Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert 2016

One of my favorite Montreal events is here: the Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert. It’s a great event to learn about eco food trends and try lots of food samples.

At the 19th edition of the Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert, health food, ecology and global health enthusiasts will be able to treat all their senses on March 11-12-13 at the Palais des congrès in Montréal and March 19-20 at the Centre des congrès in Québec City! More than 30,000 visitors in those two cities are expected to attend the largest Spring food and health event in Québec.

Visit CulturEatz’s facebook post and enter to win 1 pair of tickets for the Montreal Expo!

Expo Manger Santé et Vivre Vert

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LeCHOP table d’hôte event

LeCHOP: Montreal’s 4th Annual Prix Fixe Culinary Event Serves up an exclusive experience for dining enthusiasts

Restaurants in Montreal are fired up and ready to serve up fine cuisine at chopped down prices! The 4th annual LeCHOP table d’hôte event takes place January 4, 2016 to February 11, 2016 at five participating restaurants.

L’Atelier d’Argentine Downtown, L’Atelier d’Argentine Vieux-Port, Decca77, Newtown, and Wienstein & Gavino’s will host this celebration of fabulous food combined with a culinary competition of skill and taste. The event offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a delicious prix fixe 3-course dinner for just $25.00 at all participating restaurants.

LeCHOP

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Happening Gourmand 2016

The 9th annual Happening Gourmand is just around the corner. From January 7 to February 7 2016, enjoy amazingly priced meals in eight restaurants scattered throughout Old Montreal.

Many people in Montreal like to think that winter is meant to hibernate and stay indoors. Well I have never let a little snow or cold stop me from going out and having a good time. And many Montreal establishments try to get the lazy bears out with clever ideas. One of my favorite ones is the annual Happening Gourmand.

A group of restaurants located in Old Montreal offer very reasonably set priced three-course menus for a few weeks right after the holidays. This year’s Happening Gourmand will take place from January 7 to February 7, 2016. See all the deets below or check out the website!

So go out and enjoy a fabulous meal in Old Montreal. Have you ever taken a walk in Old Montreal on a warm winter night after a fresh snowfall? It is simply magical.

Happening Gourmand 2016

Media Outings: Je t’aime en Chococlat & Wafu on Dragon’s Den

One fun perk about running a food blog is getting the occasional media event invite. After a while they sort of all blend together. Well this time I got 2 really original invitations I could not pass up: one by Je t’aime en Chocolat, the 3rd annual chocolate fair the weekend before St-Valentines Day, and Wafu, a Montreal company that specializes in Japanese dressings and mayonnaise, which recently appeared on Dragon’s Den.

The Je t’aime en Chococlat event is brimming with artisan chocolates from all over the Province of Quebec. I was spoiled with so many sample and the 5 friends that came with me enjoyed the wonderful treats each kiosk gave away. Ganache and flavored caramels seemed to be quite in fashion. Some of the artisans present were:

chocolate loot 3

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Montreal Diner en Blanc 2012

A few weeks ago I attended a truly unique foodie event called Diner en Blanc (Diner in White): an outdoor meal set in a mystery location while everyone sports white clothes, white shoes and white accessories, carrying their tables with white table cloth and white chairs . This event takes place in about 12 different countries at different dates. It started about15 years ago in Paris.

©Jean-Marc de Grandpre

This year was the 4th edition of the Montreal Diner en Blanc but it was my first year participating. Why did I wait so long? Well the first year I missed the scoop and then the following years the rules changed: you have to bring your own table, chairs, real dishes, real utensils and real wine glasses. Too much of a hassle! Also you must be accompanied by someone of the opposite sex (rules have relaxed this year for same sex couples).

©Jean-Marc de Grandpre

Finally I caved in this year and decided to attend this unique experience. My beau was not free that night so I asked a colleague to be my date…thankfully he took charge of the ‘furniture’. You can ask to be seated with friends too online so we were actually a group of 5 couples. We gathered our dinner kit but we opted for the catered picnic basket. Great decision! We just had to get our wine too.

©Jean-Marc de Grandpre

The location is only revealed 30 minutes before event. How? When you reserve online you are asked to choose one of the many meeting spots around the city. Once there, everyone piles into one of the tour buses which drive us all to the mystery outdoor location. The bus leader announces where we are going as we drive there. Our secret location this year? The terrace of Place des Arts, Montreal’s major performing arts center, right in the heart of downtown.

Everything is choreographed: you are assigned a seating area and everyone sets up their tables. As we get ready to sit down and eat, the sun is starting to set. All you see is a stunning sea of white. This year no less than 4,200 people participated.

©Jean-Marc de Grandpre

We eat, we drink, we talk…everyone is merry. Our catered picnic includes a gaspacho soup, a fancy chicken wrap, 2 salads, a cheese and fruit platter, bread, and a Jack Daniels Panna Cotta.

The party really begins when everyone lights a sparkler. I am not sure if it was planed but the white balloons given earlier to each lady were released as well. Two thousands helium white balloons dancing together as they flew up to meet the stars in the sky. This was one of the most magical and spectacular moments of my life.

The DJ got his groove on as the dance floor opened. The tiny dance floor was flooded in an instant so people just shook their booty wherever they stood. A large crowd kicked our shoes of their shoes and got into the huge basin fountain. I joined of course and it was a totally cool moment. We laughed at the locals and tourist who laughed and snapped pictures of us.

 

©Jean-Marc de Grandpre

Around 11pm we started to pack up, leaving absolutely nothing behind: no imprint on the environment is emphasized (except for the balloons apparently). Thousands of happy and tired people made their way back to the buses which brought us back to the pick up location.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! It is a lot of work and preparation to get there but it truly is a magnificent and special experience. Some say it is old fashioned and presumptuous. I kinda of thought that before too but not anymore. It’s lighthearted old world charm and glamor.

A Special night: DE LA RUE AUX ÉTOILES

Everyone in Montreal is familiar with the epic Dans la Rue organization, which was Founded by Father Emmett Johns (nicknamed Pops) in 1988. This grassroots, community-based organization works with street kids and at-risk youth aged 12 to 25. The philosophy of of the organization is to help without judgment into action by providing street kids with food, shelter and support through our outreach programs.

The main ‘vehicle’ of this organization the Van and its hotdogs. The Van roams the streets of Montreal, five nights a week from 8 p.m. until the wee hours of the morning providing food, hot drinks and toiletries to youths in need. The Van is often the first line of contact with many street kids. Back in the day when I was more of a rebel I had a few friends that were runaways living on the streets. Following these friend one night I ended up  inside the Van and was handed a hotdog that I refused. I just pretend to be bad but lived well in a house with parents who loved me. I felt guilty taking that hotdog from some else who really needed it. It was a humbling experience I never forgot.

I am so honored to be included in this year’s DE LA RUE AUX ÉTOILES event, an evening of friendly competition amongst some of the city’s current most talked about chefs. This delicious evening for a good cause will take place on September 27th. Each chef is coupled with a local food blogger. I have been matched with chef Benjamin Léonard at Bocata. It’s my first time so not sure what it will involve yet, maybe it will be my chance also to help out in the kitchen with a chef in this year’s theme: the Taco.

After all I did a good job when I made this Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa 😉

PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS:
BICE
Pintxo
Ferreira Café
Le Boucan
Bocata
BAXO
Tuck Shop
Taverne Gaspar
Le St-Urbain (dessert station) with Van Houtte Coffee

The evening will also include amazing street entertainment and groove rhythms, while enjoying the most scenic views of Montreal. All profits of this wonderful evening of haute street cuisine will support Dans la rue, an organization helping young people get off the streets.

COME SEE OUR GUEST CHEFS REINVENT THE TACO AND CAST YOUR VOTE FOR THE BEST TACO!

September 27th, 2012, 6pm
Montreal Science Centre – Le Belvédère
Ticket: $125 (receipt of $100), 10 tickets: $1,000 (receipt of $750)
Call 514-526-5222 to buy your tickets.

Fish tortilla citrus vanilla gastrique radish salsa

A wonderful new way to enjoy a fish tortilla: top it with a fabulous citrus & vanilla gastrique and a radish salsa! Served with battered radish leaves.

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Ladies and Germs: 5 Star Makeovers is at WAR this month. Yes you read me right. We have created our very own friendly competition based on Restaurant Wars, like the popular part of the Top Chef show. Members of this fabulous gourmet group were divided into teams of 3. We had to come up with a restaurant or menu based on an ingredient or concept. My personal challenge: radishes meet fish tortilla!

