Montreal 2008 Tasty Eats Show

Because Flektor is no longer and for some reason I am unable to directly post the slideshow from photobucket, it can be found here.

I have no idea what I just ate…

Mom came back from her errands this afternoon with a big bowl of soup. I’ll venture to guess about 1L in capacity. This soup was made by her sister last night, primarily for herself, but sent some along with Mom to take “home” for me.

According to Mom or Auntie, whichever the case may be, “It’s good for joints and good for muscles and stuff like that.”

My unenthusiastic reply, “Mmm… anything else?”

“I dunno… Good for overall good health!”

“Well now you’re just lying.”

*lots of laughing ensues*

The important ingredients that make this soup special and good for me? Deer tendon & fish maw. The tendon is just like any other mouthful of tendon to be had — sticky on the lips, but tasty if cooked properly. The only peculiarity of the tendon was spitting out little, rounded, marble sized bones. The surprising part was having big chunks of the stuff in one go, like the size of an egg.

The fish maw, I had always thought to be shaped differently than what I just ate. Apparently I was mistaken all these years or perhaps I was misinformed…? Anyhow, the fish maw resembles a tube of squid in appearance and was cut thickly (length of thumb-ish). It too has a rather soft squishy texture but no stickiness. Googling images of ‘fish maw’ brought up a couple of interesting dishes I had never seen before, one of which was stuffed, like you would calamari!

All in all, a rather pleasing tasting broth (chicken/beef flavour) with tasty snackums to be had.

And now I think I’m sufficiently warmed enough to go back to bed, damn stupid hotel air conditioning.

Hooooooooot :(

I only walked around for 1.5 hours and I’m so hot!! The weather is currently 33C + 43% humidity. It was a nice walk with the wind blowing, but wow is it toasty out there.

Now that Daddy & The Hubbs have gone back home and it’s just me & Mommy, I’ve been left to fend for myself activity and food-wise until she gets back to the hotel around dinner time. So far my eating habits have taken a nosedive from all the crap that’s been bought over the last few days and stashed in the fridge (hello, leftover greasy chinese food!). The least bothersome meals to my tummy right now , foraged from the fridge, are leftover pita bread & somewhat stale bagels with whatever cheese is left from Dad’s cheese buying. That and coffee with tons of sugar & flavoured creamer. I’m pretty sure that it’s not the healthiest way to go.

Walking around this afternoon I had full intentions of stopping in at a little sidewalk cafe, or whatever, to have some lunch but nothing really grabbed my interest. Sure there was all sorts of cool places I could’ve eaten at but I think I was too distracted by the fact that I was outside walking. All by myself in a new city without anyone else’s agenda at hand other than my own.

At some point I think I got kinda lost… I walked down St.Denis to Ste. Catherine and ended up in The Village at Beaudry Metro Station. By that point it was just way too hot and sweaty to be out and it was probably too strenuous for me to walk back, but it was a nice walk!

I didnt realize that I could’ve taken the metro to Jean-Talon market directly from Sherbrooke station, otherwise I might’ve done that on my own today instead! Maybe Mommy’ll go with me tomorrow :P

Now that I’ve had a little lunchie-snack, we have no more hummus… we have no more jarlsberg cheese and no more vieux pane :( All we have left is a little cream cheese & goat cheese. Tomorrow will not be fun eating breakfast.

Nap time beckons.

More random updating

I am totally baked. I’ve done nothing but hang out in my pyjamas all day and sleep periodically while Mom & Dad are off doing some last minute gift deliveries before he & The Hubbs leave tonight. Right now I’m sitting in the hotel lobby (not in my jammies btw and finally on a wireless connection!) hanging out until housekeeping finishes tidying up our room.

The last week has been rather hellish in the “OMG we have to see this person, that one and the other one!” paired with NO napping, whatsoever.

That paired with heading to Quebec City to see some of the 400th birthday celebrations means my brain is completely b0rked. Friday was a nice day to have gone because it wasn’t quite yet the madness of summer crowds paired with weekend visitors to the city. We checked out the Old Port + Plains of Abraham and wandered around the popular cobblestoned shoppes area called Petit Champlain. It would’ve been nice if we could’ve stayed later in QC for evening festivities, but it was a long drive back so we left at around 7pm.

