Foodie Penpals: a Snacking Good Time

This is my first time participating in this fun exchange idea, Foodie Penpals. The idea is to send and receive a foodie care package of around 15$. Actually it has a lot of similarities with my old defunct program The Foodie Exchange where people chose each other. In the Foodie Penpals case the assigning is done for you and everyone posts on the same day.  Person A is assigned to person B (me). And person B (me) is assigned person C. They match you up with people in your country. There are now over 1000 participants.

My first exchange was with Lisa who unfortunately does not have a blog so I can’t link her up. But still I want to send Lisa a big thank you. She is from Calgary and obviously a snack fiend! Here is what I got!

 

 

– Two items for a sweet tooth like me:

  • Taste of Nature California Almond Valley bar
  • Tunnocks Bûche Caramel roasted coconut coated wafers

– A box of Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla, a Rooibos tea. Rooibos is one of my favorite teas so I really enjoyed discovering this product.

– A big selection of salty treats from Joe’s Tasty Travels:

  • Deluxe Emperor’s choice Rice Cracker Mix
  •  Cajun Jazz Mix with nut, sesame sticks and toasted corn
  •  Spicy Caribbean Plantain Chips (my favorite item of all)

– And finally, Palace Deli Dry Roasted Edemame

 

If you’re interested in participating for August, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions. You must submit your information by August 4th as pairings will be emailed on August 5th! Hashtag for Twitter #foodiepenpals

Best Thai Curry Tofu EVER for Fait Ici

I have done a lot of curries in my life. Some were good and some were misses. I kept trying new ones now and again. And then I fell on a recipe I changed so much it barely resembles what it was in the first place. So I can calling it my own. This is the Best Thai Curry Tofu EVER recipe. I first did it for Raquel on her birthday dinner, remember the one where I did a cute cartoon Rat Cake? We were both in awe of this curry. Seriously, it is that good and carnivores will not feel depraved.

So when I was invited to very special foodie potluck blog launch party (say that 3 times fast) I knew this was the dish I wanted to contribute to the magnificent spread there would be. This summer I made 2 new friends, Lindsay and Jackson. They are the owner of a very special store called FAIT ICI, an eco-conscious general store. I got to interview them in the store 2 days before opening. The place was a construction zone and the anxiety was palpable yet they took a good 90 min to chat with me. They really have made a point of getting in touch with the people and with the foodie community.

This camaraderie paid off when they contacted some of us foodies about a great project they had in mind: the ici et here blog project. The concept is simple and brilliant: ici et here is a group blog with a fixed lifespan of 52 weeks where 52 posts will be published by 52 different people in both French and English. This blog endeavors to document the interplay of food and life in Montreal. The launch party coincided with the first published post and all the people involved were invited. Yes, yours truly will be one of the 52 authors. I’ll keep you posted when mine is up!

Best Thai Curry Tofu Ever

Ingredients

1 tablespoon oil
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange best), cut into nice chunks
2 zucchinis, sliced thick
10 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon, fresh or frozen lemongrass (1 teaspoon dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes, salt and fry until golden on all sides, stirring occasionally. Set aside in a bowl.

2. Melt butter or margarine in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook and stir until translucent. Add bell peppers and zucchini; cook and stir 5 minutes.

3. Stir in coconut milk, curry powder, lemongrass, salt, pepper and coriander.

4. Return the tofu to the skillet.

5. Simmer over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened up a lot.

Serve on udon noodles, basmati or jasmine rice.

Camp of Cupcake Madness

Today was the day of a long awaited Montreal event: Cupcake Camp Montreal 2010. This event took place at the Fairmount Queen Elizabeth. This was the second year this event takes place in Montreal. Cupcake camp is a 100% volunteer organization that sells cupcakes and has a cupcake competition for the soul purpose of raising funds for charities. This year the recipient charities are Kids Help Phone and Tablée des Chefs.

Last year it was a small event. This year the word got out and it was total madness. Last year it was held at a restaurant, 700 people showed up, 3,500 cupcakes were up for sale and $8,000 was raised. This year the event was help at a huge location, almost 20,000 cupcakes were up for sale, people came in the thousands (2,500 made it in, 2,000 could not get in) and over $34,500 was raised.

The 8 cupcake treasures I took home, see list at bottom

The doors opened at 1pm and we arrived around 1h30pm. We lined up for over 45 min (outdoors and indoors) to get in. There were so many people is was crazy. When we were inside the hosts would politely ask over the speakers for people to leave if they were done as there were 2,000 people waiting outside to get in and the room had reached maximum capacity. It was a madhouse and you had to fight with a smile to get to a cupcake table. It was not only a sugar rush but a cupcake adrenaline rush too! I know of 2 groups of people who gave up and did not wait to get in.

Double line outdoors, and it was COLD

Our gang

The 1,000s of people inside the room

This year’s event was a major success, bigger then possibly imagined. And there were cupcakes everywhere. We were a small gang and separated..the core foodie group sticking together. And we came up with a system: each take a bit out of our cupcakes. I tried a chocolate cinnamon chipolte cupcake; a blue yam and pistachio icing  cupcake; a curry coconut icing cupcake; a fig with blue cheese and violet cupcake; a double chocolate cupcake…those are the ones I remember. Lots of cupcake pics coming up!

Blue yam and pistachio icing

Sorry, but WTF????

A sweet Sheppard's Pie rendition topped with a sweet potato chip

So many cupcakes, I am seeing fuzzy

And here are a few competition entries. Clebretity judges included Chuck Hughes, Nadia G of the Bitchin Kitchen, food critique Leslie Chesterman, Bob le Chef,Ricardo and more.

Montreal themed cupcakes

It was such a madhouse I don’t know if I would have the courage to go again but I do think everyone should experience Cupcake Camp Montreal once in a lifetime. So next year go and get there early armed with patience. It does bring out the kid in all of us.

The 8 cupcakes that made it home:

  1. Chocolate and butter cream icing
  2. Apple something, can’t remember
  3. Vanilla and chocolate chips
  4. Matcha with a mochi on top
  5. Feta, zucchini and rosemary, only savory one I saw
  6. Vanilla with roasted marshmallow topping
  7. Chocolate and tofu
  8. Raspberry, pomegranate and blood orange jelly, white velvet cake and cream cheese icing!

Can you guess what these are?

Calling this Mystery Monday…….both future blogs. Can you guess what the pics are?

What is this?

And what do you think this is?

Super Filipino Exchange

When Mhe-Lhanee of Pens, Pans, and Puns said she did not want to send things to exotic to scare me my answer was simple: Bring it on! And boy did she. There are a couple of really unusual items in this package I cannot wait to try with a touch of unknown apprehension. Its definitely a phenomenal exchange. I love it. I have mostly tried the sweet stuff so far, hey I have a sweet tooth.

  • Peanut sauce mix
  • Spicy sauce mix
  • Chicken pandan mix
  • sauteed shrimp paste
  • banana catsup
  • mussel chips
  • fried pork rinds
  • dilis (anchovies)
  • dried mangoes
  • honey glazed pilinut
  • coffee sample
  • fridge magnet
  • Durian candies and peanut bars

Even one of my cats, Mickey, was terribly excited to sniff out the new arrivals. And I love fridge magnets, so happy to add this one to my collection. Thank you so much Mhe-Lhanee! Want to do an exchange with someone else in the world. Join the Foodie Exchange

Foodie Trails with Foodie Friend: Blackberry Ricotta Filling

Funny how a simple comment on a blog can start a long conversation and eventually turn into a fabulous outing.

Towards the end of 2009 a new member joined the dinner group and she quickly took a liking to my blog and left many great comments. We actually started chatting a bit by email and looked forward to meeting in person soon at a dinner event. This day finally arrived during the group’s Christmas dinner. Unfortunately when you host you cannot spend much time with one person. But emails kept flying between us. One series of comments following the Canolli Daring Bakers Challenge got very heated on my blog…with this lady leading the pack!

Controversy over Canolli! Well that started another set of email exchanges between Claudia and myself. The result: we promised to go on the Foodie outing together that would include canolli! of course life got in the way and it took about 6 months, June 5th 2010, to finally spend the day eating! The day was planned by Claudia (who incidentally started her own food blog since then) and I met her at a subway at noon on that Saturday morning.

I stepped into her car and was quickly given…a canolli lol. What better way to start our adventure. We wolfed them down right in the car in no time. She had another gift for me that we will take a look at later in the post. Canolli are from…

Boulangerie Patisserie Lasalle, 2 locations
8591 Maurice Duplessis, RDP
1550, boulevard Daniel-Johnson, Laval

Next stop was a place Claudia had hear of. This lovely lady opened a stored specializing in stuffed dates. we really stayed quite some time and had a great chat with the owner. She uses two different dates: medjool and deglet nour that come from Tunisia or Algeria. A great tip: she quickly dips the dates in a mix of water and Orange blossom water. It adds a hint of a citrus scent and leaves the date glossy. She swears by Tunisian Orange blossom water alone. There are so many date confections: popular ones are cranberry, lemon, ginger, almond past, etc. Some are dipped ion chocolate (73% cacao exclusively).

Although not sold in the store you can make special savory (very salty is best) orders. Dates stuffed with blue cheese or salmon for example are delicious.

The owner also specializes in unique cookies and other pastries. She offered us scones made with soya flour, cranberries and Musk-mallow flowers. Really unique, I love it. This place is definitely worth the foodie detour.

La confiserie Thamar
168 rue Fleury Ouest, coin Esplanade

Now this next stop was a run in and run out. Claudia normally gets bread here on a weekly basis and we just picked up bread. She pre-ordered their amazing Olive bread. Since there was no more left she gave me one of her two loaves. THANK YOU! it was excellent and the bakery was impressive over all. Lovely huge olives all over the inside….so yummy.

La Petite Boulangerie
1412, Rue Fleury Est Montreal

Next on the tour? Lunch!

We went to a little hidden place in the Ile-de-la-Visitaiton park. Somewhere in the park are the ruins of the old mill that has been converted into a General Store museum up stairs and café-restaurant and adjoining terrace on the bottom floor. The terrace is set up along the small rushing river. You really feel like you are in the country almost. We even saw some local habitants: a few herons. Food is average OK but the location makes up for it. Really great choice.

Claudia: smile! you are on camera!

We made sure to keep room for dessert as Claudia had another surprise in store: gelato! I blog enough about ice cream so she new this would be a guaranteed success stop wise. We went to a traditional Italian place which is a restaurant, a gourmet shop and has a gelato counter.

Great gelato bars but not earth shattering unusual flavors. But it was good. Front cup is mine: Gianducia, Cantaloupe and English Custard flavors. The cantaloupe gelato was phenomenal. Gianducia was a new discovery for me. Gianducia is a sweet chocolate containing about 30% hazelnut paste invented in Turin. basically its natural real Nutella before it was commercialized.

Gelateria Roberto’s
2227 Rue Bélanger

Last stop was La Baia de Fromaggi, a last minute decision. It was not suppose to be an Italian outing, just mostly turned out that way. What a shop! Look at all the cheeses hanging from the ceiling!

Turns out the owner served us and took a liking to us (and is a camera exhibitionist lol). Now most of the conversation was in Italian with Claudia and the owner. I caught on a lot but missed a lot too.  It really added also to the experience. The owner is very proud of his store’s quality, its food…and right fully so! Love this pic of him showing cheeses to Claudia!

I did make a few purchases here which I’ll describe just below as they became my light dinner.

La Baia de Formaggi
1715, Jean-Talon St. E

So I bought some of the best proscuito I ever had (the one the owner held in the picture above) called Proscuito Originale de Parma. Then I told Claudia to pick an Italian cheese I never tasted before for me to try. She chose a Torta al Mascarpone. OMG, its a ‘layered cake’ if you will of gorgonzola and mascarpone. Can you even imagine how divine and rich that was! I served up a slice of each on that olive bread we bought earlier for dinner. It was orgasmic!

So what was my 2nd surprise from Claudia? Shells for canolli…12 of them! She said they were for me to fill will my unique touch. Thank you so much again, Claudia; I was just so touched.

So on my way home I got some ricotta and my inspiration of the moment: blackberries.  See my recipe below.

Blackberry Ricotta Filling

for canolli or what ever you fancy
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
about 1 cup of blackberries

  1. Put everything in a blender and puree.
  2. Place mixture in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Fold cheesecloth over the top.
  3. Let drain overnight in the fridge.
  4. Pipe your filling into the cannolli shells with a party bag or a large zip-lock with a corner tip cut off.

You can read her interpretation of our outing too.  Thank you Claudia for a fabulous day and letting me get to know you one on one…my new friend! To our next outing!

Oyster Shack & Takara Picture Review

It has been too long since I went to these restaurants to write a proper review….and well I may not see them necessarily inspiring enough to really write a full blog about…but don’t let that stop you from going! Both dinners were organized within the Montreal Foodie Blogger secret group.

I do however have some awesome pics from each outing and I wanted to share the photos with you.

First up is the Oyster Shack…which I did like. Never in my life did I ever think I would find a restaurant in the heart of down town that would make me feel, once inside, like I was truly in a sea food shack of the coast of the ocean. And the 5$ martinis till 8pm…HELLO? LOVE it (not every night)

Oyster Shack
1242 Rue Bishop
Montreal, QC H3G 2E3
(514) 395-1888

5$ Martinis, need I say more!

1/2 dozen oyster Rockafeller

Tasty reading ahead, KEEP GOING… →