Monday, April 30, 2007

Milles Femmes Montréal....

The weirdest thing happened to me this week...a business acquaintance called me to tell me that she submitted my name to take part in a photography project by a french photographer, Pierre Maraval! After making sure it was legit, I accepted! This is the description of the project from the website 1000 Femmes Montreal:



Mille femmes Montréal Photographic work by Pierre Maraval; a tribute to Quebec's exceptional women.

MILLE FEMMES / Montreal is a monumental project and an exceptional performance by artist Pierre Maraval which will be exhibited between April 4th and May 26th 2007 at the galerie [sas] in partnership with Lancôme.

This project entails photographing 1000 women of all origins, ages and occupations. MILLE FEMMES / Montreal is above all a unique technical performance which will be made possible thanks to the most current digital technology. All the portraits will be printed and progressively displayed on the gallery walls, thus creating the mosaic of 1000 faces. The completed work will be presented at the galerie [sas] from May 16th to June 16th.

These women, who embody contemporary Québec society, come together to create a network united by the work itself. Like the links of a chain, each woman is asked to invite other women to join and take part in the project. The result will be a tribute, a kind of instantaneity of Quebec’s society of women and of its lively strength.

This mosaic belongs to the series of MILLE, which Pierre Maraval describes as “Human Landscapes”. This network project, where each individual is considered in relation to the others, creates a force of contact and communication between participants – especially at the end of the project when they are brought together by the opening on May 16th.

MILLE FEMMES / Montréal will then be featured in the Old Port of Montreal for three months, from June 25th to October 14th.

The portrait is going to be posted on Maraval’s website sometime after I go for my portrait and I’ll send an update once I know when it’s up...

http://www.maraval.org/galerie/?folder=content/1000portraits/Mille Femmes Montreal/

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream-Cheese Icing

As the saying goes - "when the cats are away, the mouse shall play"! This was true this afternoon - my husband is working the evening shift and I went on a baking binge (yes I was bored!). I made my a batch of My Mom's Chocolate Chip muffins and another batch of Chocolate Espresso cupcakes and finally a batch of these Carrot Cupcakes from Martha Stewart. I chose this recipe since I've never made a recipe from MS that didn't turn out great and I had all the ingredients on hand. And, no...we're not going to eat them all!...I plan to bring them to work unless my husband beats me to it!

I didn't make any changes and they were super easy to make - even after grating my own carrots it took all of 10 minutes to prepare the batter, minus the icing, of course. The aroma out of the oven was heavenly and they are super yummy! Very moist, slightly spicy from the allspice, and just the right amount of nuts and coconut! I didn't taste them with the icing yet but I WILL...I was too tempted!




Carrot Cupcakes with Cream-Cheese Icing
Everyday Food - Martha Stewart

Makes 12

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut, plus more for garnish
8 ounces cream cheese, (room temperature)
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Make the cupcakes: In a bowl, combine sugar, vegetable oil, orange juice, vanilla extract, and eggs.

Stir in baking powder, baking soda, allspice, and salt. Add flour; mix. Stir in carrots, walnuts, and coconut.

Oil a standard muffin tin or line with paper cups; distribute batter evenly.

Bake until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean, 25 minutes. Let cool before frosting. Garnish with toasted shredded coconut.

Make the icing: In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Homemade Vanilla Extract

I'm almost out of the homemade vanilla I made in November last year so I thought it would be the perfect time to post my recipe since I'll be making some again this week. I don't think I'll ever buy store bought vanilla extract again since the homemade vanilla is so much more flavorful because of the vanilla seeds and obviously cheaper! You do need to let it sit in a dry spot (like in the back of a kitchen cabinet) for a least a month before using though - no instant vanilla here!

Homemade Vanilla Extract
my formula is 4 vanilla beans for 375ml of Brandy and 2 vanilla beans for 185ml

Cut the vanilla beans lengthwise with the end of a sharp knife. Put in a glass bottle and top with brandy. Put bottle in a dry/dark place and shake every 2-3 days for a month, up to 3 months until the brandy has darkened and the vanilla seeds have infused the brandy.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Breadcrumbs

This was super yummy! I loved it! The chicken was super moist and tasty from simmering in the chicken broth and the stuffing was AMAZING! I probably wouldn't make this again for a weekday meal unless I prepared and stuffed the chicken breasts the day before because it takes way more than the advertised 35 minutes! I'd say close to an hour! But it WAS worth it - I would even serve this to guests!

I didn't make too many changes. I only added a minced garlic clove to the stuffing. I doubled the stuffing because Marc LOVES stuffing and I knew I'd get brownie points for having some on the side for him too! I also used Italian crusty bread instead of sourdough since that's all I had...

Can't wait to have leftovers tonight!



Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Italian Sausage and Breadcrumbs
Cooking Light

Tangy sourdough bread adds intriguing flavor to the herbed sausage mixture. Total time: 35 minutes.

1 (4-ounce) Italian sausage link
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped celery
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (1 1/2-ounce) slice sourdough bread, toasted and crusts removed
1 garlic clove, halved
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Remove casing from sausage; crumble sausage. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, onion, and celery; sauté 5 minutes or until sausage is browned and onion is golden. Add wine to pan; cook 1 minute or until most of liquid is absorbed.

Rub each side of bread with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Coarsely crumble bread; add to sausage mixture. Stir in parsley, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed; toss to combine.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Place half of stuffing on one side of each chicken breast half, leaving a 1-inch border around sides. Fold remaining half of each chicken breast over stuffing, and secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add stuffed chicken breast halves to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side. Add chicken broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove the wooden picks; slice breasts in half. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1/2 chicken breast)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 233(29% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 2.5g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 21.9g; CHOLESTEROL 65mg; CALCIUM 47mg; SODIUM 774mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.5g

Monday, April 23, 2007

Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto

Another winner this weekend! I'm trying to empty out my freezer a little bit to make space for an ice cream maker for the summer and we have a ton of salmon from our last trip to Costco....I remembered the raves this recipe got on the message boards so I decided to give it a try! Plus it's a change from the way we ususally prepare salmon and I LOVE pesto so I was sure we would love it! And we DID!

This was so easy to put together, I couldn't believe it...it took all of 10 minutes to prepare! It was soooo delicious and so nice on the plate that it would be a great recipe to serve to guests! This is my new favourite go-to salmon recipe! It's definitely not light because of the puff pastry but it's so amazing, it's worth the splurge for the extra calories! Hmmm mmmm.....


Salmon with Puff Pastry and Pesto
Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis - Everyday Italian


4 pieces of purchased puff pastry, each cut to be just larger than a piece of salmon 4 (4 to 6-ounce) pieces salmon
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup purchased pesto
2 tomatoes, sliced
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a foil-lined baking sheet, place the 4 pieces of puff pastry. Also place the 4 pieces of salmon, being careful to make sure they are not touching. Sprinkle each piece of salmon with 1 tablespoon of the sliced almonds. Bake for 10 minutes.

To serve, place each piece of puff pastry on a plate. Top each puff pastry with 1 tablespoon of pesto. Top the pesto with 2 slices of tomatoes each. Top the tomatoes with the salmon and serve.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The New Chocolate Decadence

This was absolutely amazing! It tasted like a cross between a cheesecake and a really fudgy brownie! Really really good! Does not taste light AT ALL! You really need to serve small slices because it is really decadent! I served with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. Very elegant for guests - it was a bit of work (lots of coordinating with so many things going on at once) but it was so worth it! Our friends and taste-testers, Ida and Max, loved it! My husband has declared this his new favourite dessert!

The New Chocolate Decadence
from 'Chocolate & the art of Low-Fat Desserts' Alice Medrich

Cooking time: About 40 minutes Prep time: About 25 minutes, plus at least 8 hours to chill

Notes: For longer storage, wrap airtight and chill 2 days or freeze up to 2 months.Makes: 12 servings

5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup plus 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened alkaline-treated (Dutch process) or regular cocoa
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup low-fat (1%) milk

1. Place oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and turn heat to 350 [degrees].

2. With a nonstick cooking spray, lightly coat inside rim of an 8-inch-wide, 1 1/2- to 2-inch-deep round cake pan. Line pan bottom with cooking parchment cut to fit.

3. Place chopped chocolate in a large bowl, and set aside.

4. Break 1 egg into a small bowl. Separate remaining egg. Put yolk with whole egg. Put white in a separate, larger bowl, and add the remaining egg white.

5. Add vanilla to the bowl with yolk. Add cream of tartar to egg whites.

6. Combine cocoa, flour, and 2/3 cup sugar in a 1 - to 1 1/2-quart pan. Mixing smoothly with a whisk, gradually add milk. Stir over medium heat until mixture simmers, about 6 minutes; don't scorch. Stir and cook 1 1/2 minutes longer, then pour hot mixture over chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Whisk in whole egg and yolk mixture. Set aside.

7. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar at medium speed until whites hold soft peaks. Beating at high speed, gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, then beat until whites hold stiff but not dry peaks.

8. Stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Scrape batter into prepared cake pan, and smooth the top.

9. Set cake pan in another pan that is at least 2 inches wider and 2 inches deep. Set pans in oven. Fill outer pan with boiling water to 1/2 the depth of the cake pan. Bake just until center of cake springs back when very gently pressed - it will still be quite gooey inside - about 30 minutes.

10. Lift cake pan from water, and set on a rack to cool. When cake is cool to the touch, cover it with plastic wrap, and chill until thoroughly cold, at least 8 hours or up to 2 days.

11. To release cake, slide a thin knife between rim and cake. Cover pan with a sheet of waxed paper, then invert a flat plate onto paper. Hold pan and plate together and invert; shake gently, if needed, to loosen cake. If cake sticks to pan, place a hot, damp towel on pan bottom for a few minutes; then gently shake pan with plate. Remove pan. Peel off and discard parchment. Invert serving dish onto cake. Supporting with flat plate, turn cake over onto serving dish. Remove flat plate, and discard waxed paper.

12. Cut cake into Wedges with a thin, sharp knife, dipping blade in hot water and wiping clean between cuts. Garnish wedges with raspberries and meringue cream.

Per serving decadence: 153 cal., 34% (52 cal.) from fat; 3.4 g protein; 5.8 g fat (2.9 g sat.); 26 g carbo.; 50 mg sodium; 36 mg chol.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chorizo (Spanish Sausage)

I didn't waste any time trying a recipe from my new cookbook "The Food and Wine of Spain"...our friends Ida and Max are coming over tomorrow night and I promised to make Paella...I usually use hot Italian sausages since chorizo is hard to come by in Montreal but as I was flipping through my new cookbook I noticed a recipe for homemade chorizo...of course, I wasn't going to go through all the trouble to put the meat into casings etc since I was going to crumble the sausage anyways so I just put it together and will use it tomorrow.

The recipe asks for 1/2 lb. of pork fat (we don't need any blocked arteries, thank you!) but I just left it out and left the rest of the recipe as is. I also doubled the recipe. Of course, this isn't the real thing since Chorizo is usually cured like the Italian Soprassata but it does taste exactly like it's dried counterpart once it's fried up, minus all the extra fat and curing!

Chorizo (Modified)
The Foods and Wines of Spain

3/4 pound lean ground pork
2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp dry red wine
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp crushed dried red chili pepper

Mix everything together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Use as you would any other crumbled sausage.

Makeover...

I have a love/hate relationship with my curly hair...sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it...right now it's neither...I'm just bored...bored of curls, bored of being blonde...so yesterday I went to the salon for a makeover...I'm now a brunette (with caramel highlights like the picture)! My hairdresser cut it all off too...I have bangs again and it was halfway down my back and now it's a little past my shoulders...it feels so good to change!

This is how I cut my hair...


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Another New Cookbook!

I know, I know...you're saying, don't you have enough?! For those of you who know me well, you KNOW that I didn't need another one....I'm addicted to buying cookbooks - I'm guilty, I admit it! I HAVE been good lately though (seriously - ask my husband!) and I have agreed to only buy cookbooks for cuisines I don't have. So when I'm in the mood for a new cookbook it better damn well be a good one!

After going out for tapas not too long ago, I've been craving Spanish food. I started looking up some cookbooks and after reviewing the readers comments, I chose "The Foods & Wines of Spain" by Penelope Casas. It's not exactly NEW...it was published in 1982 but it seemed authentic so I decided to go with it! And I'm glad I did...I was flipping through the book on my lunch break at work today and it's filled with great recipes - of course, I haven't tried them yet but I can tell by the ingredients in most of them that they're going to be delicious! You can bet I'll be reviewing recipes from this book here soon!



Monday, April 16, 2007

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three Milks Cake)

I've come to the realization lately that I have a commitment problem! There is always another recipe...one that has something that the one I've chosen doesn't - I just can't commit to one! The first step is admitting it, I guess....I wonder if there is a support group out there for me?!

I've come across numerous recipes for Tres Leches over the last month, all with different ingredients and methods, and I put it off since I wasn't sure which one to go with. After reading reviews of all the recipes I collected and taking them into consideration, I decided to combine parts of all of them! Perhaps I was looking for disaster since I've never had a Tres Leches cake before but I love a challenge and I used my intuition! I knew I had to add coconut somehow since Marc and I absolutely love coconut (I know this isn't authentic but what the heck!...) and I knew I had to incorporate some booze into the equation! I saw quite a few recipes that used rum so I went with that!

The cake part was ready after baking it for 45 minutes. When I mixed together the milks, I thought to myself "this is going to be way too much" but I went with it and after poking the cake about a million times with a fork, I started slowly pouring the milks over the cake. About three-quarters of the way, the milks were close to overflowing so I stopped and left it to soak up some before I finished. Next time I think I will use the recommended 13"x9" pan instead of the springform - I think it might be easier for the cake to absorb all the liquids (and easier for pouring) and I will decrease the baking time to 30-35 minutes. You try and you learn, I guess!

After letting it soak up all the liquids over night it was the moment of truth! I made some whipped cream and...why am I not surprised that this cake is super yummy! Very very moist and fluffy, slight coconut flavor, lots of rum flavor (but not overpowering) and with the whipped cream on top - Oh My God! I agree with Marc that for our tastes it needs a bit more coconut flavor so next time I might add some coconut extract and maybe even a little almond extract to the cake itself. With a little more tinkering this recipe will be PERFECT!

Pastel de Tres Leches (Three Milks Cake)

Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375° F. Grease and flour an 8" springform baking pan.

Combine flour and baking powder and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whip egg whites until frothy. Add in granulated sugar and continue mixing until stiff peaks are formed (about 5 - 7 minutes on medium speed). Continue mixing and add in one egg yolk at a time until incorporated. Add in flour/baking powder mixture and milk. Alternate by starting and ending with flour/baking powder mixture. Add vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured 8" springform baking pan.

Bake at 350° F for 45 - 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, and cool for 10 minutes. DO NOT REMOVE FROM PAN. While cake is still warm, poke holes all over the cake using a fork. Set aside.

Tres Leches (Three Milks)
1 can (14 ounces) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
1 can (12 ounces) fat-free evaporated milk
1 cup lite coconut milk
1/4 cup rum

Add milks and rum to a bowl and stir to combine. Pour slowly over cake until all absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.

Coconut
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

For the toasted coconut, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the coconut and spread it in an even layer. Cook, stirring often, until coconut is lightly toasted and browned. If coconut begins to burn, reduce heat. Remove from pan immediately.

Whipped Topping
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks are formed. Spread over top of cake and then sprinkle with toasted coconut and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Another Picture of Olivia....

My sister, Jenny, just sent this picture of Olivia...what a cutie pie!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Super Crispy Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Marc and I haven't made any new recipes in the last week...we've both been tired, over-worked and basically uninspired so, tonight being a Friday night, I made it a point to make something new!

I was really in the mood for chicken cutlets but bored with our usual recipe. I remembered by mom had come up with a concoction not too long ago in which she used italian bread crumbs, cornmeal, and flaxseed meal. I had been wanting to try it for awhile so I took out Great Food Fast cookbook since I remembered a recipe for a Buttermilk Baked Chicken that I also wanted to try - my inspiration for this recipe!

This was really yummy! It took all of 10 minutes to put together and the chicken (I used 4 large chicken breasts cut into 1-inch strips) was super crispy and very very moist! It was super delicious but I am sure I can tweak the recipe next time to make it even better - I'm still thinking about what I'm going to add. To be continued...

Super Crispy Buttermilk Baked Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients
Vegetable oil, for baking sheet
1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
2 cups buttermilk **see note below to make your own
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 Pounds chicken parts, (preferably legs, thighs, and wings), rinsed and patted dry

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously rub a baking sheet with oil.

In a large bowl, stir together buttermilk, salt, and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix breadcrumbs, cornmeal, and flaxseed meal.

Place the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, turning to coat evenly. Working with one piece at a time, remove chicken from liquid, letting excess drip back into bowl; dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat evenly. Place coated chicken pieces on prepared baking sheet.

Bake until chicken is golden brown, about 35 minutes, flipping half way through.

**Note: To make soured milk as a substitution for buttermilk - put 2 tbsp lemon juice in a 8-cup liquid measuring cup, fill the rest with milk up to the 2-cup line. Stir and set aside 5 minutes.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Banana-Date Flaxseed Bread

I've been slacking on the baking these past 2 weeks...since we're restarting the renovations on our house soon it's been alot of appointments at the bank and shopping around for materials/products...

This afternoon I thought I'd try this quick bread since it was on my to-try list...I chose this recipe because Marc and I absolutely LOVE flax (we love flax so much the pasta we buy is made of flax!) and banana bread so I was pretty sure we would like it!

It's a miracle, I didn't make any changes to this recipe! I just had a slice....super yummy! The flax gives the banana bread a nutty twist!

Banana-Date Flaxseed Bread
Cooking Light

Flaxseed has long been popular with European bakers because of its robust, nutty flavor. But new studies suggest that this powerhouse whole grain contains fibers and fat that may play a role in warding off heart disease and certain types of cancer. Flaxseeds can be found at health-food stores and some supermarkets. Store in an airtight container in your refrigerator or freezer.

1/2 cup flaxseeds
2/3 cup mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flaxseeds
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole pitted dates, chopped
Cooking spray

Place 1/2 cup flaxseeds in a blender, and process until ground to measure 3/4 cup flaxseed meal. Set flaxseed meal aside.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat the banana, sugar, oil, and eggs at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour, flaxseed meal, 1/4 cup flaxseeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until well-blended. Stir in chopped dates. Spoon the batter into an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake bread at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack, and remove from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Yield: 16 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 129(30% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 0.9g,mono 1.3g,poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 2.2g; CHOLESTEROL 28mg; CALCIUM 16mg; SODIUM 137mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 0.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 21g

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Restaurant Review: Tapeo

I saw this tapas restaurant listed in this month's Food and Wine magazine so I made a mental note of it for the next time Marc and I went out for dinner...

"This three-year-old Spanish Restaurant
is Montreal's benchmark for tapas. In an open
kitchen, chef Marie-Fleur St.Pierre makes the technically
demanding dishes - authentic Paella for two, and classic tapas
with her own spins - look as easy to cook as they are delicious"

When a restaurant makes it into a magazine like Food and Wine it has to be good and....when a Montreal restaurant makes it into a US magazine it's a given that it's gotta be damn good...as luck would have it, my husband called me this afternoon at work to tell me that he was taking me out tonight and I could pick the restaurant...at first I was a little hesitant to suggest Tapeo because, with my track record of expensive taste in food (my boss can vouch for that since he saw the bill for last year's Christmas party!), I was sure it was going to be "Très Cher"! I was pleasantly surprised when I looked them up and the saw that the prices were very reasonable (Tapas starting at $4.00 up to $15.00 and Paella for 2 for $25.00). Even the wine list was conservative with house reds starting at $20.00 and imported bottles at $24.00 - even more surprising was the absence of any Italian, French, or Australian wines - all Spanish wines in-house, very authentic! So I made my decision and ran it by Marc and he was all for it, especially when I mentioned that there was Paella on the menu. Of course, it will be hard to beat our favourite restaurant's (Las Americas) Paella but I'm up for the sampling. So I called to make a reservation (restaurants with hype usually require reservations whether they are recommended or not) and low and behold they were booked until 9PM...another good indication of the quality of the restaurant is a full house on a Thursday night! This piqued my curiosity even more...and also annoyed me - how could I, Erin, party planner for our Montreal office, not have heard about this restaurant before? How did I miss it? After all, my bosses trust my culinary judgement - will I be stripped of my foodie status?!...Ok, drama-queen episode over...moving on....

So as we are parking I'm thinking, no wonder not more people know about this restaurant! It's really off the beaten path. Out of downtown, out of the trendy neighborhoods like the Le Plateau or Old Montreal, and not even remotely close to downtown. It would be very unlikely for a tourist to get lost all the way out here and happen upon this little restaurant. The restaurant itself is cozy seating 50 max, dimly lit with candles on every table, with a bar at the back and a semi-open kitchen, the octave as we walk in is loud but you can almost feel the energy. There isn't a seat available and it's 8:30PM!

As we sit down, the waiter brings us a bowl of deep-fried matchstick potatoes (very addictive), along with some fresh bread and olive oil for dipping. We ordered an imported bottle of Alcanta alicante 2004 (Bodegas Bocopa) @ $33 - full bodied, berry flavours, and spicy notes. We ordered the Paella for 2 and we were told that it would take 25 minutes so while we were waiting we ordered two tapas; Fried Calamari with a garlic aioli ($7) and Chorizo with grilled red peppers on a romesco sauce ($8). Both were very yummy! The earthenware dishes are small but filled to the brim so the portions are quite decent. The Paella arrived just as we were finishing up our Chorizo and it was well worth the wait - delicious! Spicy and full of great authentic ingredients; chorizo, squid, white fish, mussels, and specks of a saffron threads. Never one to pass up dessert and coffee, we ordered the churros and espressos. The churros are deep-fried doughnut batons rolled in sugar and served with a semi-sweet chocolate sauce for dipping. Yummy!

What a great find - this restaurant has been added to our favourite restaurants list!

511 Villeray/Corner Berri
Montreal, QC