Saturday was spent doing more family insanity. We met up with Auntie Y & Uncle T from Toronto and had tea with them at LMKF, as I mentioned in a previous post, with Cousin P and Dad’s older sister (aka P’s mom/my Aunt… funny how everyone as a title other than what their name is.) After the revisit of yet another lunch of MSG, we wandered around Chinatown to peruse around the Junk Shops some more. I ended up buying a cute reuseable bag from a store called My Cup of Tea (it was $3 if you didn’t actually make a purchase in the store) and finally got my wicked cool umbrella for another $2. Ya, I know. It’s an umbrella.

The day was supposed to have been broken up by some time spent napping back at the hotel, but for whatever reason that plan got completely hijacked by my Aunt & Uncle so I lost out again on some much needed rest. Somehow they deemed it necessary to come back to our hotel room earlier than the pre-arranged time just to hang out.

Dindin that night was a nice change of pace. P invited us all out for Japanese (*note the useage of the term ‘japanese’ as opposed to the more common ‘sushi’ in Calgary*) to a restaurant called Maiko Sushi which was a wonderful break from all the grease & MSG of Chinatown that we’ve been subjected to. Saturday night was the most eye opening sushi experiences I’ve had in the longest time… perhaps even since I’d been first introduced to it.

I had uni.

I had uni and I LOVED IT.

This was the first time I have ever enjoyed every mouthful of uni that has crossed my lips. I’ve tried and tried and tried to like uni in the past, but there’s something about it that’s just not been edible to me. I had it in two ways: The first was as a house special, called Oxygen, that paired the uni with orchid(!) and salmon roe on the same little bed of rice and wrapped in nori. When I first tried it, I thought that perhaps the uni was missing entirely, so I stole one of the four plain unis (what’s the plural of sea urchin roe in Japanese??) and was blown away by the silkiness of it and the delicate taste that I’d never experienced before. It is truly indescribable. The difference between the three pieces (2 regular + 1 oxygen) I had that night and what I’ve had in the past is like black and white, as corny as that analogy is. I’m now a convert. Just WOW. If I could have uni like that every time I ordered it in Calgary, I would be one happy girl… I’m afraid that my uni-going in Calgary will remain rather tentative at best and won’t likely go all crazy ordering it back home.

Saturday night after dindin was a pretty sweet ending to the evening. We got to see some awesome fireworks. Every Saturday is the International Fireworks competition and we had a rather decent view from our hotel so everyone (Auntie Y, Uncle T, Cousin P & her significant other S) came back to the room after dindin with booze & snacks to watch the show. South Korea was presenting that night and one of the local radio stations broadcasts the music to the shows so you don’t have to be AT the fireworks site if you find a better location to watch them from. Holy cow you should’ve seen the amount of traffic backed way up after the show — totally insane.

Too Much of a Good Thing…

For the most part, The Hubbs & I don’t go for tea with my family. A) It’s expensive B) It’s just not that well made C) It tastes better when you can buy it frozen and bring it home to steam (as odd as that sounds)

Every couple of years we might get friends together (if that!) if we’re feeling brave enough to find a restaurant that serves decent dim sum in the city. I think our current going rate is pushing closer to three years, but I’m not sure.

Since arriving in Montreal ten days ago, we’ve been out for tea three times. Of those three times, two of those trips have been to La Maison Kam Fung. Although, if you count the day we spent at the cemetary paying our respects, we’ve technically had dim sum four times now. We’ve been to LMKF three times now if you include Gramma’s birthday party.

What I’ve noticed here, in Montreal, is that the dim sum is so much better than Calgary. Funny enough, similar sentiments were echoed last Sunday by a cousin’s gf but in reference to Toronto over Montreal.

You should see the size of the siu mai — holy cow! They’re kind of between a golf ball & small mandarine orange. H-U-E-G-! The har gow is rather plentifully stuffed as well. I think I’ve seriously had my fill of shrimp the entire time we’ve been here.

One of the dishes that I love here in Montreal that Calgary does not have is gnow dap — basically a bowl full of beef “stuff”. It’s probably self-explanatory when I say ‘stuff’, but if you are not familiar, it’s a lot of the thick’n’fatty tripe as opposed to the thin stringy kind (that’s a whole separate dish and is more common in Calgary), plus lung and other tasty bits. I am certainly going to miss that when we get back home. LMKF doesn’t have nearly as much variety in their gnow dap as the restaurant we went to on the South Shore with Dad’s side of the family. (And damnit, we didn’t pick up a business card of the restaurant, either!) P‘s reasoning was that the restaurant on the South Shore wasn’t as Westernized as the one in Chinatown.

[Total useless sidethought: OH MY!! There’s a ladybug crawling on my window 5 floors up!]

