As much as I love being on east coast time here on the west coast, I find something weird and just plain wrong about getting up before the sun has risen.  It strikes me as inherently unnatural, like fluorescent green pistachio ice cream or the tuck rule in football.  I mean, there’s “early” and then there’s just “silly early”.  For instance, this morning, I woke up “silly early”, but stayed in bed until “early” (the dogs were unusually cuddlesome) and THEN got up.  And I still found time to get a whole bunch of errands done today.

Akemi proved equally productive ahead of her planned four day trek to Yellowknife with friends to watch the Northern Lights.  She thinks it’s downright un-Canadian of me not to join her but, hey, last time I checked the temperature there was a not-so-balmy -26 degrees celsius (about -15 fahrenheit).  Apparently, boiling water tossed into the air comes down as snow.  No, thanks.  Fortunately, Akemi prepared for the brutal cold with a dry run that saw her visit Montreal woefully under-dressed for the winter weather there:

Note the rain boots - perfect for rainy days.  Terrible for walking on icy sidewalks and keeping your feet warm.
Note the rain boots – perfect for rainy days. Terrible for walking on icy sidewalks and keeping your feet warm.

Speaking of Montreal – while in town, in addition to some terrific home cooking (compliments of mom, natch), I also enjoyed some great restaurant meals as well.  Today, I’d like to offer up the culinary highlights (and lowlights) of my holiday grazing in la belle province…

RESTAURANT LALOUX (Restaurant Laloux – Bistro)

Highlight: The 40 day aged Ematimi farm beef prime rib served with vegetables and sauce forestiere.

1The menu states it’s “for two” but it could have served four.  And it was even better the next day, cool and thinly sliced.

Lowlight: My sister talked up the desserts, but we were disappointed to learn the former pastry chef had left since the last time Andria visited. The sweet selection was fine, but nothing really stood out – with the exception of the after-meal, bite-size caneles that proved magnificent.


PETINOS – WEST ISLAND (Restaurant dejeuner diner | Petinos | Montreal | Terrebonne …)

Highlight: I’m not a huge fan of breakfast places, but I did appreciate Petino’s banana-nutella pancakes:

1Lowlight: Their smoothies – artifical-looking and tasting.  Terrible.

AU PIED DE COCHON (Au Pied de Cochon)

Highlight: Well, damn, pretty much the entire dinner.  I’ve never had a bad meal here.  The tarragon bison tongue is always great as are the desserts (maple milkshake and sugar pie!).  I suppose if I had to choose one stand-out dish, it would have to be the headcheese.  Like I said a couple of entries back, don’t let the name fool you.  There’s no actual cheese in it – just head mostly:

1Lowlight: Nothing we ate and more what we didn’t.  They ran out of the stuffed trotters (my sister’s favorite) and have since taken the pouding chomeur off the menu.  Boo!  BOO!



Highlight: Having spent plenty of time in Japan and lived the past 13 years of my life in Vancouver, I don’t have very high expectations for Montreal sushi and so I can’t say I was disappointed.  I suppose if I had to choose a highlight, I’d go with the kamikaze roll, ubiquitous in Montreal but unheard anywhere else I’ve traveled.

Lowlight: I wasn’t blown away by the sushi but, on the other hand, wasn’t enormously disappointed either.


Highlight: Great atmosphere in this dark, moody, cave-like setting that was once home to Montreal’s first women’s prison.  The service was the highlight.  As far as dishes, I’d say the lamb – but, in all fairness, it’s a menu item I enjoyed on my last visit here.

Lowlight: The neon green pistachio ice cream.

GRAZIELLA (Restaurant Graziella

Highlight: Appetizers and mains were all, in a word, fantastic.  If I had to choose one dish…maybe the wild mushroom risotto.

1Lowlight: The service was great – up until the neighboring table was seated and instantly commanded all of our waitress’s attention.  It took us 20 minutes to get dessert menus, then another 20 to be served.  As for the desserts – well, they were very pretty to look at.

KAM FUNG – WEST ISLAND (Welcome to Restaurant La Maison KamFung)


Highlight: I know you think I’m saying this just to be controversial but, seriously, the chicken feet were outstanding.

Lowlight: The siu long bao were too big and devoid of their trademark searing broth.

