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My Montreal Bites: Bagels and More

November 11, 2018

A few bites from our trip to Montreal a year ago…

Montreal is so much more than bagels and poutine.  That said, you can’t miss out on some of the best from St. Viateur and Fairmount Bagel’s.  These are made around the clock 24 hours a day so you can always find a fresh one at one of the many St. Viateur locations around Mile End.  But for my favorite, Fairmount pulled ahead in the race with just a touch chewier and sweeter dough.

The wait at Fairmount can be brutal at times but the best part is being able to discover a red sauce joint right next door, Drogheria Fine.

The bottles after bottles of the homemade sauces might be hard to bring back with us to the US but we definitely indulged in a container of the delicious pillowy gnocchi covered in that delicious sauce.

As for poutine, La Banquis might be the most famous one but if you don’t want to wait in line, check out Ma Poule Mouillee right across the street.

This casual Portuguese style restaurant has a delicious secret hidden on the menu of rotisserie chicken and that is an enormous plate of fries topped with dark meat chicken, chorizo, and cheese curd all enrobbed in rich gravy.  And if you are in the mood for more than just fries for dinner, the chicken platters here are possibly the best deal in town.

As for other must eats, Schwartz’s should be on the Mile End food crawl.  Of course, the line can be daunting at the famous smoked meats shop but the key is to order everything to go and steal a seat at the benches across the street to enjoy the fatty salty overstuffed sandwich.

Another favorite spot of mine in the Mile End neighborhood is a little bakery Patisserie Kouign Amann.  This unassuming spot was the first place that introduced me to kouign amann so many years ago and I am forever grateful.

Get there early to avoid the line (why is there always a line?) and hopefully you will get slice fresh out of the oven.  Buttery and decadent, this lightly sweetened breakfast pastry was so good that we went back for another immediately after.  Of course, the almond croissant there is also a beauty so don’t miss out.

And finally, if you are in the mood for some of the best burgers (and who isn’t), please stop by Mile-Ex.  This causal hip neighborhood spot is a great place to stop by for a beer and a bite to eat.  Located on a quiet street in the neighborhood tucked just west of Little Italy, Mile-Ex focuses on sophisticated street food and boy does it do it well.

The Motherf *** er burger comes in single, double or triple.  As hard as I petitioned, we ultimately settled on a double for a happy medium.  The fatty unctuous patties were accompanied by crispy salty bacon, pickles, melty cheese and spicy mayo.  It has the signature of a perfect burger and did not disappoint.

Saving room for the grilled squid and merguez roll was a smart move.  A spicy merguez came wrapped completely with lattice cut squid, fooling the eyes initially.  Now this is brilliant twist made for a fabulous hot dog that we inhaled quickly, munching in between bites on fantastically fried hand cut fries.


St-Viateur Bagels | Multiple Locations |

Fairmount Bagels | 74 Avenue Fairmount O, Montréal, QC |

Drogheria Fine | 68 Avenue Fairmount O, Montréal, QC

Ma Poule Mouillee | 969 Rachel St E, Montreal, QC |

Schwartz’s Deli | 3895 St Laurent Blvd, Montreal, QC |

Patisserie Kouign Amann | 316 Mont-Royal Ave E, Montreal, QC

Restaurant Mile-Ex | 6631 Jeanne Mance St, Montreal, QC |

My Montreal Bites: Joe Beef

November 8, 2018

I have been waiting to check out Joe Beef for some time now.  And when I wait for that long, there’s usually doubt that lingers in the back of my head filling in the gap between expectation and reality.  What if I have simply hyped up the restaurant in my own head?  What if I end up sorely disappointed in what I find when I finally step inside the doors?  What if the service is off putting and the food not that exciting?  Luckily, these all dissipated the second I found my seat at the bar of Joe Beef, a world famous neighborhood spot.

Honestly, walking by the restaurant, you would never know how much of an international sensation Joe Beef has become.  It took me a while to absorb the feel of the humble Little Burgundy neighborhood which was quite far away from the busy old town area of Montreal.  That down to earth feel carried through into the restaurant, from the cozy decor to the chalkboard written menu that changes daily to the affable bartender who treated us like regulars.

