I am late again and I will have to attempt to get two newsletters out this week. I have lots of excuses. I have been very busy. Also, I have been distracted by the election nonsense in the United States and the complete lack of grace shown by Benito Cartman, a Trump nickname courtesy of Monocle Magazine’s Andrew Mueller. It is tough to lose but being a bad loser turns losses into double losses. I do have to move on. This obsession with the insanity of the US electoral system (or lack thereof ) is not good for me.
There are some positives that have emerged from the madness of following the inanities of our Southern neighbour’s political theatre:
Numbers four and five are the segue that I needed to break away from news cycle paralysis. I like to eat well. My father died when I was six and my mother resumed her career as a journalist so that she could support us. If I wanted to eat well I had to learn how to fend for myself and I have been doing so successfully since I was ten years old. Finding the New York Times Cooking treasure trove of both complex and simple recipes has been a godsend. I love getting the e-mail everyday with new suggestions and then waiting for the right opportunity to try them. It is somewhat surprising that I haven’t put on any weight over the last several months.
However, much of my inspiration in the kitchen has come from eating in great restaurants and since Covid-19 restrictions have severely limited dining out, I worry about the future of places that I have really enjoyed. I don’t I try to keep track of the places that I really enjoy both in Montreal and other places across Canada and around the world so in homage to at least a few of them, excerpts from my restaurant catalogue:
|L’Expresse Montréal, QC ||The French bistro in Montréal! Le Pois Penché is an over-priced fake! L’Express is the real thing – once seated without your coat, you are transported to Paris – but I can promise those who have had unfortunate Parisian service, the wait staff is friendly and accessible . These should be on your list of things to try – the “mousse à la volaille” with pistachios to start and “l’ile flottante” to finish. There are other great appetizers and desserts but these are reknown. All of the food is excellent, without exception. It is always served properly and the wine list is worthy of a good French bistro with excellent affordable choices. Do like the French! Start with a “coupe de champagne” .|
|Le Gourmand Pointe-Claire, QC ||Le Gourmand is a very comfortable place in the heart of Pointe-Claire Village. The first couple of times I ate there I found it a little too experimental and I didn’t go back for a year or two. It has settled down and the food is really, really good now. Portions are not the fussy-size but neither are they overly copious. My British relatives love it. There is a good wine list and service is pleasantly irreverent once they get to know you. The wait staff has been there for a long time.If you don’t live on the West Island, plan a first visit when it is not too cold. Take a walk down by St-Joachim Church and through the Village and then go for dinner.|
|FCO di Fiumicino Montréal, QC ||This is just pizza joint with a counter and some indoor seating near Victoria Square but the Pizza is so good. They also serve calzone, arancini, and gelato. The pizza is thin crust and super crispy (not the fold up type) and toppings are top quality. The gelato is, in my opinion, the best in Montreal. It is rich and creamy and made at the restaurant from imported Italian ingredients. They don’t make as many flavours as are found in Italian gelateria but the quality is excellent.|
|La Botte Piena Montefollonico Torrita de Siena (Italy)||We were waiting to check in to our apartment in Montefollonico in 2011 and looking for somewhere to eat. Well, we then ate there seven times over the next eight days. We have been back many times – the last time in the summer of 2016. It just kept getting better. On one occasion, we had been at the Michelin three-floret Enotecca Pinchiori just a couple of nights earlier. Several dishes that we had that night were as good as Pinchiori. I told Elena, the chef, that she too could get into the Michelin. She laughed that she had learnt to cook with her mother and grandmother. Well, in 2018 Botte Piena made it into the Michelin Guide. This restaurant is worth the visit. The seasoning of the food, the attentive service, and the WINE LIST!|
|Pierre Orsi Lyon, France||Like all starred restaurants – very clean and shiny. I really should write these reviews closer to the time that we visit so that I can remember what we had but everything was excellent. There was no let down from appetizers to dessert. The service was excellent and formal but somehow very relaxed. Maybe it was because the background music was so casual – Motown, Elvis Presley, Blues and a head waiter who liked to quietly sing along.|
|eliot and vine Halifax, NS||A small restaurant that is off the beaten path and not in the Halifax core or on Spring Garden Road. We had oysters served with their home-made dressings, gnocchi with asparagus, halibut, and steak with morels. Everything was excellent and the Halibut and steak came with small roasted potatoes that were delicious. The menu is small. Service was excellent and the wine list was adequate.|
I have many more to share and I will. I hope that I won’t have to scrap my favourites guide post Coronavirus.
Shop local, support local businesses, buy from local farms, and support local artisans and manufacturers. As always, wear face masks as required, wash your hands, practice social distancing, hydrate, and exercise.
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