Sunday, January 26, 2014

Montreal / Just for Laughs Festival / FOOD / part two...

Ok, this blog might be a little over due seeing as Just for Laughs was the last week of July 2013 and now it is January 2014 but it's not because I don't care about it. Quite the contrary actually. This is probably the best restaurant experience I have ever had. Period. In my life. I have kind of a good excuse for being so bad at blogging. The fall and winter is really busy for stand up, I am writing a book (stay tuned for details) and I am really bad in terms of planning my time efficiently. Planning time efficiently is especially hard when you are a "good time Charlie" like me. I like to have fun, go out, hang out with friends so it's hard to squeeze in productivity between beers and chicken wings. So, here is my blog about my favourite restaurant experience in my life pretty much! After my run in with celebrity chef Chuck Hughes I was inspired to check out one of his restaurants in Montreal. Also I asked my friend Shannon who knows good eating and knows Montreal. She said go to "Le Bremner"!! Could I be so lucky to get a reservation??? I've heard lots of stories of people not being able to get into good restaurants in Montreal. But low and behold we got a reservation! My partner in crime for that week was Erica Sigurdson of course - funny fellow comedian and one of my best friends. We wanted a reservation for 5:00 so that probably helped our chances. How many people go out to eat that early other than families with kids or nerds who go to bed at 8:00pm? Or there's my type (party animal) who is up until 4am ... so 5pm dinner is like lunch time for us. Other people who apparently dine at 5:00 are also movie stars because Micheal Cera was there with his family. Sitting a mere 12 feet from us. We tried to play it cool like that's how we always roll. So, this was one of those dinners where I was just going to go for it. I'm not going to look at any prices (it is a bit pricier than I am used to but WELL WORTH IT), I am going to try things out of my comfort zone because this restaurant is going to be so good - I am in the capable hands of masters. In a restaurant that good with extraordinary cuisine and chefs everything is going to be good. So, I went there planning to say yes to things I normally shy away from. There was a peach cocktail on special so I said "yes, please". Peaches were in season in July so it's a great idea. Plus, I never have cocktails I usually go right to wine or beer but cocktails were meant to have before dinner so let's do this! it was, of course, delicious. Loved it.
I should backtrack a little bit and mention how cute and picturesque "Le Bremner" was on the outside. It was Old Montreal so there were beautiful cobble stone streets. I was glad I am not a high heeled shoe kind of a girl because that would be some tricky manoevering. Maybe wearing flats is not the sexiest but neither is falling on your face. Notice also in the picture that it's very inconspicuous and hidden. That's weird - if it's hidden how am I expecting you to notice it? I was told by someone that a bistro is traditionally in the basement, unassuming, often without even a sign. Which was the case of "Le Bremner".
It was really nice inside. I wouldn't say it was modest but it definitely wasn't extravagent. It was tasteful with really nice lighting.
Everything we ate was awesome but the highlight was the lobster pizza. It was incredible! Love pizza. Love lobster. I read some reviews on line that said the lobster pizza was too salty and I could've maybe had a tiny bit less salt but honestly I am just being nit picky. I am telling you, it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! Like I said, I was going in willing to try something different and being adventurous and I did just that. The pizza had a soft poached egg in the middle that poured open when you cut into the pizza. I don't normally like yolk that much. I am kind of grossed out by soft, runny yolk but I really loved it on this pizza. Here's a picture of it before runnyness and after!
I HIGHLY recommend going to "Le Bremner". Go! Au revoir!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Montreal / Just for Laughs Festival / FOOD! Part one...