Even though the dining room was starting to fill out when we sat down, we felt like we had the whole restaurant to ourselves.  The bartender patiently explained everything from the French menu to us, carefully describing every last ingredient and preparation.  We were drooling before he even made it to the end and since we had to start somewhere, the unbelievably light fried zucchini flower with tender jamon de veau seemed like a pretty good place.

We moved onto a plate of steamed clams and sausages that tasted of flavorful ocean.

And then the rich plate of seared quail balanced over some of the most decadent mound of mushroom medley.

And of course, a bowl of their beautifully simple yet elegant spaghetti with lobster.  Is there really anything better than a well executed bowl of pasta?

We ended our meal on a sweet note with a not very small pan of clafouti.  Topped with just the right dollop of ice cream, this warm and gooey sweet pudding perfectly encapsulated the best of summer fruits.

There are so many ways to have a memorable meal at Joe Beef.  Even though we weren’t lucky enough to encounter their famous double down foie gras burger on this trip, we absolutely loved every bite of our experience.   Just don’t forget to venture into the bathroom before you leave to have your encounter with the buffalo head staring right at you when you walk in.

Joe Beef | 2491 Notre-Dame St W, Montreal, QC | 

My Paris Bites: Clamato

June 29, 2018

What do you do when you have been repeatedly boxed out of one of the most sought after restaurants in Paris?  Keep trying of course.  But one can only withstand so much rejection before waving the white flag.  So there we were, passing by the windows of Septieme wistfully with yearning but like any good foodie, we already have a backup in mind, the casual seafood oriented sibling called Clamato. 

We arrived well before Clamato even opened for the night out of fear of not being able to secure a table.  That’s what rejection does to you!  Luckily, Septieme La Cave was just around the corner.  A wonderful place for a drink and even a nibble all on its own, it was perfect while we waited for a table.

The seasonal menu at Clamato was full of delicious treasures from the sea.  We started off the meal with some delicious fresh French oysters, complete with crusty sourdough and seaweed speckled Bordier butter.  A no-brainer.

Absolutely unbelievably decadent bites of deviled eggs topped with generous dollops of caviar had us all moaning with delight.  The egg yolks had been whipped into airy submission and the savory caviar was just the right cherry on top.

A few slices of refreshing sweet sea trout and a small tart piled high with savory unctuous medley of mushrooms to tide us over until the main courses arrive.

A beautifully roasted branzino stuffed with herbs and served whole, head and tail and all.  We eagerly lifted the skin to reveal the tender sweet meat below, in its purest form with just the right amount of flavor imparted from the herbs and lemon.

As we were digging into the branzino, our final savory dish of the night arrived and made us forget temporarily about the delicious fish.  Each sea scallop was tied with a delicate string and presented like gifts from the sea.  When opened, a savory steam escaped and hit our noses right away.  What a delightful mixture of scallops, bacon, butter and green scallions!  The sweetness of the tender scallops was balanced by the smoky bacon and the rich butter melted to create a wonderful sauce that I couldn’t resist sopping up every last bit with bread.

Even though we were all stuffed, I couldn’t resist taking a look at the dessert menu and the maple syrup tart immediately caught my eye.  Luckily my dining mates were easily swayed and I was happy as a clam when the tart landed.  Just the right amount of sweetness to end our delightful meal at Clamato.

Clamato | 80 Rue de Charonne, 75011 Paris, France

My Paris Bites: Bistrot Paul Bert

March 6, 2018

Our train from London pulled into Gare du Nord just a little before 9PM which meant that we were actually going to have dinner like proper Parisians.  A quick Uber ride to the 11th Arrondissement and we arrived slightly bleary eyed for our late dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert.

Even though every dish on the menu sounded tempting, I had my eyes on the Côte de Boeuf and there was no talking me down.  Unfortunately, it takes a bit of patience before we were able to dive into the beefy meal so we passed our time with a delicious warm salad of veal tongue and potatoes.  The creamy potatoes were still warm and the tiny pieces of tongue that studded the salad was unbelievably tender.  The bright lemony vinaigrette partnered with the sharp red onions to stand up to the rich salad.  This was so delectable that we almost forgot about our main course.