MAIKO SUSHI (Maiko Sushi Dollard-Des-Ormeaux)

Highlight: Again, I’m prepared to be underwhelmed by Montreal sushi and, in this case, was somewhat pleasantly surprised.  The top roll?   Oh, let’s go with the crispy tempura bits-laden kamikaze again.

Lowlight: Nothing comes to mind.

RESTAURANT PM (Prete-a-Manger)

Highlight: My sister is a regular and pretty much all of the dishes she recommended were great.  My favorite, however was the hot pot chicken with ginger and mushrooms.  It positively sang!

1Lowlight: Akemi and I didn’t fare so well with our orders.  I didn’t love the peanut butter dumplings while the mapo tofu lacked the spicy pepper punch packed by Akemi’s take on the dish.


Highlight: Plenty of terrific plates from mom’s kitchen – eggplant parmesan, fried peppers, fried eggplant, her trademark friendship cake…but my favorite has to be her rabbit. I don’t make it myself and have given up on ordering it when I go out because its invariably dry and nowhere close to mom’s version –

1Honorable mention for Akemi’s highlight,the roasted chestnuts –

11Lowlight: None.  (Hey, I’ve got to go back next Christmas!)

37 thoughts on “January 4, 2013: Montreal’s culinary highlights and lowlights!

  1. Can’t say I’m a big fan of the presentation of the banana/nutella pancake. It looks kind of… accidental.

    Both Mom and her cooking are looking great!

    Arrived safe and sound in PEI for a nice weekend away with friends.

  2. Well now you just have to get all of us a reservation at Mom’s Place. Since you’ve known the chef for so long, shouldn’t be a problem, right? 🙂

  3. yellowknife?! i suggest thermal underwear, hand/boot warmers & better boots.

    here’s the weather for there;

    that reminds me of a globe trekker (a.k.a pilot guides) episode where this guy from the UK went there (he made a few stops along the way) and every person he told that his ultimate destination was yellowknife laughed their asses off. so he finally asked why that got a laugh & was told: “because it’s cold up there!”

    BTW my brother says to tell akemi to see if she can get a picture of a sign for raggedy-ass road. it’s an actual thing.

  4. I vote mom has the best place. Anything Nutella is delicious but that looks a bit much on the Nutella.

    Now that is something I would very much like to do sometime in my lifetime: See the northern lights with my visible eye. As long as there was a cozy hotel to retreat to a minute later.

  5. G’day Joe

    Not feeling so good, so I just glanced over the food pics. Mum’s looks the best though.

  6. Lowlight: None. (Hey, I’ve got to go back next Christmas!)

    Smart man. Never dis mom’s cooking if you know what’s good for you.

  7. The food looks great! But I’ve never understood why people want to ruin perfectly good Nutella by adding a banana.

    @Akemi: You really need to get some warm boots before your trip. I second archersangels’s suggestions: thermal underwear, good warm boots and chemical hand and boot warmers. A fleece neck gaiter and warm hat wouldn’t hurt, either. Take care of yourself and prepare for the cold or you won;t be able to enjoy those Northern Lights! And you might get frostbite!

  8. First off, WHITEHORSE is warmer on average. Secondly, She really doesn’t have to go that far north to see them. Third, you need CLEAR skies. That means even COLDER Temps! Fourth, if there’s cloud, it’ll be stuck there for longer than 4 days and She won’t be flying back either! — Seriously? “NOW’ is NOT the time of year!!

  9. I would prefer to eat at Mom’s Place and go out once to Restaurant Laloux for their prime rib. That looks good. But if your mom is up to cooking, I’m up to eating it. She looks very pretty in those pictures.

  10. It’s great that you can still get mom’s cooking. I have to make all of my mom’s dishes for myself.

    Interesting run-down of restaurants in Montreal (that prime rib had me salivating!), but I can’t say if I’ll ever get a chance to visit them. But then again, this time last year I didn’t think I’d visit Vancouver any time soon and I ended up visiting there three times since April, so anything could happen.

    And on the travel front, it looks like I’ll be back in Vancouver in mid to late February…I’m trying to get Barb to come out with me, but we’re still looking at dates, so nothing is firm yet. I should know more in a week or two.