I was very excited to do my TV taping on Tuesday July 23rd. I was nervous too obvi. The whole Just for Laughs experience is pretty intense. So, when I was done my important set, and it went well I was in the mood to celebrate! Here's a picture of the theatre I did my show in. If you look closely you can see a camera man on the top left way up high dangling from the ceiling!
I wanted to go back to a restaurant called "L'Anecdote". A friend of mine introduced me to "L'Anecdote" a few years ago and I was blown away at how delicious, homemade, fresh, a cut above it was and on top of that - how unassuming it was. It's actually the restaurant that made me want to start a food blog in the first place. I remember thinking that the only way you will reliably find a restaurant like that would be through word of mouth. I would've literally walked by that place and never have known how awesome it was.
I was so excited to go back! They have amazing burgers. Like, maybe the best I've ever had in a restaurant. And I'm telling you - you'd never know by looking at it. I think most restaurants cut corners and buy sub standard buns, produce, frozen patties... It was a Tuesday night so I checked their hours on line to make sure it was still open. It was only 8:45pm but you never know.The hours online said open until 10:00. Yes!! I didn't want to take a cab all the way out there only to find out it was closed. But, you guessed it... $15.00 later and CLOSED!!! There was a hand written sign on the door - 'closing at 9:00'. You know what? Not cool! So annoying! If you post your hours on line and people are checking them and going out of their way to go to your place and they just did a TV should stay open as long as your hours are advertised. I had told my friend Erica all about it. So disappointing! I was really pissed off. Besides, I know it's only Tuesday but come on, it's Montreal! One of the largest cities in Canada I think you can handle being open until 10:00. So, I spoke my broken French to this other couple who was trying to go to L'Andecdote and they recommended a place down the street that supposedly had good poutine. We considered it until I saw a restaurant across the street that had fondue and raclette! Cool and different! I love that my friend Erica was game for an adventure. We went for it! It was called "Le Fonderie". We needed a bit of instruction which was a bit challenging with my " barely functional" french ability. But the waitress and I muscled through it and did an alright job. Erica and I split an order of thinly sliced beef that we would cook in broth. We'd each get a ceasar salad, some garlic bread to start with. I had my celebratory glass of delish red wine to go with the meal so I was pumped! We had our special tiny forks and we were ready!
The ceasar salad was very good. Not too creamy and with capers in it. The dressing tasted homemade to me. I sound like such a redneck. It was good cuz it didn't come out of a jar! Yep!
The garlic bread was really good too. Hard to screw up garlic bread. First of all, it's bread = yum. What's that? You put butter and garlic on it? Yeah, ok, I'd love some! Incidentally I love garlic but both Erica and I could've chewed an entire pack of Clorets and not gotten rid of our garlic breath. Maybe not the best move when shmoozing with other festival peeps. Yikes!
Our beef came out...
I liked the beef but didn't love the beef. (That's what she said) I liked it because it was thin. I don't like thick chunks of meat. (That's what she said) It just didn't taste awesome. It was very bland and I know it's supposed to be somewhat bland because you dip it in sauce but maybe it's just that it might not be the best quality or cut of beef. Probably not. Anyway, the sauces were pretty cool! The other thing I noticed that I didn't love was that after you cook the beef in the broth, it's wet. Then you dip it into the sauce, wet so the sauce doesn't stick to it that well. Holy! That might be one of the worst "first world problems" I've ever said!
I don't remember all the different types of sauce but I do remember pesto, garlic, red pepper, ketchup, dijon and one other. It's served with potatoes which was nice. I love sauces!! I think they also serve raclette there but I couldn't understand the menu. haha. I've got to brush up on my french! It was a cool, different, Montreal experience. I'd go back for sure and try to figure out how to order Raclette! Oh, and maybe try to go back to "L'Andecdote", even though I'm still mad at them.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Ottawa food scene is booming!

