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Archive for the ‘hand to mouth’ Category

Matt:  Do you like pupusas?

Julia: Pups? Love ’em.

Matt:  Yeah, me too.

(silence)

Julia: These are a fine example of their species. I find them slightly smaller and crispier than the average Montreal pupusa. Very good cheese-to-bean-to-pork ratio.

Matt:  I think these are the best I’ve had in Montreal.  And at $1.60 a piece, the cheapest.  Two of these suckers is a decent meal.  Three is over the top.  Is it possible to order 2 and a half pupusas?

Waitress:  No.

Julia: Why don’t we just order five and split them?

Matt:  No.  Two each and that’s final.

(silence)

Julia: Can we talk about cabbage now?

Matt:  No one’s stopping you.

Julia: Good. Well…I like cabbage. The cabbage at Iris is much more aggressively pickled than other’s I’ve had. Plus it’s cut into larger chunks, so it’s crunchier. It adds to the generally delightful mix of salty, fatty, starchy, and crunchy that is a pupusa.

Matt:  Yeah, these are great.  And the red sauce is more tomato-y than other red sauces I’ve had and has a little spiciness to it.

Julia: They’re pupusas, but more so.

Matt:  It’s like they took other people’s bigger pupusas and smushed all the flavour into a smaller pupusa package.

Julia: Flavour? Flavor.

(silence)

Julia: Um, so the atmosphere is very pleasant, isn’t it?

Matt:  Yeah, it kinda’ feels like eating in someone’s home.  The only thing I don’t like about Iris is that I can’t have a Suprema.

Julia: They ought to do something about that. You can have a horchata or many other interesting beverages, though. I had a pineapple juice but next time I’m getting a smoothie. They looked tasty.

Matt:  When all is said and done I give Iris five Hands to Mouths.

Julia: Yay!

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Matt:  Can you believe what we just ate?

Julia: Mmmm…uggg….mmmff. Soooo fullllll.

Matt:  So, for $14 we got three Kothu Parotta meals and we could only finish one between us.  Good deal?  I’d say so.  This is some serious poor people food.

Julia: And quite delicious. I guess the “parotta” is the flatbread part. It’s like a spongy, chewy naan that they then chop up and fry with meat, vegetables, spices, chilis, and egg. With lime juice on top.  There’s something dumpling-esque about it, doncha think?

Matt:  Kind of.

Julia:  And extremely filling. This stuff sits solid in the tum.

Matt:  And it is not un-spicy.  Those big chunks of green chili they throw in are hot.  Not un-deliciously hot.

Julia:  Don’t stop not using double negatives.

Matt:  But I am using them.  Not un-annoyingly so.

Julia:  On to the decor/atmosphere. I love the bright yellow walls and the tiny little gnome door leading into the kitchen. It looks like an old diner or maybe a tavern.

Matt:  I liked how they had two radios playing two different stations at once.  And the cook was happy to answer all of our questions, like what the hell everything was.

Julia:  Plus he made me touch a piece of parotta. I liked touching the parotta.

Matt:  I could tell.  Anyway, since we got take-out we didn’t get to enjoy the experience of eating there.  Sometime we will, I’m sure but the fact that it’s only two blocks away and that the take-out menu offers all kinds of free stuff means that this is our new go-to take-out place.  I mean, for $14 we got enough food for SIX meals!  That’s just ridiculous.

Julia: And we gotta try the biriyani! And all those mysterious variations on fried patties of things and breads and stuff.

Matt:  I give V.I.P, which I believe serves Sri Lankan food five thumbs up.  What do you think?

Julia: I give V.I.P. a golden mango award.

Matt:  What’s a golden mango award?

Julia:  It’s in the title, silly. It’s a golden mango that you award someone who gives you something good to eat.

Matt:  That is also what my thumbs mean.  And by thumbs I mean hands.  Hands to mouths.

Julia:  Yay!

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On a Sunday stroll round the neighborhood we picked up a couple of beers, unusual ones in this part of town (Parc-Ex).  First up is Mickey’s, bought at Marche Africaine on Jean Talon.  Mickey’s is brewed in Milwuakee by the Miller company.

Mickey’s

Matt:  It has a certain ephemeral quality.

Julia:  You mean watery?

Matt:  Yeah.

Julia:  PBR-esque.

Matt:  PBR’s better, though for what that’s worth.

Julia:  It’s so bad I don’t even want any more.

The Guinness Extra Stout comes to us from Halifax and was bought at  J.P.A. on St. Roch.

Guinness Extra Stout


Matt:  Wow, what a difference.

Julia:  Mmmm, now that’s a beer,

Matt:  I forgot what flavour tasted like.

Julia:  Did you know that Guinness is actually pretty low in alcohol and calories? People are always like, “Oooh, arrg, a meal in a bottle!” But that’s just cause it’s dark in color.

Matt:  Colour.

Julia:  And it has a certain creaminess.

