Saturday, January 7, 2012

Enjoying the Bounty of the Market

Yesterday we enjoyed a great brunch made at home almost exclusively with what we bought at Marche Jean-Talon.  My friend Kelly who lives here in Montreal came to visit.  I came to know Kelly through Twitter some years ago and first met her IRL (in real life) when Jerry and I went to see her photography and art card work at a local art/craft market.  She's very talented (google "chickapug" or "pugadee" if you'd like to see one of her amusingly quirky creations).Well, here I'll post it:

by Kelly Brown available thru Etsy at
For brunch we served pan-fried arctic char and a starter of smoked trout that we purchased from Les Delices de la Mer.  I roasted brussel sprouts, "rainbow" carrots, and shallots.

 Jason blanched and then broiled asparagus (white and green) served w/ freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Kelly brought excellent fresh cut fruit from Eden (at Galleries du Parc).

Dessert was an EXCELLENT Tarte Tatin that Jason made with russet apples, ice wine (apple), and puff pastry dough from Pain d'Or
And we also had a plate of 3 excellent raw milk cheeses from Que Lait Cru w/ a few more russet apples.

We drank a Orvieto Classico and tried Jason's Honey Wine (or Mead) with dessert.  Both very good. A game of Rummikub and a spot of tea with more conversation capped off a delightful (and delicious) afternoon. And I just remembered...there is a little of the Tarte Tatin leftover. Bye!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: Montreal 24

We love Montreal.  Ever since our first visit in 2003 we have found the City inviting, interesting, eclectic, energetic (without being demanding) and delicious.  It didn't take us long to buy a small vacation apartment in Old Montreal (at the time we lived in Pennsylvania and was just a 9 hour drive, or short plane flight away).   We come up in all seasons, even winter. I always say I need at least 2 to 3 weeks of winter now that we live in Florida.  We love to explore Montreal on foot and by car.  We love our old standby places to eat but always want to try something new (new to us).  I've read history books of Quebec and Montreal.  I've tried, with limited, success to gain a bit of mastery over the French language. We've met a few people in our building and through twitter. And after 9 years of visits, we find we still have so much to experience and learn. and yet we feel oddly at home.

Montreal 24 is the most recent book on Montreal that I've read and it is wonderfully thoughtful and informative.  Written by Bill Brownstein a long time columnist for the Montreal Gazette commenting on city and cultural life in MOntreal, the book explores Montreal one hour at a time. Starting at midnight at the Garde-Manger he works around the city an hour at a time visiting such landmarks as Fairmont Bagels, Joe Beef, L'Express, Boustan's, La Banquise, Wilensky's and more.  He talks food: chicken schwarmas, poutine, grilled salami/bologna sandwiches and egg rolls.  He talks entertainment: Grumpy's bastion of bluegrass, Cafe Cleopatra's burlesque/stripjoint complete w/ dragqueens, Toyko's nightclub. But the best part of the the book is when  he talks about people.  Colorful hard-working, serious-eating, talented, off beat, and proud to be Montrealer people. The book is a window into the heart and soul of the City. A must read for anyone who loves Montreal like we do.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tea: An Oasis on a Frigid Winter Day

Today was cold here in Montreal. Sunny. Pretty. But...cold, a high of 5 degrees Farenheit (-11 with windchill). That my friend is what I now call "eye watering cold". We went for a short walk (all bundled up like colorful Pillsbury dough boys) and most parts of us were warm (thanks to wool, down and fur).  Most parts except for that space between the top of the scarf and the bottom of the hat known as "the face". So the eyes watered and the sinuses complained a bit..ok a lot..  But our brisk (and thankfully) short walk was well worth the chill to get to Ming Tao Xuan Tea House (or Salon de The) at 451 St-Sulpice in Old Montreal.

 The Tea House is on a corner across from the Notre Dame Basilica.  The room has large windows and beautiful wooden display cases of tea pots, buddhas, porcelain figurines, bronze/brass deities, and more. Across one wall is a vast assortment of teas, one of the largest I've seen. By the windows are several comfortable tables for enjoying tea. We were seated and given an extensive and informative menu of teas with detailed descriptions that was very helpful in helping us choose our tea.

We chose two different kinds of tea. Jason had the Golden Water Turtle oolong tea. and I had the "medicinal" tangerine tea (I forget the exact name).  It was served in a traditional style with multiple pots on a small wooden tray.  Our server very carefully showed us the proper way to prepare, pour and serve the tea.  It was delightful.  We spent a long time enjoying the sun coming in through the window and talking and leisurely drinking out tea

Chips Anyone?

My husband loves fish and chips.  He is always trying to find the perfect Fish and Chips spot. And we came pretty close to it last night at Brit and Chips on McGill in Old Montreal.

Brit and Chips serves Cod, Haddock, Salmon, Hake and (sometimes) a fish of the day in various different batters. I had the Haddock in a Maple Syrup Batter, Jason had the Cod in the Burgundy Lion Batter, and Jerry had the salmon in the Guinness Batter.  All the fish was moist and flaky. Jason thought his was a bit too greasy.  Jerry's and mine were fine.  I loved the slight sweetness of the Maple Syrup Batter but I think Jerry's salmon was the best tasting fish.

The chips (fries) were excellent.  Flavorful and served piping hot. Jerry had the mushy peas which he said were good, but Jason and I just can't get into the concept of mushy peas to begin with so no opinion from us.  Jason refused to eat what looks like "baby food" and they remind me to0 much of the canned green peas I grew up on and hated.

Jason also ordered the Tandoori Popcorn Shrimp, small shrimp in a Tandoori flavored batter.  Very good. The short beer selection was a good selection.  They have our new favorite Newcastle Brown Ale which was as good with Fish and Chips as it was the other night with Indian food at Gandhi's. 

The room is a pleasant,well-lit,  long skinny room with an open kitchen and a high top counter and a number of small (mostly two person) tables. Take Out is available.  Brit and Chips is located at 433 Rue McGill in Old Montreal.  They are open 7 days a week.  Website:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Review: For 91 Days in Savannah

My husband and I often drive the 95 corridor between Florida and the NE and we make it a point to stay a night (or two) in Savannah (or Charleston). Up until now we've never had a lot of information to help guide our short stays. This book solves that problem. It's easy to read and well laid out. It has gorgeous pictures. And if you are reading it online or on Kindle Fire (like I did) where you can link to the Internet, you can click on embedded links to their original blog posts with more pictures (and reader comments) or on links to places they've visited or eaten at.

The EBook  is a compilation and refinement of the writer's blogposts and photography published over the 3 months they lived in Savannah.  It isn't an exhaustive source for hotels, which is fine since we have our favorites.  But they provide quite a lot of interesting details into the 24 squares of Savannah, graveyards, tours (kayak, dolphin, trolley), quirky restaurants and a few outlying towns (such as Beaufort).

I look forward to our next visit to Savannah and will be sure to have the book on my Kindle to help guide us and enhance our stay. Well done, guys!

New Year's Eve in Montreal

We had a cozy and relatively quiet New Year's eve, we three.  It was lovely.  The day broke with a freezing rain and gray skies with warmer temps (mid 20sF) than last few days.  We chose to spend the day reading, working on photographs (I still haven't gotten through all my Italy photos), computering, listening to music (Adele, Nat King Cole, Hugh Laurie) and napping.  We had an early dinner at Gandhi's our favorite local Indian restaurant in Old Montreal.  After Butter Chicken, Chicken Korma, a lamb dish I can't remember, samosas, aloo gobhi, and vegetable biryhani with naan and mango chutney, well we're were almost in a food coma. We wondered through Old Montreal as people started drifting in for the celebrations later in the evening. We re-assumed our positions on couch and chairs with champagne at the ready.  Around 11 we started to celebrate with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin on CNN and at midnight the fireworks went off over the Old Port right outside our windows.  I bundled up and threw open the windows, drank champagne, and took these photos smiling as I listened to happy revelers below our windows.