Ottawa food! I feel like I've been eating out a lot lately. Like too much. But loving it, don't get me wrong. I know, I know, first world problem! It was a friend's birthday so a bunch of us went out to dinner at a restaurant that is getting a lot of buzz in Ottawa called "Supply and Demand". The other bonus about it is that my friend Shannon Smithers (@one80design) did the design for the restaurant. She did an awesome job. Beautiful space! I am not going to lie, the menu was a little intimidating for me. I feel like I am pretty informed and cultured but this menu made me feel like a bit of a dummy. I am ashamed to admit that I could've used a glossary for some of the terms on the menu. Yikes. How uncooth! (is that how you even spell it?) I ordered what I knew. I got some oysters on the half shell. Three different kinds from three different places. It came with a red wine vinagrette, a pickle juice and fresh horseradish. Two were small, one a biggie! The big oysters gross me out a bit because I don't want to chew too much. Even though I like oysters the texture freaks me out a tiny bit if it's in my mouth for too long. There was mention that oysters are an aphrodisiac. I don't know if that's a myth but I think if anyone's willing to put something like an oyster in their mouth they are game for many things - ie. sexually. Get it?
I got the Kale salad as my main. It had a caper vinagrette, manchego cheese and bacon. It was DELICIOUS. The manchego looked like snow on top of fresh kale generously doused in a flavourful, garlicky dressing and with a nice, good quality bacon. Excellent and healthy!
My sister ordered the albacore tuna crudo with lemon truffle oil, puffed rice and young cilantro. Crudo means raw. (I googled it) Holy crap this tuna was insanely good. Really! I would never have tried it because, like I said, didn't know what crudo was and I don't like truffle oil. At least I thought I didn't. I guess I do if it's used the right way. The puffed rice tasted nutty and was the perfect compliment to the tuna. I wouldn't have known it was rice if you hadn't told me. I didn't know rice could taste like that with that kind of texture.
I split two desserts with my sister. We got a cream puff with raspberry curd, liquid cheesecake and fudge glaze. It was amazing! So fresh and bursting with tart and sweet flavours. The other was a meringue with strawberry, rhubard, and cream. It sounds and looked weird but it was really really tasty. Lighter than the cream puff but similar in terms of tangy and sweet. It was the kind of dessert that, even though you might be full you could keep eating because it was light but full of flavour. A fun bonus to the night was that the Montreal Chef, Chuck Hughes (of Food Network fame) was there with some friends to have a meal. My sister is a huge fan so I asked him if he'd take a picture with us. He was very sweet, down to earth and seemed genuinely interested in chatting with us. Although who wouldn't be like that if two charming Grant sisters came up gushing about you and wanting to take a photo with you??? He was in town for a book signing and was on his way for his last of several meals that day to El Comino on Elgin Street. He told us that Ottawa's food scene is booming and he's super impressed with it.
Supply and Demand is the kind of restaurant that I will go back to with confidence to order the unknown because you can just tell they are exceptional at whatever they do. Everything was outstanding. It's easy to be intimidated by a menu when you have never tried some of the items or even know what some of the words mean. Sigh. Embarassing. BUT if you know the restaurant is really good it's less scary and delicious. A delicious risk (good name for a restaurant. Or maybe you don't want 'risk' in the name of your restaurant, even if it is delicious). Coincidentally, I happen to find myself at Elcomino's taco take out window for a quick lunch today. I'm talking quick. My sister treated me to a $4.00 taco! $4.00! So inexpensive. Mcdonalds is probably more expensive and not exceptional, with sustainable fish and fresh creative ingredients. I got the crispy fish taco. It was really really good. It's always an accomplishment in my books if you can fry something and it's not heavy. It was light, with avocado some kind of creamy sauce, radish and not shy with the jalapenos! I can't wait to go there for a full, sit down meal!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My trip to New Brunswick!

