Monday, February 27, 2012

Montreal: Le Comme Chez Soi

like home, but definitely not mine

I didn't care for the ambience.  It reminded me of that friend.  Remember that one friend from high school whose home looked the same when you graduated, as it did when you guys were just 5?  Outdated, stale, and musty?  That's what Le Comme Chez Soi feels like - someone's living room or a lumberjack's mancave.  It's adorned with old lamps and home-y furniture.  Kudos for their vision, but I am obviously not their target demographic. 

I loved their open kitchen though.  It's a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know this was not my first choice.  My sister and I went to Sparrow, but they only have a set menu.  It looked innovative and interesting but I wasn't feeling it, so we left.

My stomach simply had no room for creativity or courses.  It just wanted some eggs and protein.

So we walked a block-and-a-half to Le Comme Chez Soi.  Their menu was simple and predictable.  That was EXACTLY what we were craving.

We shared the benedict and the burger.  I wouldn't have thought to get a burger - except I remember reading about it on Mr. Lew's blog.  It stood out because it`s made with bison.  I like bison - like beef but leaner.

Dried cranberries...who would have thought.
Stealing the idea.

Bison burger with roquefort and bacon
My only complaint is that they treat ketchup like it's a rare commodity.  Our dishes came out with the silver tin only half-full.  Obviously we had to ask for more.  When they brought another tin over, it was even less full.  Now if there's one thing our family could bet our house on, it's the fact that my sister loves ketchup.  So I can only imagine what her inner angry little girl was saying.  She can fool the server, but the smile on her outer peaceful adult woman didn't fool me. 

Even with the lack of ketchup, our brunch was yummy.  A special thumbs up for the homefries - crispy and not greasy.  Everything tasted just as it looked.  And sometimes that's all you can handle on a Sunday afternoon.

Le Comme Chez Soi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Montreal: Le Comptoir

you got your head in the clouds

Le Comptoir is a charcuteries et vins bar, and it's very "happening".  It holds a promising title:
"One of Canada's Best New Restaurants"

I was sadly underwhelmed, but that might have had to do with the mind-blowing meal I had the night before; once you go Quartier, you can't go back.

Our dinner at Le Comptoir was still delicious, but I was neither amazed, nor disappointed. I loved the vibe of the place - laid back yet lively.

The menu is a bit daunting:

So I looked for some help.  When I asked the server what his favourites were or if he could recommend something, he said, "I don't know, that's hard". I disagree.  I think everyone has something to say.  To be passionate about food is to be secure enough to know it and just say your opinion. There is never a wrong answer.  No answer means nothing.

My sister and I decided on the tuna: 

Beautiful plating

It had potential, but with such a beautiful piece of fish I would have thought the dish would shine.  It just flickered.

The short ribs were really good:

As for the charcuterie, it was fine.  But if you had Black Hoof's board in one corner, and Le Comptoir's in the other; the latter would be DOA. 

Le Comptoir on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Instant Nail Polish Remover by Sephora

into the rabbit hole
:Average at $11:

The idea of an instant nail polish remover is nice.  Then I tried a few and realized it's more hypothetical than actual.

Have a look inside:

They love it because it's dermatologically tested and formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, GMOs, and triclosan. 

I love it because it smells nice and works like magic.  Watch: it's not just's truly amazing:


And it does that polish after polish. 

Love it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Montreal: le Quartier général

eat pray love

Really, really good food is a spiritual thing.  Really.  So be prepared to be blessed.

One week today I had a holy-er-than-thou meal at the much buzzed about le Quartier général.  There are two things you need to know before we continue.  The first is APPORTEZ VOTRE VIN.  And in Montreal that means no fee-no fuss.  Second, reservations are mandatory.  Seatings at 6 or 9.  We didn't know about reservations so on my last visit I ended up at Victoire.

Note: This post is laden with sexual innuendo.  Don't blame me - I got inspired by Greenthumbs.  He appreciates the orgasmic properties of food - all foodies do.

My sister first heard about Quartier from our hair-god.  He recommended it about six months ago.  And he has wonderful taste in food - recall Les Heritiers

My sister, Greenthumbs and I arrived promptly for our 9 pm reservation - as did everyone else.  I eased past the herd so the server could see me; sheep wait, wolves get seated first.

It is an understated restaurant with beautiful details:

That is le menu du soir and it is ever-changing.  Don't worry if you can't read it or understand French.  Quartier's servers are equipped to describe every delectable detail.  Our server was especially good - she genuinely loves the food. 

And why wouldn't she?  They have so many brilliant dishes to choose from.  We finally settled on three different appetizers, mains, and desserts.  To share is to spread love.
I recommend the table d'hote (set menu) because it's only an additional $12 (onto the price of the main).

This meal had some of the most delicious things I've put in my mouth all year...pause.

Let's begin shall we?  Soup ou salad?

It's odd that I took a photo of the soup. It's not mine.
Greenthumbs had it. He said it was delicious.
I had the salad.  Simple greens in a really delightful dressing.  I asked our server what it was but it was so simple that I forgot.  It was either lemon and oil, or lemon and vinegar.  It was quite ciiiitru-licious.

The appetizers:

Tataki de marlin bleu
Lightly seared fish with sour cream/creme fraiche with a hint of goat cheese, miso-glaze and edamame

Foie gras poēlē (an extra $10)
Creamy bursts of foie and brioche
"Crab Cake"
Perfectly fried crust with a delicate and subtle inside
I love foie, but my favourite was the marlin bleu.  That white creamy sauce was O-mazing.

After a perfectly timed break we were served our mains:
Souris d'agneau
Lamb - not the shank but from the butt - yes...
With barley, really good flavourful barley, not tree-hugger barley

Beef 1855 Tender Loin Medium rare boeuf with 1855 cheese atop perfect mush potatoes
Cod with fennel and cabbage
Light as air but packed with flavour
My favourite?  The lamb...perfection.

These two desserts were okay:

Apple crumble
That shortbread cookie ruined it.  Rock hard.
Abs should be hard, cookies should not.

I don't like cheesecake.

Their vanilla crème brûlée, on the other hand, was magically delicious:
Hallelu, Hallelu, Halleluuuu...iah.

le Quartier général serves something special.  It`s not just the ingredients that matter, it`s what you do with it.  A delicious meal that makes you climax over, and over, and over again.  That's pretty insane.  Get it on.

Le Quartier Général on Urbanspoon

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Montreal: Qing Hua Dumpling

fungry versus fangry

I really wish you could meet my sister and her Vancity girls.  They're true west coast women.  That means they're your beer drinking anti-UGG wearing guy's girl meet bitch in blue jeans.  And they invented fungry and fangry.  Say what now?

Fungry = F*cken hungry; Fangry = F*cking angry hungry

I love it.

So last Saturday my sister and I went from hungry to fangry all because we couldn't find the Chinatown location of Qing Hua.

We finally called them to get the address.  It's at 1019 St. Laurent Blvd., just south of Rue de la Gauchetière above a Korean restaurant called Chez BONG. Lol. You're welcome.

This one is cleaner but service is bad. My sister warned me, but that doesn’t mean I was going to take it lying down.  No, that's why I'm mentioning it here.  In fairness, I get it.  It's not lost on me  that they make the dumplings when you order them.  In fact, three little women are back there stuffing, pinching, steaming, and frying.  But how does that explain the fact I didn't get more napkins when I asked - twice.  I finally went and got them myself.  This made my happy though:
Dumpling cartoon.

Here are our steamed pork and shrimp:

Greasy little pockets of goodness.
Here are our pork and celery - fried for an extra $0.50:

The dumplings are hot, fresh, and tasty, although a little pricey.  They`re not quite like the Shanghai ones I love; the skin is thicker and it's not so much a soup dumpling as it is a dumpling with some soup.

Qing Hua on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Montreal: Café Névé

poke my cookie and die

Unassuming cafés are a dime a dozen in Montreal. Walk a block there’s one; walk one more, there’s another. But Café Névé did something right to catch my sister’s attention. She’s a brisk, focussed walk-er. Only she knows how or why she spotted it.

We went in this weekend for a much needed mid-afternoon caffeine fix. It was a far too productive day as we were already in-and-out of Jeans Jeans Jeans by 10:30 am. I tried on 24 pairs of jeans. Oui, vingt-quatre . That’s how many tries it took for me to find one pair of banging jeans.  (Sidebar: Banging jeans are a pair that comfortably sit on your waist, caress every curve, raise your booty and still let you breathe. That's what she said.)

With our new jeans in tow, my sister and I walked into Névé. It’s cute, unpretentious and communal. The only cringe factor came from the hipsters behind the counter. A little too much-ster.

The coffee was good, but it's always good in Montreal.  The more important news is that Névé bakes.  They serve happiness on a metal sheet pan that sits on the counter, next to the register. No bells, no whistles, no fancy packaging, nothing.  As I was paying for my coffee I heard the chocolate chip cookie whisper, ‘eat me’, which probably means I’m stressed out about something. (I don’t crave sugar or hear voices unless I have a lot going on.)

So I got the cookie and took a photo of le cookie:
Memories of this cookie are making me emotional.  Excuse me sir, can I have another?
Later on in the day, while my sister and I killed some time waiting for dinner, I ate my cookie.  I nearly died of happiness - so much goodness in one bite I thought I was going to lose my mind.  It was seriously one of the BEST chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Ever.

It was sweet (but not painfully) with a nice burnt-caramel-like crust on the edges and a soft, chewy (but totally cooked) centre.

My enthusiasm for this cookie is off-the-charts.  Words don't do it justice.  My face does.  If you could see my face you would understand.  The cookie is that f*cking amazing. I’m obsessed.

P.S. Dearest sister, please mail me a cookie, or two.

Cafe Neve on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 17, 2012

Give Me Moor by OPI

:Average at $9:
turn away cause I need you moor

Feeling wintery blues?  Buck up, I just caught a whiff of spring which inspired me to go buy new polish...

Course, inasmuch as I wanted to get bright summery colours, I must still be in winter mode (not that you can't go black in the sun, you can - recall here), because I was drawn to this:

Give Me Moor
Pretty ain't she?  The perfect rich, wine-y, plum.  I also picked up another bottle of Black Onyx...just because it drives my parents insane.  They mutter " look like biker", then they ho-hum and hum-and-ho.  I don't know why dark polish and bracelets make them think I'm going to run off and join a gang.  Immigrant parents, gotta love them.

My final moments of darkness before spring will sprung.
Have a happy weekend...I won't be back until late next week. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blush in Exposed by tarte

i like to be nude
:Pricey at $33:

I love tarte but I was getting bored of their cheek stains.  Thank goodness they released these.  When it first came out I bought Blissful and Amused because Exposed was sold out.

It sold out so fast. Always a good sign. Then again, bad things happen while I wait.  See patience is not a virtue I have completely embraced.  I find that delayed gratification leads to impulse shopping.  Simply put, I buy unnecessary things to fill the void of not having the thing I want.  No Exposed led to a few sweaters from Artizia, a couple of Ts from TNT, random bracelets from Over the Rainbow and way too much handsoap from Bath and Body Works.  Who needs nine handsoaps?!?

Thank goodness Exposed hit the stores a few days ago.  I have one.  Void filled.

It's precious isn't it?  The perfect natural blush. And it looks especially good on me right now because I'm still tanned from my vacay. I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to word that so it didn't come out self-loving, but I think failed?

Blame it on the blush.

Love it.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bamboo Facial Cleansing Cloths by Kaia Naturals

"like butter on warm toast"
:Average at $20 for 30:

I love it when things just fall into place.  Serendipity has always made me happy.

Yesterday my sister sent this to my inbox - - asking whether I had heard of it or knew where to get it.  I don't normally like cleansing cloths because I find they pull and tug, and as you all know, my skin is uber sensitive.  Kaia promises it's different; a cashmere-like cloth jampacked with vitamins and a cleanser, toner, and makeup remover.  Big expectations for such an unassuming product.

Three hours later I was walking home from the groceries while checking out Kaia's website.  (Intrigue always leads to sense of immediacy for me.) I clicked to see where they're sold in Toronto and the first place that popped up was Noah's.  I looked up and was walking right by one.

Like, woah.

I went in and picked up a few (one cloth for about a buck-fifty) to test them out.

I got home looking like this:

This was after Kaia:

And this is the Kaia:

Ewwwwww.  No seriously, ew.
It was pretty wonderful and delivered everything it promised.  Of course I didn't love the smell. Then again, my nose is quite stuck-up.

Like it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Toronto: The Stockyards

:St. Clair West:

It's been a while since I left a new restaurant smiling ear-to-ear.  (And by new, I  mean new to me).

It's not that I didn't try to go to Stockyards - I did, many times, but I always failed.  I suppose it has something to do with the fact that St. Clair and Bathurst seems like Thornhill to me.  I suffer from distance-retardation on weekend mornings.

But last Sunday I woke up motivated.  Big sister in town will do that to you.  I got my ass into gear so my sister could get something yummy in her tummy.  You see, she can get particularly rabid if not fed well.

We arrived at Stockyards and found ourselves second in line.  There was a party of four in front of us.  As soon as we got seated, we were brought water.  Then we were brought (humongous) cups of coffee , and then they took our order.  They did all that with a smile.  A genuine smile.  I loved it.
Peruse the menu:

The OBVIOUS choice is chicken and waffles.  We also settled on The Whole 9 Yards.  I say 'settled' because I really wanted EVERYTHING.  

The Whole 9 Yards
Everything on the plate was so flavourful.  So much going on and as my sister said..."mmm, I like it!!!"  Deep fried poached eggs.  Makes me happy!  Fried green tomatoes.  Makes me happy!  Beans and delicious sausage patties and the most spectacular, fatty, succulent meaty piece of smoked bacon.  Makes me horny!  Gasp, I kid, I kid!

Fried Chicken and Waffles

The chicken and waffles were badass.  I loved how it all worked together like magic.  Fluffy waffles that witheld their bounce and didn't get soggy.  Amazingly-fried savoury chicken with a tasty crust and crunch.  All doused with some seriously lickable chili maple molasses citrus glaze. Finished with a sprinkling of rosemary.

I swore right there.

Stockyards is all about rich savoury flavours for brunch.  And who doesn't want to start their weekend like that?

I'm adding this gem to my list.  My list is THE list.  

The Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder on Urbanspoon