april 3, 2012

april 3, 2012

My blog has a new home!


I’m so happy to announce that my blog now has a new home! Please check out:


I’ll be waiting for you on the other side!

Japanese brunch at Café Falco

Last Saturday I discovered the amazing universe of Café Falco. I had heard about this place from David Nathan, a journalist friend of mine and have been wanting to visit but they only serve their Japanese brunch on Saturdays. I finally had the chance to visit this week-end and I absolutely loved it! The food is simple yet good but it was the atmosphere I fell in love with. It reminded me a bit of De farine et d’eau fraîche in the sense that I felt as if I was entering a unique universe.

Café Falco is an industrial looking space filled with unique objects, some new, some recycled. The vintage sewing machine tables, complete with intact vintage sewing machines, make a perfect backdrop under shades with original illustrations. You can take a seat on the leather couch, on a drafting stool along the communal table or you can stand in front of the open counter like I did and watch (with fascination) as your siphon coffee is made. The process is absolutely fascinating and the counter crowded with glass siphons looks like some crazy science lab resulting in a great cup of joe that tastes stronger than a filter coffee but milder than en espresso.

Frederik Froument and Yuko Toda are the owners of this gem and Yuko’s Japanese origins the inspiration behind the menu at Café Falco. The Japanese brunch consists of a bowl of miso soup, a salad and a stir fry with your choice of chicken, pork or tofu. It is accompanied by tea or coffee and orange juice and ends with a mini matcha and chocolate chip cupcake. I also couldn’t resist having one of the pain au chocolat from Boulangerie Guillaume on sale there.

If you’re ever in the area, I strongly suggest you stop by for lunch, brunch or simply one fascinating cup of siphon coffee and just linger…

Café Falco
5605 de Gaspé
514 272 7766

Tuesday-Friday 9am-5pm
Saturday 10am-4pm

La Cabane (Old Montreal sugar shack)

When I heard that the team from Les 400 coups, one of my favourite restaurants in town was behind the menu of La Cabane this year, I couldn’t contain my excitement! La Cabane is an urban sugar shack set up in Old Montreal for the second year now. I was looking forward to going since I hadn’t had the chance to go last year. I was also looking forward to trying the menu created by Marc-André Jetté and Patrice Demers and seeing how they would reinterpret the traditional sugar shack fare. For those of you who don’t live in Quebec, sugar shacking takes place in the spring during maple harvesting season. Traditional sugar shack serve an all-you-can-eat cornucopia of maple drowned dishes usually involving a lot of fat in a very rustic decor. This “urban” sugar shack however is more like my cup of tea. The decor, a creation by komotion with works from Monde Ruelle artists is absolutely amazing and full of rustic reminders of a “real” cabane à sucre.

I leave you now with a few images of that evening. If you’re planning on going, hurry up because it’s only on until April 15. Don’t forget to book your table, all the info is below. Oh and grab me one of those maple financiers, they were fantastic! :)

Wapiti terrine with maple-marinated beets, chicken liver mousse with maple, mimosa eggs with maple flakes

Butternut squash soup, salmon confit in duck fat, cipollinis onions marinated in maple

Maple turkey cooked sous-vide, braise leg stew, coco beans, carrots and pork rinds (a very traditional sugar shack fare)

Chocolate, maple and Maldon salt pot de crème, maple ice cream sandwiches, maple financiers

Maple meringues cooked in liquid nitrogen

La Cabane

From March 10 to April 15 2011

Price per person: $55 (+ taxes and tip)
Kids under 12: $15 (+ taxes and tip)

By reservation only
514 444 4383

Scena, the Jacques Cartier Pavilion, Old Montreal
Wednesday-Saturday 6pm
Sunday 11:30am

Les Carnivores Infidèles (The Unfaithful Carnivores)

Photo by Albert Elbilia © Éditions Cardinal

Look mom, I’ve been published! Well not exactly but I do have one recipe published in this great new book coming out on March 14! It’s called Les Carnivores Infidèles (The Unfaithful Carnivores) and contains 60 vegetarian recipes designed for carnivores who would like to lower their meat consumption. The recipes are beautiful, delicious and easy to make. My friend Catherine Lefebvre, who is a nutritionist and a blogger, is the author of this magnificent book. She meticulously tested and adjusted all the recipes in the book and supervised the whole process. The result is a gorgeous volume filled with 60 recipes and nutritional information presented in a fun and humourous way.

