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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The DeBruce is your ultimate Catskills getaway

The DeBruce will always hold a special place in my heart because there's where I got engaged!!! Every part of that moment was surreal and luckily my fiancé timed it so well that after we got engaged there was a 9 course dinner awaiting me in the glass windowed dining room at the DeBruce. The DeBruce offers much more than just impeccable farm to table food. This place meets all the criteria of a luxurious Catskill getaway complete with your own hiking trails, streams of water, an incredible chef on call, pool side lounging, flyfishing and a bar just steps away from your room. Your per night cost covers breakfast every morning and a special 5 course dinner on Friday night as well as the signature 9 course tasting menu on Saturday night. Chef Aksel Theilkuhl lives on the property and cooks every night with his close knit team based upon the items they forage in the woods right behind the property. This luxurious B&B is a dream come true. 

The photos below are from The DeBruce's signature 9 course tasting menu-

Foraging: fiddleheads, daisy, berries, yarrow flowers

Foraging: fiddleheads, daisy, berries, yarrow flowers

Chicken Liver- country rye, pickled wild strawberries, sweet & sour onion

Chicken Liver- country rye, pickled wild strawberries, sweet & sour onion

Summer Garden

Summer Garden

Trout- cured & cold smoked, last season's pickles

Trout- cured & cold smoked, last season's pickles

Corn- empanada, pork belly, nectar

Corn- empanada, pork belly, nectar

Mushroom- clover & timothy hay, blueberry wood

Mushroom- clover & timothy hay, blueberry wood

Rabbit- in a meadow

Rabbit- in a meadow

Display of after dinner cheese and desserts

Display of after dinner cheese and desserts

Havana Nights

I was fortunate enough to explore Cuba this spring and it was surely an adventure! You don't know what to expect in Cuba until you get there. Sometimes the electricity in an entire neighborhood will go out, the water supply can suddenly stop forcing you to ration and if you are an American tourist then the likelihood of you freaking out about running out of cash is also high. Regardless of those hurdles, Cuba is a fascinating place and there is truly nothing else like it. I encourage everyone to go explore before any sort of Westernization begins to take place. 

Some of my readers expressed interest in tours and guides (which can be difficult to find online if you only want a day tour and not an entire travel package) so I've put together tours I've either personally taken or that have gotten good recommendations. 

Tours:

Locally Sourced Havana Tours

Havana Adventures

Cuba Travel Network

Discover Vinales

Now onto the food! Before I left for Cuba, all the research told me that I shouldn't be excited about food. Well...challenge accepted! The food in Cuba is delicious. You just have to know where to go I particularly enjoyed all the fusion cuisines which, is a true testament to Cuba's incredible history. Below are my favorites- enjoy!

1. El Cocinero- Want to drink on a rooftop where the bar is inside the chimney AND the seafood is delicious? This is your spot. Tucked away from Old Havana in the outskirts of the Vedado district, this restaurant was hands down my favorite. There's also an incredible gallery that turns into a club on the weekends attached to the restaurant if you're into that sort of thing. 

Spiced Cuban rice with lobster

Spiced Cuban rice with lobster

2. Los Naranjos- I loved eating on the balcony at Los Naranjos and watching the sun go down. The service is impeccable and their menu changes weekly. The focus of the menu is definitely seafood and rightly so because all the seafood dishes I had were delicious. 

Mixed seafood fritters with a citrus glaze sauce for dipping

Mixed seafood fritters with a citrus glaze sauce for dipping

Roasted bell peppers stuffed with crab topped with parmesan cheese

Roasted bell peppers stuffed with crab topped with parmesan cheese

Broiled lobster cooked in Rum sauce with a plantain puree and vegetables on the side

Broiled lobster cooked in Rum sauce with a plantain puree and vegetables on the side

3. Espacios- This restaurant is in the Miramar district away from Old and Central Havana. The traditional Cuban food here is worth the trip. They often cook outside right in front of you in their lounge/backyard patio and the smell will make you ten times hungrier than when you came in. The drinks are strong, delicious and huge too. 

Roasted chicken legs with tostones, paella like rice, vegetables with a chimmichuri sauce 

Roasted chicken legs with tostones, paella like rice, vegetables with a chimmichuri sauce 

Margarita pizza (they baked this in front of me too!)

Margarita pizza (they baked this in front of me too!)

4. Le Channosier- This restaurant serves French Cuban fusion food which I'm a huge fan of. A lot of the dishes are cream based so definitely on the heavier side but I loved tasting the Cuban flavors like mashed yuca instead of potatoes. 

Duck in red wine reduction with yuca puree

Duck in red wine reduction with yuca puree

5. NaO- NaO is located in Old Havana and you can expect good old Cuban cuisine. Their menu features all the staples of Spanish cuisine like taro chips, plantains, picadillo, roasted chicken, black bean and rice and so much more. I had one of my first meals here and I was thoroughly impressed. 

Appetizers included fried balls with taro, yuca fries, plantain chips

Appetizers included fried balls with taro, yuca fries, plantain chips

Picadillo with plantains 

Picadillo with plantains 

6. If you take a trip to Vinales Valley (which I highly recommend as it was my favorite part of Cuba) and you take a tour through Discover Vinales, you'll eat at this incredible farm to table organic restaurant that overlooks Vinales Valley. Every item they serve you has been picked from the garden you are sitting in. This dining experience was unlike anything else because the flavors and ingredients truly speak for themselves. There was an entire table of food but I was too busy eating so I only took a few pictures!

Roasted chicken

Roasted chicken

Assortmenet of potatoes picked from the farm including sweet potato, yuca and more

Assortmenet of potatoes picked from the farm including sweet potato, yuca and more