Meet me in Montreal

I love and adore Montreal. The city is what I imagine NYC would look like if it was European. There is so much to see, eat and do in Montreal that fitting it into a long weekend seems impossible but is doable if you plan it right! Below are the places I ate at in Montreal. There is a great range of cuisine from classic French, French Canadian to Indonesian. Hope you enjoy the guide below!

1.) Schwartz’s- GO HERE! The line is long but we were sat in 20 minutes so not too bad at all. The classic smoked meat sandwich is shareable between 2 people but if you’re absolutely famished then get one for yourself. The meat is so so so juicy and packed with copious amount of flavor. You can tell the meat was prepared with so much love and boy did I love eating it.

Smoked meat sandwich

Smoked meat sandwich

2.) La Banquise- You’re in Montreal so poutine is a must. We get jalapenos and beef on our poutine which in the end felt too heavy. Getting the classic version is the way to go! The fries and cheese curds were delicious and I definitely picked through the dish to get to just that.

Jalapeno, onion rings and ground beef poutine

Jalapeno, onion rings and ground beef poutine

3.) Le Fantome Restaurant- Le Fantome specializes in New Canadian cuisine and offers a tasting menu. We opted for the tasting and got to try a variety of pastas and meats throughout the evening. I also loved the candlelit space. It’s very cozy, intimate and ideal for a date night or a special celebration.

Lobster and mushroom

Lobster and mushroom

Pasta course (cacio e pepe style)

Pasta course (cacio e pepe style)

3.) St. Viateur Bagel Shop- So I loved these bagels! Also love being able to dip bagels into cream cheese instead of spreading haha. Surprisingly these bagels were soft. Try to get them warm because they’re extra delicious when they’re fresh out of the oven.

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4.) Fairmount Bagel- I personally prefer the bagels from St.Viateur more. The bagels from Fairmount are good but I found them to have a stiffer texture. They do have a variety of flavors for you to choose from though.

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5.) Larry’s- This was one of my favorite restaurants in Montreal. Larry’s is a cozy all day cafe with a definite millennial vibe but most importantly every single dish there is delicious. It’s an eclectic menu where the vegetables are as delicious as the pancakes and somehow the anchovy spaghetti is out of this world. Highly recommend for brunch!

Anchovy spaghetti

Anchovy spaghetti

Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs

Pancakes

Pancakes

6.) Le Club Chasse Et Peche Restaurant- This restaurant is known for their game & fish dishes. The cook on the meats were just as we requested. Think tender, juicy and flavorful. The fish dishes here were also good and especially so the lobster.

American Wagyu, mushrooms, whelks, marrow sauce

American Wagyu, mushrooms, whelks, marrow sauce

Broccoli rabe, pinenuts, cauliflower puree

Broccoli rabe, pinenuts, cauliflower puree

7.) Arthurs Nosh Bar- Expect to wait on line here but the wait is worth it, especially for brunch. The menu offers your typical brunch staples but the cook on everything is wonderful, well portioned and packed with flavor. The ingredients are also very fresh like the smoked salmon. You’ll be super full after the meal but also super happy.

Gravalax: smoked salmon, poached egg, avocado, capers, dill

Gravalax: smoked salmon, poached egg, avocado, capers, dill

No Budget Brit’s Schnitzel: chicken schnitzel, whipped honey, french dressing with an added fried egg

No Budget Brit’s Schnitzel: chicken schnitzel, whipped honey, french dressing with an added fried egg

9.) Nonya- We did takeout Indonesian food for our last night in Montreal and it was an ideal way to close out Montreal. I enjoyed the heat in the dishes (not too spicy) and we had a good mix of curries and small bites. The tumeric rice was a standout for me because it was well seasoned. Also loved the shrimp curry that had a beautiful aroma.

Red curry shrimp, dumplings in peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chicken, turmeric rice

Red curry shrimp, dumplings in peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chicken, turmeric rice

Honorable mentions where I could not find the pictures I took of the food: Cadet which has a New Canadian menu and does well on meats and Nhau Bar where the cocktails and ambience are incredible but also has a delicious small bites menu featuring the best shrimp buns I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to be back in Montreal!

This is Nhau Bar by the way. So pretty!

This is Nhau Bar by the way. So pretty!

36 hours in Chicago

My first time in Chicago was during the polar vortex of 2019 and well it was quite the welcome into the Windy City. Despite the weather mishap I did my best to see and eat the best foods the city has to offer although I think I barely scratched the surface of the Chicago food scene. Some of the highlights during this trip included the Art Institute of Chicago and it’s impressive collection, an unforgettable dinner at Alinea and eating deep dish at Pequod’s. Below are the rest of the places I enjoyed eating at during the weekend.

1.) Marisol- The restaurant is located inside of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago which, has awesome exhibits by the way. I ordered the onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea (they have many loose leaf teas for you to choose from) which was ideal for a cold day.

Onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea

Onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea

2.) Alinea- There are not enough words to describe Alinea except that it is worth the money and you will remember this dinner for the rest of your life. I am so happy that we were able to experience Chef Grant Achatz’s vision. I’ve admired him for a long time and Alinea is just proof of his ingenuity. Below are some of the highlight dishes.

Wagyu steak

Wagyu steak

French toast brioche with black truffles

French toast brioche with black truffles

Dessert bomb

Dessert bomb

3.) Portillo’s- This may be a chain but I genuinely enjoyed these Chicago hot dogs. I love the sesame buns and the fact that it is loaded with relish, peppers, and pickles. I prefer these hot dogs to the NYC ones easily.

Classic Portillo’s hot dogs

Classic Portillo’s hot dogs

4.) Au Cheval- We had to wait 45 minutes to get a seat here but I had heard horror stories of a 2 hour wait for this burger. It was a delicious burger but I’m glad the wait was not insane but I honestly don’t think it’s worth 2-3 hour wait. Very juicy and tender burger patty- definitely get the egg!

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5.) Pequod’s- This was delicious Chicago deep dish. We got a small for 2 people and even that felt like too much. Ultimately Chicago deep dish…is absolutely more a cheese pie than a pizza. Sorry I said it but it’s true. However, that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Pequod’s had a great tangy tomato sauce that cuts through the heaviness of the cheese which you’ll appreciate a lot when you’re on your second slice.

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6.) Publican Quality Meats- We went here for brunch and enjoyed the selection of meat dishes that the shop had to offer. Below is the chicken parmesan sandwich I ordered which, was so good! It actually had a bit of heat to it which I loved!

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7.) Doughnut Vault- The doughnut vault is a literal hole in the wall that opens in the morning and closes when the last donut is sold so try to get there on the earlier side. We were able to snag some of their famous buttermilk old fashioned donuts in the afternoon and they were scrumptious. I loved that they were soft and that you can actually taste the buttermilk!

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It was a wonderful trip to Chicago and I’m happy that I got to check out some of the essential Chicago eateries! On my next trip to the Windy City I'd love to explore the surrounding neighborhoods and get a taste of the real Midwestern foods that I know Chicago has to offer. Until next time!

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An exquisite Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is the most impressive meal I've had in London. You can expect impeccable service from the moment you walk in through to the very end of the meal when you bid farewell. The menu of the restaurant is a modern play on centuries old recipes. You can actually find the period in which each recipe came to be and how the chefs at DHB have transformed the dish to the 21st century. I loved every dish I tasted and was pleasantly surprised at the well portioned size of the appetizer, sides and entree. DHB is a splurge meal yet a very special one so I highly recommend you have this on your radar for special occasions! 

Just a mandarin and grilled bread? I don't think so

Just a mandarin and grilled bread? I don't think so

Alas! It is actually 'Meat Fruit' Recipe from c.1500. Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread

Alas! It is actually 'Meat Fruit' Recipe from c.1500. Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread

Roast Venison Loin from c.1850- Braised & grilled red cabbage, pickled cherries

Roast Venison Loin from c.1850- Braised & grilled red cabbage, pickled cherries

Fillet of Hereford Beef from c.1830 with Mushroom ketchup 

Fillet of Hereford Beef from c.1830 with Mushroom ketchup 

Sides included broccoli potato mash and tripe cooked chips

Sides included broccoli potato mash and tripe cooked chips

Tipsy Cake from c.1810- Spit roast pineapple

Tipsy Cake from c.1810- Spit roast pineapple

Complimentary goodies because we were celebrating our anniversary!

Complimentary goodies because we were celebrating our anniversary!

Favorites:

This is a very special meal so I enjoyed every part of it. I do wish I had tried a fish entree just to see how those recipes are recreated at DHB. Next time!

The Lisbon Diaries

Lisbon should be on everyone's travel list. The hilly neighborhoods, the fresh air breezing along the Tagus and the promise of fresh and consistently delicious food will make this city a place you frequent whenever time allows. Below are a few of my favorite spots around the city (and one in Sintra). Enjoy!

Tapisco- Traditional Portuguese food with a refined modern twist. You can expect unexpected textures, rich flavors and big portions. 

Salted Cod "à Brás" with confit egg yolk

Salted Cod "à Brás" with confit egg yolk

Garlic prawns

Garlic prawns

Squid Ink Paella with prawns, cuttlefish and alioli

Squid Ink Paella with prawns, cuttlefish and alioli

Manteigaria- This might be my favorite egg tart in the city. While I do love the ones from Pasteis de Belem, the custard in these egg tarts had just the right amount of sweetness. Get them when they're fresh out of the oven and you'll find it hard to resist eating 3 or 4 more

Egg Tart

Egg Tart

Time Out Market Lisboa- The Time Out Market for me was well worth the visit. You can try different stalls that range from classic Portuguese foods to modern takes as well as other cuisines. It's a great place to stop for lunch or a midday snack. Below are three recommendations at the market: the duck confit at Monte Mar, the tuna tartare at Tartar-la and the eggy custard at Nos E Mais Bolos. 

Duck Confit with parsnip puree

Duck Confit with parsnip puree

Tuna tartare

Tuna tartare

Eggy custard

Eggy custard

A Cevicheria- This was a highlight of our Lisbon trip. True to its name this restaurant is a celebration of seafood and all the flavors that Portugal has to offer. If you're hungry then definitely do the tasting menu as it's a steal for how delicious each dish was. We ordered individually and were impressed with how harmoniously all the dishes went together. Though they don't take reservations this restaurant is worth the wait (yes, you should expect one).

Complimentary corn bread and squid ink chips

Complimentary corn bread and squid ink chips

Portuguese ceviche- codfish, octopus, mashed lupin beans and tomato cream

Portuguese ceviche- codfish, octopus, mashed lupin beans and tomato cream

Mixed Causa- Mashed potato, smoked mackerel, horseradish mayonnaise, salmon tartare, scallop, kimchi and wasabi

Mixed Causa- Mashed potato, smoked mackerel, horseradish mayonnaise, salmon tartare, scallop, kimchi and wasabi

Sea Quinoto- quinoa, shrimp, cockle, mussel,White Fish, seaweed, oyster foam and kambu

Sea Quinoto- quinoa, shrimp, cockle, mussel,White Fish, seaweed, oyster foam and kambu

O Talho's Tartare Taco- beef tartare, horseradish cream and taco

O Talho's Tartare Taco- beef tartare, horseradish cream and taco

Chocolate, peanuts, banana and aji panca- Brownie and cream chocolate, peanuts, aji panca meringue and banana

Chocolate, peanuts, banana and aji panca- Brownie and cream chocolate, peanuts, aji panca meringue and banana

Tascantiga (Sintra)- Firstly you should take the 1 hour 10 minute train ride to Sintra. The Moorish Castle and Pena Palace is unlike anything else. Grand, regal, breathtaking are a few words that come to mind when I think of these places. Secondly if you do find yourself in Sintra then stop by this great local restaurant, Tascantiga. The meats and fish are so fresh. I loved their simple flavors full of lemon, olive oil and vegetables. It felt so homey and welcoming.

Garlic large prawns in lemon broth and beef with vegetable stew

Garlic large prawns in lemon broth and beef with vegetable stew

Pasteis de Belem- It won't be a trip to Lisbon if we didn't come to this iconic pastry shop. The egg tarts are delicious especially the pastry. The line moves quickly (especially in the low tourist seasons) and it's worth the euro!

Egg Tart

Egg Tart

A Praca- A Praca is located in LX Factory which is a very Brooklyn type space with converted warehouses and rooftop bars. You'll feel all the Brooklyn feels when you spend the day in LX Factory. While there are a lot of great food options in the area, A Praca was where we stopped for a late lunch and a strong pitcher of sangria. Great food with some Americanized dishes just in case you miss home (which I doubt).

Baked goat cheese with honey

Baked goat cheese with honey

Cafe Principe Real- We had a the pleasure of staying at the Memmo Principe Real Hotel in Lisbon which not only came with luxurious amenities, first class service and sweeping views of Lisbon but also a delicious restaurant a few feet away from our room. The restaurant is gorgeous and decorated in bold colors overlooking Lisbon. Regardless if you're a guest at the hotel or if you just want delicious seafood you can count on Cafe Principe Real to deliver

Grouper, shrimp and coconut curry with basmati rice, papadum and mango chutney

Grouper, shrimp and coconut curry with basmati rice, papadum and mango chutney

São Tomé Chocolate 70% Chocolate with banana and salted caramel praliné

São Tomé Chocolate 70% Chocolate with banana and salted caramel praliné

O Asiatico- The brilliant chef that brought you A Cevicheria, Check Kiko, brings you into a world of Portuguese Asian flavors at O Asiatico. There is a wide range of Asian influences here from Thailand, Japan, Korea to Nepal. And while you can still order ceviche and other seafood dishes you will be happy to devour some of the delicious meat dishes here. 

Coconut tuna ceviche with tapioaca 

Coconut tuna ceviche with tapioaca 

Vietnamese noodles with lobster and coconut

Vietnamese noodles with lobster and coconut

Thai rice with piglet: belly of piglet, Thai rice and vegetables.

Thai rice with piglet: belly of piglet, Thai rice and vegetables.

Dumplings in Tom Yum soup

Dumplings in Tom Yum soup

Thai roast beef, wasabi crema, lotus root chips and mushrooms

Thai roast beef, wasabi crema, lotus root chips and mushrooms

Black chocolate cake and wasabi, cream cream and red fruit

Black chocolate cake and wasabi, cream cream and red fruit

Sticky Rice, grilled banana and Vietnamese coffee ice cream

Sticky Rice, grilled banana and Vietnamese coffee ice cream