Foodie Friday – Featuring Montreal

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As you may have noticed from my Instagram or Twitter feed, Alex and I spent the last three days in Montreal for part two of our honeymoon.  Although I had every intention of shopping and cooking in the loft (hotel) we stayed in, we decided that it might be better if we enjoy all of the amazing food that Montreal has to offer.

jour un (day one)

Brunch at Maison Christian Faure

After a five-hour drive all I could think about was coffee and food. We checked into our hotel and found the closest bistro. Maison Christian Faure is bright, white, and a breath of fresh air. Their cappuccino was the best I had during our trip and their club sandwich the most filling. I have to admit that Alex ordered the better dish: a ham, cheese, and mushroom croissant. The croissant was made of buttery dreams and magic (or whatever croissants are made of). It was fluffy, crunchy, and savory whereas my sandwich (although tasty) had cold chicken and hard-boiled eggs. Definitely not as magical. The sandwich did come with crispy chips and a fresh salad though.

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Alex’s ham, cheese, and mushroom croissant.
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My club sandwich

Dinner at Tapas 24

Full disclosure; since I work for Serrano Imports (an importer of Spanish cured meats and specialty items) I take any meals at Spanish Tapas restaurants very seriously.

Tapas 24 has an extensive tapas menu and loads of drinks to choose from. They have two ways to order, either you pick and choose from the menu or you give your waitress your budget and she comes up with your perfect menu. We chose the former since I can proudly list off any of the items with the correct pronunciation.

I’ve been to several Spanish restaurants in Toronto and was happy to see what Montreal had to offer. The jamon croquettes and boquerones (white anchovies) were delicious and the bread with manchego cheese divine, but the highlight of our meal was the sausage and seafood paella. The protein was cooked to perfection while the rice still had a bite to it. It was perfectly seasoned and exactly what we needed to fill us up.

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from left to right: salchichon iberico, jamon iberico, and chorizo iberico – Also, BREAD ❤

jour deux (day two)

Breakfast at Tommy

If I was a place and not a person I would be Tommy: simple, classic, and highly caffeinated. Picture white walls, high ceilings, and a leafy chandelier mixed with three floors of industrial looking chairs and tables and couches taken directly from an Anthropologie catalogue. The smell of coffee creates an intoxicating hazy smog begging any who enter to order a cup or two. Did I mention they had a mix of modern jazz and amazing oldies meant to serenade all of your troubles away?

OH! We went very simple for breakfast and munched on a Nutella brioche and croissant while downing a few strong and tasty cups of joe. I promised myself that if I ever find return to Montreal I will spend a few days sitting in Tommy, writing to my heart’s content.

Lunch at Le Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal

On a desperate hunt for soup and salad, we stumbled into Le Magasin Général du Vieux-Montréal which is a store of awesome trinkets, as well as, a place to eat. Think exposed brick, hipster severs, and a live piano player stuffed in between crowded tables.

Unfortunately, on this cool April day in Montreal the restaurant we stumbled into didn’t have a soup of the day as the menu made us believe. So, as per usual, I settled for a club sandwich and salad. The chicken was warm and meaty, the salad and veggies utterly fresh and expertly dressed. The meal was so good that I forgot all about the soup and  the fact that I planned on taking a photo to chronicle meal deux on jour deux in Montreal.

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Dinner at Bevo

If you’re looking for a good plate of pasta, look no further than Bevo. The lasagna tasted like Nonna’s (bechamel sauce anyone?) and the gnocchi hit the spot. For me, pasta is all about the sauce and although their sauce didn’t taste like my mom’s it was definitely an authentic Italian tomato-based sauce.

I would recommend trying pizza, as that is what they’re known for. Nearly every table around us got a pizza and as I sat there and watched them eat, I had serious regrets ordering pasta. If you happen to be in the area, FedEx me a slice?

jour trois (day three)

Lunch at Montreal Poutine

The only time I ever crave fries with gravy is Thanksgiving.  We have this decade-old tradition of heading to Downey’s Farm and getting fries from the food truck on their grounds. They used to be my favourite spot for fries, until the other day when I tried Montreal Poutine.

Crispy fries, thick gravy, and creamy cheese curds – what more can you ask for on a gloomy Wednesday? Good service maybe? Well, you’re in luck because the staff at Montreal Poutine is just as wonderful as their fries! Go. Just go. You won’t regret it!

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Dinner at Joe Beef

Where do I even begin to explain the experience of dining at Joe Beef? If you’re looking for fresh ingredients, incredible service, and a completely new dining experience, Joe Beef is the place.

We only managed to squeeze in a last-minute reservation thanks to my boss: a spot at the bar at 7:00 PM on a Wednesday. I’ll admit that I was less than thrilled to be propped up at a crowded bar but now that I’ve eaten there, I wouldn’t have dined any other way.

Two minutes after being seated we were on first-name basis with every server, bartender, waiter, and busboy within reach. Each person met us with grins and firm handshakes, as if they wanted to get to know us (and everyone else sitting nearby because that is exactly how they treated each customer).

Our waiter/bartender slowly and generously went through the entire menu with us, as it’s written on a chalkboard above the bar and in French.  His knowledge was extensive and incredibly impressive. He even recommended which dishes we should try and knew which wines we would enjoy most.

We ate like pigs kings. We tried six of the appetizers before moving onto our mains. I tried things that I have never eaten in my life – like chicken liver mousse and tartare! Each dish was presented with such beauty and purpose that I couldn’t help but dig into delicacies that I never thought I would try (I’m a food lover but not a very adventurous one).

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Calamari stuffed with sausage in a lobster bisque sauce etc. etc.
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Lamb tartare and chickpeas etc. etc.
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Jambon, fresh mozzarella, and asparagus

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Alex’s main – it was demolished before I got to taste it
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Bone marrow and mashed potatoes (I WOULD GO BACK JUST FOR THIS)!!!
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Lobster spaghetti, need I say more?

Between dishes we chatted with the staff and other customers sitting beside us. We shared drinks with them, laughed with them, and enjoyed nearly three hours of food, great music, and honest conversation. I would go back to Montreal JUST for the atmosphere at Joe Beef. Every person on staff looked happy, like they were having fun, like they loved their jobs, like they were unapologetically living their best lives! Have you ever felt that way about work or witnessed anyone at work who did? I haven’t and their vibe was completely infectious.

I’m not sure if every evening at Joe Beef is as unbelievable as the evening that Alex and I shared but I like to think that they are. I like to think that every guest at Joe Beef leaves  feeling full, satisfied, and optimistic about their own future.

Thank you for everyone working that night for an evening to remember! A special shout out to Chef Marco; thank you for a meal that I’ve actually run out of adjectives trying to describe.

Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

Foodie Friday – Family Business(es)

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I’ve been surrounded by entrepreneurs and numerous men and woman who have taught me the importance of passion and a good work ethic my entire life. Many of my family and friends have inspired me to dream bigger, work harder, and continue to write lists filled with goals.

Recently two dynamic duos in my family have opened their own food related businesses and I’m using this week’s Foodie Friday to spread the word!

Core Fresh Bar

Core Fresh Bar is a company started by two of my cousins. They create, bake, and sell all natural, vegan, and gluten free treats. Their variety of treats include energy bites, cookies, granola, and the breakfast cookies. I’ve tried their  Brownie Energy Bites and Choco-Coffee cookies. Both are moist, flavorful, and the perfect snack before bed or after a workout. Learn more about Core Fresh Bar and their beliefs here. Let me know if you place an order!

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Mi Meals

Mi Meals was started by my sister and brother-in-law. They are two trained chefs who work in different restaurants but have always wanted to create their own menus and meals together. They have a passion for creating dishes that are delicious and healthy. They’ve wanted to start their own business for years and finally decided to take the plunge! Their meals are for people on the go who don’t have the time or energy to shop, prep, create, and cook their own meals. They have various options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I’ve tried them all (over the years). You can find them on Instagram – tell them I sent you! 

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Hungrily yours,

Vanessa xo

 

My Breakfast with Fate

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Fate can come in different shapes and forms; it can be personified as a person, place, coincidence, accident, letter, email, or sign. I met Fate mid-Sunday morning at a new diner close to home. This version of Fate came in a 5 foot 2 bundle of confidence and happiness complete with gorgeous eyes and an open heart. I call her Alanna, mostly because that is her name but I digress.

Alanna and I have been friends since high school and after we meet up I always find myself a smidgen more confident and a boatload more inspired. As always, our conversation went from love and married life to work, family, and friends. We talked about adulting and everything that goes along with it. What struck me most about our conversation was how in the last few years we’ve changed dramatically. Thanks to our own circumstances, we’ve become more confident, happy, and untouched by the opinions of others. We went from caring about what people think about us to completely not giving a f*&$. There is an incredible freedom that comes with letting going of insecurities brought on by other.