So, to my knowledge, I believe we are finally done with going out for tea. I hope. I say this prematurely because I’m still here another three more days after Dad & The Hubbs leave on Monday night… Mom made some vague mention of having dinner at least one more time with her sister (and possibly her family) before we leave. Bleh.

This is probably the biggest reason why we don’t come back to Montreal often: The incessant family obligations. I know The Hubbs is probably rather sick of the whole thing of not being able to really have our own schedule & agenda as much as we’d like, but he was warned. That and having to stay with Mom is starting to wear thin ^_- Maybe we’ll come back to Montreal one day on our own… maybe… one day.

[Edit: Victory! Kim Yua was the name of the restaurant on the South Shore. 536pm]

Random update

I picked up my cookbook from Au Pied de Cochon. It was $63. Ouch! They gave me the choice of french or english — the French version, aka original publication form and the one I splurged on, has a bande desinee inside. The Hubbs & Dad are being poops and won’t let me open it until I get home. It’s all shrink-wrapped and wrapped in a heavy paper bag ^_^

We’ve done a little bit of shopping the last few of days. On Saturday, before Gramma’s birthday party (5 tables of 10-12 btw), we strolled around Old Montreal for a little bit. Dad convinced me to buy a requisite tourist tee. It’s actually kinda cute. It says “Good Girls Go to Heaven. Bad Girls Go to Montreal.” — it has 3 stick girls between the sayings, all wearing dresses & handkerchiefs on their heads. There were also some rather dirty aprons on display which were rather amusing. One of which was of a man, pictured from the neck down, completely naked standing behind a sheep. There were others of equally obscene taste (depending on your point of view, of course) that I can’t recall. One of the tastier things we’d tried was in a really really tasty gelato shoppe — tiramisu, amaretto, chocolate & straciatelle (a?) were the flavours we had all chosen. So tasty.

Monday of course, The Hubbs & I took off on our own and just walked up Rue St.Denis from our hotel all the way to Rue Mont-Royal and back again. I picked up a cute white shirt from a trendy shop along with a blue head scarf. The Hubbs picked up a couple of button up shirts from a store a couple doors earlier. It turns out Gramma is not a fan of blue. She had some pretty strong opinions of it when I wore it at tea yesterday morning. Lots of scolding-actionwas going on and choice words said. Needless to say, apparently I should have only been wearing red or pink. I think I now know where my pink-habit comes from :P On semi-related note — Mom’s sister’s whole place is painted pink. Two tones, in fact: Pastel on the walls and darker along the trim. P-I-N-K!

Yesterday we went out with P, my cousin on Dad’s side (her brother M is a women’s fashion designer… see below and Monday), to check out some of the shops in the underground mall. Favourite stopped in at this one store and spent a rather large sum of monays on clothing. One zip-up hoodie (though technically not a hoodie, cuz there was no hood, but you get the idea) and a short-sleeved button up shirt… in pink… rather see-through, too. The shirt was to some degree my doing. We had him try it on just for kicks. Turns out he looks good in pink. Pardon me, strawberry. P says it’s more of a cotton-candy pink, but the label claims “strawberry”. He had a bit of buyer’s remorse afterwards, but I think he’ll get over it. He has, after all, been wanting to buy himself a $300 cashmere Burberry scarf. Label-whore, I swear.

OMG. So Older Bro & Favourite each got a pair of expensive pants from M.

M is rather uncomplicated and spends money willy-nilly or receives a large number of gifts from people. Whether it’s actually gifting or the fact that he’s in the fashion industry and just ‘gets things’, I don’t know, but the boys each got a $200 pair of pants because M has too many pairs that he wears just once and never wears again after.

M was also wanting (trying?) to give away a brand new snowboard + boots because he only skis and snowboarding just isn’t his thing. He was the one that took Favourite out wake-surfing on Monday when everyone went off to do their own thing. He spent a fair amount of time with him including going to the Jazz Festival one night, though that failed because they arrived too early, went off somewhere to eat to kill some time and then it poured rain.

I think Favourite had a good time the last few days he was in town. It was nice to have someone that could take time off work, though we’re not sure that he actually “works”, show him some local outdoors-y stuff as well as have someone like P to do some fun, trendy shopping stuff with :)

Today we were originally going to go and do Old Montreal again but it was raining cats & dogs, so we kinda just faffed about, going back and forth between the Chinese hospital & the hotel. I felt pretty crappy most of the day — way too much activity and not enough resting. At some point we ended up in Chinatown roaming around the Junk Shops. That’s always tons of fun. Calgary just doesn’t have good quality junk shops. (That’s a contradiction if I’ve ever heard one!) We were trying to get into this one shop to buy some more umbrellas: $4 and really good quality (if you get excited about that sort of thing) but for some reason they weren’t open today.

