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Archive for the ‘hand to mouth’ Category

By Matt

Doesn’t look like much, does it?  Little would one know that the dumpling deal of the century is just beyond that bamboo blind in the doorway.  This recent, and welcome, addition to The Pointe’s restaurant scene, located at the corner of Laprairie and Chateauguay streets does mainly your average Chinese-American stuff (fried rice, General Tao, etc.) but hidden down at the bottom of their brief menu are dumplings.  Fried dumplings.  Six for $2!

I may be wrong, but I don’t think that there’s another place in town that does pork and vegetable dumplings this cheap.  There was no choice in how to have them done but I wonder if maybe they would consider boiling or steaming them if requested.  As far as the dumplings themselves they were actually pretty good.  Nice pork and cabbage flavour with carrot and onion among, I’m sure, other things that I couldn’t pick out.  And for $2?  Ridiculous.  If you live in The Pointe you’ve got a new, ultra-cheap dinner or lunch option.

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by Matt

I’ve had my eye on this place since we moved to Parc-Ex a year ago.  You never know where you’ll find that little gem that may end up being the best of its kind in all of Montreal.  Is Sicily Pizaa Halal one of these rare gems?  Decidedly no BUT it was better than I thought it would be.  I figured that while I was up on Ogilvy groce-ing at Marche J.P.A., Parc-Ex’s best source for good feta, I should finally do my duty and report back.  Once again Julia was at work and since Ben (Franklin) was nowhere to be found I brought along Edward Montague, Esquire author of Legends of a Nunnery, the Castle of Berry Pomeroy, etc. as well as that all-time classic The Demon of Sicily.  Ed refused to acknowledge whether or not he was any relation to the Earl of Sandwich Edward Montagus.  At any rate, he proved to be curious if excitable companion.

Matt:  Well, this doesn’t look half bad at all.  All of the components of an all dressed slice are there.  Cheese, green peppers and mushroom.  This definitely isn’t one of those places that you take your out of town friends to to impress them.  This is more of an “I don’t feel like cooking dinner, I just want something hot a gooey to put into my face” kind of thing.  Which is fine.  In my wildest dreams I had hoped that it would be better than any New York slice and that Montreal could finally claim a pizza equal to those storied Gotham pies.

Ed: (watching a young woman across the street) His dream too returned to his recollection with the dreadful sensations he had endured, but at the same time it brought to his imagination the visionary charms of the female; passion and curiosity impelled him to advance, while fear kept him back.

Matt: Yeah, it’s definitely better than that new Pizza Pizza that just opened up on Jean Talon.

Ed:  Now, Benardo, I leave you to make your election; you have seen the result of a wicked and of a well-spent life, conduct yourself piously, and I will be your friend; act the reverse/ and I leave you to the common enemy of mankind, who will fawn before you to accomplish his dark designs, and finally rejoice over you when writhing in unutterable agonies such as you have but seen the guilty suffer, you toss on unfathomable boundless oceans of liquid fire.

Matt:  Bernardo?

Ed:  Fiend of Hell!  My eyes have seen thy deed, my ears have heard thy speech, look up, before thee stands Ugo de Tracy!  Thou, then art the husband of that Isabella who lies between us. There lies her head, this sword separated it from her body; it has the like office to perform on thee.

Matt: Fiend?

Ed:  Yes, even if mountains had been piled upon thee, easily could I upraise them.  Bernardo! Expect, me here to-morrow at midnight. Let not these vain fears prevent thee from profiting by my condescension.

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by Matt

I got a chance to hit up Atwater Market recently and since Julia couldn’t make it I brought along my ol’ pal Ben Franklin, polymath.

I’ve been in talks with a travel agent to do a Matt’s Montreal Tour with a large group of German visitors in September so I headed down to the market to do some cost analysis.  Turns out bread, cheese and pate for 20-25 people will cost roughly $120.  That’s the easy part, the hard part is finding a place for 20-25 proper european tourists to eat all of it.  Come Fall I hopefully shouldn’t have too much difficulty.

While I was down there I thought I’d check out some of the new stuff going on outside at the north end.  I was particularly excited to try the Satay Bros. Malaysian stand but it being a Tuesday they were closed so I had to “settle” for a lobster roll from the Homard des Iles kiosk.

Matt: This looks to be a pretty decent Maine-style lobster roll but with real mayo rather than the Miracle Whip Julia and I had at the Two Lights lobster shack in Cape Elizabeth.  Nice garnishes, too.  We’ve got some chive, red onion, celery and even some anise seed.

Ben:  “New England rum,” in the olden time, was as universal an article, from Maine to Georgia, as Monongahela whisky is now, and far more generally used.

Matt:  I hear you, Ben that would be a nice touch.  There’s hardly anything more appetizing than a nice glass of liquor and a good rum would sure enhance the maritime theme.  I really like the celery, it adds a nice, fresh, green aspect that I haven’t had in a lobster roll.

Ben:  I turned and went down Chesnut-street and part of Walnut-street, eating my roll all the way, and, coming round, found myself again at Market-street wharf, near the boat I came in, to which I went for a draught of the river water; and, being filled with one of my rolls, gave the other two to a woman and her child that came down the river in the boat with us, and were waiting to go further.

Matt:  That’s very generous of you.  Well, I’m still hungry.  It’s a good thing we picked up this Si Pousse sausage A la Biere Noire de Montreal and this Marco Birch beer to wash it down with.

Ben: I found at my door in Craven-street, one morning, a poor woman sweeping my pavement with a birch broom; she appeared very pale and feeble, as just come out of a fit of sickness.

Matt:  That’s a pretty good description of this Marco birch beer, Ben.  Pale and feeble.  It’s a lot like their spruce beer, vaguely tasting of birch and too sweet.  I prefer Bertrand’s spruce beer anyday but I at least give Marco marks for making a birch beer at all.  You don’t see that everyday.

Ben:  From my example, a great many  left their muddling breakfast of beer, bread, and cheese, finding they could with me be supplied from a neighboring house with a large porringer of hot water-gruel, sprinkled with pepper, crumbled with bread, and a bit of butter in it, for the price of a pint of beer, viz., three half pence. This was a more comfortable as well as a cheaper breakfast, and kept their heads clearer.

Matt:  Tell me about it, I’m running up quite a bill here.  Lobster roll: $12.50, birch beer: $2.50, sausage: $5.  That’s $20 for breakfast.  Mind you I do have some left-over sausage, which was quite good, to munch on later.  I could have saved some money by not getting a lobster roll, I guess but I really wanted one.

Ben:  If then a way can be proposed, which may tend to efface the memory of injuries, at the same time that it takes away the occasions of fresh quarrels and mischief, will it not be worth considering, especially if it can be done, not only without expense, but be a means of saving?

Matt:  Sure.

Matt: Well, thanks for coming out with me today, Ben.  I had a great time as usual.  You’re always pleasant if occasionally ribald company.

Ben:  I think I never knew a prettier talker.  Many pleasant walks we have had together on Sundays in the woods, on the banks of the Schuylkill, where we read to one another, and conferred on what we had read.

Matt:  And eaten.

All Benjamin Franklin quotes taken from Benjamin Franklin: His Autobiography.

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While it is true that this is a blog that deals mainly with matters Montrealaise, today we’ll take the liberty of writing about something Montreal-related that is located elsewhere, M. Wells Diner in Long Island City, Queens, New York.  In case you haven’t already heard of it, M. Wells is run by Au Pied De Cochon’s Hugue Dufour and his L.I.C-native wife.  They serve, well, this:

If you’ve ever wondered what breakfast or brunch at P.D.C. would be like, this is your place.  It’s super rich, super delicious and really not very pricy.

Now, it should be noted that Julia wasn’t able to make it this trip but she has nonetheless graciously agreed to participate, saving me from having to do a Glenn Gould-style “Matt LeGroulx interviews Matt LeGroulx about what Matt LeGroulx ate” thing.

Matt:  I am incredibly jealous that New York gets to have this place and we, the rightful owners, don’t.

Julia: I am incredibly jealous that you got to eat it at all. Especially since the time we tried together, it was closed for the holiday, and all I could do was peer sadly in the window.

Matt:  Yeah, I was pretty bummed.  At least I had that bag of smoked fish from Acme to keep my company.

Julia: And it was good company.

Matt:  Indeed.  But you know what would have been better company?  Tourtiere!

Julia: You’re right. As loving as the embrace of a smoked fish can be, that looks like something I just want to dive into.

Matt:  Well, you’re being a good sport.  A gooder sport than I thought you would be.

Julia: I’m hiding the fact that I’m very, very angry. And very, very jealous.

Matt:  Alright, alright, calm down.  No need to fly off the handle.  Hey, you know what else was great?  The Egg Tomato Pot.

Julia: MMMMM. Is that egg cooked right in the mess of stuff? I love eggs cooked in messes of stuff!

Matt:  Yup, just some egg baked in a pot with tomato sauce, pesto, onions, some other stuff and served with a piece of baguette.  This one is fairly easy to replicate at home, too.

Julia: Yeah, you made us a similar dish for breakfast after you got back from New York, if I remember correctly.

Matt:  You do.

Julia: But this isn’t about your cooking. Tell me what else I didn’t get to eat.

Matt:  Well, Ol’ Hugue was whippin’ everything  up back there his very self.  Stuff like this obscene sausage sandwich.

Matt:  That’s sausage, egg, tomato and home-made mayo.  Oddly enough it was my least favourite dish.

Julia: You mean favorite.

Matt:  …

Julia: You’re a person who doesn’t really love mayo, and who spells things quaintly.

Matt:  Listen, I understand that you’re upset that you didn’t get to go to M. Wells Diner in Long Island City, Queens, New York right off the Hunter’s Point stop on the 7 train but you don’t have to be an Mingy Mindy.