Have you ever heard of Cap-Pele? ... didn't think so... Cap-Pele is just outside of Moncton, NB. From what I read on line, it is rich in Acadian history and has a lot of smoke houses, fishing boats, beaches. But we went for the FRIED CLAMS. A small, unassuming place called Chez Camille has picnic tables outside and you order inside, pay, they call your number and you go grab your food. Don't expect a tip if I am doing that much, okay? Just kidding. (I'm not kidding).
There was a smallish selection of fried fish, shrimp, scallops and clams. I ordered the clams because when in Cap-Pele, right?
I ordered a large fried clam platter with fries to share with the BF. It was WAY too much food. Could only finish half between the two of us. It was good but I found it to be too much batter. I don't like it when the batter outweighs the thing inside. The thing inside is why I ordered it. Here's a picture -
It came with coleslaw. I love coleslaw. The vinegar kind is my favourite but if it's not too creamy or heavy I like that "other" kind too. I love it when there are different options in different regions of Canada. For instance they had a gingerale I had never heard of before - "Sussex Gingerale!" Look at it - Have you ever seen it before? It was good. Not too sweet...
I wrote a blog about fried clams in NB at another place about a year ago called "the Lobster Deck". Sorry Chez Camille but I liked the Lobster deck better. Less greasy and less batter. To each his/her own though... We travelled an extra distance to get to Cap-Pele to have these clams because my "sister-in-law" (it's in quotes because I am not technically married. Just common law. "Sister-in-law-common-law" seems too wordy) ... anyway, Chez Camille was her favourite place. Do I really want to officially marry into a family that has sub par taste in clams? I'm lol-ing over here. When we first got to Moncton we had a big family dinner at a Japanese restaurant called "Osaka". I had been there once before and it was good and fresh so I was looking forward to going back.
We had a private room for our group which was really nice. However when we got there a very young baby was crying really loud for a really long time. Come on. I know some of you will be mad at me because I am child-less but seriously? Your baby is like two seconds old and clearly did not leave the womb only to go out to a random restaurant while you eat a California Roll. Go home, make some shepards pie or something and cuddle your infant. Before you get too upset, my "sister-in-law" who has a kid completely felt the same way. She went as far to say that she left the house so she didn't have to listen to crying. Burn! Take that! Even the server was saying sorry as she closed our sliding door to our private room. I felt a little bit like I was in the first class section in the restaurant. Where's my hot towel?? We all decided to order various items and share them. We got so much food. I ordered a Japanese beer called Kirin Ichiban because I am extremely cultured. It's probably not a cultured choice at all. It tasted like coors light. Ironically it was served with a Coors Light glass. A Japanese person would probably see me drinking that and call me a peasant.
The meal started with the miso soup and garden salad with ginger dressing. Love the ginger dressing but this one tasted like they made it more "palatable" to the Moncton people because I could taste a hint of Kraft Italian salad dressing. It's not like Moncton isn't a sophisticated enough of a city for pure authentic cuisine so I don't know.
I could be wrong but... The smaller the city the further away from authenticity. Like in Cornwall, Ontario, when I was a kid, they served french fries with their Chinese food because white rice is a bit out of the comfort zone for red necks. "What is this? It's not french fries, I'll tell you that much." (Spits chewing tobacco and grabs crotch). Someone at the table, we won't mention names... ordered this seaweed salad that came with octopus. I have no desire to ever eat octopus. I am scared I won't like the taste and also I am afraid the suction cups will stick to my tongue. I'm going to be honest, I didn't like the the seaweed salad AT ALL. It tasted ... gross. I don't know how to articulate how it tasted. It was almost "tinny" tasting with a fish undertone. Bleh. Not my thing. This is it -
HOWEVER, the tempura shrimp and vegetables were delicious. Very nice, light and flavourful. I like to dip my tempura in the thin, sweet type sauce they give with it but I also enjoy soy sauce with wasabi. Both are tasty I am just obsessed with wasabi. I love that hot you feel in your nose. My soy sauce looks muddy it's got so much wasabi in it.
I bit into one of the tempura expecting an asparagus but it was... drum roll... AVOCADO!!! Deep fried avocado??? Yes, please. I really enjoyed it but I couldn't eat very many of those. Even though avocado is the "good fat" deep frying it is fat on top of fat. A bit rich. But good! And unique!
We also had a variety of rolls. Here are the pictures. There was a vegetarian, a dynomite, one with eel on it, (I don't have all the names), one with avocado on the outside presented in the shape of a snake, some more boring ones like a California Roll (I ordered it) (maybe I am a peasant), yam roll, etc. All of the rolls were very good. However, there was one of the rolls with fish eggs. I am not a fan of the fish eggs but again, just my preference. Overall, excellent!
We also got fried tofu which was nice but a bit mushy in the centre. I was told by people who had it before that it was prepared better before - less mushy more crispy. But I am just being picky. We also got some edamame. Hard to screw up edamame and they didn't. It was good too.
I recommend this place if you're ever in Moncton. It's very good. Very fresh which might be the most important thing when it comes to sushi.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Gumboot on the Sunshine Coast!