The Côte de Boeuf at Bistrot Paul Bert was not for the faint of heart.  A hefty serving of the beef was cooked to a perfectly rare at our request with a crunchy crispy crust.  I can’t resist steak with mustard, especially not when we are in Paris, so a side of the pungent condiment was a must.

Oh and the fries, did I mention the giant pile of golden brown crispy frites?  Steak’s best companion.

Of course, we saved room for dessert because the Paris Brest here is not to be passed up.   Touted as one of the best desserts in Paris, we were not disappointed.  The crispy light choux pastry was filled with a generous portion of lightly sweet praline cream.  Unbelievably delicate, we were both a little sad when we realized that the pastry had all of a sudden disappeared.

Full to the brim from the enormous meal, we meandered into the quiet neighborhood towards our AirBnb.  Thank you Bistrot Paul Bert, for the approachable environment to our perfectly surly waitress to the amazing first meal in the city.  Can’t wait for the rest of deliciousness to come.

Bistrot Paul Bert | 22 Rue Paul Bert, 75011 Paris, France

Omakase at Sushi Zo

December 26, 2017

Omakase at Sushi Zo, a LA import just south of Washington Square Park, is a quiet and tranquil retreat.

It starts off with a beautiful plate of sashimi of tuna, striped bass, abalone, Kumamot oysters, and Japanese sea bas.

Then comes a piece of halibut from Long Island with ginger..

and a Spanish mackerel…

… then sweet plump Hokkadio scallops…

… followed by medium fatty toro with a touch of soy.

Uni is always a favorite, especially if it’s Hokkaido.

Shishito pepper adds a nice kick to the red snapper…

A few more pieces of beautiful sashimi of sea perch and amber jack and seared toro…

The parade of fish is interrupted briefly by an intermission of soy cured ikura and chawamushi studded with scallops and crab.

The parade of sashimi continues with skip jack, baracuda, and sweet shrimp from Santa Barbara.

A rather unusual piece of protein takes form in a beautiful seared waygu beef..

Two more final pieces, cherry trout and sea eel before

A tuna hand roll marks the end of the beautiful parade of fish…

Before we move onto the tamago, a small bowl of red miso as a palette cleanser…

And finally, a refreshing citrus sorbet to end the meal.

Sushi Zo | 88 West 3rd Street, New York, NY 10012 |

My Maine Bites: The Holy Donut

December 25, 2017

While vacationing in Portland, we decided to go on a donut run.  Now this is my kind of run, a literal donut run where we trotted through the streets of the neighborhood towards our ultimate destination, The Holy Donut.

Luckily it was fairly quiet on a weekend morning at their original location on Park Avenue so we didn’t have to wait long before diving into our prizes for running a mere mile down hill.

Half a dozen of the best that The Holy Donut has to offer, all made with local Maine potatoes for extra fluffiness and moisture.  Classic flavors include pomegranates and maple bacon while seasonal flavors like blueberries are more of a rare treat.

These were definitely worth a brisk run in the morning… or any time of the day.

My Maine Bites: Lobster Roll Highlights of Maine

December 13, 2017

To say I had a singular goal on the trip to Maine might be a slight exaggeration but it’s not that far from the truth.  I wanted to eat as many lobster rolls as I can manage without getting sick of the delicious summertime treat.  I managed to sample quite a few recommended from various sources including a local write-in candidate.

We set foot in Portland Saturday morning and made a beeline for Eventide Oyster Co., a popular hip Portland bar known for its long lines and, of course, delicious brown butter lobster roll.  Not a surprise but arriving half past noon meant that we were facing a 45 minute wait in the blistering heat.  What do we do?  Meander over to the Two Fat Cats Bakery for a square of their blueberry bar to satiate our growling stomachs.

Even though it was grueling outside and the oyster bar inside was quite tempting, we still opted to sit outside to enjoy our lunch.

A local ale cooled us down and was quite lovely to wash down our oysters with kimchi ice.

Next up was the fish sandwich, with iceberg lettuce, tartar, and pickles.  Sounds simple but done so perfectly – a tender flaky filet with crunchy golden crust and the perfect balance of sauce and pickles.

And then finally, the piece de resistance, the lobster roll.  Two things set this particular roll apart from any others we have had.  The first is the soft springy Chinese bun used instead of the typical roll and the second is the toasty brown butter laced throughout the plump lobster meat.  How do you make a warm butter lobster roll even more decadent?  By browning the butter of course for a toasty dimension.

Highly satisfied with a modern spin on the lobster roll, we went searching for something a little more classic.  A brief chat with some locals at the beach resulted in a small change our original itinerary and led us down a windy country road just north of Portland.  With a little help from the GPS, we found Libby’s Market in the town of Brunswick, off the beaten tourist path.

With only a few tables outside in the parking lot, the bare bones operation was tucked away inside a convenient store.  Within a few minutes, we plopped down on the picnic tables and chowed down on this simply prepared lobster roll.  A well toasted lobster bun, check.  Sweet plump chunks of lobster in a light mayo sauce, check.  All served with a handful of chips from the cash register on a paper plate, check.  A truly simple authentic local experience, check.

Even though we just ate, we jumped back into the car to find our next lobster roll in order to stay on schedule.  A short drive up the coast and we found ourselves in the town of Wiscasset on the banks of Sheepscot River.  Red’s Eats is a well known establishment locals and visitors alike for 78 years.  The long line of people snaking down the road from the stand certainly made this obvious from a few blocks away.  My mind was set and not even the blistering August sun could deter us from the 2+ hour wait.

By the time we made it to the ordering window, we managed to digest the lobster roll from Libby’s and even worked up a little appetite.  So in addition to the lobster roll, we threw in an order of fried clams as well because why not.  The lobster rolls here are not kidding around.  The huge barely broken apart lobster meat were so succulent and sweet that I barely even needed the buns that acted really as a catch all for the butter that dripped down.  This was definitely the one roll that really allowed the main ingredient to shine without anything to hide behind.

And the clams?  Not so shabby with plump bellies that were coated in a crunchy yet light batter.  The giant pile disappeared really quickly as we sat by the river and soaked up some rays.

Not a shabby view while we dug into the fruits of our labor of waiting.

Two Fat Cats Bakery | 47 India St # D, Portland, ME 04101 |

Eventide Oyster Co. | 86 Middle St, Portland, ME 04101 |

Libby’s Market | 42 Jordan Ave, Brunswick, ME 04011

Red’s Eats | 41 Water St, Wiscasset, ME 04578 |

My Maine Bites: Palace Diner

August 23, 2017

So where exactly is Biddeford, ME?  I am not quite sure but I do know that there is a little vintage diner worth a pit stop right off Main street in the sparsely populated downtown.

The Palace Diner is sort of a rebirth for the good old fashion Americana diner.  Located in an old fashion vintage dining car, the counter service only restaurant seats a mere dozen or so for breakfast and lunch.  We arrived quite a bit before noon but even with that early start our group of 5 had to wait for our turn.

I always prefer a bar seat so this was kind of my dream of a restaurant with only a row of counter seating.  I loved watching our hipster servers dance around each other in the tight space taking order and making sure that no coffee mugs were left empty.

When it came to the food, they take classics such as this breakfast sandwich to another level.  Buttery fluffy English muffin was the perfect vehicle to deliver the beautifully cooked square of fluffy eggs, bacon, cheddar and some jalapeno for a lovely kick.  The smashed crispy potatoes with a still creamy center was just the cherry on top of this unbelievably flavorful dish.

And for a sweet treat, I couldn’t resist the French toast.  This comes in a single or a double stack.  I don’t understand why anyone would have only a single piece of this delicious toast.  Perfectly golden brown, the middle was a lovely custard that was lightly sweet, ready to soak up some golden syrup.

If you ever find yourself driving up from Boston to Portland, be sure to make the Palace Diner a part of the trek.  The throwback diner in the middle of nowhere is churning out some decadent versions of classic breakfast and lunch treats that made me wish that it was tucked away around the corner of all small towns in the USA.

Palace Diner | 18 Franklin St, Biddeford, ME 04005 |

My Maine Bites: Sweets and Treats

August 23, 2017

We snuck away to Portland Maine last year to celebrate my 30th birthday last year and I can still taste the delicious treats we sampled across the adorable seaport town.

First stop was a slice of blueberry bar from Two Fat Cats Bakery while we waited for a table at Eventide.  Of course it had to be blueberries because why not?  Buttery and intensely fruity, the bar was one of our first delicious bites in the city of Portland and happy to have it be such.  This little unassuming local bakery also churned out some delicious looking pies that smelled incredibly irresistible but we refrained to save room for some delicious lobster rolls.

For breakfast, we hit up The Holy Donut while on a run because we had passed the mile mark and deserved a break.


This local gem uses local potatoes to make its donuts whose flavors change daily.  The flavors were intense and the texture moist and dense.  We couldn’t decide which of the 16 daily flavors to chose from so we decided to go with our top 6 because we only turn 30 once right?

Of course the maple bacon was a favorite of ours because bacon just makes everything better.  Cake donuts are usually not my jam but these almost changed my mind…

And while meandering through the cute streets of downtown Portland, we stumbled upon Mt Desert Island Ice Cream.  This little ice cream shop had unique flavors from brigadeiros to bay of figs to coriander and blackberry swirl.  If only we had found it at the beginning of the trip we would have tried everything they had to offer.

Two Fat Cats Bakery | 47 India St # D, Portland, ME 04101 |

The Holy Donut | 194 Park Ave, Portland, ME 04102 |

Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream | 51 Exchange Street, Portland, ME 04101 |


A Day of Food and Fun in North Fork, Long Island

June 25, 2017

North Fork on the north shore of Long Island is just far away enough from the more popular Hamptons to have developed its own personality.  It was heralded as the Brooklyn of Long Island after all with delicious .  This made it a perfect weekend get away or, in our case a day trip, for us girls.

We left bright and early on a sunny Saturday morning.  So early that we made it to our first stop, North Fork Roasting Company, by 7.30.

Set in the town of Southold, this quirky little breakfast and coffee spot was a large house with a huge front yard decorated with lawn furniture.

The house inside was dotted with little dog accents here…

And here…

But nothing beat the real deal who hung out with us as we recharged with delicious coffee and a little breakfast food.

A bit of waffle egg sammy with bacon and gruyere..

with fluffy strawberry flapjacks…

And finally a little healthy bowl with kale and two fried eggs and sweet potatoes.

After we were full of delicious breakfast foods and pumped with caffeine, we took the windy road further into North Fork and stopped by the lavender farm and local farmers market before finally reaching the town of Greenport.  By then, the sun was hanging high in the sky and basking the beach town.  Even though we were right by the water, it was starting to get a little too hot for comfort.  Time to retreat indoors for lunch at Salamander’s General Store.  

A refreshing drink of mint lemonade while we wait for Salamander’s General’s famous fried chicken lunches.  Crispy crust and briny moist meat, there’s nothing better than made to order fried chicken in every which weather.

The fried oyster roll wasn’t too shabby either.  Plump and briny oysters were fried to perfection and stuffed into the soft roll.  And in case you were more interested in enjoying the delicious food outside, Salamander’s General also has a take-out section that will package things for picnics.

Once again, we had stuffed ourselves so after a little bit of shopping on Main Street.  So it was time to hit the beach for a much needed afternoon nap where we spent much of the afternoon relaxing.

Before heading back to New York, we pulled back into the town of Greenport for an early dinner at Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market.  

The cute waterfront shack offered a small menu featuring mostly fresh oysters and clams on picnic tables under bright umbrellas.

And because I am a hands-on diner, of course I volunteered to shuck our oyster dinner.

Not before a refreshingly spicy Michelada with a fresh oyster though!

I went to work after a few slurps of delicious creamy chowder on our 2 dozen oysters, all fresh and briny, tasting of the Atlantic Ocean.

As confident as I am in my oyster shucking skills, I left the clam shucking to the experts.

And that, rounded out our day of food and fun girls’ trip in North Fork.  Good food, sun, and relaxation.  There really isn’t much more you can ask for in a summer weekend.

North Fork Roasting Company | 55795 Route 25, Southold, NY 11971 |

Salamander’s General Store | 38 Front St, Greenport, NY 11944 |

Little Creek Oyster Farm & Market | 37 Front St, Greenport, NY 11944 |