No-meat burger, General Tao tofu and fake fish n’chips - Photo by Albert Elbilia © Éditions Cardinal

Ali Baba and the 40 fruits - Photo by Albert Elbilia © Éditions Cardinal

I just received my copy of Les Carnivores Infidèles and I absolutely love everything about this book! The photos were taken by Albert Elbilia and they are beautiful, as you can see in this post. I am so proud to be part of this project! The book will be available in bookstores on March 14 and will soon be available on Amazon. Unfortunately, it is only available in French for now so all of you non-french speaking people, you must find a french speaking neighbour/friend/family member asap and ask them to translate!

My recipe of Lebanese moussaka - Photo by Albert Elbilia © Éditions Cardinal

You will find my recipe for moussaka, a Lebanese eggplant and tomato dish very different from the better known Greek moussaka on page 112. As a special treat though, I am publishing it here today! :)


  • 2 eggplants, cut in 1/2” slices
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves,
  • 1x540ml can of chickpeas, drained and rinced
  • 6 tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, nutmeg and coriander (freshly ground is better)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180˚C)
  2. Place the eggplant slices on a cookie sheet, brush with olive oil and cook for 30 minutes (or until done)
  3. In the meantime, sauté the onion and garlic in a pan. Add the spices and mix. Take off the heat and add the tomatoes. Reserve.
  4. When the eggplant is done, place the slices in a pan, cover with the rest of the ingredients and place in the oven for another 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with whole wheat pita bread. This dish can be eaten at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

If you do try it, let me know how it turns out! I like making this recipe at the end of summer when tomatoes and eggplants are at their best but you can make it any time of the year.

You can check out the Les Carnivores Infidèles’s website and blog here.
You can also follow the cheating adventures of Les Carnivores Infidèles on Twitter (@lescarnivores) and on Facebook.

Offal Good: Chef Chris Cosentino at DNA

"Did you prefer the brain or the testicle?"

"I like the texture of the lung better than that of the liver."

"The recipe has the word "blood" in it and they just gave us a spoon… I’m scared!"

These are the sorts of conversation overheard at the Chris Cosentino dinner at DNA this past Friday night. I admit that I had been (very) worried about this dinner. I am not a fan of offal but I knew this was not a dinner I wanted to miss. If I were going to taste offal at any point in my life, I was sure Chris Cosentino was the man I wanted cooking my meal. So I showed up ready for the “experience”. I wasn’t the only one since the restaurant was filled with chefs, bloggers and food critics. Anyone who had anything to do with food was at DNA that night..

I come from a culture where we eat offal but the “we” here doesn’t include me. It’s not the sort of thing I’ve ever liked, except for the occasional chicken liver and hearts sandwich drowned in lemon and garlic. The menu that was set on our table seemed pretty inoffensive for the most part: turf n’ surf, lamb pluck fra diavolo, chicken candy bowl, chocolate n’duja cones… but when our plates arrived, it was a completely different story. The dishes became increasingly difficult to swallow, literally.

Horse leg and heart tartare mixed with Lambertini oyster, fries cooked in horse fat, hay aioli, brioche

The first dish was the easiest, even though it was hard to wrap my mind around the fact I was eating raw horse heart. It tasted like a very tender beef tartare. The fries were super crispy and yummy. We made a sandwich out of all the elements, as recommended by our waiter and everything put together tasted much better than all the elements separately.

Apple-wood smoked eel, piglet blood mousse, peasant “pappa” (bread polenta), 2-hour chicken egg topped with piment de St Béatrice with smoked wild boar butter

The smoked eel, egg (cooked slowly for 2 hours) and bread polenta in the second dish were all good. I tried the blood mousse but couldn’t bring myself to eat it. Maybe if I didn’t know it was blood mousse, it would’ve gone down easier. In fact, the whole meal was a mind game, trying to get past the tricks your mind plays on you. You keep asking yourself, if I didn’t know what it was, would I eat it? Thinking back on it now, maybe we should’ve told the waiter to refrain from describing the dish until we were done eating it…

Lamb kidneys, liver, lung and heart with a Fresno chili rub with jalapeño & cayenne, celery root ashes with olive oil, mint purée

Some morsels in the 3rd dish were more palatable than others (I really don’t like the texture of liver) but I didn’t finish my plate because it all tasted a little gamey to me. A diner who had gone through the whole dinner already passed by our table on his way out of the restaurant and let out an evil laugh while telling us that the “best” was yet to come. Suffice it to say that I was a little worried, especially since the brief description of the dish was “Big brain, little brain”.

