Beyond Poutine: Montreal Must Eats

The past few years have taken us to Montreal on several occasions. The very first visit was in seeing  the dear son off for his first year at McGill University. We have been there a couple of times since and of course the last visit a couple of weeks ago for his graduation. Each visit has been unique in exploring this city to its best. Travelling to explore local eats and cuisine is always top on my mind and its always great to get back and document the same in the form of a blog post.

Montreal has lots to do and discover right from a walk upto Mt. Royal, the grand and lovely walk around cobblestone paved Vieux Montreal with the Basilica of Notre Dame standing tall and spectacular as ever in it’s glory, retail therapy down the bustling streets of Rue de St. Catherine’s, or perhaps if you are a culinary traveller like me that loves to browse around farmers markets around the city, like the ones at Marche Jean Talon and Atwater that host various local vendors of fresh produce, bakery goods, meats and cheese.

No matter what grabs your fancy, food plays a key role in exploring and getting to know a city well. Montreal too in its own way is a Culinary haven and the food scene seems to be exploding each year. Now while there is an addition to a must eat every minute and the options seem endless, I wanted to do a quick round up a couple of our favourite places that we discovered over the past few years in Montreal. Let me take you around some great places that I enjoyed eating at and hope you will strike these off your bucket list too.

 

  1. A Hidden Gem:  Tucked away in the interiors of Marche Jean Talon we discovered this small street style bistro that serves a great Effiloche du Porc. This is essentially pork shoulder cooked along with onions, spices, vinegar and brown sugar till the meat is almost frayed. (Pulled Pork) This is then slathered between bread buns or tacos. Just absolutely delicious ,if you are a Pork lover.

2. Reuben’s Deli & Steakhouse: Well  perhaps no trip to Montreal can be complete without the customary visit to Reuben’s, located in the heart of downtown, on Rue de St. Catherine’s. This place is an institution in itself serving up some brilliant Montreal smoked meat and they have a  great variety of steaks on their menu as well. The Deli has been around for over 40 years now and takes pride in serving hand carved meats since its inception. The Super Sandwich which is loaded with 10 oz of Montreal smoked meat is served between rye bread and mustard with a side of fries. And the Montreal style R.D. Ribeye is another classic at this place and has probably been around longer than any other dish in Montreal.

3. The Keg Steak house: This place needs little or no introduction being rated amongst the finest steak houses in Canada. The Keg has some very creative steak entree’s, brilliant cocktails, a variety of Lobster and seafood, Chicken mains and some great appetites too. This place rates quite high with the father and son duo as they are ardent steak lovers.I usually settle for white meat. The atmosphere is quite up scale and eclectic. Most locations around Montreal get fairly quite bust even on weekdays and hence a reservation is always better. This is the Fillet Mignon served with a hollandaise sauce and a Baked Potato with sour cream, chives and bacon bits. A carnivores delight!

 

4. Patio Dining at La Maree: Summer evenings are just perfect for some wine sipping or people watching and sitting around one of the patios in old Montreal offers just that. Amid the back drop of the old architecture ,many patios and restaurants dot the streets of old Montreal.The old town is indeed one of the most vibrant and historic parts of the city. We choose La Maree one evening and enjoyed our dinner and drinks at this lovely French restaurant. They have a fixed menu for dinner and drinks with a reasonanble selection Chicken, Meat and seafood entrees, salads and soups and appetisers too. Not a very gastronomic fare but certainly good food at reasonable prices. Located at Place Jacques -Cartier Montreal.

5.Cafe Bistro El Mundo: This corner eatery located on Avenue du Parc has a great selection of breakfast menu’s, coffee and tea and a fairly great variety of sandwiches, soups and salads.It’s the perfect hot spot for a quick bite for college goers, locals and tourists as well. I love sitting by the window seats with my coffee and sandwich and watching the world go by.

6. La Creperie Du Marche: Another gem of a place located in the heart of Marche Du Jean talon is this wonderful Creperie. They are open all through the year and have an amazing selection of organic and gluten free options. All of their crepes are made with gluten free flours such as buckwheat, rice flour, chick pea flour etc.They offer an assortment of savoury crepes such as the Spinach and goat cheese, mushroom and ham or eggs and ham if you like. The sweet crepes leave you wanting for more. The berries with whipped cream, apple and maple butter and chestnut cream are some decadent ones on offer.

7.Les Moulins La Fayette: And saving the best for last I suppose, is my absolutely fav coffee and pastry cafe. Well if you are a french pastry lover as I am this place will hit the sweet spot and satiate even the most relentless sugar craving.They have a great selection of French style single  pastries  like the Chantilly Cream Eclairs,Macrons, Paris Brest and Opera cakes to name a few. The cafe also serves up some great Viennoiserie which include croissants, muffins and cookies and an assortment of freshly baked artisanal breads. They have a fairly decent fare with a selection of sandwiches, soups and salads as well. Conveniently located near Place de Arms. I love indulging in their pastries and coffee’s especially the Trilogie au Chocolat is absolutely sublime. This place is truly a Gastronomy for connoisseurs of fine foods or so the story goes.

