more please!

Service was awesomeballz. The owner came and sat with us and explained his ideas and recipes. He also explained why it was called Tête Carrée. Well, we all know why, right? It's pretty much the french equivalent of calling french people 'frogs'. Food arrived in what seemed like only a couple minutes while we were happily sitting at the table, enjoying the sun.

And now, the scores!

Food: 7
Service: 10

Next time I'm in the market, I'm fosho passing by. I would love to see them branch out and do something else than pizzas and salads tho. Hint hint ;)

Tête Carrée Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Le Baobab

I was looking for a new spot to eat breakfast with my mama and Le Baobab just happened to be on my list. It's located on one of MTL's newly hot street, Wellington! Oh, iz hot. There are so many restaurants on Wellington now... and good ones too! This fact makes this blogger a very happy one!
You get in and it's oh so cuteness. Wooden everything including shady, rickety wooden floors that kind of look like they would give under someone heavier than 200 pounds. Just sayin'. French/Creole music is playing and everyone is in a good mood. There's also an uber cute kids corner with 8000 drawings on the wall. It looked like so much fun that I felt like I should be sitting there too!
We ordered at the counter and they would bring us our food at our table. We looked at the menu for a while and then, right in front of us was the answer: oatmeal mason jars. What!!! They had three kinds: apple cinnamon, banana chocolate, and date pumpkin. I totes would have picked date/pumpkin because, let's face it, it's the most original one, but apparently someone had forgotten the pumpkin. Grrr. So I had the choco/banana one and my mom had the apple/cinnamon.
Alright, so my mom's looked like normal oatmeal n' milk. Mine was drowning in milk. Drowning. It was kind of like a soup. I'm not kidding. They had taken dried bananas so they were still hard and that was not very pleasant. On top of it, the chocolate was very overwhelming. I had agreed to a little bit of breakfast chocolate, not a mountain. The apple/cinnamon one was good and normal lookin' :p It was actually very tasty and the apples in there were sweet and delicious. 
Hot chocolate: too liquidy. There was cinnamon and cacao powder on top so that gave it a nice first sip but the rest was kind of watered down.

Service was nice and courteous but nothing great. We ordered stuff, they gave us stuff. That's it, that's all.

And now, the scores!

Food: a low 5
Service: 7.5

The concept of oatmeal in a jar is good, but as my mom pointed out, for it to be liked by people like me (ze blogging kind), it has to be a bit special. Not like apple/cinnamon or choco/banana. Something more original guys. Come on. I'll be back when you have squash n' bacon or better yet, lemon n' mascarpone oatmeal on the menu.

Le Baobab Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Food Truck Challenge

I sadly could not attend this event. Damn it, I hate missing stuff. But I knew a review would be in good hands when I sent my friends Jer (look for him on instagram and Jad.

So my Super Food Blogger friend Marie was invited to this Montreal food truck event, some sort of Food Truck Battle Royale, because she is a Super Food Blogger and people want to be seen and eaten out by her. BUT, because of work she couldn't make the event, and so I happily volunteered myself to go in her stead, along with ol' buddy Jad to assist with his own brand of food jadging.  However, she probably shouldn't have sent us because I'm a terribly tardy Reviewer-in-Lieu-of-Actual-Reviewer, as this review is maaaaybe three weeks late.
First of all, it was a gorgeous sprummer day, so I was in a generous mood.  Second of all, whoever had done the decor had done a really nice job, all barny and woodsy and flowers on the tables and barrels and stuff.  It made me feel like I was a real live hipster or something.  Third of all, the event was held under the benevolent gaze of some stone statues of old men in funny hats lining the cornice of a magnificent cathedral façade, so bonus points.  

Hipsters and Saints, together at last.  Aaaah.  What a time to be alive.
Having not read the fine print like a good Reviewer-in-Lieu-of-Actual-Reviewer, I arrived to be a little taken aback to see Uncle Ben's posters everywhere.  So apparently this is how the thing worked.  Uncle Ben's is launching some new ancient grain and rice mixes, and to kick it all off, they got some Canadian food trucks to do a cook-off with their products.  We, the attending Montreal public, got to submit our ballot for the best recipe of the three Montreal trucks in attendance (there were nine trucks in total nationwide, and three events in total, the other two being in Vancouver and Toronto), and the eventual winner would go on to tour Canada with that recipe or something.  The details are sketchy.  In my head only, though.  I'm sure it's on Google somewhere.