Half a veal brain seared in brown butter with preserved Meyer lemon, veal testicle with brainnaise (mayo made with brain), watercress, radish & shallot salad

You have to hand it to the chefs, they did have a wicked sense of humour. I personally preferred the “big brain” over the “little brain” but most of us only had a bite of each. The salad was delicious though, in case you were wondering ;)

Candy-coated cock’s comb, jelly bean coated duck testicle, vanilla ice cream with n’duja (roasted red pepper salami), chocolate ganache

Through the whole dinner I was telling myself that at least the dessert will be offal-free, it had to be right? How can you make dessert with offal? That was until Hugo (aka FoodCzar) stopped by our table and said “bonne chance avec le dessert!” What?? And as you can see from the picture and description above, this was no ordinary dessert. Duck testicle jellybean anyone? Candied cock’s comb? Hard. To. Swallow. But again, if I didn’t know it was a cock’s comb, I probably would’ve thought it was a fruit roll and maybe I would’ve eaten it but I couldn’t get away from the image in my mind of a wobbling, jiggly red cock’s comb.

By the end of dinner I felt like I needed a shot of vodka (or rubbing alcohol as Dustin said) to sterilize my insides. I am very happy I had this experience and I really do believe in the nose to tail philosophy but now I know that eating offal is really not my thing. However, if you would like to have some great offal in town, take heart (pun intended) because DNA’s chef Derek Dammann is the man for you. Enjoy!

DNA Restaurant
355 Marguerite D’Youville
514 287 3362

Tue - Fri: 11:30am-2:30pm
Tue - Sat: 6pm-10:30pm

Tue - Fri starting at 11:30am
Saturdays starting at 6pm

Le Filet: a new fish restaurant in Montreal

I have a confession to make: I’ve never been to Club Chasse et Pêche! Yes, I know, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city and I still haven’t been, shame on me! It’s on my list though and I will hopefully get there soon but in the meantime, when I heard that Le Filet - CCP’s little brother - was opening soon, I got there asap, on the 4th day after they opened to be more exact.

Le Filet is discreetly (read: hard to find) situated on a stretch of Mont-Royal Avenue one doesn’t normally think of when searching for good eats. It is across the street from Jeanne Mance Park which will be nice in the summer when their terrasse opens. The decor is contemporary with an open kitchen in the back and a built-in aquarium in one of the walls yet the wood chairs and vermilion coloured table cloths lend a touch of old-world charm to the restaurant. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, which is why we put our fate in the hands of our waiter Alex and let him decide on our meal that night. It would’ve been impossible for me to pick only a few items from the menu because everything sounded absolutely delicious! The menu is divided into a few sections: Small Plates, Oysters, Broths & Shellfishes, Mont-Royal Salads, Raw, Warm Tide, Home Made Pasta, Amphibians and For Two People. With the exception of the “For Two People” section, all plates are made small and can be shared “tapas” style.

The plates started coming and kept coming until we decided we’d had enough. In all, we ended up sharing 11 dishes including 2 desserts. I wanted to share my favourites with you but I found myself listing everything we ate so I will refrain and let you drool over the pictures instead (thanks to Nabil for all the photos!)

Mackerel rillette, lemon oil, toast

Beets, crème fraîche and marjoram

Lamb, goat cheese and couscous

Voted one of the best dishes that night: Fluke, Japanese plum, wasabi, cucumber

American Wagyu tataki, ginger, sesame

Grilled octopus, marrow, tomato

Snail tart, mushrooms, bacon, fluffy garlic cream

Half lobster, hollandaise, urchin

Chocolate and cranberry cake

Lemon tart with soft mascarpone cream and meringue

This was an absolutely great meal but I do have a point to raise: it is very hard in Montreal to find a restaurant where the desserts are as good as the rest of the meal. Although the desserts at Le Filet were good, they just weren’t at the same level of perfection as all the other dishes. I am a dessert lover and I find myself often disappointed when the end of the meal approaches. With the exception of Les 400 coups and one or two other restaurants I feel like the dessert menu is always an afterthought. Is it because most restaurants don’t have pastry chefs in their kitchens? I’d love to hear your thoughts on that.

Le Filet
216 Mont Royal East
514 360 6060

Tuesday-Saturday 5:30pm-11:30pm

Truffles and chocolate

Truffle dinner at Restaurant Julien

This past Tuesday, I was invited to Restaurant Julien for a dinner that centered around the Perigord truffle. It was a media dinner and I was invited because I am now writing for zurbaines, in case you didn’t know that already :) The dinner was fabulous, a preview to what is to come at the Julien as part of the Montreal Highlights Festival. The invited chef, Gaëlle Benoiste‐Pilloire created a 6-courses dinner using truffles. She will be at Restaurant Julien for 3 sold-out nights during the festival, but the truffle dishes will be available à la carte for the duration of the Festival, February 17th to 27th. If you are a truffle lover, hurry up and make some reservations, some of these dishes are well worth it, especially the quail egg with truffle oil accompanied by a fresh truffle and salted butter bite, so simple yet so decadent!