I had a gig in Vancouver and was able to go a day early so that I could have a quick visit with my friends on the Sunshine Coast. What a name for a place! The Sunshine Coast has to be beautiful, right? Yes, yes, it is! 
My friend took me to a place called the Gumboot. It's in a quaint village type area. The entrance is super cute!

The menu has a blurb about where they get their food from supporting local and organic companies whenever possible as well as making many items from scratch. You know it's a good place when they do that! Imagine if a chain restaurant described the origin of their menu items and ingredients? Yikes. "Welcome to -------- Restaurant, we serve the most economical food, usually leaving a big carbon footprint. Our tomatoes come from 25,000 miles away even though the farm down the road grows them because we have a contract with this giant food supply company. Most things are processed with less flavour. The eggs are from chickens that had no room to move around ... None of the food is made with love, it is made like a factory would make things - with no emotion, assembly line type of creating where our cooks have to replicate each dish according to a picture that was sent out from head office. .. etc, etc" 

We each had a beer. A Sierra Nevada. Delcious amber/dark beer that is full of flavour but not too hoppy. I like beer too much probably. 
Erica and I shared a veggie burrito. It was excellent. And huge. I like sharing because most portions are giant. We also shared a side of homemade wedge fries with their gravy. Very, very good. The burrito was one of the best I've ever had. It was fresh, filling, wholesome. The fries and gravy were the same. Awesome. 
By the  time I was leaving Gumboot I wanted to move to the Sunshine Coast and open a restaurant that was as good as theirs. It's gorgeous there.

Thanks JP and Erica for a great time, great food and great company. You guys are the best! 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sushi in Deep Cove, BC

Recently I was doing shows in BC and was lucky enough to be staying in an area of North Vancouver called Deep Cove! Deep Cove is as beautiful as it sounds! It's a small, amazing community with a view of a cove! In that community is a great Japanese restaurant. I used to live in Vancouver and got used to having fresh sushi at a very reasonable price. It was just normal to expect to grab a few rolls for about ten bucks. It wasn't that grocery store variety of kind of hard rice, sitting around for a bunch of hours kind of sushi. It was fresh, made to order because it was Vancouver and that is just what happens there. I really like sushi. I am not a hard core, adventurous sushimi, sea urchin kind of person but I still really appreciate a fresh, well made California roll. I know if you are a real sushi lover you might turn your nose up to a California roll but deal with it ok? There's a little restaurant in Deep Cove called "Osaka". I only stayed in Deep Cove for about five nights and had Osaka twice because it's that good. Apparently they are under new ownership and is much better now. I don't know what it was like before but NOW it is really good! We ordered veggie gyoza, california roll, yam rolls and shrimp tempura. Everything was GREAT! Here are some pictures I liked Osaka so much that I actually tried to order it a third time but it was not open that day for lunch. I was very disappointed. I know... first world problems ... but I was sad. We ended up ordering at another sushi place in the area that was fine but no Osaka. Osaka is just a cut above. There's something about really good food that is sometimes hard to articulate why it's so good. The food was really fresh and the subtleties in the structure - for instance - the yam roll was a piece of tempura coated yam surrounding a freshly made roll with perfect avocado in the center. It was awesome. I want some right now. They prepared their food with care and finesse. I loved it. If you ever find yourself in Vancouver, go to Deep Cove for the view and the atmosphere and stay for the delicious Japanese food at Osaka.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Kitsilano Daily Kitchen in Vancouver!

Yes, as the name indicates - this restaurant changes its menu daily! How inspiring! This is what is written at the front of the restaurant on a chalk board You have to admire the hard work involved in creating a new menu EACH DAY! I love it on many levels. A)everything is fresh that day. B)it insists on creativity and C)it relies heavily on what's in season and local. Love it! While we looked over the menu, the waitress brought over a homemade bread basket with olives, balsamic vinegar & olive oil as well as a bit of sea salt on the side. Nice touch! I really think it goes a long way when you give a complimentary little somethin' somethin' ... Here's another thing that is cool about this restaurant - you can either order things individually or you can have a six course culinary adventure where they surprise you with various local, seasonal dishes. If you're like me, you can say no to anything weird like organs (bleh) or sweetbreads or something yucky. The other thing is that everyone at the table has to partake in it in order to do it. There was not a consensus at our table so we decided to order individual meals but I thought the adventure sounded intriguing. Maybe next time. It was $65.00 per person. Here was the menu for the day : Tough call! I decided on the Northern White Bean and Double Smoked Bacon Soup - Haida Gwaii dungeness crab meat, burnt rosemary butter as an appetizer. It was delicious. It was a bean soup but tasted like a gourmet tomato soup with deep flavour - probably the smoked bacon and burnt rosemary butter. There was the perfect amount of crab. It really was a perfect soup but the BEST appetizer at the table was not mine. My boyfriend ordered the "Slow & Low" Braised Heritage Angus Beef Brisket and it was AMAZING. I can say the consensus at the table was that it was the best item on the table even among the entrees! I am always apprehensive ordering something with a sunny side fried egg on top. I love watching cooking shows like Master Chef and they often have meals with the perfectly cooked egg on top and when you cut into it the yolk perfectly runs all over the dish. Bleh. Sounds gross to me but this meal changed my mind on this. It was so delicious. I could've just eaten the beef brisket only and been beyond satisfied. I asked the waitress if they do the brisket often and she said they don't but that the chef is accommodating so you can email him and if he can get it at the market, he will make it for you. How cool is that??? The Kitsilano Daily Kitchen might be one of top ten restaurants I've ever been to. Maybe even top five. My friend Erica had the asparagus appetizer. The asparagus itself was good - fresh, first of the season but the lemon hollandaise was a little too lemony. It was also $12.00 which we both thought was weirdly overpriced compared to my $10.00 insanely delicious soup with crab! Pretty presentation though! Two of us ordered the same entree - Rare-Seared Heritage Angus Butler Steak - butter poached asparagus, sauteed Island mushrooms, sauce Charon (which is bearnaise sauce with tomato paste) (according to the world wide web - bearnaise sauce is - clarified butter, egg yolk, vinegar, crushed black peppercorns, shallots, tarragon, parsley, salt, Cayenne pepper, lemon juice) I like my steak medium-well which hard core steak people get almost mad at me for which is a bit much don't you think? I asked for it at least medium as a healthy compromise between the menu description of rare and my desire for medium-well. Then I got bullied into medium-rare. Fine. I'll do it. It was very good but not close to how good the brisket was. But it was very good. Again, it tasted fresh, moist, flavourful, but you know when you have something you liked a lot more before in the appetizer? It's a tough act to follow. My friend Erica ordered the tuna and we both agreed it was fine but nothing to write home about. Coincidentally Erica had just made me seared ahi tuna at her place and it was better than the restaurant but that could be because I like the searing style vs the cedar planked style of cooking. Either way, I liked my steak better and I think she was a little disappointed in her choices. Having said that, she said she wants to go back with her fiancé to have a special night out. Awww. Is this getting corny? The Kitsilano Daily Kitchen is the kind of restaurant I love blogging about because they go that extra mile. It is an extraordinary restaurant that does things differently, original and insists on daily creations. Love it. I will definitely go back next time I'm in Vancouver.