L'Avenue, Montreal

L'Avenue, Montreal

I have a slight problem in my relationship...I LOVE brunch, but my husband does not! Whenever we plan to go for brunch, we always end up arguing because of his lack of interest for the meal. How can one not get excited about brunch??? To me, it just doesn't make any sense.

This is how our conversation went:

Me: "So, what do you feel like for brunch?"
CK: "I don't care."
Me: "You don't care? You've got to be in the mood for something!"
CK: "I hate brunch, you know that."
Me: "How can you hate brunch? Who hates brunch!?"
CK: "I don't like eggs, bacon or sausages so that doesn't leave me with much. The menu is always the same...."

I'm not sure why I can't accept the fact that he doesn't like brunch, but I can't. It's insane to me. After going back and forth for a while, we FINALLY decided on L'Avenue, a hip little joint in the Plateau area. Luckily, we love dining out together, so in the end, that's what really mattered.

When you first walk into the place, it almost has a funky club like feel. There is loud music playing in the background, and the front of the resto has a graffiti'd wall with a motorcycle hanging off the ceiling.

L'Avenue, Montreal

They have an extensive menu with both breakfast and lunch choices. Make sure you brush up on your French because they do not have English menus. The wait staff are all very nice and are willing to translate if needed.

The menus also had a funky feel to them. To me, it resembled a record album.

Menu at L'Avenue
Menu at L'Avenue

After waiting outside in line for 30 minutes, we were finally able to order.

To start, I ordered a cafe au lait. I was pleasantly surprised at the size of my coffee. The cup was massive. What can be better than to start a Sunday morning with a caffeine overload.

Cafe au Lait
Cafe au Lait

I debated between a few options, and ended up with the chorizo II eggs benedict. This was served with hollondaise sauce and pieces of sauteed chorizo, onions, red peppers, and potatoes. On the side were garlic & herb potatoes and a fruit kebab. What I loved was that the eggs were poached perfectly! Soft and super runny...just the way I like it. I highly recommend this dish. A perfect salty/spicy combination.

Eggs Benedict with Chorizo
Chorizo II

The fruit kebab came with cantoloupe, honey dew, grapefruit, banana, pineapple, and watermelon.

Fruit Kebab
Fruit Kebab

CK ordered the french toast with strawberries, bananas, and blueberries. It was fresh, light, and delicious! This dish was massive. CK got a little embarrassed when it arrived because everyone was staring at how huge it was.

French Toast with Fruit
French Toast with Strawberries, Bananas, and Blueberries

We were both insanely stuffed - and satisfied - by the end of our meal.

922 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Telephone: 514-523-8780

L'Avenue on Urbanspoon

Bofinger, Paris

Bofinger, Paris

When I asked my Parisian friend, Philippe, to recommend a good restaurant in Paris, he replied Bofinger. It is a very traditional French restaurant he said, good food...very popular. He regrettably could not join us that evening, so he sketched us a quick map of how to get there, and sent us off.

Bofinger is a historical Parisian brasserie. Over 100 years old, Bofinger has a reputation as a place where French presidents, prime minsters, politicians and writers frequently dine and meet up.

While the food was not knock your socks off spectacular, there were elements that were done superbly (like their foie gras), and the whole vibe of the place screamed old world French. It is a place worth checking out.

Our meal started with pretzels and olives.

Olives and Pretzels
Pretzels and Olives

My appetizer was the home made foie gras with brioche toast. The foie gras was just perfect...delicate, smooth, and rich.

Home Made Fois Gras
Home Made Foie Gras

Brioche Toast
Brioche Toast

My main was the medium rare duck breast with polenta. I didn't care much for the polenta but the duck was cooked very nicely. It was suprisingly tender...not even the slightest bit chewy.

Duck Breast with Polenta

My American friend, Y, ordered a steak well done with diet pepsi. The one thing about the French is that they are not shy about being snobs. When the waiter heard Y's order, he was completely flabbergasted. He rolled his eyes, and started to insult Americans in front of her. After a good minute of listening to how Americans don't know good food, he stood there expecting her to change her order. Y was firm on her order and refused to change it. From that point on, we were invisible to them. I found the whole situation humorous, and had quite the laugh. Y felt otherwise...she was both embarrased and angry...I didn't blame her for feeling that way.

Well Done Steak

Her steak was served with fries, tomatoes, beans, and gravy.

Fries, Tomatoes, and Beans


For dessert, I forced Y to order the cherry clafoutis. By that point, she had had enough of the place but I convinced her to stay for dessert. Y loved her clafoutis, and did not regret ordering it.

Cherry Clafoutis

My dessert was the apricot soup. This was just perfect for me...tart and light.

Apricot Soup
Apricot Soup

5-7 Rue de la Bastille
75004 Paris, France
Telephone: 01 42 72 87 82

Laduree, Paris

La Duree, Paris

While I was in Paris, the only place I really wanted to check out was Pierre Herme. The moment I checked into my hotel, I went straight to concierge for directions on how to get to the shop.

I started explaining to concierge about how I was excited to try a Pierre Herme macaron, and her eye brow instantly raised. "Oh, you want macarons? You know, if you really want the best traditional macarons and cakes, Ladurée is where you want to go. If you want to try modern macarons, then go to Pierre Herme." After a bit more discussion, she finally convinced me to go to Ladurée first. I figured I could check out Pierre Herme afterwards.

