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Found 5 results

  1. Je ne suis pas sûr que c'est un compliment de se faire dire que Montréal goûte la poutine! Et les clichés sur notre supposée "joie-de-vivre", juste parce qu'on parle français, c'est un peu éculé, mais comme l'article est positif, on va leur pardonner... A foodie's guide to Montreal USA Today By Michele Kayal For The Associated Press Montreal may sound like Paris, but it tastes like poutines. A mess of french fries, gravy and cheese curds, this signature dish of French-speaking Canada's largest city captures its engaging and independent culinary personality. Originally inhabited by Native Americans, later populated by hunters, trappers and missionaries, and eventually battled over by the French and British, Montreal offers gutsy, creative and hearty fare that honors its diverse forbears. "There is a tradition of English cooking and French cooking, but it's taken on that lusty explorer, wilderness, joie de vivre," says Catherine MacPherson, a food columnist for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "It's rib sticking, and it's got that independent spirit." That wasn't always so. Until the early 1990s in Montreal, "good" cuisine meant "French" cuisine, and all the local stars had trained in France. That's also where they got their ingredients — lamb, lobster, artichokes, nearly everything. Until a young chef named Normand Laprise returned from the Continent more impressed by the freshness of ingredients in France than by their Frenchness. He began cultivating farmers and ranchers and launched a movement toward fresh, local ingredients that drew from Quebec's rich landscape. His restaurant, Toque!, opened in 1993, and remains the standard-bearer for upscale Quebequois cuisine. "When you come in Montreal, you feel that the food is more about us, about Quebec philosophy and Quebec roots," he says. "It's our produce, our chefs." Today, Montreal is "bigger and better," Laprise says, as the scene has filled with choice, from bistros to sandwich shops to corner grocers and cheese shops that offer fresh, delicious, local foods. The city claims 6,000 restaurants spanning 80 cuisines for its scant 2 million people, making it a city of foodies, by foodies, for foodies. The food scene could take weeks to explore, but with just a few days — and a big appetite — a dedicated eater can make a thorough and delicious survey. Start the tour at L'Express, a traditional bistro in the Plateau neighborhood where the floor is checkered, the ceilings are high and French is spoken all around. The steak of steak-frites is juicy and fatty, crowned with herb butter. The frites are crispy and light. Pistachio-studded pate literally melts on the tongue leaving hints of thyme and cognac behind. The chocolate tart is so glossy and thick with flavor that the otherwise stone-faced waiter is moved to speak, telling two diners that it is made with 76% cacao. Montrealers have made L'Express their local hangout for nearly three decades, but recently it's gotten some company. Around the corner, Au Pied de Cochon plumps up the bistro concept, making traditionally thrifty Quebecois cooking richer, fatter, heartier. Chef Martin Picard offers pickled venison tongue; a salad of rich, bitter greens topped with crunchy bits of fried pig cartilage; and nearly everything stuffed with foie gras, from peasant food such as pig's foot to the famous poutines. Picard's menu honors the region's sweet tooth not only with the famous tarte au sucre — literally, sugar pie — but even with a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon, and yes, foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. On the other side of town in the Petite-Bourgogne neighborhood, Restaurant Joe Beef redefines the British pub with a decidedly modern take on roasts, puddings and other delectables. Named after a legendary tavern keeper known for scoring rations for his fellow British soldiers, the tiny restaurant's menu changes with the seasons and the whim of chef Fred Morin. But Joe Beef traffics in items such as fresh lobster tossed with bacon, baby peas and pasta, and dishes for two, such as sliced rib steak with marrow bones, or a whole rack of Quebec lamb with mint sauce. Tucked in the back, but at the establishment's heart, is the oyster bar, a half-dozen seats crowded around a dinged-up counter where three-time Canadian oyster-shucking champion John Bil recently popped dozens of briny bivalves mostly from the waters of Prince Edward Island. No matter where or what a visitor eats in Montreal, it's likely to be decadent. Butter, sugar, lard: these ingredients do not scare Montrealers. "There's never been a fear of indulgence or fats when it comes to their food," MacPherson says. "They see no reason for self-flagellation at the dinner table." Which brings us back to poutines. Gravy-and-cheese slathered french fries, are, perhaps, a dish best understood when inebriated. Or when you're very, very cold. "Imagine yourself being here in February, you're on a ski hill and it's minus 27," says Nathalie Cooke, a culinary historian at the city's McGill University. And she's talking Celsius. "You'd be amazed how good poutines can taste." Au Pied's foie gras-laden poutines are revered by gourmets, but students and bloggers seem to favor the slapped down version at Patati Patata, a tiny corner joint near McGill whose name roughly translates as "blah blah blah." But poutines aren't the city's only casual food. A flourishing culture of quick but delicious — and above all real — food can be found at patisseries, fromageries (cheese shops), and places that fall somewhere between bakery, sandwich shop and grocery store. At Olive et Gourmando in the Vieux-Montreal neighborhood, flaky palmiers are delivered alongside dense Valrhona brownies and hot sandwiches dripping with caramelized onions and succulent pork. "We're not interested in how many tables there are," Cooke says. "We're quite willing to go to a place that has two tables, or even to stand." At Au Pied de Cochon, chef Martin Picard offers a playful take on breakfast that features buckwheat pancakes, thick bacon and foie gras, all of it doused with maple syrup. Chef Yann Laguna puts the finishing touches on a salad at the McCord Cafe in downtown Montreal. The city is packed with bistros, bakeries, markets and cutting edge eateries.
