J’ai venu, j’ai vu, j’ai mangé

Yoooo. It’s been a long time. To tell the truth, I was getting pretty bored of just writing about what I was eating. So I’ve got to come up with some other ideas that will make me excited to update and write.

I just got back from Montreal. Originally, Ryan and I were supposed to go – I found out about the Osheaga festival earlier this year. The lineup looked amazing, AND it was in Montreal. I’d never been before. Instead I ended up going with my lady friends and we had a blast. Angel, Lindsey, Laurea, and I drove up from Brooklyn, and Robyn flew in from London to meet us there. We rented a house in the Plateau neighborhood, in between the two main streets St Laurent and St Denis, so we were right in the middle of a lot of action.

Analog memories
Fresh juice at Jean-Talon
A photo for Wessel

The first night, we ate at Le Comptoir, which I found on Chowhound and also a suggestion from Andrew (my chef friend from Toronto – who will now be working at a Momofuku restaurant. Woot!) It’s a small wine bar with shareable platters, and we ordered a bottle of [insert Frenchy red wine here] and a few dishes to share. We had a great waiter – we just told him we wanted the charcuterie board and three of their best non-meat dishes, and he brought us a lobster dish, beet salad, and and octopus dish.

Charcuterie board at Le Comptoir

Lobster dish at Le Comptoir

It was a great meal to start off the trip. We asked him about some local non-touristy spots and he suggested a bar called Big in Japan, as well as Lawrence, which was another one of our picks.

We headed to Big in Japan after dinner, which was behind a nondescript door next to an all-night rotisserie chicken joint. There was a long, hot & humid hallway where a small line had formed. The doorman had one of those hipster handlebar mustaches….you see where this is going. Inside was a maze of bartop lined with little candles, sake and whiskey hanging from the ceiling, and pretentious hipster servers prancing around in black and white. We ordered some cocktails (cheap by NYC standards) and they were pretty lackluster. We stayed for a round and met Robyn at a dive near our house.

Big in Japan wasn't big with us

The next day we woke up early and headed to St Viateur Cafe – one of the two famous Montreal bagel spots. We’d been told to try both. I had an $11 bagel in the traditional style – lox, cream cheese, tomato, onion, capers. I shared it with Robyn, who ordered the smoked meat and mustard bagel. They came with salads so we ordered three bean and crab. The three bean salad was from a can and the crab was basically pollock with red food coloring. Awesome! The bagels themselves were fine – I’ve had the same at Mile End in Brooklyn. The general consensus: no need to eat any more bagels.

We then headed to Marche Jean-Talon, which is a famous farmer’s market. We bought 24-hour Bixi passes and biked over to pick up some afternoon snacks. The prices were outrageously cheap, and the quality and choices were amazing.


Jean Talon

I bought some yellow cherry tomatoes and split the cost of cheese with Laurea (goat and a stinky semi-firm cow’s milk cheese). Robyn, Lindsey, and Angel bought fruit. Laurea bought chanterelles. We headed home to prep everything and picked up some wine, then ate everything on our back deck.

Snacks from the market

Enjoying our Jean-Talon spoils on our deck
Group photo by Angel

I also picked up some treats to take home, a port jelly made with chocolate and strawberries (good for steak and cheeses) and a jar of salted vegetables, which you can use in everything from soups and gravies to eggs and vegetables.

Here’s a peek at what I was dealing with at the festival:
Shoulder to shoulder ppl

I managed to not eat ANYTHING at the festival. No hot dogs, grilled corn, or any meat made transportable by bread. I was proud of myself! I did manage, however, to ingest a disgusting amount of Red Bull. And beer. And vodka.

The best meal by far was on Saturday night at Lawrence. We stumbled in after being herded like sheep through the Biodome at around 5:40pm with no reservations, and they were able to accommodate us. Really cute place with simple, outstanding food:

Oysters at Lawrence
$1 oysters until 7pm

Chicken liver tart at Lawrence
Liver tart – I was expecting more of a pate type dish but was geeked to get this instead. Flaky crust filled with buttery leeks and topped with savory organs. Seriously my favorite dish of the meal.

Marinated salmon, potato pancake at Lawrence
Just your typical marinated salmon with potato pancake. Well done but nothing special.

Lobster, potatoes, radish at Lawrence
Lobster with radish and potatoes – great combo of flavors.

Duck ham, melon, cheese, mint at Lawrence
Duck ham with melon and cheese. Again, great flavors! Salty, sweet, creamy all in one. We had two non-meat eaters in our crew so…more for us!!

Narf fest
Miam miam miam…

Agnolotti with green beans and chanterelles at Lawrence
Agnolotti filled with potato and mint and topped with a thin brothy sauce. Green beans. Chanterelles.

Grilled ox heart at Lawrence
Grilled ox heart with beets, radish, greens, onions… Another winner. Steaky and earthy – really simple and good! I’d never had ox heart before and it is just like eating beef.

Dessert at Lawrence
For dessert we had Baked Alaska and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Pudding. I have to say the pudding was my favorite. I love anything custardy and creamy!

By and large/head and shoulders above…the best meal I’ve had in a really long time. And super reasonably priced, considering we each got a cocktail and a glass of wine.

It was really hard to fully enjoy the city and all it has to offer while also trying to make it to the festival in time to see the bands we wanted to see. But we managed to pack in a lot of things in our short visit. Bands, the Biodome, biking, shopping, after parties with performing bands, Club Super Sexe (yes, we did it), and a short jaunt into old Montreal.

More pics from me and Laurea via Flickr – check out our sets for the full experience! Angel’s to come next year (love you, Na!).

Next time I will bring Ryan and we will eat the shit out of smoked meat and more Lawrence and Joe Beef and Schwartz’s and then bike it off before heading to microbreweries and drinking ourselves silly.

A bientot!


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