Sunday, August 28, 2011

Les 3 Petits Bouchons

There is a place called heaven and I found it. It's at 4669 Saint-Denis in Montreal. Unfortunately you can't stay forever. Fortunately, you can go back as often as you want. And that I will.

This delightful restaurant succeeded in seducing my husband and I with every delectable bite. Jean-Philippe, a gentleman sitting next to us at the bar and who drives to Montreal from Granby on a regular basis just to eat here, helped us narrow our choices down to the following dishes. While Michel, one of the three owners, ensured the wine we paired them with was equally perfect – 2008 Côtes du Jura Cuvée Florine Chardonnay from France. It's a yellow and cloudy wine made from the Savagnin grape and aged under a layer of yeast for 24 months. Amazing.

We started with the pieuvre grillée – octopus grilled to perfection in a smokey bbq sauce and served over a pancetta trencher. Alongside, some velvety crème fraîche and a sweet maple/bourbon syrup. We also shared the tartine de champignons, meaty mushrooms in a jaw-droppingly delicious truffle sauce served over crisp baguette toast.

Our mains were equally magical. I opted for the tartar de veau, a large mound of fresh, delicately spicy meat spotted with capers. Every bite melting in your mouth. Fresh greens and shaved parm were piled high over the top and 3 crisp baguette toasts lay neatly on the side. My husband indulged in the lamb, cooked rare and oh-so tender. Each side on the plate was the perfect accessory to the meat, elegant chanterelles, what we believe to be a feta foam and a scrumptious sausage-stuffed shallot (the fact my husband even gave me a bite of this made me feel extra special).

We finished off with a glass of Eau de vie from Alsace – Audrey et Christian Binner Vieux Marc de Riesling Kaefferkopf. Our eyes glazed over as we slowly sipped and reminisced over the experience we just had. We even got to meet and thank Audrey, the talented young woman who made it all happen.

With their relaxed atmosphere and outstanding service that makes you feel as though you'd been going there for years, this place is a must. We booked a hotel and came for the night just to eat here and will do it again soon. Prices are very reasonable with entrées ranging between $7.50 and $13.50 and mains between $16.50 and $29.

4669 Saint-Denis, Montreal

Les Trois Petits Bouchons on Urbanspoon


My husband and I just returned from a two-week vacation in the Laurentians. It's so nice to do nothing for a change.

Our friends Zoya and Marc helped us do nothing by showing up with 2 bag-fulls of groceries. Mostly from their garden.

And these beautiful chanterelles, freshly picked from the woods around their yard.

Zoya is obsessed with picking mushrooms. And I now understand why. Served with seared tuna steaks, they were delicious. Zoya even prepared a porcini and chanterelle powder beforehand by drying and blending the mushrooms. She then rehydrated the powder by adding it to a wine reduction and smearing it over the steaks. YUM!

We then set out to see if we could find more in our area. This is Zoya's mushroom-picking outfit.

After an hour in the woods and coming home empty-handed, I walked into the chalet to find these king boletes that Marc found in the driveway. What a fresh and meaty treat!

We too are now obsessed with mushroom-picking. Only I need to run them past Zoya for approval before eating.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fromagerie Le Détour

On a recent trip out east I made a stop into a popular cheese store along the Transcanada Highway. Shortly after leaving New Brunswick and getting onto the least fun part of the drive (single-lane and construction hell), this little gem in Notre-Dame-du-Lac is just what you need to make the dreaded-drive more fun and exciting.

Besides deliciously salty cheese strings to snack on, they also have fresh sandwiches lined up in the fridge just waiting to fill hungry tummies. And of course, a number of heavenly cheeses. If time is on your side, all the accompaniments you'd need to make a cheese picnic are available on the shelves. Otherwise, make sure to bring an ice pack or cooler to get them home for savouring at a later date!

We left with as many options as we could keep cold with our tiny little ice pack. Most of what they offer are soft cheeses, but they do have one hard one – Le petit Émile - and it's only available at the factory. AND I DIDN'T GET THIS ONE! Oh well, something to look forward to next time.