  11. I’ve never found a pair of gloves that could keep my hands warm enough, but the mittens I bought are awesome. The non-slip work boots (although they do slip on snow, not sure what boots don’t slip?) and extra thick wool socks keep my feet nice and toasty. 🙂

  12. My first thought when you said, “Mom’s Place”, was, aren’t the language police after that restaurant for lack of French wordage? Then I realized you meant, “Your Mom’s Place”…D’uh!

    I’ve been to Yellowknife. It’s a nice city in the middle of nowhere. We stayed at the Polar Suite Hotel. Its nice and clean and within walking distance of lots of stuff. Also seemed popular with Asian visitors. Best place to eat, as I recall was called, “The Office”, for great northern cuisine. While you’re there, you might as well try Arctic Char…best fish on the planet. I’m not a wild game fan but they had that too. Akemi might like it.

    If she has never been on a snowmobile, she might enjoy one of their tours. Those are a blast.

    If she and her friends are there and it gets really cold, tell her that fashion goes out the window and she will need to cover her face as much as possible with a scarf or a balaclava. Layers are her friend and wear wool as much as possible.


  13. *crawls out from under rock…skulks back to December 31st…again*

    3. Read more non-fiction. My attempt to get into the mystery genre has been a failure. I’ve read about a dozen highly recommended books and loved exactly none of them.

    Pray tell, kind sir, in what way did the mystery genre fail you? Not enough action? Slow buildup? Too predictable? Lack of character depth? Stale plot devices? Where, exactly, did they fail to excite?

    I love mysteries – but specifically the traditional British mystery, which tends to have a formula of its own. But it’s that formula that I love (especially in the Victorian to mid-20th century tales). Partly I like Brit mysteries because if there are mistakes made regarding police procedure and such, I really don’t care because I have only a fictional knowledge of how their system works. Mostly, however, I love the village settings, the unique and often quirky characters, and since I’m a huge anglophile (betcha didn’t see that one coming!…wait…an affinity for rugby, pale dudes, pale dudes playing rugby, and Sergeant Hathaway…okay, maybe you did… 😛 )…where the hell was I? Oh! Since I’m a huge anglophile, I love the sheer ‘Britishness’ of the stories, from afternoon tea to cricket whites to travel by train to rainy days and sheep-clogged lanes. There’s this wonderful ‘Best of Britain’ atmosphere that these stories create – a world built partly on fact, and partly (if not mostly) on fantasy – and it just sucks me in and takes me to another place, and often another time.

    I remember reading Agatha Christie books in the summer on the front porch, sipping tea and eating biscuits. It was just so wonderful! So, needless to say, I have this very warm spot in my heart for the traditional, and often the period, British mystery.

    Which brings me to my latest ‘thing’. (Not sure if I mentioned it here – I may have, so I’ll make this brief.) I started reading the Hamish Macbeth books. Blew through the first one, and just today picked up the next three. Having just finished the VERY intense latest installment of the Agent Pendergast series (Preston and Child), I need a bit of a break, and the Macbeth books seem to be a nice, light read. If I’m still impressed with the character once I finish the fourth book, I’ll continue on with the series.

    Okie dokie – that’s all for now! Take care, Joey!


    *skulks back to rock…rubs chin…pokes rock…and curls up next to it*

  14. i’ve been thinking about your suggestion to start a blog…and i’m still thinking, but I might actually do it

  15. All the food looks good. Of course, Mom’s Place takes first prize. Had a particularly good steak burger last night at Buffalo Wild Wings. We were there to celebrate hubby’s 50th b-day early. (birthday is actually Sunday) Then we took the kids over to Gamestop to spend their Christmas money. Can we say Nintendo 3DS and refurbished Wii? 🙂 Ended up not seeing them for the rest of the night.

    Have a great day everyone!

  16. I’ve had a nasty cold and have been eating soft slop. Even the Nutella looks too rich, blerg.

    Does your mom make chicken soup?

    1. @Maggymayday @TammyDixon and @Janet Feel better soon.

      @JeffW If your wife does not want to go with you, I’ll take that ticket. LOL.

  17. Food looks good. Even some of the lowlights! But, chocolate and banana are a no no. Hell, anything with cooked banana turns me off!

    I was at the local farm shop this morning doing the weekly meat and veg shop and saw they had haggis in readiness for Burns Night on the 25th. I’ve never had haggis so I bought one! My girlfriend has already said there’s no way she’s eating it so all the more for me! I’ll let you know what it’s like.

  18. Burrr, sounds cold there! It’s been 20ish/-6C here in the mornings. It’s been warming up to the 40’sF by midafternoon (4.4C).

    Those food pictures look so good. I’d like to try the nutella one. I love Bananas and chocolate. Your mom’s dishes look the best though.

    JeffW: I hope the trip works out with your wife!

  19. P.S. Does anyone have a good Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe? I’ve got a friend visiting soon on a gluten free diet and thought we both might like that.

    Today I’m going to the tea shop to buy more Belgium Chocolate tea and maybe some Coconut Truffle tea. Both are sooo good!

    Plus, my brother gave me a check for Christmas. I’m going to deposit it and see if it bounces (oh, the joys of fiscally irresponsible family).

    I’m a little stoned from the migraine meds today Mr. M.. Sorry for posting again. Is it any wonder that I’m third on the most posts?! ADD & OCD

    1. @TammyDixon I just saw someone in my Facebook feed post something about the best gluten-free chocolate cake EVER in the last few days. I don’t remember who it was. I’ll see if I can find it. Might take me awhile.

  20. @Mike from Canada about yesterday’s post on the radio show

    Re: “I did think it was a bit tacky of the caller to push his own reviews of an unrelated show. I wanted to ask some questions, but naturally by the time I got home from walking my dog I’d forgotten all of them.”

    I listened to the first part of the second radio show. My own take on that first caller was that he has an autism spectrum disorder. My son is an Aspie, and we see that kind of conversation all the time. Plus, the caller’s admission that he didn’t like the comedic episodes was kind of a giveaway. So yes, the behavior is annoying, but yet I was very impressed that said individual is putting himself out in public and doing what he enjoys. And Joe, I thought you were very polite and handled the situation well.

    I realize it is also impolite of my to give an armchair diagnosis of someone else based on one phone call to an interview show. And yet, if we don’t start talking about these kinds of things in public forums, then how do we combat the negative attitudes? Should the person with autism simply state so at the beginning of a conversation, rather than saying nothing and giving the impression he meant to be rude? I really don’t know, but I would be interested in what others on this blog think.

  21. Of the restaurant shots shown, I could eat the hot pot chicken with ginger and mushrooms and the mushroom risotto. Kudos to your Mom, but I will never eat a rabbit. I adore roasted chestnuts and it ever occurred to me to use an iron frying pan. I’ve always used an oven, placed a small amount of water in bottom of pan, covered with foil and baked/steamed them. Now I know an alternative, thanks to Mama Mallozzi!

    Good luck on your cold journey Akemi and listen to the advice to dress very warmly. Enjoy the northern lights!

    I just got a flu vaccine and am hoping I don’t get side-effects. I had been holding out, but recently saw a report about how widespread flu is this year. My stubbornness gave way.

    Basil and Stash kitties wish all a happy new year!

  22. Luckily we don’t have to trek to Yellowknife for northern lights. On most clear nights we just look into our backyard but unfortunately you have to look very very early (beyond silly early) in the morning (~2-4am). As for -26? That’s relatively balmy….just make sure you really bundle up with lots and lots of warm layers–particularly head, hands and feet (nothing too tight). The fashion is to look as much like the Michelin man as possible. Most of all, have lots of fun!

  23. I hope its not too cold for Akemi to get some pictures, but most important, stay warm. A longer coat to cover the bum would help maybe, with big hoodie and you know,,,, I could probably not be dressed warm enough and would walk/or not walk like that kid in the The Christmas Story..ack!! Akemi, have a ton of fun.!

  24. @ Tam Dixon – I have the recipe from my favorite restaurant – Lucky Bones. It is very easy, and very good. Here it is:

    12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
    4 1-oz squares of unsweetened chocolate
    1 1/2 c butter, melted
    1 3/4 c sugar
    1/2 c water
    5 eggs

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    2. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper (I used a 10-inch springform pan since all my cake pans were 8″ & 9″ only)

    3. Chop chocolate squares and place in large bowl with chocolate chips. Add melted butter. Heat water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar in saucepan until boiling, then pour over chocolate mixture. Stir until smooth.

