"Where are you from?" "Chicago." "Chicago? Go Blackhawks!"
August 20, 2013 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Webcomics artist Sarah Becan and her partner traveled to Montreal in June. She illustrated the culinary highlights of their trip for Saveur magazine.
posted by Kitteh (46 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
As a former Montrealer this is spot on, and now I miss Else's like I haven't in years, great Sangria, comic book covers laminated on the table-tops, olives to munch on and the foul breeze of a nearby fishmonger.
posted by furtive at 1:53 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes, you could easily end up missing many of Montreal's cultural sights while being distracted by the food.
posted by GuyZero at 1:54 PM on August 20, 2013


I NEED TO GET POUTINE IN MAH BELLY
SHARE UR POUTINE RECIPES PLZ
POUTINE IS SEXY TIME FOR UR TASTE BUDDIES YES?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:12 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Okay, Joe Beef, this fancy version of the KFC Double Down described here is NOT OKAY.




(because it is not in my hand right now)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:32 PM on August 20, 2013


Beau's brewery is my local. The Bogfather (Imperial) Gruit was their seasonal (one every quarter) for this summer. It's made with bog myrtle as a bittering agent, as well as hops. Interesting, but a bit sweet to my taste.
posted by bonehead at 2:37 PM on August 20, 2013


POUTINE IS SEXY TIME FOR UR TASTE BUDDIES YES?

No. Poutine is vile; poutine is an abomination. A sin against man and God.

I was fortunate enough, when young, to move from my home in Yellowknife, NWT to Lausanne - in Switzerland - for two and a half years, when I was eight. Near the end of my time there, we were having dinner at the house of some Swiss friends who had recently visited Montreal. They asked us where we were moving to, when we left Lausanne. (This with the slight incredulity all Swiss seem to feel when you tell someone you're leaving the town/canton/country.) We told them Ottawa; my father had accepted a job with the federal government. They nodded sagely, and dinner proceeded.

Later that evening, I was pulled aside by the man of the house in a quiet moment. He sat down with me on the back deck and looked me straight in the eye. "So you're moving to Ottawa."
"yes."
"That's pretty close to Quebec."
"yes..."
"Then you might come across this...dish, this thing they do in Quebec. they call it Poutine."

I'd never heard of Poutine.

"poutine?"
My interlocutor pulled a face, like he'd just smelled a skunk. "mhm. They take perfectly good frites, delicious and crispy, and scatter cheese curds on top. Then, they pour" - and here, the disgust on his face blossomed - "gravy on it all!"

I was horrified. You have to understand that, though the best French Fries in Europe are to be found in Belgium, the French parts of Switzerland show themselves very well indeed; I still miss the fries, even many years later. I couldn't imagine putting anything but salt on them; they certainly wouldn't have benefitted from anything else.

And so, we moved back to Canada. Poutine did show up on menus and scribbled chalkboards outside chip trucks.

I never got up the gumption to try it, though.
posted by Fraxas at 2:43 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


Poutine is good comfort food although I think there's a bit of a backlash going on against it. I enjoyed eating at Smoke's in Toronto. But honestly, going to Montreal to eat poutine is really missing the point. Montreal so much more to offer.

they certainly wouldn't have benefitted from anything else.

Imagine if there was a French saying appropriate to this situation... oh wait.

À chacun son goût.
posted by GuyZero at 2:51 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Foci for Analysis: SHARE UR POUTINE RECIPES PLZ

Here is my recipe for poutine:

1) Go to Lafleur.
2) Order a poutine.
3) Eat poutine.

Sometimes I'll mix it up by adding pepper between steps 2 and 3. Also, you can make substitutions in step 1, if desired.
posted by mhum at 2:51 PM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


How lovely, thanks for posting. But my Montreal wanderlust just kicked up 15 notches...
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:02 PM on August 20, 2013


Going to Montreal just to eat poutine would be beside the point. Going to Montreal in your twenties to go out for the evening, to dance and drink too much, then have poutine at 4:30 when the bars close, that's the point. Poutine is hot, greasy, salty street food for when you're too hungry and drunk to head home yet, like donairs in Halifax or pizza in Vancouver.
posted by bonehead at 3:03 PM on August 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seriously, Fraxas? You've never tried it, but it's still vile? I'd say you don't know what you're missing. Although going to Montreal just for the purpose seems like overkill.
posted by northtwilight at 3:05 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed eating at Smoke's in Toronto

no no no - smokes is lousy poutine. Go to poutini's

Poutine is hot, greasy, salty street food for when you're too hungry and drunk to head home yet,

this is exactly right
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:07 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


you could technically make your own poutine as long as you can find cheese curds. don't know if that's just a Quebec thing though.

So get your order of fries (cooked)
Add brown sauce (room temperature)
Sprinkle with cheez curds
stick it in the micro for 45 seconds
there's your poutine.

i mean it's not authentic, but if there's no restaurant to be found that sells it and you have the ingredients, why not?

also the best poutine i have ever had is at Chez Ashton, which actually has all of its locations near Quebec City.
I also hear Gregoire (?) in/near Chateauguay is good, but I've never tried it.
posted by bitteroldman at 3:31 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sarah is awesome!
posted by Tesseractive at 3:38 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


They are lucky they did not visit Vancouver - where admitting you are from Chicago would get you a round of "Booooo! Blackhawks!!!"
posted by helmutdog at 3:48 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Montreal: going to Europe without going to Europe.
posted by 256 at 4:02 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


No. Poutine is vile; poutine is an abomination. A sin against man and God.

WRONG on all except the sin against God, because poutine is a gift from Satan himself. Poutine, particularly in Ottawa, is fucking fantastic. Keep your boring-ass raclette, y'all Swiss are doing potatoes and cheese all wrong yes I went there.

As far as I'm concerned, you have not experienced the Ottawa I'm from until you have stumbled out of the Dominion Tavern drunk on quarts of Labatt 50 and eaten a poutine from Sasha's at 1am. That's the shack out back with the death metal dude that sells ice cream, smokes, and poutine. In an Ottawa winter, it is the best damned food you will ever eat and I am looking forward to it more than I probably should when I go home for a visit later this year. (Realistically though, on more sober scrutiny, the fry trucks sell the best poutine.)

My french-Canadian stepfather swears that the original poutine was fries and cheese curds, and sometimes vinegar. That'd just be weird.
posted by Hoopo at 4:18 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


pizza in Vancouver

I cannot recommend this, there are precious few good pizza places here. The cheap slice places here are all wicked dry and tough and chewy and not very good except for this one place down on Seymour and Pender.

I currently live not far from downtown and will wait upwards of 40 minutes just for Olympia to deliver me a pizza from the west end, because most pizza places here just aren't that great. Huge change from Ontario, I did not know how good I had it for pizza growing up.
posted by Hoopo at 4:44 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Webcomics should NOT make me HUNGRY, you soulless bastards. SHUT UP!
posted by Samizdata at 5:17 PM on August 20, 2013


I was gonna say... pizza is pretty terrible in Vancouver. There are exceptions but it's pretty bad.

Smokes has many locations, some good some bad. Smokes has only one location in Calgary (its competing against the ghastly Big Cheese, which stole every bit of its branding when the Big Cheese people ascertained that Smokes would after all never deign to come here, oops), and it's excellent. Great poutine, huge portions, great prices by Calgary standards.

What makes poutine great in Montreal is not the gravy and it's not the cheese curds- these can be bought anywhere, including fucking Costco. IT'S THE FRIES. Kennebec potatoes and thick chips- the best fries I've had ANYWHERE were in Montreal and I couldn't even bear but once on my week visit there last year to have them in a poutine; I just wanted them virginal on the side of everything else I ate. The one poutine I did have was at Resto du Village in the gay village, poutine with peppercorn gravy, superb.