What we did get: Grey Owl – a soft goat cheese covered in an ashy blanket – very yummy. La Magie de Madawaska – another soft cheese with washed rind made from cow's milk and my absolute favourite of the bunch. La Dame du Lac - made with skimmed cow milk. Marquis de Témiscouata – very soft and delicious. And Sentinelle – a soft washed goat cheese.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leftover Pig

Ok, I lied a little bit when I said 62lbs of pig was gone in under 2 hours. There were some bits left. Probably about a pound worth. But don't even ask me what part of the pig these bits are from, I have no idea. What I do know is that fried up and served with poached eggs for dinner is the best trip down Saturday's memory lane. Especially the black crispy bit on top.

Along with the eggs my husband served a bed of arugula and asparagus topped with goat cheese and sprinkles of chives from the garden.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Goodbye Savana

Ok, maybe not quite goodbye yet. They are still open until August 26th. But with the schedule I've got coming up, I figured I'd better get in there fast for one last pad thai indulgence.

That and the scallop ceviche rocked my world tonight. I will miss you. Thank you so much for all the amazing meals.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

You Say Party, We Say Pig!

If you want a successful party, invite a pig. And a keg. And lots of wonderful people. Last night was our very good friends Dino and Keltie's going away bash and to make the occasion one to remember, we decided to roast a pig. Only we didn't do it on a spit, this one was done in a china box. Best pork ever.

We ordered the pig from Murray's Market where they brined it for over a week for us. Once we got it home, we splayed it out between two racks and sat it neatly inside a china box, not to be seen until a few hours later. In a china box, the pig cooks by placing hot coals over the top. The inside, which is all stainless steel, gets super hot and basically slow cooks the pig to utter perfection. We got this lovely contraption from Dennis, a wonderful gentleman up in Tremblant who runs his own South African catering business. About an hour before the end, you flip the pig skin side up and make some slices through the skin so that it gets nice and crispy on the edges. Opening the lid to flip it also gives you the opportunity to baste it in delicious homemade barbecue sauce. Our sauce was made by the lovely Charlotte, a deliciously smokey and spicy chipotle sauce.

Just to blacken it a bit more, my husband went over it with a blow torch.

Then Derrek, a good friend of Charlotte's showed up and spent the next hour and a half carving every mouthwatering morsel of meat for our guests to enjoy. Words cannot describe how happy and lucky we were to have a pro like him in the kitchen. Derrek, I can't thank you enough!

This pig was AMAZING! The meat was tender and juicy and with more of that heavenly bbq sauce, it was like a dream. Even a friend who eats only fins and feathers ate some pork. She has not eaten pork in 20 years! That's how good it was. 62 pounds of pig was literally gone in under 2 hours.

Along with the pork, we also served some corn on the cob that we cooked over the hot coals on the china box. We soaked the corn with just a bit of husks left on for 24 hours beforehand. We set out a large container of melted butter so guests could just dip their corn in. My husband also made a huge vat of coleslaw. And for the appetizer, he made a beer-up-the-butt chicken. I'm telling you, there was some good meat eating at my house yesterday!

And what's a pig party without pig cupcakes!? Leave it to Teresa to show up with the perfect dessert. These beauties went FAST. And as Teresa walked through the room with her trays of treats, the room lit up.

I love summer. And I love pig.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Easy Summer Dinners

I find it so wonderful that something so good can be so simple and easy to produce. Ok I say that, I have it double-easy in that my husband does it all for me. But I watch, and learn, and because of that I know that I could one day do this myself if I had to.

Bison meat from Aubrey's shaped into fat, juicy patties and thrown on the bbq, along with yellow and green zucchini, and yellow peppers grilled to perfection. Slather the burgers with goat cheese, top with veg and set on a toasted half bun and a bed of arugula. Set the rest of the veggies alongside and drizzle with balsamic and olive oil and some fresh tomatoes from the garden. Yum!