Tomorrow we’re heading off to Quebec City — we were originally considering going today (from past discussions) but Mom had an appointment with the social worker so we bumped it tomorrow. In hindsight it’s probably to some degree for the better seeing as today is Quebec City’s 400th birthday, so tomorrow it is. I imagine that this weekend in general will be rather crazy in Quebec City because of the celebrations, but it’ll be fun. I wanna wander in and out of the touristy shoppes.

I think I have had my fill of Smoked Meat sammiches to last me a good long time.

* Reuben’s – it’s a bimbo palace, therefore they don’t get much of a rating on atmosphere. This is what I remember as being a smoked meat sammich. The sammiches have the most flavour for a rather lean cut of meat, as well as the largest portions. Strawberry cheesecake FTW. Insanely dense, must be shared between 5 people. Seriously.

* Schwartz’s – bar none, the best authentic Montreal smoked meat experience overall. LOVE it. the. Second place for sammich — go for “medium” when they ask you how you want your meat, the lean is too dry. The medium has just the right amount of fat pockets to make it flavourful, but still not quite as juicy as Reuben’s. Schwartz’s pickles are fat and awesome (though no match for Moishe’s).

* Dunn’s – diner-like atmosphere with fun table tops: they have a map of the metro system on them. These were by far the most disappointing sammiches of the three. Logic would dictate that because fat generally = flavour, choosing “fat” as your choice of meat would mean you’d get a rather tasty meal. Unfortunately, this was not at all the case. It was fat, no bones about it, but that was it, along with super greasy. Poor Favourite got a tasteless grease sandwich for his last smoked meat opportunity of the trip. My meal of “poutine Dunn’s” (skin-on french fries with a small amount of cheese with salty-sweet gravy and dry shredded meat on top) was a rather mediocre experience as well.

Last I heard, Dad has plans to go back to Reuben’s on Monday, before he & The Hubbs fly back home, to pick up vaccuum packed smoked meat to bring home. The range in sizes offered are from 3.5-20 pounds sold at $11/lb.

Ouch.

Well. I seem to have overworked myself. Yesterday was a “do what you want day” where everyone wandered off to do their own thing. Dad & Favourite went down to Ste-Catherine street to walk around and window shop, Mom went off to see Gramma a couple of times split up by a walk back to the hotel & a nap, and The Hubbs & I went off walking by ourselves up along St.Denis from our hotel all the way to Mont-Royal and then walked back again.

As an approximation, the distance from our hotel to the Mont-Royal metro station (which is just a little further than where we had walked) is 1.7km. We did the round-trip in 4 hours (including a stop for lunch) so that would explain why I am feeling rather sore. Not only did we do that, but we met up with everyone and on Ste-Catherine’s to have dinner at Reuben’s], only a hop and a skip from the metro station (fun to do, by the way, the transit system here is rather impressive compared to Calgary’s) but a long walk back if you’re not taking the metro.

I am stiff and sore.

Today we’re doing not a lot — laundry, bagel shoppe(s), and perhaps whip by Au Pied de Cochon so I can pick up their cookbook since we’re not going to be dining in this fine establishment. Given that I’ve eaten more than my fair share of chopped liver in the last four days, I think I am okay not spending upwards of $300 at APdC. It would’ve been fun, but I’ll live. ;)

Beyond that, we might also do just a little bit of driving around the city. Favourite’s not joining us, the lucky boy is off to try wake boarding (surfing?) with our cousin. So jealous. This cousin is a clothing designer and both brothers got pants from him on the weekend. *sigh*

Anyhow, I should run, Mom’s back from seeing Gramma, so we’ll probably be heading out soon.

Reminiscing

Over the last three days, we’ve been driving around town checking out a lot of old haunts — Mom & Dad’s first place (aka where I once lived in LaSalle), the old houses my parents grew up in, etc, etc.