Julia: Actually, I did get to go. I sat on the steps in the slush. There was a lovely view of the Chrysler building, and we had a bag of cold smoked fish that weighed about 10 pounds, and I hurt my toe.

Matt:  And oh my god, that pie!

Matt:  Pumpkin pie.  Really, really good pumpkin pie.

Julia: You’re a really, really good pumpkin pie.

Matt:  And we can’t forget the Elvis Muffin.

Matt:  Or was it the King Thing?  No, wait, the Graceland Cupcake, a carrot cupcake with banana frosting.  Or was it a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting?

Julia: I’m going to go eat peanut butter with a spoon.

Matt:  Oh my god, I almost forgot the buckwheat pancakes!

Julia: I’m going to go eat the maple syrup with a spoon. All of it.

Matt:  Oh my god, I almost forgot the Green Salad with buttermilk dressing, also seen in that last picture!

Julia: Oooo, I love buttermilk dressing. Who knew butter and milk tasted so good mixed together?

Matt:  Ol’ Hugue, that’s who.  I bet he mixes it his very self right back behind the counter!

Julia: Hey, we have butter! And milk! Let’s go make some buttermilk dressing!

Matt:  Oh my god!

Julia: I know, right!?

Matt:  Know what?

Julia: Know about how I’m full of great ideas…?

Matt:  I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Matt:  Oh my god!  That’s it, that’s everything I ate.

Julia: This homemade buttermilk dressing I’m eating right now is delicious!

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Matt:  Wow, these are some frrrreeeeeeshhhh curds.

Julia: Mmm-hmm. Yum. They might be the best cheese curds I’ve ever had. Adorable packaging, too.

Matt:  I didn’t think to ask where they were from but as good as they are they aren’t quite as good as fresh St. Albert’s curds, my formative curd.  But they don’t sell them around here.  You have to go to eastern Ontario.  These are fantastic, though.  You’d better put them away before things get out of hand.

Julia: (turns away, stuffing curds into her mouth) What? No. Go away.

Matt:  Give me those you little doormouse.  This is like crack to you.

Julia's crack pipe.

Julia: (stuffs the curds into her purse) Fine. We’ll have them later. The samples at La Maison du Cheddar were also delicious. There was an aged cheddar, a creamy thing, and an old goat thing. I like the creamy thing best but they were all great. I also liked how the girl serving us couldn’t help eating some too while she was slicing it.

Matt:  Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff here that we need to get.  They also apparently make a mean grilled cheese sandwich.  They of course come with a side of curd.

Julia: That sounds intense. I give La Maison du Cheddar 5 hand to mouths.

Matt:  Yup, it’s like a Hoover Dam for your colon.  I also give it 5 Hands to Mouths.

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First up is Pakola Ice Cream Soda.

Matt:  Wow, before we even taste this I have to comment on the unnatural colouring of this stuff.  It’s bizarre looking.

Julia: I don’t want any.

Matt:  I mean, I know the can’s green but I didn’t realize that it was representative of the colour of the drink itself.  Coke isn’t red and Pepsi isn’t blue.  Pakola is GREEN.

Julia: Wow, that is vile.

Matt:  Yeah, that’s one of the worst things I’ve ever tasted. It tastes like industrial strength floor cleaner.

Julia: It would be medicinal, but it doesn’t have enough bite. It’s more just SWEET. And gross.

Matt:  I can’t drink any more.

Julia: *postscript* We left the Pakola on the counter for two days, in an open glass. Not a single insect expressed interest.

Finally, Camlica, a Turkish clear cola.

Matt:  This is pretty good, actually.  Like Pepsi but not so heavy and syrupy.

Julia: At first it tasted like Sprite, but I think it was the color playing with my mind. It’s more like Coke or Pepsi, but with a refreshing citrusy note.

Matt:  I’d get this again.

Julia: It gets points for neat packaging.

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Matt:  We`ve walked past this place a million times and have always meant to stop in.  I`m glad we did, this is delicious.

Julia:  The pastilla was great. I was starving, but I almost couldn’t finish it. The chicken, almond, raisin, and egg mixture was so rich and flavourful. That guy outside who said, “Get the pastilla,” did not steer us wrong.

Matt:  Indeed he didn’t.  I’d come back here anytime to get another one of these.  The flaky crust is fantastic and while it may be a little dry the mint tea we ordered was a perfect washer-downer.

Julia:  Mmm-hmm. And I know it’s traditionally taken with lots and lots of sugar, I appreciate that they ask. I think the strong unsweetened mint tea we opted for was a perfect foil for the rich pastilla. Sweetened it would have been way over the top.

Matt:  It was a short visit but a good one.  I give Al Iman 5 Hand to Mouths.

Julia: Yay! I’d like to add that the service was really friendly and the woman who helped us was very happy to explain what everything was. Plus they have an ice cream cooler and sell rocket-pops.

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