Quail egg with truffle oil accompanied by a fresh truffle and salted butter bite

White bean soup with black truffle

Scallop carpaccio with black truffle oil

Veal blanquette with black truffle

Tarte tatin with vanilla and tryffle ice cream

Chocolate indulgence dishcrawl

6-course of chocolate desserts, need I say more? Saturday afternoon I joined a few other chocolate addicts to indulge in a 6-course chocolate dishcrawl at Le Maître Chocolatier. The desserts were prepared by Nada, owner of Le Maître Chocolatier and pastry chef Jami Liverman. I never thought I would see the day when I would say enough to chocolate but that day came this past Saturday when I had to take the last “course” home. Jamie’s pastries – including his amazingly fudgey brownies – will be available at Le Maître Chocolatier. If you didn’t have the chance to attend this dishcrawl, don’t fret, you can join any of the monthly dishcrawls coming up. I now leave you with some pictures that might induce severe chocolate cravings, you’ve been warned!

1st course: Chocolate fudge with fleur de sel

2nd course:
Triple chocolate caramelized brownie - a Jami Liverman specialty

3rd course:
Chocolate financier with malted mascarpone filling, vanilla crème anglaise and salted caramel

4th course:
Chocolate pot de crème with vanilla ice cream

5th course:
Chocolate shooters! Pure origin 72% dark chocolate from Venezuela and milk chocolate from Madagascar

6th course:
Chocolate heart with fleur de sel and 72% dark chocolate truffle

Restaurant Julien
1191 Union Avenue
514 871 8819

Le Maître Chocolatier
1612 Sherbrooke West
514 544 9475

For more information on Dishcrawl, check out their website here. And for more info on the Montreal Highlights Festival, click here.

Fine pastry shop De farine & d’eau fraîche

It was about a week ago that I discovered the magical universe that is De farine & d’eau fraîche and fell in love with it. I went in to take a look and ended up spending a couple of hours there chatting with the owner while munching on the very tasty pastries.

Marilu Gunji, owner and pastry maker extraordinaire, in her ultra modern kitchen

The first thing you notice when you walk in is the display of amazingly intricate miniature wedding cakes. As the lovely and charming owner Marilu Gunji pointed out though, you don’t have to get married to get one! Marilu is half Japanese and half Guatemalan; she attended culinary school for 3 years in Japan before moving to Toronto at the young age of 18 to learn English. After a spell at the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa led her to focus her energy on pastry making, she moved to Montreal where she worked in some of the city’s top restaurants, including the now defunct Anise on Laurier, before deciding to finally pursue her dream of owning her own pastry shop.

Everything in her shop, from the decor to the furniture details to the pastries, is meticulously thought out and constructed but always with a whimsical touch. Her husband - who is a cabinet-maker - has built all the dark wood tables and branded them with the store’s logo, a heart containing the initials DF + EF (De farine & d’eau fraîche). Marilu “makes” her own cake stands by finding antique candle holders or wine glasses and pairing them with English porcelain plates. All these little touches add so much to the whole atmosphere of the place that it makes you want to linger there for a few hours.

The excellent organic coffee served there is another reason to linger. There is also a great array of organic teas and juices. Marilu uses organic products whenever possible while making her pastries, including the chocolate used to make the chocolate syrup for the mochas and hot chocolates.

I was so enchanted with  with the whole atmosphere that I had to try almost every pastry contained in the display case that day. There were a few savoury ones like the bacon and corn bread and the ham and cheese bread and a few savoury sweet ones like the corn and cheddar muffin. And of course, there were the sweet ones, my favourites, especially the chocolate ball filled with custard that is the house specialty. The display case also contained an array of cookies, home made Pocky, truffles, flavoured caramels and cute little cakes, including a heart-shaped tea and rose one that caught my eye.

There’s a saying in french that the pastry shop’s name is based on and it is that one could live on love and fresh water alone, d’amour et d’eau fraîche. If I lived closer to this fine pastry shop, I wouldn’t need anything but “flour and fresh water”… or those chocolate custard-filled pastries.

Note: De farine & d’eau fraîche just started serving lunch. On the menu this week: soup, organic salad and 3 types of panini (jambon bernois, brie, honey and Asian pear is just one example). Stop by for a delicious bite and say hi to Marilu from me!

