Montreal.. The land of smoked meat and poutines. This was my last trip with James before heading off on my own so i wanted to make the most of enjoying my adventures with someone and Montreal was a great place for it.
We booked an Airbnb that was right downtown with parking so after our 2 weeks of driving we could park the car for a few days and just walk everywhere! Our airbnb wasn't ready until 3 nor was the parking spot ready until 2 so when we arrived at 1pm we decided to take one less stab at finding the leather jacket. After about 30 minutes i had my leather jacket, shoes that weren't sneakers to match and a nice bottle of Cherry Gin in my bag. I was hyped. And already in love with the city. It was like NYC but everything wasn't $600-$100000 dollars. - Not to mention the mall parking lot had a food truck with the winning poutine - We finally got the air airbnb around 3:30 and got to shower for the first time since leaving the woods - i doubt there was any hot water left in the building afterwards.
We had reservations for Joe Beef at 9:15 ( so late so we can have a pre game meal first ) so we took our time, enjoyed a drink at home and relaxed before wandering onto a subway and back into a food coma. Arriving a half hour early i took it upon myself to go to the bar September for a beer before dinner. Naturally the place called to me because my birthdays September 9th and their a coffee bar during the day and beer bar in the evenings so it screamed me. After sipping on an IPA that was mellow in hops and high in citrus we went next door to experience all the hype people were constantly raving about.
Did i ever mention that when i went to make a reservation for Joe Beef i accidentally booked it for the wrong month??? And when they called me to confirm LAST MONTH i was walking down the street in Newfoundland in a panic that they wouldn't have space the following month when i was actually there. If they said no i might of just flew there that night to eat and then fly home.
Thankfully they did and our meal was fantastic. Starting with a class of sparkling wine while James translated the chalk board menu we couldn't decided what to order between the tartar, sweetbread ravioli, fresh burrata, oyster, scallops, steaks, halibut , lamb ahhhhhh. So we turned to our bartender and server Nelson for some suggestions and he made our lives so much easier. We ordered a seafood platter with oysters, raw scallop and sea urchin in carrot vinaigrette followed by burrata on a bed of spinach and sweet bread pasta. Everything was paired with a light bottle of wine and whole lot of appreciation. Chef David McMillin of Joe Beef came to Newfoundland not that long ago and had the pleasure of spending some time with my Aunt and Uncle in Indian Lake shooting the Anthony Bourdain series. My Aunt asked if i could thank him for the pictures he took for her and the leg of prosciutto he generously gave her to take home. He was at the bar where we were sitting so it made my task extremely easy ! He was as kind as she described him and had a very humble attitude. He raved about Newfoundland and its people which actually spiked up some conversations with customers dining next to us also raving about their great experiences with Newfies and our kind reputations. After some complimentary smoked meat croquettes, the sweet seafood, creamy burrata, extremely flavourful pasta and a few shots on the house we decided we had room for one more course and ordered the smoked lamb shoulder. The dish was accompanied by butter poached radishes, frites and simple sautéed greens. Beyond satisfied and even too full for dessert ( Nan says theres a whole different stomach for dessert but i think i filled that one up too ) We hopped in an uber and fell asleep before we could even talk about how amazing the experience was.
La Capital Taco
Tacos Tacos Taco
As i was walking to the restaurant i was on the phone with my friend in Alberta - basically talking about the greatness that makes up a taco with its soft tortilla, juice coming down the sides and spicy characteristics. Thankfully the repercussions of the night before didn't effect me to badly so i could enjoy Cinco De Mayo with a cold Corona, chips and fresh guacamole with a plate full of carnita tacos. Sadly i cant say the same for James who didnt get out of bed until 12:00 and couldn't even manage a full taco - More for me !!! Priorities.
The tacos were filled with flavour and no spice but they had homemade hot sauces on the side and whatever the green one was.. its my new favourite.
Pho Soup and Bubble Tea
The best thing since sliced bread
Ever since i had bubble tea in NYC after a big bowl of spicy pho its become a craving post noodles. This Pho was recommended by a server i worked with back at the Reluctant Chef , Simone. She has spectacular taste and always wears the best lipstick so i figured i had to trust her - I wasn't let down. Upon entering My Canh we were a bit skeptical because there was no one in the restaurant but since it was the same at the Pho spot in NYC we gave it a chance. Within an hour the place was packed and we were stuffed. The menu had options for sm m or lrg bowls and we both got a small classic pho because it was only our pre dinner meal. The small was literally the size of a large anywhere else... the large is served in a mixing bowl essentially. **warning** It really is a mixing bowl and no one should attempt a large. Both pho's had a sweet earthy broth that released beautiful aromas of star anise, cinnamon and roasted bones. It was the cure to James stomach and the key to my heart. We slurped up our bowl and wandered down china town in search of bubble tea. Sipping Oolong tea sweetened with honey while chewing on tapioca pearls we walked around Old Montreal scouting where we could get a good beer to have a game of cards.