Now, I've had a short and chequered history with Uncle Ben's.  I remember when I was Fresh Off the Boat in Canada (I can say that see, I'm Asian like Eddie Huang), and trying Uncle Ben's for the first time and wondering what the hell how do you people eat this rice that doesn't stick together with chopsticks what the hell.  Anyway, I never tried that again.  I was happy though that after a long absence in my life, Uncle Ben was trying something new, and I was there to be on the receiving end of it.  With a plastic fork this time.  Or maybe it was just the beatific looks on the statues that gave me a sense of peace, so I didn't feel too negative.
I've also had a long and chequered history with Montreal food trucks.  Man, I love the IDEA of food trucks?  And eating on the street?  And all that?  But I don't get why in other places, a stall can set up, lay out some tables and chairs on the sidewalk, and serve hot mouthwatering cheap and delicious food to you in MINUTES, and we have to line up like chumps for three quarters of an hour to get a tiny grilled cheese sandwich and maybe a gherkin on a toothpick.  For FIFTEEN DOLLARS.  Oh wait I wasn't supposed to rant too much because that being said, you can get some damn fine tiny grilled cheese sandwiches and maybe gherkins on toothpicks from these fine mobile establishments.
Anyway Jadge Jad and I got our "passports" for the trucks, got the briefing from some fresh-faced young PR lady, and went up to each food truck to get our "passports" stamped and our three tiny paper cups of:

1. Thai Green Curry Chicken with Uncle Ben's Rice & Grains 5 Grain Blend from Le Tuktuk
2. Chilli "Pas d'cochon" with Uncle Ben's Spicy Whole Grain & Quinoa Blend with Chili from Pas d'cochon dans mon salon
3. Rice Pudding with Berries made with Uncle Ben's Brown Rice & Quinoa Roasted Red Pepper from Landry et Filles.

We picked a barrel and proceeded to social media the s*** out of our photos, and then proceeded to sample the food.  We were also fortuitously joined by Michael, guy from Haiti, who was just passing by and decided what the hey, food trucks and saints!
1. The Thai Green Curry from Le Tuktuk was lovely and coconut creamy, the fresh Thai basil giving a fresh sprummer greeting, the curry itself tasted quite rich had just a slight hint of sweetness and the taste sensation finished off with the lingering umami of fish sauce.  And I'm a sucker for the fish sauce.  The curry also went really well with the Rice & Grains 5 Grain Blend, adding just enough flavour and smoothing out the mix of textures in the rice and grain blend.

Food: 7.5 would eat again.

2. The Chilli was really quite good, I mean, pulled pork yo, but this one was held up by the lack of sauce to seep into the Uncle Ben's, which fortunately for us, allowed us to review the Uncle Ben's product unfortunately for what it was.  Spicy Whole Grain & Quinoa Bland (with Chili).

Food: 4.5 (6.5 for Chili without the Bland though) would eat again without the Bland.
Just the Bland: 2 (but still a lot better than when I rated my first Uncle Ben's fall-off-the-chopstick experience a -7.5 on the open-ended Yuck scale).

3. The Rice Pudding with Berries was quite nice.  I've never been a fan of rice pudding, but using Brown Rice & Quinoa did make it a whole lot more interesting texture-wise instead of just mushy rice.  Moreover, the milk sauce and fresh berry compote were a lovely match for a sprummer day, especially with the little flecks of sweet red pepper in the mix.

Food: 6.5 would eat again.
And although I never rate service, because to me the ruder the wait staff the more fun the establishment, I am doing this because it's Marie's blog and therefore her rules: the two greeters were a bit confused at the front of the steps, but there were some young fetching PR ladies who guided us with perfect toothy smiles throughout the process.  So, service: 6 ⅓ (⅓ for the great teeth, remember to floss, children, and to be born into a family that can afford orthodontics).

Our new friend Michael, guy from Haiti, did NOT like the green curry, judging it too strong in flavour, and he preferred the Chilli overall.  Most definitely not a sucker for the fish sauce, that Michael.

After our three tiny cups of Uncle Ben's, Jadge Jad and I decided to try out the new Kinton Ramen and I decided not to go back there again, except I did because Super Food Blogger Marie wanted to also put that review notch on her review belt and tagged me, her token Asian friend, to go with her but hey you can read her own review of that (note from Marie: it was SO not worth it).

Le Tuktuk Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Station W

As I've mentioned in a previous post about Station W, it's right in front of my gym. I like things that are close to my gym because, well, let's face it, if I'm not working or sleeping, I'm at the gym.
I've already talked about the place, the decor, the vibe, etc. This will be a tiny review about something other than grilled cheeses. This will be about their vegetarian chili! 
I mean, how freaking pretty is that picture? Thank you instagram. I can't believe I refused to get on that for at least 1 year before giving in to my friend Lea's demands. Well... I'm damn happy I did. I would just like to say thank you; you have changed my LIFE. Back to business. Vegetarian chili with cheese on top (extra), a little bit of sour cream and some bread. Yes. The bread was not buttered which was awesome because, really, who needs buttered bread when you can just dip it in chili and sour cream? The dish was full of flavours and loveliness. There were peppers, tomatoes and many kinds of beans. Beeeannnns. Chickpeas were awesome in there. I don't know about you but I don't see a chili with chickpeas that often. Or ever. It was nice and spicy, just the way I like it/it should be. Very fragrant too; you could smell a bunch of spices in there like cumin and chilis. What I didn't like as much was the amount of liquid in there. Doesn't it look like chili soup on the picture? The other thing I wasn't totally fond of was the way the cheese was cut. I thought they were going to grate it and that it would be a melting fountain of cheesy goodness buuuuut no. That was a tad disappointing. The sour cream gave that contrast of temperature in my mouth that I really like:hot chili, cold sour cream. Mmmm just dip the bread in both and you got yourself a chili dream come true!
I just had to have a hot chocolate. Its just so good! And look, they drew a flower for me! Aaaaaw! It was just like I remembered it: smooth, silky, thick, very chocolaty and nutty! Totes going back soon for another one of these bad boys.

