canada…an appetizer…

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Chowing down at Schwartz's in Montreal!

And let me first begin….this is only the appetizer.  Canada is a massive country…10 provinces, 3 territories, 5514 kilometers from sea to shining sea, and 202 080 km of unending coastline.  So…this is just a tasting menu of my province (Ontario) and it’s neighbour…Quebec!

Poutini's House of Poutine...winner by far! (Photo by Bardia)

Smoke's Poutinerie....well, I guess it works if you're drunk?

First of all…I would like to end the war of the poutineries.  Hands down, Poutini’s House of Poutine takes the cake!  While we were staying in Toronto, we managed to land ourselves an amazing apartment on uber trendy and hip Queen Street West (many thanks to my amazing friend, Mojan!).  And lucky for us, we were sandwiched (less than 10 minutes of walking distance) by our two competing poutineries – Poutini’s House of Poutine and Smoke’s Poutinerie.  This was definitely not a randomized control trial…but despite the lack of robustness…the clear favourite was Poutini’s hand cut fries, home made gravy, daily fresh cheese curds.  The fries soaked in the gravy oh so well!  And the huge chunks of melty cheese curds carried so much body and flavour that you didn’t even need the pulled pork or bacon or the other works to make it better.  On the other hand, our late-night hunger pangs, one night, were definitely not satiated by Smoke’s Poutinerie.  One word can only define it – disappointment!  The taste…not a happy mix of cheese, potatoes and a slosh of something that teetered on the definition of gravy.  It didn’t even look appealing!  The poutine from my university’s fry trucks on a cold winter’s night look gourmet compared to Smoke’s, who funnily enough think of themselves as the best poutine this world has seen. So all in all…if you’re on Queen Street West on a night or day and feel that need for grease, cheese, frites, and meat…check out Poutini’s House of Poutine.  Simply worth it and there will most definitely be a smile on your face afterwards.

How much more Canada can you get?!?!

Beavertails are amazing and can only be found in Ottawa (in Byward Market), Mont Tremblant and various other ice-skating and ski-related locations in Canada.  And what are they? Don’t worry…it’s just a name.  These beavertails only look like the real thing.  Quite simply, they are slabs of fried flattened dough, which can be topped with various sweet accompaniements.  My favourite is like the minimalist beavertail..the Killaloe Sunrise, which only has cinnamon, sugar and lemon juice.  My more chocolate loving friends get the pimped out version, called the Avalanche, which has got cream cheese frosting, chunks of Skor bar and chocolate sauce!

It will always be about Schwartz's in Montreal!

Schwartz’s is THE Hebrew deli of Montreal.  I couldn’t think of a better place to bring my meat-loving D to when we finally made it to Montreal (especially after our car broke down in the middle of nowhere, Ontario).  Schwartz’s is best known for their smoked meat sandwich and they will be packed to the brim, with a long line up outside, of fans wanting a smoked meat sandwich or a plate of smoked meat with gherkins, bread and mustard!  They’ve been doing this for over 80 years in Montreal and Schwartz’s has definitely perfected the art of smoking their meat. And…they made a musical about it!

Pizzeria Libretto! Good enough for Italy!

Next up is Pizzeria Libretto, Canada’s only pizzeria that serves real Neapolitan pizza, certified by the Italian government and VPN!  I was first introduced to this place on a 2010 visit to Canada when my friend Emily said…”you’re back! You MUST have the Pizzeria Libretto experience!”.  Located in the heart of cool downtown Toronto, in the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood that we stayed in, you can find pizza that will even make an Italian say mamma mia!  At first I was a bit nervous about taking D here.  He’s been to Italy tons of times and knows good pizza.  But I thought to myself…if this is the best pizza in Toronto and quite possibly Canada, then it’s gotta impress him…and it did!  Our favourite was the Ontario Proscuitto & Arugala…all made with local Ontario-grown ingredients and served by a staff who definitely know their pizza.  This place is definitely worth the line up…get there early and be prepared for a 30-45 minute wait for a seat!

And finally…brunch…

We were led to Delux, on Ossington near Queen St. West, by our amazing Airbnb hostess Meg.  She had left us an amazing list of restos and bars in the area to guide us through our stay, and it definitely helped me, the itinerant Torontonian, to get myself re-established.  But more importantly, the Cuban-French brunch at Delux was simply to die for.  We had big smiles on our faces through out the entire meal.  Unable to decide what our hearts truly wanted, we wound up sharing the Dulce de Leche French Toast with Bananas and Cuban Breakfast with roast pork and poached eggs.  The French toast melted in your mouth…as did the roast pork. And the tostones (fried plantains) were the perfect finish!  I still can’t believe how amazing this brunch was!

And finally…the place we didn’t get to try…

(Photo by Epiglutton)

My best friend and fellow foodie Anj wanted to meet on a late Saturday night at the Black Hoof…also in the Trinity Bellwoods ‘hood.  But sadly, they don’t take bookings…and it was packed with nary a sight of seat for another hour.  Hungry…we had a happy and amazing reunion at a mediocre Indian resto on Queen Street, but the dream of Black Hoof and it’s offal glory still loomed.  I have their Tongue on Brioch on my mind still.  Next time, Black Hoof…next time…


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