  2. Works at le Bremner http://cultmontreal.com/2013/05/top-chef-canada-danny-smiles-le-bremner-montreal-chefs-canadian-cuisine/ Danny Smiles in the Le Bremner kitchen. Photo by Dominique Lafond. Danny Smiles is repping Montreal cuisine in this cycle of Top Chef Canada, and as the show hits mid-season, the le Bremner chef is well positioned to take the title, especially after winning last week’s elimination challenge. The challenge was to create Canada’s Next National Dish, with the carrot of a 10 G cash prize for the winner and the stick of two chefs’ elimination from the show. Smiles won the contest with his creation, which he calls the “Coast-to-Coast” roll — a shrimp and crab roll, served in pretzel hot dog bun with maple bacon and a side of house-smoked BBQ chips. The Coast-to-Coast roll. “It was a weird choice that I made, to do seafood. It was 40-something out, and we knew it was going to be hot. We knew it was going to be an outdoor event, and I was just like, I’m ready for the challenge. I wanted to go big or go home,” says Smiles, meaning it literally. “Those are the only options.” Smiles wanted to move beyond the usual signifiers of Canadian-ness — maple, pork and poutine. “That was the whole focus, a new national dish. I wanted to showcase fish. I’m a very fish-oriented chef,” he says, his point proven by the shrimp and albacore tattooed prominently onto one forearm. “There’s not a lot of countries that border two of the biggest oceans in the world, too, so that’s really cool,” he continues. “I used B.C. Dungeness crabs and Nordic shrimp from Quebec,” while the overall concept references an East Coast foodie fad du jour, the lobster roll. Smiles explains that he wanted to create a dish that draws not only on Canada’s geography, but its history as well. “Smoking fish and preserving goes back to First Nations; it’s a huge part of Canadian history,” he says. “I was trying to also come up with a story, something that realistically made sense with the history of our country. I’m a huge history buff, so I decided to go back a bit and readapt that into what I thought would be the new national dish.” Smiles may be following in the footsteps of mentor (and le Bremner’s executive chef) Chuck Hughes, who rose to celebrity chef status after becoming the first Canadian to win the US Top Chef — an increasingly necessary career move for chefs as they emerge from the obscurity of the kitchen and into the limelight of cooking shows, contests and book tours in order to establish themselves. Top Chef Canada made sense to him as a next move, he explains. “I liked the show, and also just wanted to see where I match up to the rest of Canada, almost like a personal challenge.” The best part of doing Top Chef Canada, he admits, is that it actually gives him room for his first love, cooking. “Unfortunately, being a chef, you’re not always focusing on cooking,” he says. “You’re lucky when you get into the kitchen and start cooking. That’s like a bonus, because there’s food costing, there’s menu planning; you’re plumbing, gardening. Those are all fun things that I love about my job, but in a small restaurant, you kind of do everything. And now, for six weeks, your main focus — you’re not contacting anyone, you’re not phoning suppliers; that’s all supplied for you, and you’ve just got to focus on cooking. So it’s like it brought me back to when I first started on the line.” ■ Top Chef Canada airs Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on Food Network Canada.
  3. The Ville Marie borough has given the go-ahead for a major facelift of the Helene de Champlain pavilion on St. Helen's Island - the building that until a six months ago housed the Helene de Champlain Restaurant. It will undergo a 10-million dollar expansion and upgrade this fall. After the facelift it will house a restaurant affiliated with the prestigious Relais et Chateaux chain as well as a cooking school and library. http://www.cjad.com/node/1174275