    4. In a separate bowl, whip eggs and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until thick. Fold in chocolate mixture until evenly blended, and then pour into pan.

    5. Place pan on cookie sheet and fill with water (since I used a springform pan, I placed the cookie sheet on the rack directly underneath the rack with the springform pan so that it wasn’t sitting directly in the water).

    6. Bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool and refrigerate for several hours. Dip pan in hot water and remove cake (didn’t need to do this step with the springform).

    Suggestions: Garnish with blueberries or strawberries and/or a sprig of mint and fresh whipped cream. I added just a sprinkle of apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), perhaps a 1/4 teaspoon, if that. I thought it gave it a nice little ‘something extra’, though no one else would have known it was in there besides me.

    Make sure you refrigerate it for several hours before serving so that it has time to fully set up. It’s great to make a day or two ahead of time.

    I think this is a great recipe because you can really experiment with it. Add spice. Add hot chili pepper chocolate (which I plan to do next time). Experiment with different chips – semi-sweet, dark chocolate, flavored (I used dark chocolate chips – it was VERY rich). I may even try to make it with raisins – like one big Raisinet cake! I’m going to try different sized pans, too…especially when experimenting because that is a lot of chocolate to waste if something doesn’t quite turn out. 😛


  25. PS @ Tam Dixon – This cake is VERY rich. You only need a small sliver, otherwise you may end up with a bellyache! I usually cut a two-finger width wedge. I used a knife, but it may make a cleaner cut to use dental floss, a la cutting a cheesecake.


  26. Hey Joe

    I caught the first 2 episodes of Transporter: The Series.
    The first was Trojan Horsepower and the second, written by you, Paul and Alexander called Payback. Neat little series, lots of ‘action’ both on the road and in the bedroom and on the beach 🙂 Not a series for those offended by nudity and foul language. I’m not, so I’ll be tuning in next week 😀


  27. Completely forgot about Transporter: The Series, seems to be doing very well in France if viewer numbers are anything to go by, looks like they have a mini hit on their hands.

  28. @noellam – Ah, the old question of whether to announce an invisible disability.

    The best clue I’ve had is that labels will happen anyway. A person who knows the correct label may or may not treat the person with a disability better, but at least would be more responsible for it.

    The world is changing. I come from the generation where I’m more likely to hear I would stop having the symptoms of Tourette’s if I cared enough. I’ve lost out from that and also lost out when folks fill in their own labels so it was a toss up which is best in my experiences.

    I might be singing a different tune soon, but I’m so far preferring having my son’s Asperger’s known and explained. If the world’s acting like the trend is toward understanding, I’d rather give it a chance to prove itself.

  29. Hi Joe, I am in total agreement about the boots. I thought I made mentioned on an earlier entry but seems to have been lost. They lack warmth and some what dangerous in snowy icy conditions. I recommend a pair of Sorel’s. I have a pair that are some 30 years old. They use the felt liners and the stitching is warn so an application of duct tape has worked well for the past 5 or so years. If Akemi truly plans on visiting Yellowknife, a change of foot ware is a must. I remember my first year of college in the northern woods of Minnesota. While I had a pair of rugged hiking boots and wool socks, they were not enough for -40C or F. And I do not mind the cold like some. Wool socks are great. They are not the old itchy kind. A pair of Smart wool or equivalent are a pleasure to wear. I bought several pairs of wool dress socks to wear in winter, and I consider them one of my all time best purchases.

    Food glorious food! Makes me want to have some. Pitch this Idea, Food at Mamma Mallozzi’s?

  30. -26, that’s it? I just got back from a spa in Vernon that offers a -110C (-166F) Cold Spa. It was so cold, the moisture from your breath turns into ice crystals and falls to the floor. It was only for 3 minutes, but I also did it in my swim shorts! Now that’s Canadian.

  31. Joseph said: “For instance, this morning, I woke up “silly early”, but stayed in bed until “early” (the dogs were unusually cuddlesome) and THEN got up. ”

    And this is how you destroyed the long carefully crafted image of your being a manly man’s man.

    I will never be the same again.

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