Eventually our conversation veered to our creative pursuits, she is one half of Out of the Blue and I’m a writer.  She asked me how my writing is going and it’s definitely going – fingers crossed that the literary agent interested in my work gets back to me in 2017 with some good news. We started talking about another story that I’ve been itching to write. A story that has been right in front of me for years but I haven’t sat down to let it all out. It would be really cool to see both perspectives side-by-side.  I think you should write this book, Alanna said.

The more we discussed it the more I realized that I had to go for it…

Writerly yours,

Vanessa xo

Mini-Honeymoon in Toronto

I’ve learned recently that the two questions newlyweds receive most are:

  1. Where are you going on your honeymoon?
  2. When are you having kids? (Please stop asking me this)

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With Christmas right around the corner and the simple fact that more than a week off work for myself and my husband wasn’t viable, we decided to spend a few days in Toronto. Alex was in charge of booking the hotel and stumbled on a great deal from The Shangri-La Hotel. I have only been to the Shangri-La once before for a book event years ago BUT I’ll tell you one thing, I COULD GET USED TO LIFE AT THE SHANGRI-LA! Apart from the stunning atmosphere, the location, and the luxurious suites, the service there is above anything I’ve ever witnessed. From friendly hellos, to offering to bring our coffee upstairs, to prompt room service, and giving impeccable directions, the entire staff knows how to treat their guests. If I ever decide to splurge on another staycation, I’d LOVE to have a girl’s weekend down there and really enjoy the pool and the spa too!

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Views from our sweet suite! 

We thought we would be all touristy and hit up the ROM, the AGO, and maybe even the Aquarium BUT we were completely exhausted from the wedding night and all of the stress leading up to it that we vegged out as much as we could. I even took a bath, A BATH, for the first time in years I sat down in deliciously scented warm water, closed my eyes, and sat in silence. Best weekend ever.

Apart from relaxing, we ventured out during the day, trying out new restaurants, coffee shops, and simply enjoying the gorgeous November weather. We had lunch at BOSK, dinner at Bestellen, and a late lunch with a few friends on Sunday at Patria.

We were blown away by the beauty and taste of each meal we had. I would recommend all three restaurants to anyone who finds themselves in the city and in need of a good meal.

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QUANTUM COFFEE FOR THE WIN – best hot chocolate in the city! 

Since Toronto is not foreign to us and we’ve spent many evenings walzting around town , our honeymoon seemed more like a regular weekend than something extravagent (the only difference was being referred to as Mrs. Buccella! <3). That may sound awful but it’s exactly what I love about us; we find joy in the simplist of things, in quiet evenings, excellent meals, and time with each other. Here’s to many more adventures as husband and wife!

Restfully yours,

Vanessa xo

Pizza Month @qmpizza

Pizza is one of my favourite food groups (pasta and coffee are tied for first). I waitressed at the best pizza place in Bolton for nearly ten years, so when I say that I understand pizza I mean it. From the dough to the sauce to the toppings, everything must be calcualted and made with love. My favourite pizza was made by Domenic Caruso during our lunch breaks. Although the pizza he made was normally thick crust to hold the toppings, for lunch he would make the staff the thinnest crust imaginable. The toppings included broccoli, prosciutto cotto, diced white onions, mozzarella cheese, NO SAUCE, and homemade spicy oil. It was heavenly. I’ve never come close to having pizza I enjoyed as much as my ex-boss’ until now!

Did you know that October is Pizza Month!? To celebrate I was sent a gift certificate for Queen Margherita Pizza by my friends at Brand & Buzzing. Alex and I used it as a an excuse for date night. We headed to the Annette location with nothing but time and empty stomachs.

We started with the grilled kale and fried calamari – both were amazing! Then moved onto the margehrita pizza. The dough was light and thin, the sauce not too sweet, the cheese utterly delicious, the basil and sprinkle of olive oil gave the perfect balance. Alex and I agreed that QMP would be our new go-to pizza place. 

Are you ready to celebrate Pizza Month? QMP is offering margherita pizza + beer = $10 at all 3 locations! 

Carb-lovingly yours,

Vanessa xo

P.S.  This isn’t an ad. I went, I saw, I ate, and I wrote about it. I don’t write about things, places, books, or meals I don’t like. There’s enough negativity in this world.