If you're a food enthusiast, I'm sure you've read countless articles and posts about Ladurée. Laduree is most famous for their macarons. According to David Lebovits, the four shops in Paris sell 12,000 macarons a day. That's ALOT of macarons!

It turns out, macarons didn't always have that creamy ganache filling that you see today. They actually had no filling. The two macaron shells were joined together while still warm, allowing the shells to fuse together as they cooled. It was Pierre Desfontaines (second cousin to Louis Ernest Ladurée) that suggested adding a filling to this almond delight.

Today, once baked and filled, Ladurée macarons are set aside for 2 days before hitting the store front. This is apparently the perfect length of time to achieve the perfect texture and taste. It's all a science.

There was a huge line up outside the store when I arrived. After waiting patiently for 20 minutes, I ordered my macarons.

I had 6 different flavors: licorice, black current violet, orange blossom, caramel with salted butter, rose, and cherry.

La Duree Macarons

As you can imagine, the texture and flavors were perfect. Of all the flavors I tried, my favorite, surprisingly, was by far black licorice. The sweetness of the almonds and sugar, combined with the subtle anise flavor was a winning combination. The rose and caramel flavors were also high on my list.

Ladurée is very anal about taking photos in the shop. So many people got yelled at for taking out their cameras. I wanted to buy one of their cakes just so I could get a photo, but decided that was just crazy.

I may not be a cake fan, but I do love candy:

La Duree, Paris
Candy from Ladurée

Candy from La Duree
Candy from Ladurée

In the end, I didn't go to Pierre Herme. Like Ladurée, the line up was long. I was running late for my date - a boat tour along the Seine - and just didn't have the time to wait.

La prochaine fois, next time!

21 rue Bonaparte
75006 Paris, France
Telephone: 01 44 07 64 87

Olive et Gourmando, Montreal

Olive et Gourmando, Montreal

One of my favorite places in Montreal is Olive et Gourmando. Situated in Old Montreal, this is a charming place to get fresh food! I love introducing this place to people, and will take a special trip to Montreal just to do so!

This place is always buzzing with people - regardless of the time. On my last visit, P and I got a seat right beside the kitchen, where we had a great view of the chefs in action.

Olive et Gourmando, Montreal
View from our Seat

We both ordered a home made strawberry vanilla lemonade to start, and me needing a caffeine fix, I ordered a latte as well. The home made lemonade was refreshing, and the coffee was awesome.

Vanilla Strawberry Lemonade
Strawberry Vanilla Lemonade and Latte

To start, P and I split the fresh fruit bowl, a medley of fruits including pears, currants, melons, grapes, and figs! Need to get my fibre.

Fresh Fruit Bowl
Fresh Fruit Bowl

My favorite dish is the house made Ricotta. You can order this salty or sweet...for me, it was a no brainer: SALTY all the way. The ricotta was drizzled with olive oil, and topped with rosemary, parsley and chives, sea salt, and pepper. Served with the ricotta are roasted tomatoes and toast. This dish is just mind blowing...so simple yet a subtle burst of flavors.

Ricotta and Tomatoes
House Made Ricotta and Roasted Tomatoes

P ordered the cubain: a hot panini with ham, braised pork, Gruyere cheese, and homemade mayonnaise. The mayonnaise made of chipotle peppers, pickles, lime, and coriander made this dish!

Pork Sandwich
Cubain Panini

For dessert, I chose a flaky cheese croissant....yes, you heard right, a cheese croissant! The waitress was sweet enough to cut it into two pieces for P and I to share.

Cheese Croissant
Cheese Croissant

P's choice was the house made turtle bar: fresh shortbread, caramel, chocolate, and fleur de sel. Everything is house made!

Turtle Bar
House Made Turtle Bar

Olive et Gourmando
351 Saint-Paul West
Old Montreal, Quebec
Telephone: 514-350-1083

Olive Et Gourmando on Urbanspoon

Merguez Lamb Sausage Cous Cous

Cous Cous with Lamb Sausage

I don't cook much with lamb, and have honestly been a little afraid of it because it is somewhat foreign to me. I love eating it, but that's about it.

When hubby came home with some Merguez lamb sausages, I had no choice! I'm glad he did because my cous cous turned out to be a hit. I wanted it to have a North African flare, so I threw together some ingredients I had around the house, and BAM!

Merguez sausages are spicy, so be careful when adding the cayenne pepper if you can't handle a lot of spice!

This recipe yields 4 small servings.

Merguez Lamb Sausage Cous Cous
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 slivered almonds, toasted
- 250g Merguez lamb sausage
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 small onions , finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depends on how much heat you want)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 1 cup cous cous
- extra virgin olive oil
- pinch of cinnamon
- salt + pepper to taste

1. Pan fry the sausages on medium-high heat with some olive oil until fully cooked. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

2. In a pan, saute the onions with some olive oil until slightly translucent. Add the red peppers and zucchini and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, turmeric, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, cinnamon, and bay leaf and simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Add the cous cous, and stir occasionally until the cous cous has absorbed most of the broth. Stir in the sausage, raisins, and almonds. Mix well. Discard the bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.