De farine & d’eau fraîche
1701 rue Amherst, Montreal
514 522 2777

Monday-Friday 7:30am-6pm
Saturday 9am-5pm
Closed on Sundays

All pastries tasted were between $2.75 to $3.25

Telegraphe Taste Test: Financiers edition

Last Thursday was the 2nd edition of the Telegraphe Taste Tests. We had done our first taste test back in September where we voted for the best canelés in the city. This time the challenge was to vote for the best financiers. Financiers are small French cakes traditionally made in rectangular molds resembling gold bars and contain (among other things) brown butter, almond flour and egg whites. These days however, financiers can be found in all kinds of shapes and flavours, including different spices, fruit or nuts. I started baking financiers a couple of years ago and I fell in love with them the first time I bit into one. They are crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside. The brown butter gives them a slightly nutty taste which I absolutely adore. They are also very easy to make and you can get as creative as you’d like with the flavours! So when this taste test came up, I went nuts with so many flavour trials: there were some lavender and pear ones, orange and cardamom, orange blossom water and hazelnuts, etc. but the one recipe that stood out for me and that I absolutely wanted to make was one I had made several times before: Cannelle et Vanille’s candied kumquats and pistachios.

Jérôme Ferrer’s pistachio and raspberry financiers and Sarah’s sun-dried tomatoes and parmesan financiers

My candied kumquats and pistachios financiers and Pâtisserie Rhubarbe’s olive oil and vanilla financiers

The contestants for this taste test included 3 professional bakers/pastry shops and 6 amateurs.

The contestants: Andrea (who baked 2 flavours), Caroline (with 2 flavours as well), Sarah, Clément, Charlotte, Jérôme Ferrer (on sale at the Boutique Europea), Pâtisserie G&G, Pâtisserie Rhubarbe and me! :)

The mission: Find the best financiers in the city!

The prize: Bragging rights and a few glory tweets from every foodie in Montreal about how good your goods taste!

Everyone at Telegraphe was so excited about this taste test! You see, not only were we going to be tasting some amazing pastries but we were secretly planning on unveiling our the new Telegraphe website to the many food and fashion bloggers invited!

The evening started with some wonderful savoury bites by Chef Nabil El-Khayal who delighted us with his bright fuchsia beet dip (you’ll find the recipe at the end of this post), chorizo-stuffed mushrooms and crunchy falafels. It was then time to start the blind taste testing and voting. The financiers were accompanied by my favourite ice cider Cryo, that provided the perfect accompaniment to the sweet cakes.

It seemed like everyone was taking this part of the event rather seriously, some even methodically tasting and taking notes. After everyone had voted, the votes were counted and…

1st place: Andrea with her orange and cardamom financiers with candied ginger

2nd place: Me!! with my candied kumquats and pistachio financiers

3rd place: Sarah with her savoury take of sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan, dried fig, cumin and anis seed financiers

Andrea, the Grand Prize winner, walked away with a fabulous Bosch Tassimo home brewing system which I hope is being put to good use.

The winners!

Unfortunately, you won’t find financiers in many Montreal pastry shops. I do hope they will become more trendy and more readily available because they are wonderful. In the meantime, you can always contact one of us to bake you a batch. After all, we were voted the best ;)

These Telegraphe Taste Tests will be happening often so if you have an idea of what you’d like to put to the challenge next or if you’d like to participate to the next taste test, leave me a comment below and I will contact you as soon as we’re ready for the next one!

Beet dip recipe


  • 3 medium sized beets (whole and unpeeled)
  • 125ml labneh (strained yogurt, found in most supermarkets these days)
  • 50ml lemon juice (zest optional)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 15ml olive oil
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F
  2. Clean the beets. Place them on a cookie sheet on bed of coarse salt or wrap them up in aluminum foil. Cook in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes or until they become fork tender. Once cooled, peeled the beets by rubbing them with a linen or paper towel then cut them into  pieces.
  3. Place all ingredients in a food mixer and reduce them to a purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper then refrigerate.

Notes from the chef:

  1. You can also cook your beets whole and unpeeled in a pot of salted boiling water.
  2. If no one is allergic to nuts, you can add 30ml of tahini (sesame paste) to the mix for extra flavour.

I want to thank all bakers for participating, Nabil for his wonderful bites and Jérôme Ferrer, Pâtisserie G&G and Cidrerie Cryo for their amazing generosity.

Pâtisserie G&G
1846 Mont Royal East
514 439 3854

Birks Café
1240 Square Phillips
514 397 2468

Cidrerie Cryo
85 Rang des Étangs
Mont St-Hilaire, Québec
514 831 1258

And of course, do check out the new Telegraphe website! It is awesome, if we do say so ourselves! :)