Well that’s it folks. Guess I’ve summed up some our favourite eats around the city.Montreal has been home, well at least for the dear son these past five years and almost ours too. We have cherished every memory during our visits and treasure them in our hearts forever. I have enjoyed every bit of Montreal over the years and the city sure exudes a vibrant, rich and diverse culture that reflects in it’s cuisine. If there is one possible must eat that I may have missed out on is the ever popular “Poutine”. Ah well!

Enough said and written. I do hope I have lured you into visiting Montreal for it Must Eats

The Old Bakery Goa: A Hidden Gem You Won’t Find On Trip Advisor


 

 

Now when you are a baker at heart and by profession and you stumble upon a hidden gem tucked away in a hole in the wall kind of place,your joy knows no bounds. And for a bread baker there is no better excitement than to get lost in conversation with a Poder (Goan bread baker).Well these were exactly my sentiments on un earthing this old bakery nestled in a  inconspicuous bylane of Ribander Road Goa.

This Bakery has been christened as the Old Bakery of Goa for the want of a name as none seemed  to be  displayed on the facade or any signage of sorts. I recall having read about this place on one of the Goa forums as a post from a member and hastily  book marked it as a “Must visit” place.

Visiting local markets gives a great insight into local traditions and customs. The true essence of a city comes out alive by  wandering around these rustic settings  in search of local flavours I for one am a huge supporter of local artisans and vendors and ensure I keep aside a couple of hours to take in the sights and delve deep into history where food seems pure and simple and time is enhanced by a new discovery.I was keen to write about the old Goa bakery in a small attempt to revive this delicious profession before it faces extinction.

 

 

We happened to be driving around the area and asked around for directions. The local folks around this village seemed to keep directing us by saying “Halter” which translated into Konkani (the local Goan language ) means “just a little ahead” or “at the next turn”. Not quite an easy find, but driving down the the narrow and quaint lanes in anticipation of our destination made it all the more magical and worth going down the Poder path.Bread making in Goa (albeit a dying art) is still very much a integral part of the Goan way of life.Bread making is an art that was brought to Goa by the Portuguese. Traditional Goan bread is called Poee or Poi. This bread quite easily resembles the middle eastern Pita bread as it can be sliced into halves and made into pockets. The dough calls for standard ingredients of Flour or a mix of wholewheat and all purpose flour, water and yeast. However traditionally toddy was used for fermentation instead of yeast which imparts a characteristic flavour to the bread. 


This display of Poee grabbed my attention and also because we usually grab a couple of dozens of this lovely bread and bring it back to Mumbai. I often put them into freezer bags and they stay well for months.
Incidentally Pao in Portuguese means bread and a Goan bread baker is called a Poder who has a basket attatched to his bicycle and rides around the neighbourhood selling freshly baked bread. He announces his arrival by honking the horn and is sort of a wake up call in the morning.
There are various other traditional breads such as the Kakan (bangle shaped) Undo (crisp bread ) and Katriche Pao (scissor shaped bread)
I now have  Poee baking on on my to bake list for sure and would be posting the recipe here soon.

Here are some of the Traditional Goan Breads baked by local Poders.

1.Poee or Poi (Similar to Pita Bread)


 

2. Katriche Pao (literally translates into Scissor shaped bread)

3. Kakan Pao (Bangle shaped bread)

The entrance to this bakery is extremely narrow and I waited patiently for the customers ahead of me to complete their bread purchases. I then went forward and stood by a small counter with Ronald (the Poder) smiling and quite amused at my ecstatic behaviour. Probably not quite used to his regular local folks buying bread with such sheer joy and contentment. It seemed to be a family run place. I happily got my stash of Poi packed to bring home and freeze for later use. These breads were warm and fresh out of the wood fire oven. I decide to wander around the place a bit and find mounds of gorgeous sticky dough and then trays neatly stacked with beautifully formed balls of dough, proving patiently till they are well risen and ready to be baked.The atmosphere here is dark,gothic and quite dungeon like , but the aroma of freshly baked bread  wafting through the air is intoxicating and unbeatably the simple pleasures of life.

 

 

 

Viva Goa, Viva Poders Of Goa!

Location: The Old Bakery

Ribander Road

Old Goa

 

 

 

Udvada: The Perfect Foodie Getaway

 

Culinary travel is something that I’m very passionate about. And yes, I certainly will  travel 200 kilometres  away from Mumbai in search of hidden gems that nourish and  feed the soul.Well after all the best part of any travel is the food, right?