Service was aight. the girl at the counter was hooooooot AND nice. A perfect 10! Hahaha! But seriously. I asked for chili and for a hot chocolate and then I thought ew, that dson't go together and she suggested I could have the drink kind of as a dessert and I was like whoa you're smart too? We ordered and went to sit outside and i think we only waited a couple minutes for our food. But no water... We actually had to go and ask for some inside. -8 points right there.

And now, the scores!

Food: 8
Service: 7.5

Well I'm obviously going back for at least a hot chocolate and perhaps a kimchi grilled cheese that I haven't tried yet. Oh. Kimchi grilled cheese. On second thought, I'm going back tomorrow :p

Station W Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kinton Ramen

My token Asian friend Jer (you should totes know him by now) and I had made plans to eat at Kinton Ramen. This was exciting to me because A: I loves me a good ramen and B: this is the new kid in town. Sister (or bro?) of Kinka Isakaya (which I have yet to try), Kinton has already 5 locations in a very close proximity in T.O. Then you ask yourself why I wanted to try it! Actually, that ended up being the question I asked myself AFTER the meal. More on this in a bit.
Kinton is located right smack downtown on Bishop in... an apartment building? I found that a bit weird and anti-climatic ish. The cool thing is that when you step into the restaurant, the staff screams out 'irasshaimase'!!!! Which means welcome or come in. I guess it must get annoying to do at some point. The decor was a bit too modern for me but it kind of worked with the low tables and the cute little blocks instead of chairs. Pfff, who needs a chair, really? There were about 60 of them in the house and about 20 more outside. It had high ceilings and a very nice/cool looking open kitchen where the magic happens. It had a calm vibe, even if there were a lot of business peeps there for lunch and you know they usually are in a hurry to eat and get right back to work! Ah, the corporates! 

How it works ---and I absolutely LOVE the simplicity of it--- is that you pick a broth (pork or chicken), you pick a flavour (original, shoyu, miso, or spicy), you pick a noodle size (thick or thin) and then you pick extras if you want em' like corn, nori, egg, etc. Easy peasy. Oh and you have some entrees, that they are calling tapas. We knew we were going to be full with the ramen but hey, when in Rome right? I mean, OK, I remember that time when I was in Rome and.... oh nevermind.
Ton Ton Don. I thought it looked like a little volcano. No? Well, first off, let's just say this was not the best looking dish I've seen. OK, it was one of the ugliest. Chopped pork seasoned with Kinton sauce (we detected mirin and soya) on rice. I'm not sure they meant it that way because it did say 'hot tapas' but the pork was cold and the rice was hot. I actually really dug that. Although very tasty, it was missing something. Perhaps some salt. The rice was perfectly cooked (ugh, not like that damned September Surf Cafe rice!), but I wouldn't expect any less from dem Japanese.
#thisisnotkaraagechicken. So disappointing. My friend tells me that karaage actually just means 'fried' (with some spices). Well, it was fried alright, but it was NOT karaage chicken. You catch my drift? What it was was fried chicken with some ketchup-y type sauce and some dried herbs on top. That. Is. It. They could have sold this at KFC. I gotta say that the chicken was very moist. And tender. If I had ordered BBQ chicken or what have you, it would have been a different story. But we ordered KARAAGE chicken gosh darn it!
This is what I'd been waiting for. Maybe even dreaming about. For the past week. Miso ramen originates from northern Hokkaido in Japan (duh). Apparently, this region is colder, therefore they eat heartier soups with heavier and more unique toppings like corn and bean sprouts. At first I found it weird to have corn in my ramen but Jer set me straight and told me about Hokkaido. All hail Jer, the knower of all Asian things. When I have an Asia related question (you'd be surprised how often Asia comes up), I go to him. Let's get down to business. My expectations were oh so high for this soup. And then, went crashing down. Way down. Downtown. I'm getting off track here. Jer and I concluded that it was one step above bad, therefore, it was mediocre. The broth, even if it had the right consistency, lacked in flavour. It just wasn't all there. The corn was good but a bit blend and the pork was nice and fatty but a bit too thin. The green onions gave it a kick and the seaweed gave it a bit of saltiness. Iz a good thing Jer gave me some cause it was in the 'extras' and I hadn't picked any. Sadly, all in all, this was not up to par. 
Service was OK. It was a bit inconsistent tho. We had 3 waiters at some point, and even if one of them looked like Scarless Johansson, it didn't change anything (plus 5 for Scarlett lookalike!). We had one at first that was very confusing: turns out all she wanted to know was if I wanted anything to drink. They also asked us if we were ready to order 1 minute after I sat down (albeit, they do have a small menu). When we were done our meal it took what seemed like an eternity for them to clear our table. And getting the bill was hard too. I don't get it because there were four of them walking around.

And now, the scores!

Food: 6
Service: 6.5

Unlike my friend Jer who went a second time with me, I shant return to Kinton.

KINTON RAMEN MONTREAL Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato