Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Last night was our first proper snow fall for the 2011/2012 winter! Temperatures are meant to be quite mild for the rest of the week so it will probably melt before too long, but what a lovely surprise to wake up to!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is this a joke?

We saw this a couple of months ago in the Guy-Concordia area and were left wondering whether it was real or not, or whether it was part of a clue in a scavenger hunt or something similar.

If it is real, I would love to know when this poor person bought their encyclopaedia, why they think it is still worth $1900, and whether they ever received any calls of interest as a result of this sign. I guess *I* could just call the number on the sign.....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

That which I had to leave behind

 I recently moved house and whilst it was a happy move there were two special things I knew I would miss about my apartment. The first is this wall decal that I installed on the wide, white expanse of hallway. I don't really have much of a knack for decorating but this suited the space perfectly and visitors would always comment on it. I loved being able to see the world every day

Luckily, the new tenant loved the decal as much as I do, and asked me to leave it on the wall. The world goes on.......

And the second thing?

 My beautiful black and white checked kitchen floors, And, come to think of it, the huge kitchen window that would allow me to sit inside, even on the coldest Montreal afternoon, and enjoy the sunshine!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Foccacia (or, adventures in using yeast for the first time!)

 I love to bake, however, I usually bake sweet treats. Montreal has so many amazing bakeries (Boulangerie Guillaume is my current favourite) that it seems hard to justify sweating over a mountain of dough when you can pick up the best olive fougasse you have ever tasted for $2.95, just down the street! And, let's face it, I think most of us are a little wary of working with yeast - or is it just me? But whilst French style breads are well covered, I have yet to find somewhere that makes a trule awesome focaccia. I was browsing for some inspiration for a recent dinner party and this lemon and sea salt focaccia caught my eye, so I decided to suck it up, buy some yeast, and cross my fingers that the extreme heat and humidity would help, not hinder, the proving process.




And, the finished product! 

It was incredibly delicious and I was thankful I had guests coming around - possibly the only thing that kept  me from eating a whole slab. The lemon, sea salt and rosemary combination is a classic and it works well here too, especially with the olive oil. Ok, so I might have been a bit heavy-handed with the Sel Gris de Guérande (one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Paris) and next time I would amp up the rosemary, but what struck me about this recipe is how adaptable it is. Want a different herb combination - go ahead! Want to try a grape and chocolate studded focaccia - easy!

If you are afraid of yeast, don't be. Try this over the long weekend and let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Coral cactus, or Euphorbia lactea cristata

 I have a backlog of interesting photos that I have had saved as drafts for a while now. This is from September last year and I am sorry to say that I could not have taken these photos now, because this quirky little cactus did not last long in my hands. I guess I overwatered it, given the manner of its demise (it seemed to rot from within; I will refrain from posting photos of the carcass!)

This was a special present from M, made all the more special because M doesn't usually give presents, but had remembered that I was enamoured with this little guy after spotting it in the window of a local florist. I had never seen a cactus like it (and you never will in nature - it is a propagated variety) but I was drawn to the beautiful colouring and shape. It occupied pride of place on my dining table for as long as it lasted! Unfortunately, I haven't seen any in the florist's window since......

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chocolate Raspberry Pudding Cake

This cake is absolutely delicious.

The recipe is here and it is pretty simple, provided you have an electric beater capable of whipping stiff peaks in your egg whites (luckily I do) However, though simple, my cake turned out with a few structural flaws - a crust developed on top, with a large layer of air underneath. In the end, as the cake was cooling, I just peeled the crust off. It was actually quite delicious - like a chocolate meringue, so I served it with the fudgy, pudding-like cake, for textural contrast. Paired with fresh raspberries and a thick chocolate ganache, this might not be the prettiest chocolate-raspberry creation, but it might just be the tastiest!

Friday, July 15, 2011

A neat gimmick from the new Harry Potter movie

Harry's signature glasses - now optimised for 3D movie viewing!

 Yes, I went to the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 and yes, it was fantastic! (Save for the epilogue, of course, which I think we can all agree we could live without. I found so much of the movie so beautiful and solemn and moving that the cheesiness of the epilogue was quite jarring.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Laksa! In Montreal!!

My favourite laksa in the world comes from Dickson Asian Noodle House in Canberra, in Australia. It is an absolute monster, stuffed full of delicious morsels of chicken, duck, seafood, pork and tofu, with rice and Hokkein noodles in that famous coconut curry broth. Yum.

Alas, when I moved to Montreal, I quickly discovered that laksa was pretty much non-existant in the city. Sure, Nonya, Montreal's only Indonesian restaurant, makes a small, starter soup version, but laksa is not meant to be eaten daintily, as something to whet your appetite. Laksa is the dish that you crave on a cold winter night, when you want warmth and comfort in your belly, and you want to roll out of the restaurant, oblivious to the chill.

And behold, laksa has arrived in Montreal! The new outdoor eating and seating area at the Atwater market is now home to the Satay Brothers, a Singaporean Hawker-style hut serving laksa lemak! Whilst it doesn't quite recreate the joys of DANH's jumbo laksa, this is a delicious version, with exceptionally high quality ingredients. It is evident, from the moment you order at the counter, that a lot of care and thought has gone into putting together the store, and creating the menu. The laksa can be ordered at varying levels of heat - we went with 2X (the hottest being 3X). You can see the homemade chilli paste resting in the spoon in the picture. It was fantastic and had my lips tingling within seconds. However, I did find that the spiciness masked the flavour of the broth, so I would recommend that if you are new to laksa, try a more mildy spiced version to begin with. Underneath the heat of the chilli, the curry coconut broth tasted just as I remembered it, lip-smackingly savoury and well-balacned. The laksa is served with rice noodles, bean sprouts, shrimp, quail egg, tofu puffs and fish cake ($8). There is an option to add chicken for $2, however, the chicken wasn't available when we visited.

The menu also includes satays, steamed buns, papaya salad and a variety of Singaporean/Malaysian style desserts. Real Singaporean satay..... mmm, I already have my second visit planned! I have a feeling Satay Brothers are going to be a big hit on the Montreal food scene this summer - and deservedly so! Montreal is ready for laksa!
(Their website is still under construction but they have a Facebook page with information and pictures)
@ the new outdoor section at the North end of the Atwater Market
Opening times: Monday 10:30-18:00, Thursday-Friday 10:30-20:00, Saturday-Sunday 10:30-17:00

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring doesn't just bring snow in Montreal....

it also marks the re-opening of the ice-cream shops!
We had some milder weather last week, when temperatures were hovering above zero, but this week has cooled again, and the nights are still cold (-7C, down to -13C with the windchill). Not exactly walking-around-holding-an-ice-cream weather.....but I assure you, the next sunny day that hits, say, 8C, there will be people lining up, ready and waiting for their first ice-cream of the season!

The phenomenon of seasonal ice-cream shops is not that strange, of course, but it amazing how these little things signal that Winter is nearly over and the Spring, and Summer  (!!!!), are just around the corner......

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can't stop listening to...

Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire (from their album The Suburbs)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

What it's like in the Northern Hemisphere

The image comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and is used without permission. It was compiled from satellite images taken earlier this month, when massive winter storm made its way across North America.

From the Daily Mail via Marginal Revolution