One such getaway was a road trip to the sleepy and quaint town of Udwada in Gujarat. The hubs and I are the perfect partners in crime as he loves to drive and I’d go to the end of this earth in search of good meal. En route, our pit stop is  the legendary “Ahura” on the NH8 which serves up some great Parsi delicacies. We settle for some Akuri (spicy scrambled eggs with onions, tomatoes and spices) and some Kheema (Minced meat). Both these are served with Pav (Indian dinner rolls). With our bellies full we proceed on our journey ahead.

 

NH 8, Amboli, Tal. Dahanu, Dist. Palghar | 14 km after Charoti Toll Booth on NH 8 while driving to AhmedabadDahanu 401601, India
+91 97665 12512

We arrive at our destination late afternoon. Now Udvada is a small town in Gujarat and home to   famous for its Zoroastrian Atash Behram,probably the oldest place of worship for Parsis. The drive from Mumbai is about 3 hours  making it a  quick weekend getaway from Mumbai and quite a foodie haven. This quaint town spells old world charm. Perhaps even a sleepy old town with a population of no more than 10,000 inhabitants and mostly Parsis.It is said that the name ‘Udvada’ was derived from ‘uth vada’ which means ‘grazed by camels’.This was our getaway a couple of months ago. Just right for an overnight trip to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. We decided to stay the night at a the Globe Hotel as this came  highly recommended by friends.

 

Globe Hotel Udvada:

Udwada Road, Near Pundole Agyari, Udvada, Gujarat 396180 

 0260 234 5243

 

This place is  every bit old world and a “no frills” kind of place. It’s nice to see the owners around the property and taking good care of their clients. We opt for an air-conditioned room which is simple and just right for just the night. Having checked into our hotel we decided that the best way  to explore this town is to take  a walk around. The roads are fairly isolated as it is quite lateen the afternoon and perhaps a time for siesta.We pass by some fairy tale cottages and sandal wood vendors on our way to the fire temple.

Some Must Do’s in Udvada:

  1. Fire Temple:

 

Quite rightly coined as the Mecca for Zoroastrians as it home to the “Atash Behram” s the most sacred of the Zoroastrian fire temples in India and the oldest continuously burning fire-temple fire in the world. Since only Parsis’s are allowed into the fire temple, I was quite happy taking pictures from the outside. It is said that the name ‘Udvada’ was derived from ‘uth vada’ which means ‘grazed by camels’.

2. Goodies from the Irani Bakery:

Nestled in one of the by lanes, we discover this lovely bakery and decide to buy some Mawa Cakes, Brun pav and Khaki biscuits as food souviniers to share with the family back home.
3. A walk on the beach and wandering around the city:
The beach turned out to be quite rocky and we just about managed to take a short walk but this, and all the trotting around the town does our appetite good. We get back to our hotel in time for an early dinner. One that I’ve been waiting for. The food is cooked in the hotel kitchen on the premises. The gastronomy arrives and at first seems like a large spread for two. All though we do land up doing full justice to our meal.
5. A Parsi Meal at Globe Hotel:
Our meal consists of:
  • Fried Boi ( Local Fish)
  • Fish Curry
  • Parsi Gosht Ni Curry (Mutton Curry cooked with potatoes)
  • Rice
  • Chappatis ( Indian wholewheat bread)
  • Kachumbar ( fresh salad with Onions,tomatoes and fresh coriander))
  • Hand churned ice cream ( sadly no pic, but was delicious)

We decided to head back to Mumbai early next morning.This trip turned out to be exactly what the foodie in me hoped for. I can happily check it off my to-do list around Mumbai. I do hope I have enticed you to discover Udvada and revel in some Parsi gastronomy.

Bon Appetite & happy travels! I’m working on my blog post on my recent trip to Montreal. Can’t wait to share my Culinary sojourn.

 

 

Sri Lanka: Sights & Flavour’s around Galle plus a Culinary Workshop

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Our  holiday earlier last year to Galle, turned out to be an unplanned and delightful Culinary trail as it were to be. The dear hubs was travelling to Bentota, Sri Lanka and messaged me if I’d like to  join him in Colombo for a couple of days. Perhaps a quick getaway from there on was what was so needed.Well most certainly yes, was my answer. I call it the only joy of being an empty nester.With the dear son being at University, it’s great to be able to do these quick getaway’s  out of Mumbai.

Having spent a couple of days in Colombo, I was ready for our drive to Galle ( pronounced as Gawl) which is a three-hour drive and a beautiful one too. As we drove into the city I was pleased to discover this  ex Dutch Colony, is by the beach coast with some spectacular views. It is no no surprise that our hotel too overlooks the Arabian Ocean and would promise us numerous Kodak moments. We arrive at the Jetwing Lighthouse property and hurriedly settle into our rooms as we have realized there’s going to be lots to discover amidst sand and sea. I love the view from our room and now can’t decide whether to just sit by the verandah and watch the waves pound against the rocks and frolic in some idyllic or head out and discover more. Continue reading