Late Night Snacks
After a long day of walking around and restaurant hunting theres something nice about ending the day with guilty pleasures. One of my favourite breweries so far has to be Pub BreWskey. They had a selection of beers with everything from IPAd to Stouts, Whites, Sessions and everything in between. You can order a pint or if you're torn between a few kinds you can order their flights where you can pick your own or “trust the staff”. I got a white beer and James “trusted the staff” and had a selection of IPA’s, Pilsers, whites etc. Their sweet potato fries also looked amazing so i might have to go back for those next time. We were walking around Old Montreal post beer and couldn't decided what to eat that night as we bounced back and forth the idea of Pizza or trying some more poutines or trying to find sushi .. ( clearly we were all over the place here.. ) and as i walked past the Sports Bar the smell of freshly popped popcorn stopped me in my tracks. It was the good kind - like the kind they had at jumbo video that was even one step saltier than movie theatre popcorn. I don't even watch sports and i went in and ordered a beer just for the popcorn. How does this get any better you ask ? the popcorn was free. And unlimited. You just go fill up your basket as many times as you'd like and enjoy the sports. Because of my lack of knowledge when it comes to the game on i decided id breakout the best sport of all - cards of course.
What do you mean you don't have cards on you everywhere you go ?? how do you enjoy yourself at a cafe or a bar or sitting in the park ?? how do you make new friends without cards??
Semi full on popcorn and cheap beer we were exhausted. We weren't sure we could handle another restaurant tonight so we did what we do best. Went home and made nachos. With just $15 in ingredients we had nacho chips, cheese, avocados, peppers, spinach, cilantro, cherry tomatoes and a really happy gal. We put on Top Chef Canada ( Thankfully being back in Canada we once again had access to the new episodes and had TWO to watch !! ) made some nachos and got in bed. This is the main reason that airbnbs are crucial sometimes. How do you make nachos in a hotel ?? i guess you could do room service but that basically cost your soul and two pinkies. Why not spend that extra money on expensive cheese for the nachos?
pizza and dumplings
Weird combination ? Absolutely. Regrets? None.
After 2 weeks we finally got our dumplings! At a place literally called Dumplings in Chinatown. When we were looking at the menu we knew it was our pre dinner meal so we had to be careful about how much we were going to order. Because it's easy to get carried away when it comes to dumplings - am i right ? We settled on the pork, shrimp and cilantro steamed dumplings and the lamb and green onion dumplings fried. Still questioning the size of everything i've ever gotten from the China Towns i've visited i asked the server how many dumplings per order and her calm response was 15. FIFTEEN. Thank god i asked or i would just hadddddd to eat them all and then be full. I mean.. That's not the worst thing that could happen but still. Thinking about it now maybe next time i won't ask. We got 2 half orders and before i knew it there was silence as we burned our mouths eating dumplings because they were so damn delicious we couldn't wait for them to cool down.
Post pregame dumplings we were ready to tackle some pizza. Afraid of getting full off beer i decided to go with a cold glass of Rose to match my pizza. Pizza is one of those things that always has so many options and the creativity can get next level. It's hard to convince yourself sometimes simple is better instead of diving into the black truffle, roasted garlic cream, shaved parm, confit mushrooms with smoked pork and wilted wild greens. (That wasn't an option but i wish it was). I insisted on the Margarita and spiced it up with some fresh buffalo mozzarella. I'd recommend sticking to the classic next time because the buffalo mozza is too fresh for a tomato base. It just gets lost on the acidity and makes the pizza fall flat if anything. It was still pizza with a nice thin crust covered in blisters, fresh basil and was eaten within 3 minutes though. Dont worry.
Ready for my childhood memories of poutines ?? It was my favourite food and the key to my 10 year old heart. I think it was the only reason i went to hockey games. I picked poutines and tacos from taco bell over popcorn everytime i went to the movie theatres. I went to work with my mom on the weekends willingly because Ziggy Peelgoods was just down the road. My dad's famous poutine was meatballs and gravy on McCanns. I LOVED IT. Its harder to find a good poutine in Quebec than you think. Funny enough the best one i had was in a mall parking lot and the worst i've had is at the restaurant known for “best poutine in Montreal” - i actually left there angry at the people that sent me there..
What makes a good poutine?
The gravy needs to be thick, rich and salty with just a touch of sweetness.
The cheese curds been to be both small but have some the size of the fries at the same time
The fries need to be small but not dry. I don't want to eat a full potato in one bite.
IT NEEDS TO BE HOT
Does that all sound too hard?? Dads meatballs and gravy poutines were better than half of these..
- It all started at the Micro Brewery in Asbestos after the Mont Ham hike. This was our introduction and it wasn't a bad start. I found the fries were dry but the gravy was delicious. Sadly they were not steaming hot so that was 2 strikes.
- Next was the Mall poutine that had just the right amount of cheese, the gravy was perfect and their fries were satisfying and overall steaming hot! We hardly spoke during this poutine because it was just that good. They may have cheated with a touch of truffle oil.. But it was soooo good i just had to count it.
- After that we tried a poutine at the Market which was super classic but was a little bland. I found the fries big and all the cheese was basically the same size. They were all swimming around in an ocean of gravy.
- Last but not least was the "Best Poutine In Montreal". It was a sad moment. We were sooo excited and lined up around the corner to try the best of the best! After waiting 15 minutes we got our steaming fries smothered in cheese and gravy. and after one bite we both looked at each other and knew. It was soooo sweet and not salty at all. It was like dessert ! So strange and so wrong. We suffered through it before hitting the streets to talk make our votes on the best poutine in town.
The Mall Parking Lot Won !