This is it, the last of the flavourguy, at least for a while. The gig is great. The mandate given to me by my editor, David Walker, was simple: go find something interesting to eat. Think of this as the Triple A league of food writing: a search for a stand-out with lots of surprises.
As a final fanfare, in no particular order, here are some of the best. A few are old friends that made it into Taste of the World. Others should have had at least a mention but I never quite got around to them.
The breakfast calzone at Zak's. It's an omelet cooked inside pizza dough. This handsized hot sandwich is filled with scrambled egg, diced onion and chopped ham. Zaks Boulangerie, 6490 Sherbrooke St. W. (514-488-4857).
Beans at La Binerie. This snack bar hasn't changed in decades. Traditional Québecois staples such as tortiere, gras-de-rotis (jellied pork roast drippings
mmm) and fèves au lard fill the menu. The beans are baked for a long time, and sold by the pint and quart to take home. The breakfasts are hearty, cheap and filling. Great before a wintry walk down St. Denis St. 567 Mont-Royal East (514-285-9078).
Espresso. Coffee (as in Tim Horton's) is when you need something to wash down a doughnut. But for purists there is only Italian espressorich and delectable, with a layer of foam called crema. Bets are off for the best in the city but here are three standouts, all with their own discerning clientele: Olympia (a.k.a. Open da night) at 124 St. Viateur W. (514-495-0746, Caffé Italia, 6480 St. Laurent Blvd. (514-495-0059) and, in the north end of town, No Name Restaurant, at 9700 St. Michel Blvd. (514-389-6732).
Papas rellenas at La Peregrina. This latino grocery store has a lunch counter wedged into the back and cooks a variety of South American goodies every day. Papas rellenas is one of their best: cook a potato, mash it and then form it into a ball. Stuff this with hard-boiled egg and ground meat and then deep fry it. This is a common snack in Cuba or the Dominican Republic where it may be stuffed with cheese. Reheats well in the microwave or toaster oven. 4656 Belanger St. East (514-721-0902)
Smoked meat hotdogs. Take great smoked meat and stuff it into casings. Knocks an ordinary hotdog out of the ball park. Get these locally made beauties at Quebec Smoked Meat, 1889 Centre St. (514-935-5297).
Licorice at Euro-Deli. This small, bustling west island café has a superb selection of imported Dutch products. Licorice is a favourite treat in the Netherlands and Euro-Deli's selection is palate stunning. 259 Bord du Lac (Tel. 514-694-4728).
Pizza at Roma. Buy it by the slab and take it home. A large variety of vegetarian toppings such as eggplant and zucchini make Roma a Little Italy favourite. Also great home made gelati for dessert. 6776 St-Laurent Blvd. (514-273-9357).
Sausage subs at Momesso's. Fresh Italian sausage seared on the griddle, stuffed into a sub roll with lettuce and tomato. Add a drizzle of hot sauce. Heaven on a bun. 5562 Upper Lachine Rd. (514- 484-0005).
Chinese barbecue at Sun Sing Lung, a small shop with a friendly knowledgeable staff. Ben Top usually has a whole hog roasting in the back and another being carved in the front window. 72A de la Gauchetière W. (514-861-0815).
Philippe de Vienne's imported spices. This local caterer searches the world for exotic spices such as top-grade cinnamon from Sri Lanka, Tonka beans and dried Guinea pepper. He sells them at a few retail outlets including Les douceurs de Marché, a gourmet's cornucopia in the Atwater Market (514-939-3902).
Barry Fleischer's home made spruce beer. Once this was a common drink in corner stores. Now there is only one place that makes spruce beer and serves it fresh. The recipe is secret. The taste is piney but much more subtle than the bottled varieties. Goes great with a steamie all dressed. Restaurant Émile Bertrand, 1308 Notre Dame St. W. (Tel. 514-935-0178).
Truffles at Un, deux, trois chocolat. Owner Thierry Schickes makes only truffles, chocolate masks and a few other delectables. His work is whimsical and delicious. 7010 Casgrain, near the Jean Talon market (514-803-3673).
Quebec "ice wine". This is a vinophile's apple cider with a wonderful syrupy kick. Serve very chilled as an aperitif. Here is a world class drink that is only just getting the attention it deserves. Look for it in speciality shops such as Le marché des saveurs du Québec (514-271-3811) at the Jean Talon Market.
A final note. As I munched my way through the city, I never felt that I was eating alone because of the many readers who suggested new places and whose advice added to what I wrote. My wife Celina and daughter Sarah indulged my whims, from sampling a dozen kinds of soy sauce at the same meal to never complaining about my penchant for Latin American tamales. As well, hidden behind my wanderings throughout the city has been the encouragement of food maven Nick Robinson. He runs montrealfood.com, a non-commercial web site devoted to eating in Montreal.
|© Barry Lazar 2002