I had a couple of shit meals in Montreal though. The much-vaunted Lebanese was not remotely as good as what I've had in Ottawa (bar none, best Leb scene in Canada) or Toronto (Falafel House on Yonge is my single fave Leb place in Canada); in fact it was pretty much garbage with dry as hell shawarma and rude service to boot, all three places I tried. Vietnamese was a fucking joke compared to Calgary or Edmonton, just abysmal.

Oh, there is nothing like a St Viateur bagel fresh at the source. Actually made me love Montreal bagels until I remembered that they become inedible stodge two hours out of the oven.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:23 PM on August 20, 2013


Just dropped by to say that Sarah's Ouji Interviews are genius.
posted by treepour at 5:24 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are indeed a lot of crappy Lebanese places in Montreal, but none that I've seen that use that weird paste-like stuff that they grill on a hot plate instead of a rotating slow-grilling rig, like some places do in Ottawa and Gatineau.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 5:39 PM on August 20, 2013


I cannot recommend this, there are precious few good pizza places here.

You're not wrong. Zaccary's on Oak is the only exception I know of offhand.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 5:49 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Montreal: going to Europe without going to Europe.

Nope, no matter how much Montreal wishes that were true. Quebec City, on the other hand, I see that as more likely.
posted by Kitteh at 6:22 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Corp HQ of my company is down the street from the Schwartz's Deli where they have the smoked brisket sandwich.

It ain't fucking around. It's some serious stuff.
posted by wcfields at 6:44 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


We were in Montreal in June and passed an A&W selling something called a "Teen Burger." When I was a teen I wouldn't have been caught dead eating anything by that name, unless, of course, I was with Reverend Tim Tom.
posted by yeti at 7:03 PM on August 20, 2013


The "We love the Blackhawks!" was really saying "We hate the Bruins and you are playing against them/beat them!" (I haven't bothered to check the dates of the beer festival against the Stanley Cup finals.) Before this year, we were totally indifferent to the Blackhawks.
posted by jeather at 7:45 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


i love sarah becon and this series was amazing.
posted by rebent at 7:50 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


The poutine-everywhere fad may be passing, but fries and (brown) gravy will persist in pubs, diners and family restaurants all over Canada, continuing to confound American visitors.

How did she visit Montreal without trying the bagels??
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:53 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


No Au Pied de Cochon? I'm disappointed. Montreal is a pretty fantastic place though.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:09 PM on August 20, 2013


Sarah Becan! She's kind of carving out a niche, huh? I really loved her I Think You're Saucome series for its honesty and humor.
posted by Miko at 8:48 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


No Au Pied de Cochon? I'm disappointed.

I follow her on Twitter--and was excitedly giving her places to try when she announced she was going to visit--and I think they tried to get a reservation at APDC, but it was too late at night so they went with some other place. I recommended the beer festival to them and am pleased they went (she's a huge fan of craft beer).
posted by Kitteh at 4:27 AM on August 21, 2013


As far as I'm concerned, you have not experienced the Ottawa I'm from until you have stumbled out of the Dominion Tavern drunk on quarts of Labatt 50 and eaten a poutine from Sasha's at 1am. That's the shack out back with the death metal dude that sells ice cream, smokes, and poutine.

Heavily seconding this. Many a cold, drunken winter night was spent eating poutine from Sasha's before hopping in a cab. Still the best poutine in town in my opinion.
posted by aclevername at 4:51 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


No New York fries love?
posted by syncope at 5:17 AM on August 21, 2013


Montreal is an outstanding food city (in the same way that, say, Ottawa is decidedly not). If the first thing you think or comment on when the topic is food and Montreal is poutine, well, you are absolutely doing it wrong.

Sarah Becan's wonderful little vignettes do Montreal justice, the comments in this thread (seriously, Vancouver pizza?), not so much.
posted by bumpkin at 6:27 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should explain: the "pizza in Vancouver" thing comes from a particular time and place.

