Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grumman '78 (Montréal, QC)

1616 Sainte-Catherine St W
Montréal, Québec

Elle has been talking about Grumman '78, a food truck that offered food on special occasions (since food trucks are not legal yet in Montréal), for a long while. We were never able to track it down but lucky for her, Grumman '78 opened a brick and mortar location at Le Faubourg's food court. While it's pretty quite at Le Faubourg, the addition of Grumman '78 makes it a good place to stop for affordable and original food. (We haven't written a post but head to Yuki Ramen for hand pulled noodles).

IMG_0436 (1024x767)
Grumman '78.

After walking around downtown and shopping (what else would we be doing?), we shared a sip-sac of jugo verde ($3), which was made up of celery, pineapple and parsley. Unusual combination of ingredients, but refreshing nonetheless. The juice is served in bags to replicate street food in Asia (or elsewhere); Elle observed with amusement that the juice is poured through a funnel, rather than directly poured in bags by the deft hands of Asian street vendors.

IMG_0440 (1024x766)
Jugo verde sip-sac.

As a general rule, if there is something deep fried, I will order it so I convinced Elle to share a portion of fried chicken ($4). The chicken drumstick was fried into golden perfection and slathered with truffled honey. Now I love truffle, but I find that not only does it often find itself on a menu unnecessarily, but you can't really taste it, just like this instance. Not sure they truffle was necessary. The drumstick was served with a side of creamy potato salad that both Elle and I also enjoyed very much.

IMG_0439 (1024x759)
Fried chicken.

Grumman '78 specializes in non-traditional tacos. Having had it on her first visit, Elle highly recommended the pork banh mi ($4). We're Vietnamese so we can't turn down banh mi when opportunity arises! The pork was roasted to a pulled pork consistency, and combined well with the pickled carrots and daikon. You can't go wrong with banh mi inspired food!

IMG_0437 (1024x741)
Taco Banh Mi.

For our second taco, we ordered the jerk chicken taco, mainly being attracted to the idea of jerk chicken. I should have read the description more carefully because I was surprised to see a cucumber, dill and yogurt garnish. The taco was also stuffed with rice. The taco was good but didn't meet the idea I had of spicy jerk chicken. It seemed a bit more Mediterranean influenced.

IMG_0438 (1024x765)
Taco Jerk Chicken.

On Elle's previous visit, she also had the Papas Grumman, fried sweet potatoes, which she raved about. I will have to try it next time! Our friend E (who has started her own blog) had a vegetarian taco of red kidney beans and feta. If you want to have tacos with a spin, Grumman '78 offers an affordable menu. I like that each item is well-priced so you get to try different things.

Grumman '78 on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Amaranto (Montréal, QC)

5974 Monkland
Montréal, Québec

With no plans for dinner, Elle texted that she craved Mexican and suggested trying out Amaranto. Conveniently, the restaurant is walking distance from my condo so we headed out to try some authentic Mexican fare. Amaranto is located on a less busy part of Monkland Avenue, on the West side.

Elle and I first sat at one of their outside tables but it was rather windy so we went into the basement level restaurant. It's a spacious space with a small number of tables. The kitchen is open so you can see what's cooking. There's also a wall offering specialty Mexican food for sale, such as nopales (cactus) and Mexican herbs.

IMG_0415 (1024x764)

I drank half of my hibiscus tea, or agua de jamaica, ($2.75) before I remembered to photograph it. The juice is made of dried hibiscus flower. It had a sweet and tart taste, reminiscent of cranberry juice. Elle liked it so much she bought a pack of hibiscus flowers to make for herself at home.

IMG_0429 (768x1024)

We were served complimentary tortilla chips with two salsa's. There's no better way to my heart than free food! Even better, when it's fried chips with great salsa's. The green salsa, made with tomatillo and habenero, was my favourite because of its spicy kick but the red tomato and chipotle salsa was also tasty.

IMG_0419 (1024x758)
Tortilla chips.

Elle and I decided to share a starter and ordered the cazuelita de queso fundido with chorizo ($8.25). When we topped a soft tortilla with the Oaxacan cheese mixture, the cheese was ooey-gooey, stringy and stretched for miles it seemed. The combination of the cheese and chorizo reminded me of pizza topping. How could one go wrong with that?

IMG_0424 (1024x721) IMG_0425 (1024x768)
Cazuelita de queso fundido with chorizo.

Elle was very intrigued by the avocado soup ($4.99). The soup was as delicious as it was unique. Made of chicken stock, the soup had a generous amount of avocado purée in the middle, was dotted with pomegranate seeds and topped with crispy tortilla crisps. The soup was slightly tart from lime juice. The avocado in the soup was a wonderful and unexpected combination. My favourite part was the little pops of flavour that came from the pomegranate seeds. Outstanding soup and so original!

Avocado soup.

We also shared four tacos de pastor ($9.99). The marinated pork tucked in soft corn tortillas was delicious. The tacos were generously topped with coriander and onion, with a side of lime wedges. The tacos were quite satisfying.

IMG_0427 (1024x768)
Tacos de pastor.

Finally, we were in a mood to try out more new food so we decided to have dessert, and ordered the fried plantains ($3.50). Sour cream and condensed milk were drizzled and cinnamon was sprinkled on top of the plantains. The condensed milk nicely sweetened the plantains while the cinnamon gave the dessert a nice kick.

IMG_0432 (1024x768)
Fried plantains for dessert.

We were very happy with our meal at Amaranto. It's nice to know that you can find authentic Mexican food in Montréal. If you've never had the pleasure of having authentic Mexican food, Amaranto should be your next destination!

 Amaranto on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pasta Casareccia (Montréal, QC)

5849 Rue Sherbrooke
Montréal, Québec

I got back from my BC trip and headed straight to my new condo. I hope to have some before and after posts soon-ish! During the following week, with help from my family, the condo was cleaned and painted. After one of these cleaning sessions, Elle and I went searching for food in my new neighbourhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) - also my old neighbourhood as this is where I grew up. We walked down Sherbrooke and went to one of Elle's favourite restaurants for pasta.

Pasta Casareccia has a great reputation for pasta because it makes its own pasta in-house. Not only is it a restaurant, but also offers Italian goods, including fresh homemade pasta to bring home. We sat down at one of the outside tables and admired the herb planters on the tables.

IMG_0385 (1024x762)
Pasta Casareccia.

Elle and I both started with a Cesar salad ($6) each. The dressing tasted homemade but the anchovies flavour was a tad strong for my taste.

IMG_0387 (1024x768)
Cesar salad.

The menu offered a few pasta and sauce choices that patrons can combine to their liking. In an attempt to have a light dinner, we decided to share the medaglioni di ricotta ($16) because Elle was intrigued by this unfamiliar pasta. The dish consisted of 4 large medallions that we shared.

IMG_0388 (1024x754)
Medaglioni di ricotta.

When we sliced into the medallions, we were amazed by the thin layers of pasta alternating with ricotta and spinach filling. We tried to figure out if the pasta was cooked before putting the medallions together, or if the pasta was rolled uncooked and baked. We couldn't figure it out. We also agreed that it would take a lot of skill to spread a very thin layer of filling and roll it into such a nice medallion. We might have to try our hand at medaglioni's! The medallions were topped with tomato sauce.

IMG_0390 (1024x768)
Delicate layers of pasta.

I am very excited to further explore my new neighbourhood, and Pasta Casareccia was a great start! I can't wait to go back and try other homemade pasta. It's also good to know that I have access to great pasta nearby. This will be very convenient if I ever have to throw an impromptu dinner party.

 Pasta Casareccia on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 24, 2012

Skinnytato (Victoria, BC)

615 Johnson St
Victoria, BC

The culinary highlight of my trip to Vancouver Island came during my last meal in Victoria. We decided to try Skinnytato, a small Polish restaurant, that has quickly become popular since its opening. Trapezista and I met some of her friends for dinner there. While a few tables were free, many of them were reserved, so the owners scrambled to find place for us and another large party.

IMG_0138 (819x1024)

We each ordered different dinner items that included a daily soup, which was borscht on the day we visited. I am not the biggest fan of beets but it's a food I want to learn to enjoy. I actually very much enjoyed the borscht.

IMG_0307 (1024x768)

Trapezista ordered an extra large potato pancake, stuffed with sauerkraut and Polish sausage ($15.95). She seemed to really enjoy her pancake and the accompanying four salads. Skinnytato's menu boasted about its four vegetarian and gluten free salads (two cabbage salads, a potato salad and a beet salad).

IMG_0309 (1024x768)
Large potato pancake.

I ordered the vegetarian platter ($14.95) that included 3 small potato pancakes, 4 perogies and 2 salads. You can select the perogie of your choice, depending on what is on hand. I got 2 cheese and potato perogies, and 2 sauerkraut and mushroom perogies. I absolutely loved the crispy pancakes that were well seasoned. While the cheese and potato perogies were good, I was blown away by the sauerkraut and mushroom ones. What an usual combination! The mushrooms' earthy flavour went well with the pickled sauerkraut. Finally, I also really liked the Nature's gift salad, a red cabbage salad but felt indifferent toward the potato salad.

IMG_0312 (1024x747)
Vegetarian platter.

Personally, a great meal for me involves well cooked food and discovering something new. Skinnytato introduced me to food I was unfamiliar with, and was a lovely way to end my BC trip. In addition, the Polish couple who owns the restaurant could not be sweeter, giving us coupons and encouraging us to check out their Facebook page. If you're in Victoria, Skinnytato is well worth a visit!

Skinnytato Polish Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn (Tofino, BC)

500 Osprey Lane
Tofino, BC

For a nice treat, Trapezista and I headed to the Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn for breakfast. The restaurant offers a killer view of the ocean. We were able to enjoy breakfast while watching waves breaking and surfers braving the rain and cold.

IMG_0270 (1024x767)
The Pointe Restaurant Dining Room.

IMG_0265 (1024x1024)
Instagramed view from the restaurant.

As we sat at our table, we were asked if we wanted juice. Why yes, please! Even for the steep price of $3.75, the juice was worth it. It was a mix of peach, lime and basil and tasted exquisite. With the peach preserves I'm planning to make, this is another recipe I want to try back home.

IMG_0263 (768x1024)
Peach juice.

If you've been reading this blog, you might notice that I order eggs and bacon 90% of the time for breakfast, and this time was no different. Both Trapezista and I ordered the Pointe Breakfast ($19), which included two eggs, housemade Cumberland sausages, a potato rosti and tomato jam. The potato rosti was an original touch, but I'm not sure if I like my potatoes whole for breakfast better. The sausages were very good, and not too fatty.

IMG_0268 (1024x768)
The Pointe Breakfast.

Prices are on the expensive side at The Pointe Restaurant, but you can't beat the view, the food was great and the service impeccable. I think it should be considered a special treat, and we all deserve special treats sometime!

The Pointe Restaurant at the Wickaninnish Inn on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 20, 2012

Cyn at Night (Ucluelet, BC)

1536 Peninsula Rd
Ucluelet, BC

After hiking the Wild Pacific Trail, Trapezista and I had dinner at Cyn at Night. We read about the restaurant on the FEAST! Tofino festival site. We were slightly surprised to find a coffee shop that turns into a makeshift restaurant at night. It took a while for someone to greet us and one of the patrons gave us a menu. No one came to see us for another while which was surprising since there weren't that many patrons. When the server finally got our order, she was very knowledgeable and answered our questions very well. It was a bit disappointing though to see patrons come in after us, and be told of specials that no one shared with us.

IMG_0253 (1024x748)
Cyn at Night.

The menu on the FEAST! Tofino site, which was to highlight spot prawns, was not offered, and no one seemed to really know about it. So we ordered from the regular menu, which changes depending on what food is available locally. Trapezista and I decided to share the scallop and shrimp ($13), served with rosemary bread. I had been very curious about spot prawns and the server informed us the shrimps were not spot prawns but were smaller shrimps, fished nearby. The shrimps were very tasty and sweet and I very much liked the herb seasoning. It was disappointing to only get one scallop for $13. It would have been nice to at least get two.

IMG_0257 (1024x736)
Shrimp and Scallop.

For her main, Trapezista ordered the ribs ($16) which were chosen as the best ribs in BC and Saskatchewan in 2010. She really liked her ribs but the ribs were more on the dry side than a saucy one. I tried her dish and my absolutely favourite item was the homemade pickles. They were just pickled enough to have bite but they weren't over-pickled and so still crunchy.

IMG_0258 (1024x768)

I debated between the BBQ pulled pork and the pulled pork & polenta dishes. The server shared that the two dishes were very different and I decided to go with the Bolognese style pulled pork with seared polenta ($14). I tried the pork first and thought it was under-seasoned. I then tried the polenta, which was generously salted. So I figured if I ate both together it would balance out. The pulled pork was well cooked and fell apart. I really appreciated the originality of the dish.

IMG_0259 (1024x757)
Pulled pork & polenta.

While we felt a bit neglected when we came in, the chef did come out a few times close to the end of our meal to check on us, so that was very nice. Cyn at Night is relatively new, so I think they still have to work out a few kinks. I do love all these BC restaurants  who focus on offering a local menu.

Cyn at Night on Urbanspoon