Does life imitate art or art imitate life? Who knows but unfortunately we did loose some teams along the way following incidents. Mine survived without any battle. I am so happy to have worked with my 2 particular team members Faith and Shannon. We all got along fabulously, came to decisions rather fast and we were very encouraging of one another.

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa

My team chose radishes and we announced our menu about a month ago here: Raphanus! Celebrating the Radish. Not one of us were particular fans of this vegetable but we all appreciated the challenge of turning this foe into a shinning star for our dishes. And since that was not tough enough we added another aspect: there must be a citrus vanilla component to our dish. All 3 of us were ready to confront our radish dish with our chef’s sleeves rolled up. Who won? In the end the radish won us all over.

After reading my post please go visit the rest of my team so you can see our complete menu. You will find Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links. I can’t wait to go check them out. But first let’s take a look at my dish, the main course:

Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa, battered radish leaves.

Say that 3 times fast lol. It’s a mouth full…but a so delicious one. OK so my vanilla component is a vanilla gastrique. I never made one before so this was new. A gastrique is a reduction of a sweet and sour element, usually sugar and vinegar. I added a vanilla bean to mine. This stuff is freaking addictive it’s ridiculous. I used it as part of my Radish salsa vinaigrette.

I more then covered the citrus factor. In total I used satsuma mandarin juice, Yuzu lemon juice, dried orange peel and lime juice. I also wanted to add a little heat to my dish since it has a Tex Mex flair. I chose a Serrano pepper and some habanero infused salt, just a touch.

My radish salsa plays the crowning jewel atop of a fantastic fish tortilla dish. Although I enjoy it I don’t prepare a whole lot of Tex Mex, it’s not part of my culture. And I had never had a fish in a tortilla before, something I had been curious about after seeing such a dish featured on a few blogs. Well it was just fantastic and the sweet tanginess of the radish salsa gave it a perfect flavor kick.

And there is a side dish surprise recipe all the way at the bottom of this post!

 

Vanilla Gastrique

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup Zinfandel vinegar (you can use any vinegar)
1/2 vanilla bean, split length wise

Add all ingredients to a pan and place on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by 1/3 and is syrupy. Allow to cool and discard bean.

Red and Black Radishes, the Stars of the show

 

Radish Salsa adapted from Figareau

12 radishes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from 1 satsuma mandarin (or orange)
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu lemon juice (or lime)
1 tbsp vanilla gastrique
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch habanero infused salt (or plain salt)
Pepper to taste

Washed, trim and dice finely the radishes. Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.

Ξ Fish tortilla with a citrus & vanilla gastrique radish salsa Ξ

team radish 15

For the fish

1 1/2 lbs firm white fish (I used Tilapia)
1 teaspoon lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon dried orange peel
Dash of salt and pepper

Heat grill or oven to 400F. Place fish in an aluminum pan, coat with olive oil, lime juice and spices. Cook about 10 minutes (more or less) until fish comes apart with a fork.

team radish 6  team radish 7

team radish 1  team radish 5b

Assembly

tortillas
red bean paste
prepared fish
red onions, thinly sliced
cilantro
sour cream with a touch of lime juice and diced Serrano pepper.
radish salsa

Line plate with tortillas. Spoon a layer of red bean paste. Place fish on top of red beans.
Top fish with red onions, cilantro, sour cream and radish salsa. Makes 4 individual servings or 1 big plate to divide.

WAIT, one more recipe, a SIDE DISH adapted from Kitchen Gossip. Why throw away those lovely radish greens? These fritters are like a cross between hush puppies and an Indian Bahji – unique to say the least.

team radish 4  team radish 11

team radish 12

Ξ Battered radish leaves Ξ

2 cups radish leaves, chopped
3 heaping tbsp cornmeal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 Serrano chili, finely chopped
1 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Paprika
Salt to taste
Oil to Deep Fry
Water

Mix leaves, flours and spices in a bowl. Add a little bit of water at a time and mix until batter is sticky
Shape into small balls and deep fry in oil at 375F until golden brown.
Drain on paper towels before serving. Enjoy hot or cold.

Don’t forget to go visit Shannon’s radish themed appetizer and Faith’s radish themed dessert  by clicking on their respective links after leaving a comment. Thank you to our amazing organizer who came up with this brilliant concept: Natasha at 5 Star Foodie &  Laz at Lazaro Cooks!