Akemi enjoys the east coast weather.

Every time I came back to my home town of Montreal, there’s always a moment when I think “Y’know, I could really see myself moving back.” And then the temperature drops, the snow falls, the streets and sidewalks transform into skating rinks, and sanity prevails.  No, I won’t be moving back anytime soon.

Today, the driving conditions were terrible – which is unfortunate given that I had to spend a good four hours in the car running errands.

The view out my front window.

Fortunately, my winter driving skills are as sharp as ever and I was able to gather the ingredients for tomorrow night’s port-braised short rib and ox-tail dinner.  Wonder how my short rib will compare to Chuck’s.

“Chuck?  Chuck who?”you may ask.  Why, Montreal’s own celebrity chef Chuck Hughes whose comfort food and down home cooking earned him his own show, a spot as one of the participants vying for the position of The Next Iron Chef, and a win in kitchen stadium vs. Bobby Flay.  Last night, we checked out his restaurant, Garde Manger, in Old Montreal.

We take a walk through the old neighborhood while waiting for the restaurant to open. Romantic. And freakin' cold!

We were seated at 6:00, ordered our drinks, perused the menu on the big chalkboard, ordered four appetizers, three mains, and all the desserts.

My sister and Daisy order the big Caesar - with the appendage. I ordered some drink that was described as "tasting like apple pie". And, you know what? It DID taste like apple pie. I ordered two!

Apparently two Andria’s had reserved tables for 6:00 and the management couldn’t find our reservation (even though they’d phoned my sister to confirm her reservation that afternoon).  Fortunately, my Andria arrived first and we’d been seated and ordered before anyone noticed.

Our three appetizers: a fantastic lobster poutine, a white beet and stilton salad that Akemi really enjoyed, a super spicy yet downright delicious jerk crab with ginger and lime, and –

Veal cheeks and butter biscuits with foie gras. My fave although I thought the biscuit was neither here nor there.

We elected to do only three mains so that we cold tackle the full slate of desserts: the braised short-ribs with cauliflower puree and crispy brussel sprouts, the scallops with bacon gnocchi and carrot butter, and the rock shrimp risotto with with lobster bisque.  Loved the first two – especially the crispy brussel sprouts! – but found the risotto too tangy. Akemi disagreed.  She loves tangy!

As I said, we went all in with the desserts: deep-fried Mars Bar with vanilla ice cream, a home made chocolate brownie a la mode, fried banana with whipped cream, and some sort of white cake and cream with fruit – and, well, you all know how I feel about fruit with my dessert.  Mars Bar = winner!

Sadly, no Chuck.  Akemi was terribly disappointed.

21 thoughts on “December 28, 2011: Welcome to east coast winter! Garde Manger!

  1. Hey Joe,

    Over the past couple of months I’ve had your blog in my RSS feeds, reading your posts almost every day, and I’m quite surprised to find that as I go about my day to day tasks my mind thinks of Maximus and how he’s doing. I realised a few days ago that I’ve become quite emotionally attached to him. So please give us an update on how he’s doing, perhaps some pictures, and could you maybe give him a belly rub from me?


  2. The big Caesar looks like a drink that would be served in a bad science fiction movie.

  3. I agree with you on the weather,sn**,, another reason I live so far south. I think its only raining back in Van. Will be going to get our new years eve fixins’ probably tomorrow, if there is anything left on the shelves. How is Max doing? he looked so adorable in his bells. I love the restaurant reviews, well I really like the pictures and descriptions of the food. Makes me feel like I am there, thanks for the sharing. Dreaming of mars bars with vanilla now..yum. Have a wonderful evening.

  4. Hey Joe,

    Been super busy later so Merry belated Christmas to you, Akemi, the family, the pugs, foodie friends, book club, writing partners………man you have a lot of circles. And congratulations on the big football league win, now comes the hardest part, the repeat! But until then enjoy the ticker tape parades and parties.

  5. Are you bulimic? Honest, how the hell do you eat all that and not be the size of a Sumo wrestler? Mouth watering most of it.
    You and Akemi do indeed look romantic and cute! Great picture for your next year Christmas cards.

  6. Got back from Miami tonight to find the house a wreck. Mr. Deni will be living in the dog house for a few days. Had a blast with the kid, though! Will catch up as soon as I finish cleaning, cooking, soothing pissed off dogs and doing all the laundry tomorrow, ugh. Love to Max. 🙂

  7. Dinner sounds delish! And the first picture of your shy snow bunny looks great with the blog snow drifting by. Makes me wish a little of the white stuff would come my way.

    Just got back from the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Liked it lots. I like Downey’s Holmes because he’s not as stuffy as the others (though I enjoy the stuffy ones, too). This is one character where I really enjoy the different interpretations, unlike Poirot who I feel can only be done right by David Suchet.

    Been super busy this week trying to clean out old paperwork to make way for new. Today we concentrated on the ‘ship room’ (our tv, computer, and nappy time room 🙂 ). We focused on Mr. Das’ desk area, which somehow extended to the porch (his ‘man den’) where we set up a display of his Lego creations that had been above his desk, and then to the utility room where we had to relocate the picture we had to move to make way for the Legos, and then into the living room where we set up the card table so we had somewhere to sort through papers and stuff, and then to the bedroom where we had to put a few things so we had more room to move in the ship room, and then to the kitchen were I somehow got sidetracked into watering plants. 😛 Things still are not back to normal, but it felt good to purge a bit and organize what was left. At least now I feel like I know where stuff is. I think I even found that old Stargate script you lost way back when, Joe. 😉 I have a lot more to do, but at least I’m in the home stretch.

    Now, the reason I have so much paperwork is because I have this OCD compulsion to save 7 years worth of records, including every bill and receipt. It’s a bad habit and one I find hard to break. I keep it all neat and organized, but I got a bit behind in the purging process. Needless to say, I found stuff going back to the 1990s. It was all in file cabinets, but since I was so far behind it took some time to wade through everything. Plus, I have not only our personal stuff, but hubby’s business stuff…so it’s two separate filing systems. And yes, I do like to over-complicate my life. 😛

    Tomorrow a couple ladies who are pros at catching ferals are going to try to catch my sick cat. I explained her symptoms and they said she would be dead by now if it was antifreeze, so it could be a mouth condition, another sort of poison, or FIV (feline ‘AIDS’). It well could be the later, so she’ll probably have to be put down. I just don’t want her suffering any more.

    Geez, it’s 2 am and I am WIDE awake. The movie really woke me up! I’m trying my ‘wine and chocolate sleeping pill’, but so far it hasn’t worked. I think I’ll try my ‘old movie sleeping pill’ now, and in keeping with a theme, I’ll go with Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock in…The Scarlet Claw. Wish me luck!

    Oh, right. You’re probably in bed by now, ya bum. 😉


  8. The braised ribs sound heavenly, but how does one make brussel sprouts crispy? I could use ideas on how to make them interesting. I’m not a terribly adventurous cook, so I’d never even heard of crispy b.s., er, brussel sprouts. 😉

  9. New Year’s day I usually have a huge pot of spaghetti – the sauce has simmered for hours with meatballs, pork, veal, and sausage. Not so this year. We’re breaking with tradition. I haven’t told the kids yet, but roast pork is on the menu. We won’t have any drinks with lobster claws in them – not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing (I like lobster). Now, I need some suggestions on sides to go with the roast. Ideas anyone?

  10. oh my, the drink with the claw….think I’ll pass on that one. And, I do enjoy libations too. Was your drinkey poo – an apple pie martini? or appletini? These can be very nice. First had one in the Richmond Inn back when it had a bar called Bartini’s. The drink was very very very nice. Did I mention very nice? LOL.

    There is a BBC version of Sherlock with Bennedict Cummerbach (sp) that is kinda cool. It is set in the modern day with texting, etc., worth a try. The new season starts in the UK in Jan sometime and we don’t get it in the states until May or so. Netflix has the 3 episodes now – each 90 minutes. To be honest, I was prepared not to like it…and find that I do.

    Wishing everyone everywhere – Hauoli Makahiki Hou!

  11. @Nola Shingledecker I agree with Maggiemayday. I’d go with some scallops, preferably with cheese, Oh, and a collection of breads, bums or biscuits and something green, let’s see, I know, broccoli!


  12. An apple pie drink? Do tell please!!!

    Is it too cold in Montreal for the foie gras protestors?

    Those desserts sound divine!

  13. Oh God, no.
    Umm, everybody, that should read “breads, buns or biscuits”. So much for the spell checker and it’s squiggly red lines, I need a faux pas checker…


  14. It’s almost 1:30 p.m. and I’m still cleaning and doing laundry. How is it possible to leave a guy for three days and come back to this disaster area? Elway was with his pet sitter at my vet’s office during the day and home at night, and Gumbo and Molly were home all day. The pet sitter came by at noon to feed and let the two out. Still, either Gumbo or Molly (oh please, it was Gumbo and we all know it…) managed to have an accident on the seagrass carpet (it’s a huge one, takes up most of the room). I walked in last night and about fell over. Seagrass is difficult to clean (you’re not supposed to get it wet, but I found a way to do it without ruining the thing), but finally managed it around midnight. I’ve been doing laundry and everything else since I got up, and I’m nowhere near done. WTF? I left this place clean! Ok, break over, see you guys later! 🙂

  15. @ Nola

    Since I have always lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country the only New Year’s meal is pork and sauerkraut. And as far as I’m concerned the less rinsing of the ‘kraut the better.

  16. Barbaro: My Aunt used to make a wonderful kraut that she called “Salt kraut”. Has anyone ever heard of it? I used to eat it with a fork straight out of the jar.

  17. I’ve never understood the appeal of living someplace where snow season is as long as or longer than summertime. And down here folks do NOT handle snow well, even if it’s a powdering on the ground. To drive about, voluntarily, in the stuff for over four hours is impressive.
    Dinner sounded great. My shift is taking over stocking basics, including spices, for the station. I’m hoping that will expand my ability to experiment with more dishes without having to maintain a separate spice and herb supply. Come spring I’m also looking to see if we can manage a small herb garden. first we have to make it through our own cold spell, which looks to kick off next month.
    Thanks for the pics, and sharing.

  18. @ sylvia – I’ve seen the new BBC Sherlock and like it lots, too. The only Sherlock I didn’t care for was one a few years ago in The Hound of the Baskervilles – Holmes was just too…boring. No pizzazz. Not sure who played him, and don’t much care.

    Usually when I watch a Holmes story I am more attracted to the Watson character, which is the case with both the Downey and the Cumberbatch versions of the great detective. I like both Jude Law and Martin Freeman and they both do an excellent job as Watson. Holmes, on the other hand, can seriously irritate me at times. However, there is something endearing (to me) about Downey’s Holmes, I just find him charming in a Captain Jack Sparrow kinda way. Under normal circumstances a guy like Downey’s Holmes would drive me nuts because I don’t do well around hyper people (I tend to be rather subdued in real life), but Downey does this puppy dog thing with his eyes that makes him seem vulnerable, and I am a huge sucker for vulnerable guys…even irritating ones.


  19. @Deni Yikes!

    Brrrr… don’t miss that mess. I’m thinking Houston is too cold in the winter. We only have summer and winter.

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