In the early 90s, pretty much the only thing open in downtown Vancouver after Lamplighter kicked everyone out were hole-in-the-wall, buck a slice pizza places. Storefronts used to have lines as long as a block in front of them at 2 am (particularly that one on Robson). Sure, sober, it was horrible pizza, but late night, with friends, it was just the thing.

Vancouver is almost unrecognizable to me now, downtown in particular. I spent two weeks there in 2010 for the Olympics and had to relearn the city and its restaurants from scratch.
posted by bonehead at 9:07 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


in the same way that, say, Ottawa is decidedly not

Ottawa definitely does not have anything like the food culture of Montreal, but in my last few visits back there I have been impressed that they at least try to stay somewhat current. More of a follower in the restaurant business than a leader, but not bad. A friend of mine actually runs a restaurant there that I haven't had a chance to eat at yet, but the reviews seem positive and the menu sounds pretty good (albeit with the ubiquitous trendy gourmet poutine in the mix).
posted by Hoopo at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2013


Hoopo: What's your friend's restaurant?
posted by aclevername at 10:00 AM on August 21, 2013


Just returned from four days there. I now want to move there each summer. So much fun. People were all so friendly and patient (rare where I am from). The food was amazing. Beers were okay. I found a lot of the local brews lacking somehow. But I still managed to sample a lot of them.

Did have poutine at La Banquise upon arrival. I am not unfamiliar with poutine arts and have to say I was disappointed. Best poutine I have ever had is from a little fry truck in rural Ontario. I would tell you where but it has suddenly escaped me......
posted by WickedPissah at 10:12 AM on August 21, 2013


It's Farb's Kitchen & Wine Bar
posted by Hoopo at 12:13 PM on August 21, 2013


The "We love the Blackhawks!" was really saying "We hate the Bruins and you are playing against them/beat them!"

So what you're saying is that the Blackhawks might have even more fair weather fans in Montreal this year than they did in Chicago? That's truly saying something.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2013


My reading was more like a) Montreal service workers are polite and b) Montrealers watch a lot of hockey and c) the Blackhawks may be the only thing an average Montrealer knows about Chicago
posted by GuyZero at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2013


No, GuyZero, the beer festival is around the same time as the Stanley Cup, and Montrealers really, really hate the Bruins. Everyone actively liked and rooted for the Blackhawks this spring. They meant what they said.
posted by jeather at 1:04 PM on August 21, 2013


The "We love the Blackhawks!" was really saying "We hate the Bruins and you are playing against them/beat them!" (I haven't bothered to check the dates of the beer festival against the Stanley Cup finals.) Before this year, we were totally indifferent to the Blackhawks.

The MDLB was just before the finals. I've liked the Hawks in the last few years since they're a nice team to watch, but like pretty much everybody in Mtl, I LOATHE the Bruins, so Go BlackHawks!

As for poutine, I concur, you don't come to Mtl for good poutine since it's pretty much nowhere to be found in this town. Poutine is about the cheese curds, they have to squick when you bite them, so that would be Ashton in Qc city or one of the places in the townships that use Coaticook cheese curds (obviously many people will disagree with me about the availability of good poutine in Mtl).

For good Vietnamese food (well pho at least), go to Pho Tay Ho on St-Denis corner of Beaubien, it's very good.
posted by coust at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2013


Farb's Kitchen & Wine Bar

I think we've been there. They were very good.
posted by bonehead at 2:31 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


We had terrible food everywhere we went in Montreal; it was very disappointing. Obviously, we went to all the wrong places, and although we had a fabulous time, and two exceptional rounds of cocktails, all the food except the coffee at the mediocre crepe place was . . . unremarkable or not good.

I like poutine, but it's easy to make, and the stuff I make at home (with fries from the burger joint on the block) was better than the poutine we had in Montreal.

I feel I was cheated and need to go back to Montreal, immediately!
posted by crush-onastick at 5:25 PM on August 21, 2013


« Older "But Freud had a second fear: a fear of Rome's lay...  |  The fully reversible Idries Sh... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments