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.

Dishcrawling in Montreal

I first found out about Dishcrawl on twitter. I had recently started following Marcella (@EatalianGirl) when she tweeted something about a first ever dishcrawl in Montreal soon. I spontaneously bought a ticket to what seemed to me like a very fun evening. The idea is similar to bar hopping only with restaurants: one evening, 4 different restaurants, 4 services (one at each restaurant). I am a picker, meaning I would rather pick from different plates tapas-style than eat one big meal. Be warned, if you’re ever out to dinner with me, I will pick from your plate! It’s because I want to taste everything and usually find it very hard to limit myself to only one dish. So, as you can tell, this was the perfect kind of evening for me! Not only was it different plates but different restaurants as well!

Porcini risotto

The names of the different restaurants were kept secret until the very last minute. We got an email the day preceding the event divulging the meeting place and thus the first restaurant. At 7pm on Wednesday September 1, about 30 foodies descended upon Restaurant Salute, an Italian restaurant on Laurier West. There we sat meeting for the first time and having our first dish (which ended up being my favourite). Porcini risotto that the chef finished cooking inside a $950 cheese wheel, but not just any cheese, a wine-aged, saffron-scented one! The Bagoss cheese comes from a small town in Brescia called Bagolino and Salute is the first restaurant in Montreal to serve it. The risotto gets its last few tosses inside the wheel while the chef scrapes the sides of the cheese to mix into the rice… Incredible!

Salmon tartare and swordfish carpaccio

Beef tartare and duck carpaccio

About an hour after we had all arrived at Salute, it was time to move on towards Parc Avenue where Bistro Lustucru was our next destination. I hadn’t tried this new restaurant yet and was very excited when I found out it was part of the crawl. Lustucru is a raw bar that has recently opened so of course, we had a plate of salmon tartare and swordfish carpaccio topped with strawberries and cilantro followed by one of beef tartare and duck carpaccio with a nut and raisin yogourt. I loved the swordfish carpaccio but the duck one was hard to chew and not a favourite at our table.

The third restaurant was L’Atelier, a a few blocks away on St-Laurent. I like the concept of walking in between dishes, it helps you digest and you get to chat with the other participants who, by the way, were from all walks of life. There were a couple of bloggers but quite a few non-blogging, non-tweeting foodies that had heard about this through… actually, I don’t know how they had heard about it since I get all my news from twitter but they were there! All walks of life and all ages, a very eclectic and interesting group with one common love of food…

Braised lamb crispy square and foie gras

At L’Atelier, we were served a crispy square of braised lamb with a thin slice of brioche topped with foie gras. Lamb and foie gras are not on the top of my food list normally but I did taste them and the lamb was good.I had been to L’Atelier before a couple of years ago and I guess there was a reason why I hadn’t gone back since: good but didn’t leave enough of an impression for me to want to go back.

Gnocchi poutine at Macaroni Bar

I won’t lie to you, I was hoping for dessert for the fourth course. I always have room for a little sweet something at the end of a meal and I was surprised (disappointed?) that our fourth course was the famous gnocchi poutine at Macaroni Bar. Maybe it was because I had had it before and was looking forward to trying something new… It was a beautiful night and I enjoyed the walk down to Macaroni while getting to know some of the other participants. I think I was one of the few people who had tried the gnocchi poutine before. Still, I must admit, the gnocchi poutine was as good as I remember it, tiny deep-fried potato gnocchi covered in a gravy and gooey cheese: what’s not to like? I was so happily surprised when chef Sergio Mattoscio sent over some of his famous braised pork belly lollipops as a bonus! I have a very vivid memory of ordering these the first time I went to Macaroni only to get them stolen from right under my nose by my dining companions! I had to get myself a second order and even that one wasn’t safe from some of the kleptomaniacs sitting next to me then… I was so happy to be biting into one of these absolute gems once again!

Braised pork belly lollipops

Later that night and the next morning brought on a twitter-frenzy of hashtags and praises for that first and very successful Dishcrawl. This is supposed to be a monthly event in Montreal so keep your radar on because I am willing to bet that the next one will sell out pretty quickly.

If you’re on twitter, follow @dishcrawl and @EatalianGirl for more Montreal dishcrawling news.

Restaurant Salute
234 Laurier West
514 273 9378

Bistro Lustucru
5159, Avenue du Parc
514 439 6701

Restaurant L’Atelier
5308, boul Saint-Laurent
514 273 7442

Macaroni Bar
4448, boul Saint-Laurent
514 287 0287