Matt:  Creaminouss.

Julia:  Creaminouss?

Matt:  That’s how we spell it up here.  This is the Queen’s English, not your mongrelized, bastardized and despised “American” english.

Julia: Eh?

Matt:  I’m disappointed that we can’t get my favourite Indian beer, Cheetah out here.  What’s up with that?

Julia: Just in restaurants. I’m also disappointed that we can’t find Mythos, that Greek beer, in any deps.

Matt:  Fail.  Total fail.  Utterly Fail.

Julia:  (silence)

Matt:  Well, we may not have a great dep beer selection but some good stuff can be had at the Loblaws near Parc Metro, including one of my all-time favourites, Blonde d’Achouffe.

Julia: That Loblaws reminds me of my long-lost and beloved Wegman’s.

Matt:  Ah, yes, Wegman’s.  The last refuge of the scoundrel.  Well, the last refuge of the average Syracustian.

Julia: Syracustian? No one says that. It’s Syracusan. Duh.

Matt:  Since I had to down that entire bottle of Mickey’s all by my lonesome I think I’m entitled to some made up titles.

Julia: This is getting long and pointless.

Matt:  You’re long and pointless.

Julia: Your face is long and pointless.

Matt:  I’m the onyl one drinking hjere.  whty dont you shut op.

Julia: Time for a nap.

Matt:  (snore)

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m:  i love this place.  in fact, i think it’s my new favourite place.  $4 dumplings?  20 dumplings?  yessir.

j:  and the soup! for me, it’s all about the hand pulled noodles in the lamb soup. they’re dense and chewy, but somehow not doughy. love.

m:  yeah, those noodles…  …  yeah…  and cctv never gets boring.  ever.

j:  yeah, it might if we could understand what the heck they were saying! but that brings me to another thing i love about this place – it’s like your at somebody’s house and they’re just cooking food for their friends and family. it’s absolutely delicious, but it’s not there to impress anyone – they make the food that they want to eat, and then we get to eat it, too.

m:  taste is underrated.  why do people make stuff that tastes bad?  or just not good?  make it fantastic, fer chrissake.  it’s not hard.

j:  no, i think it is hard. it’s easier to create a trendy atmosphere and serve mediocre food. some people value a trendy atmosphere. but putting in the work, every day, to make really exceptional food that doesn’t cut corners is hard. that’s why we like lotus bleu’s kind of minimalist atmosphere – it really is just about the food there.

m:  granted, it takes a certain amount of effort to make dumplings in the first place but it shouldn’t be unique.  it’s just effort, not talent.

j:  agreed… (awkward silence)… now back to those dumplings. of the two kinds we ordered (pork and chive, and pork and cabbage), i liked the ones with chive the best. and the chili oil and black vinegar is perfect with them.

m:  i mean, just make the damn dumplings like you mean it.  and not like you THINK i want them.

j:  do you have a secret past full of dumpling related trauma that you’re keeping from me?

m:  i was once tied up and pelted with dumplings but that’s none of your business. nor is it here nor there.   it’s just that a dumpling is such a simple thing.  it stinks to have bad dumplings, you know?  you know?  we could go to, say, qing  hua and end up paying twice the price for pretty much the same dumpling.  now, lotus bleu doesn’t have the variety of fillings that qing hua has but they’re just as good. and there aren’t enough places making them that good.  you know?  just good dumplings like i would assume my chinese grandmother would have made had i been chinese.

j:  first, you’re all talk. make some dumplings like a man instead of kvetching about everyone else’s dumplings. then you can say with some  authority that it’s a “simple thing”. another thing, qing hua’s dumplings are kind of semi-soup dumplings, and lotus bleu are just straight up dumplings without any broth in them. i agree that lotus bleu is far better value, but they’re not really the same thing. i don’t think they’ll ever get blown up like qing hua, either, being out in verdun and not really set up for it. but i think we should discuss the lamb soup, and that strange man who was babbling about “knife cut” noodles last time we were there.

m:  yeah, i think that guy was nuts but for all he was wrong about (montreal was originally english?  ?  because some buildings have english names or text above their doors?) he was right about the knife cut noodles.  at least we have to assume he was because we can’t get them in montreal.  the lamp soup is amazing.  now THAT’S craft.  it’s so much harder to make a broth like that and noodles like that than a good dumpling.  i can understand why virtually no one does it.  that soup is reason enough to go back again and again.  i give lotus bleu my highest rating of five hands… to mouths.  julia?

j:  well, thanks, resident broth expert. i’m glad you’re familiar with the relative difficulty levels of chinese dishes. but seriously, slurping those thick noodles out of the spicy, cilantro scented broth is heavenly. especially when the noodle seems to go on forever. my only complaint is the orange oil stain it leaves in the corners of my mouth. it’s tasty orange oil though. gingery and sesame-y. and the lamb bits are quite tender and pleasantly salty.  i also have to give lotus bleu five hands. also to mouths.

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