After finding out that creme de marrons was chestnut spread, we decided to order a sweet crepe filled with that and bananas.
The crepe itself was decent, but nothing mind-blowing. It was brushed with melted butter which was a nice touch, but it was a little hard to cut through with the plastic knives they provide.
The chestnut spread was a little sweeter and a little grainier than Nutella and had a very pronounced chestnut flavor. I liked how the banana was two long halves instead of being sliced into coins.
Next up was Havre-Aux-Glaces the very well-known and respected ice cream shop located in the Jean-Talon Market.
The woman behind the counter was extremely helpful, going as far as to list out each and every flavor in English for us. I went with maple creme brulee (their signature flavor), strawberry-rhubarb, and pear cider(!).
My favorite flavor by far was the pear cider. It had a grainy bite to it that could have only come from finely blended pears and the pear flavor was front and center. The strawberry and the rhubarb was some of the smoothest ice cream I've had and luckily both flavors were identifiable, unfortunately it was a touch too sweet for my tastes. The maple creme brulee had a strong burnt flavor that fell just short of being overpowering, but ended up being just right and exceptionally delicious tiny pieces of caramelized sugar peppered throughout. The Mrs. ordered three flavors that worked together quite nicely. She went with the maple creme brulee, espresso, and dulce de leche.
|Yes folks, she sure does love her ice cream|
At this point we browsed the market a bit. I kept my eye on the clock because through my many hours of online research I found that there's this seafood joint (well-known to locals) on the outskirts of the market that serves ultra-fresh fried calamari promptly at 11am.
|Don't be sad, you serve fried seafood to the masses!|
|Mmm crispy headless fishies|
|There be calamari under thar!|
We picked ourselves up and walked around some more. We finally came upon the fruit vendors that had trays of sliced fruit on display for customers to try. I tasted some wonderfully ripe peaches, a new fruit called a prune pluot which is a prune-plum-apricot hybrid(?), and a slice of plain old plum that was so sweet and firm that I claimed it the best plum I'd ever had. Oh, the pretty colors...
At this point a very light mist started to come down, but luckily we came across Premiere Moisson which I had read very mixed reviews about, but we decided to go inside and check it out.
Wow, was this place packed. Packed and seemingly in utter chaos. There were lines forming every which way, tables over there, people yelling over baked goods over here, and ticket numbers being called in the back. I was sort of at a loss so the Mrs. grabbed a ticket while I perused the pastries.
The fabulous peach tarts on the top shelf immediately caught my attention, but after further perusal I was unable to locate an individually sized portion. I'd never seen a coffee eclair so I had to order one of those, and we decided to pick up a chocolate raspberry torte and a decaf latte.
|Phallic pastries get my vote|
The chocolate raspberry torte paired wonderfully with my beverage it had a nice layer of chocolate and fresh raspberry on the bottom and a nice glazing on top, it was rich and very decadent. The latte itself was nicely and velvety smooth and just strong enough to stand up to the sweetness from the pastries.
Thanks to fellow food blogger This is Gonna Be Good my next task was to track down $1 sausage on a stick. I finally located saucisses-sur-baton.
|Mmmm, meat on a stick!|
|Left to right: Lamb, bison, boar|
The final item on my food check-list for the Jean-Talon Market was a prune-filled beignet from Wawel Patisserie, a Polish pastry shop.
|Wawel, not to be confused with Wawa|
|Mr. Happy Pastry Man|
The beignet itself was excellent with a nice tart-sweetness to it and a good bite. It was flaky and tender and not too sweet. The Mrs. really enjoyed it, so that says something as she tends to be a tad picky.
|I know it's a crappy pic, but it's the only one I got|
What, you thought that's all we ate for the day? You'd be straight up wrong! We actually ate two dinners later that night. After the market we went back to the hotel and changed. We decided to work off some of our grazing by checking out the Parc du Mont-Royal. We had no idea what we were in for. We walked all the way from the Peel metro station to the chalet observatory. Even though there was a slight drizzle and it was a relatively cool evening, by the time we got to the top we were both perspiring.
|Nice view in not so nice weather|
We made our way to Kazu near the corner of Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest and Rue Saint Marc. There was plenty of buzz about this place over on Chowhound so I knew to arrive early. They open at 5:30 and we got there at 5pm and luckily there was only a party of 6 in front of us. When Kazu finally opened it's doors they took one of the big tables in front so we jumped on the best seats in the house at the sushi bar. I loved being able to watch Kaptain Kazu (I don't know the chef/owner's name) work his magic right in front of us. They provide a regular sheet menu, but when you're dining at Kazu you want to focus your attention on the specials listed on yellow sheets of paper tacked up on the wall.
|More slightly blurry specials|
|Crappy picture of flare up|
The next great thing about dining at the sushi bar was the chef himself presents you your food, and he does so like you've just won the lottery and he's handing you your over-sized check. You can tell he knows he serves great fresh food and he's happy to bestow it upon you. I wanted to hug the guy, thanking him for his awesome pile of fatty fish meat.
|You know you want some|
I guess I should talk about the dish at some point, eh? Yeah, about that. This dish was wonderful. The salmon had great grill marks on the skin and the meat itself was tender, juicy, and a little fatty and smoky. Chopsticks and flaky fish don't mix for me so I was having a little trouble eating it.
|Look how flaky and tender...|
|Bowl o' fishies|
Again this dish featured a fresh salad consisting of greens, black and white sesame seeds, and sesame oil among other things. The dish remained light due to the large amount of fresh raw tuna and salmon and the relatively low amount of rice. I don't want to sound repetitive but ingredients this fresh, portions this big, prices this low will not last. Get there now. If only we had had the known that DNA would be such a disappointment (more on that in a minute) we would've stayed here and ordered two or three more dishes. Alas, our wonderful experience at Kazu had to come to a close as we had a reservation at Restaurant DNA that I eagerly anticipating.
Afterwards we trucked on back down Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest for some shoppings and our second dinner. After making out like bandits at Urban Outfitters we attempted to hoof it all the way to DNA, but after about a mile we realized we weren't going to make it so we hailed a cab and got there just in time for our 8pm reservation.
|No idea what those people were lining up for, but it wasn't DNA|
I had one thing on my mind when we arrived at DNA: pasta. I've had this random craving for pasta lately and was hoping to get my fix here. I perused their menu which changes often and we were presented with the following choices:
In retrospect I don't know why I didn't order that Tomato Leaf Risotto, probably because the Mrs. isn't a huge tomato eater. There was also a Wild Mushroom Pappardelle featuring all local mushrooms, but again, the wife doesn't like mushrooms so I didn't get that either. Damn picky wife!
So what we did order was the Parsley Maccheroni Alla Chitarra with cured goat liver, smoked paprika, and pangritatta which is a bread crumb, almond, and currant mixture and topped off with an egg yolk and the Cavatelli with rabbit bolognese, orange, and rosemary.
We ordered two glasses of a chilled red wine called Sempar which had a lovely peppery note and a light fruitiness that I was hoping would pair well with our pasta dishes. Our first course happened to be a complimentary amuse bouche of grilled zuchinni with rosemary and lemon juice served cold and rolled.
Next up was our choice of bread served with organic sunflower oil. The choices were a classic baguette, orange blossom and anise, and a cranberry scone. We both went with the baguette as we didn't want to send our palettes into uncharted waters and this turned out to be the best thing we were served at DNA.
|The best part of the dinner|
While it looked outstanding, my Maccheroni was very one-dimensional, screaming for some acidity to give it a little depth. It was also underseasoned, a few shakes of salt and a few cracks of pepper would've gone a long way. Plus, while I love my pasta al dente, this was borderline hard, this had toothsomeness out the yin-yang.
The Cavatelli didn't fare much better. While the pasta was cooked more to my liking and the rabbit provided a nice squeaky chew, this dish also could've benefited greatly from a little salt. I did enjoy the orange in this dish, but have no recollection of any rosemary flavor whatsoever.
At this point we were planning on ordering the Sea Salt and Hazelnut Tart with ginger gelato and olive oil, but a few things occurred that made the evening take a turn for the worse. First off my Maccheroni wasn't sitting well at all. I think it may have been the egg yolk, but whatever it was my stomach felt like it was coated in oil and the contents were sloshing around in a very unpleasant manner. Plus after our waitress realized that we didn't intend on ordering 9 courses and 3 bottles of wine all of sudden she forgot we existed. It was sad, because she started out so great. Those two factors led to us paying the check and calling it a night. Restaurant DNA turned out to be the most disappointing restaurant of the trip.
Our night didn't end quite so badly, however. While we were standing in line waiting for Kazu to open the family in front of us kept talking about this concert they were going to, but they never mentioned who. Also, as we were walking down the pier after our speedboating adventure the day before we saw a huge stage being set up with bearded/tattooed roadies everywhere. So what did we hear the moment we hit the street? We heard 'When I Come Around' by Green Day clear as a bell. Green Day was my favorite band growing up, and while I don't care for their newer material, this turned out to be a great surprise and we were able to listen to them perform as we walked to the metro station. So our night didn't end on an entirely bad note.
2 days down, 7 more to go. Stay tuned.