As much as I love being on east coast time here on the west coast, I find something weird and just plain wrong about getting up before the sun has risen. It strikes me as inherently unnatural, like fluorescent green pistachio ice cream or the tuck rule in football. I mean, there’s “early” and then there’s just “silly early”. For instance, this morning, I woke up “silly early”, but stayed in bed until “early” (the dogs were unusually cuddlesome) and THEN got up. And I still found time to get a whole bunch of errands done today.
Akemi proved equally productive ahead of her planned four day trek to Yellowknife with friends to watch the Northern Lights. She thinks it’s downright un-Canadian of me not to join her but, hey, last time I checked the temperature there was a not-so-balmy -26 degrees celsius (about -15 fahrenheit). Apparently, boiling water tossed into the air comes down as snow. No, thanks. Fortunately, Akemi prepared for the brutal cold with a dry run that saw her visit Montreal woefully under-dressed for the winter weather there:
Speaking of Montreal – while in town, in addition to some terrific home cooking (compliments of mom, natch), I also enjoyed some great restaurant meals as well. Today, I’d like to offer up the culinary highlights (and lowlights) of my holiday grazing in la belle province…
RESTAURANT LALOUX (Restaurant Laloux – Bistro)
Highlight: The 40 day aged Ematimi farm beef prime rib served with vegetables and sauce forestiere.
Lowlight: My sister talked up the desserts, but we were disappointed to learn the former pastry chef had left since the last time Andria visited. The sweet selection was fine, but nothing really stood out – with the exception of the after-meal, bite-size caneles that proved magnificent.
PETINOS – WEST ISLAND (Restaurant dejeuner diner | Petinos | Montreal | Terrebonne …)
Highlight: I’m not a huge fan of breakfast places, but I did appreciate Petino’s banana-nutella pancakes:
AU PIED DE COCHON (Au Pied de Cochon)
Highlight: Well, damn, pretty much the entire dinner. I’ve never had a bad meal here. The tarragon bison tongue is always great as are the desserts (maple milkshake and sugar pie!). I suppose if I had to choose one stand-out dish, it would have to be the headcheese. Like I said a couple of entries back, don’t let the name fool you. There’s no actual cheese in it – just head mostly:
Highlight: Having spent plenty of time in Japan and lived the past 13 years of my life in Vancouver, I don’t have very high expectations for Montreal sushi and so I can’t say I was disappointed. I suppose if I had to choose a highlight, I’d go with the kamikaze roll, ubiquitous in Montreal but unheard anywhere else I’ve traveled.
Lowlight: I wasn’t blown away by the sushi but, on the other hand, wasn’t enormously disappointed either.
Highlight: Great atmosphere in this dark, moody, cave-like setting that was once home to Montreal’s first women’s prison. The service was the highlight. As far as dishes, I’d say the lamb – but, in all fairness, it’s a menu item I enjoyed on my last visit here.
Lowlight: The neon green pistachio ice cream.
GRAZIELLA (Restaurant Graziella)
Highlight: Appetizers and mains were all, in a word, fantastic. If I had to choose one dish…maybe the wild mushroom risotto.
Lowlight: The service was great – up until the neighboring table was seated and instantly commanded all of our waitress’s attention. It took us 20 minutes to get dessert menus, then another 20 to be served. As for the desserts – well, they were very pretty to look at.
KAM FUNG – WEST ISLAND (Welcome to Restaurant La Maison KamFung)
Highlight: I know you think I’m saying this just to be controversial but, seriously, the chicken feet were outstanding.
Lowlight: The siu long bao were too big and devoid of their trademark searing broth.
MAIKO SUSHI (Maiko Sushi Dollard-Des-Ormeaux)
Highlight: Again, I’m prepared to be underwhelmed by Montreal sushi and, in this case, was somewhat pleasantly surprised. The top roll? Oh, let’s go with the crispy tempura bits-laden kamikaze again.
Lowlight: Nothing comes to mind.
RESTAURANT PM (Prete-a-Manger)
Highlight: My sister is a regular and pretty much all of the dishes she recommended were great. My favorite, however was the hot pot chicken with ginger and mushrooms. It positively sang!
Highlight: Plenty of terrific plates from mom’s kitchen – eggplant parmesan, fried peppers, fried eggplant, her trademark friendship cake…but my favorite has to be her rabbit. I don’t make it myself and have given up on ordering it when I go out because its invariably dry and nowhere close to mom’s version -