We drove out to St.Lambert today to have tea with Dad’s side of the family and after that we drove around to check out the town, so to speak. It’s turned rather trendy. The family’s chinese restaurant, Chow Mein Garden, is still around (though no longer in the family, I’m told). It looks exactly the way I recall. We then drove a few blocks away and checked out the old house. Dad used to live across the old Waterman pen factory. The building is still there, but it’s now been converted into some pretty darn trendy condos. There were a few units for sale and I mentioned to Dad that we ought to buy one so we could have a place in Montreal for us to stay. I said I’d be up for that, and his reply that he knew I would be ;)

On Friday night, we went to visit Auntie for a few minutes, on Mom’s side. She has this tiny little backyard that she & her husband have been tending over the last good number of years. She has 3 different beds: in one of them she has 2 different types beans growing in front of each other in one bed, a bunch of japanese pumpkins + chinese melons/squashes in another and a whole bunch of chinese veg in the third. If we had kept our original date of travel for end of august/beginning of september, we would have been able to see all the melons in their fat glory, hanging from trellises inside nylon stockings again for support.

On saturday night when we went to Gramma’s birthday dinner, we got all sorts of gifts from family that we haven’t seen in a long time: some fresh (relative term) dried veggies from Auntie’s garden (makes tasty tasty soup. I’m looking forward to have soup with it), dried scallops, lap cheung (chinese sausage), and my all time favourite as a child: egg roll cookies.

I was saying to The Hubbs that if we had had the ability, Auntie’s garden was the exact kind of garden that I wanted. Of course, Calgary’s climate doesn’t quite grow the same variety of stuff, but at least he got the idea of what’s been floating around in my head.

It’s been a damn busy three days filled with a helluva lot of MSG. I’m starving. It’s late and my parents are nowhere to be found. Baby Bro has gone to the International Jazz Festival with a cousin and I’m rather jealous — I was going to go with them, but the last 4 days has been a rather hellish schedule of late nights, early mornings and no naps to speak of, so I chose to stay in and sleep. The last fun thing I heard we were going to do was attend one of the fireworks competitions on wednesday night with another cousin (sister of the guy Favourite’s out with tonight) and her partner. It’ll be fun. But I must go eat… and sleep again…

Two words…

SMOKED MEAT.

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwiches to be exact.

*Drool*

There are pics… will be posted, eventually.

Just believe me when I say this: If you ever go to Schwartz’s and they ask you how you want your smoked meat, always say “medium”. Trust me, it’s for the best.

As a side thought, not dissing Schwartz’s in any way, shape or form, but Reuben’s meat is by far much more moist to my recollection. The sandwiches are large, but they totally melt in your mouth when you bite into it.

Our next smoked meat venture will probably be Dunn’s, sometime in the early week, before Favourite goes back home.

Time for sleep.

We’re here.We’re hot and we’re moist.

We arrived (mostly) in one piece.

My worst fears were brought to the limelight — flying hurts. LOTS.

… OH MY GOD I’M BACK IN MONTREAL!!!!!

*vibrates audibly*

We went to Moishes Steak House for dinner and holy cow.

I had sweetbreads for the first time in my life. Rather tasty. It has a fattier texture to it, for a lack of a better term, but has a liver-like flavour to it. Needless to say, it was very very rich.I ordered them well done and I’m not sure that it was necessarily the proper doneness to have ordered them (and really, I should have asked, but didn’t because I was all giddy about even being able to order them in the first place) because it was chargrilled and a lot of pieces were quite charcoaled. In the end it probably wasn’t that much of a loss given I could only finish about 1/2 my dinner. They failed to mention that the restaurant specializes in the word MEAT.

Case in point: The Hubbs ordered Moishe’s Special Chicken for dinner. He got half a chicken. It was a ridiculous amount of food. I should have clued in — At the bottom of the menu, there is a note saying that there was an extra $7 plating charge for those diners wishing to share grilled menu items. HALF. A. CHICKEN.

Daddy ordered for appetizer the chopped liver and oh my god, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I would go back just for the liver, truthfully. I admit, it’s not the most visually appealing menu item, but holy cow, I have never had liver so flavourful and moist before in my life, regardless of cooking method. The dish also came with a bowl of fried onions. Not sure what that was all about but it was still tasty with the liver.

One of the neatest things about this restaurant is the proverbial bread basket that arrives at your table practically the minute you sit down — not only do you get a nice variety of breads in the “basket” (and I’m not referring to little cheap dinner rolls, here), but you also get a generous bowl of coleslaw and holy cow the fattest pickles I have ever seen.

I have pics, but I don’t yet know how (well) they upload to pinkEee. Apparently I took 15 pics of just dinner alone. Impressive. I’m hoping some of the turned out given I took them all without flash. Unfortunately pics may have to wait til I return home. (But oh my goodness the first few pics I took were rather awesome looking!)

Okay, it’s almost 11pm local time and I think I should really head to bed. The boys fly in tomorrow bright and early in the AM and we’ve got a busy weekend ahead of us.