There hasn’t been enough food coming out of my kitchen lately. After exam week, Joe and I took a much needed vacation in Montreal. We got home Wednesday and now I’m in Chicago for the National Restaurant Show.
Surrounded by good food for weeks, yet my heart yearns to cook.
Soon, there will be a new recipe. In the meantime, I thought I’d share our Montreal trip with you. (Almost every picture we took had to do with food…)
After checking in at Les Aubergine de Passant San Soucy, a regal and hospitable bed and breakfast, Joe and I had our minds set on Schwartz’s Deli. They’ve been turning out smoked meat since 1928. Starving and not sure how to use the metro, we set out on foot for our destination. A mile and a half later, we stepped into a packed no-frills diner with what looked like it’s original tables and chairs.
The menu was simple – smoked meat – lean, medium, or fat. Smoked chicken. Hot dogs, a beef stick called nash, big dill pickles, french fries, cole slaw and soda. There were a couple of liver dishes and a steak, too, but a quick glance around the room and it was clear that everyone liked the smoked meat.
I got an order of lean smoked meat, no bread, with a pickle. Joe had medium smoked meat with bread, a pickle, and fries. Covered in yellow mustard, each bite accompanied by a small slice of dill, the meat was perfectly tender and smoky. We dove in and didn’t talk until our plates were clean, only making eye contact and smiling.
We ate at Schwartz’s twice.
Marche de Jean Talon
Joy and magic were in the air at this incredible open market. Artisan cheese makers, fresh seafood vendors, chocolatiers, local farmers, eateries, and specialty coffee roasters all proudly offered samples, temping us at every turn.
I had my very first fiddlehead fern simply sautéed in garlic, butter, salt and pepper.
We walked through row after row of produce not easily found in Dallas.
Blue skinned potatoes.
Organically grown micro greens and edible flowers.
The sweetest, juiciest pears I’ve ever tasted.
And, best of all, this is where I fell in love with Buckwheat Crepes. Most eateries speak both English and French, but this creperie had a limited understanding of English and I don’t speak French unless you count “toilet homme,” “toliet femme,” and “bonjour.” Fortunately, there was a kind lady in line ahead of us who had a sister who was wheat intolerant. She overheard our ordering dilemma and successfully translated for me. No béchamel for me, but that was perfectly ok.
I’ve made crepes more times than I have fingers but I’ve never been able to eat one that someone else has made. It was proper Breton style, paper thin, and crispy around the edges. Rich with earthy buckwheat and filled with asparagus, mushrooms, and ham, it was just right in every way.
Naturally, I set out to find the best buckwheat crepes in Montreal. After tireless searching, I happened upon an abandoned blog of maybe 10 posts that reviewed the local creperies. Une Crepe? received a 10 out of 10, so there was nothing left to do but eat one and find out for myself.
I called ahead to ask some questions and, in broken English, the smooth french voice at the other end of the phone assured me that they would make a gluten-free crepe with the fillings of my choosing.
Planning My Food for Our Trip
Despite my best efforts, there were a couple of snags. Our first night there, I called ahead and verified what I was able to eat at a popular restaurant. We ordered dinner and I double checked with our waitress who thought my meal was safe but it turned out that the dish contained wheat. We left without eating and I was on the verge of tears – mostly from being tired and hungry, but also because I was at square one with no clue as to where we could have dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant which wasn’t my first choice but at least it was gluten-free and sugar-free.
There were a couple of other times when we hasn’t made any specific plans and bounced from place to place, checking out the menus. Joe is always wonderfully supportive which makes travel so much easier.
**Note: The places above are not certified gluten-free restaurants; instead they made meals that I can safely eat with my given food intolerances.
What have you been cooking lately? I’d love to know as my poor kitchen has been neglected.