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lait cru's Profile

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Cooking in hay?

I've cooked ham in hay (actually, it was a smaller smoked "jarret" or ham shank - the foreleg - versus a larger thigh or picnic shoulder) and it turned out quite well. I followed a fairly simple, rudimentary technique of simply lining an enameled cast iron (or comparable) covered pot/dutch oven with a bed of hay (not straw!), laying the cured ham on top, covering it with more hay (enough to keep the ham just cosy enough - perhaps an inch thickness or so of hay all around), and then filling the pot with water enough to cover ham and hay. Bring the whole gently to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook the lot on the stove top until your ham is tender (timing depending entirely on the size of your ham). It's a very simple preparation - I added no additional herbs or other aromatics the first time round - but the hay lent a lovely, grassy note to the meat.

This technique is an old one, and the primary purpose of the hay is to help leach some of the salt out of the ham. Indeed, my shank had only the slightest bit of salt remaining, allowing the meat itself, the "haminess", to really come through. It was tender, sweet, herbaceous, and only lightly salted. Served with some simmered white beans and garlic breadcrumbs, it made a delightful supper.

I'm fortunate in that a few butchers where I live (including my favorite pork purveyor) retail small bundles of hay in the shop. The suggestion for pet store-grade alfalfa is a good one, unless you can secure some sweet hay from another good source in your area. Likewise, the suggestions for adding aromatics to your hay - and other serving tips - sound excellent.

I also remember Martha Stewart once publishing an Easter recipe for ham baked on a bed of grass, but unless you live near a meadow, I'd worry about the quality of the grass in my nearby park. Ham with a note of dog whizz and a distinct aftertaste of car exhaust. Non, merci.

Nov 14, 2008
lait cru in Home Cooking

Where to find Golden Syrup in Mtl?

I picked up a jar about a year ago and as far as memory serves (which some days isn't very far at all, sadly), I'm pretty sure I picked it up at La Depense in the Jean Talon Market.

When is it "too much"?

I agree, moh! It's what makes chowhounders great. If I had the time (and money!), I would love to try some regular samplings of the brownie, to keep measuring it for consistency, and ideally, weighing it each time as well. How many brownies should I eat, er, measure, to get a decent sense of the average brownie size? (Hmmm...and perhaps I ought to apply to either the Ministère d'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation or the municipal weights and measures bureau for a grant said "research".) But seriously, this sort of dedication and pooling of resources and food savvy on this board always warms my heart.

Restaurant Openings - 2008

Well, they certainly seem to be expanding rapidly. Another L'Oeufrier opened less than a month ago on Mont-Royal, just west of De Lorimier (used to be an African resto; destroyed by a fire a while back). Haven't been. Likely never will.

ISO: free-range chicken

I sometimes place orders for organic, grass-fed and grass-finished beef from MacDale Farms. They are a family farm in the Gaspé, and one of the family members, Trudy MacWhirter, takes orders from and delivers to the Montreal area. Starting in September, they will also have organic, free-range chickens available for purchase, both as whole chickens and in de-boned meat only whole chicken vacuum sealed packs (the packs pack a lot flatter in a freezer, as the whole chickens take up about one cubic foot).

Their prices are very good, I find, for organic, grass-fed meats. $6 - $8 per pound, depending on whether you are ordering traditional cuts (braising cuts, liver, etc.) BBQ boxes (prime cuts for grilling), or mixed boxes. I have been quite pleased with the meat. They only take orders for 15, 30, or 50 lb. boxes (I usually go in on a box with a few friends). Not sure how the chickens will be offered. I too find it challenging to purchase large minimums direct from the farm, but perhaps the chickens will be offered on a per chicken, versus minimum poundage, basis.

This doesn't exactly fit your bill, I realize, but if you would like to contact Trudy, even to query about order sizes, let me know (maybe provide an email address?) and I will pass along her contact info.

For the Jamón Ibérico Fans

Thanks Moh! It really is all about getting more people excited about their food and interested in discovering the bounty of good foods out there, isn't it? I so enjoy your posts. See you in the boards!

May 20, 2008
lait cru in Food Media & News

Old Bay Seasoning

As Spanky Horowitz points out, many fishmongers do keep it. In addition to Nouveau Falero, I have seen it at La Mer on Rene Levesque. I also think I've seen it at Anatol (the spice shop) on St. Laurent (but am not 100% certain memory is serving me correctly right now and it's too early to call them). Maybe also La Depense? A pricier bet, perhaps.

For the Jamón Ibérico Fans

Hi Carswell, hi all, Catherine Macpherson here.

Thanks for the nod on the bagel bit. Sorry if the "tonuge in cheek" nature of the Chowhound discussion didn't come through in the radio story - I certainly enjoyed the thread precisely for that reason. And I felt the engineered taste-test was totally off topic.

I do try to give Chowhounders their due credit when information for a story is gleaned from Chowhound. Links to pertinent threads are always sent to CBC, but what actually gets posted on the site is done via their Toronto website management. In the Jamon Iberico instance, I had intended to share the additional info I gathered about the ham's local whereabouts with Chowhounders, then other devoted posters beat me to the punch.

If I am asking a direct question of Chowhounders for journalism purposes, I will most certainly state as much (am familiar with Chowhound posting and crediting etiquette for media). Story information comes from many valuable sources, including Chowhound. Often, I will already be working on an idea when a relevant thread surfaces on this board. If I think I can add to the discussion, I will, in the spirit of this board's raison d'être. Mostly, it just cheers me to know that my ideas might be in line with the city's most informed gastroscenti - the Chowhound posters. (Sadly, I have failed to find the thread - or I would post the link here - to a similar sentiment re. story development, Chowhound posts, timeliness and coincidence that was discussed by some food contributors for the New York Times.)

And Josh Karpati is great with the reviews - I absolutely agree. Perhaps I've more of a bent for other, longer, non-critique forms of food writing.

Thanks for the opinions - always highly valued and taken to heart.

-Cat Macpherson

May 08, 2008
lait cru in Food Media & News

New library: L'Occasion Gourmande

The McCord Museum also collects ephemeral cookbooks and would likely be interested in your book. But bomobob has such a great personal connection...and a motto, after all. Just make sure he issues you a charitable donation tax reciept ;)

Jamon Iberico ok to bring back ?

Thanks for doing the legwork. I'll keep an ear to the ground and will check in with Fromagerie from time to time.

Mai Thai

Curiously, Mai Thai opened in that same space last summer. See the "Restaurant Openings" thread from last year:

They then closed up shop for a while (as I discovered after arranging to meet some friends there for dinner, and we were faced with papered over windows.


Glad to hear there may be more to it than "little birds carved out of carrots", as Snackhappy mused. Too true!

Jamon Iberico ok to bring back ?

According to today's Globe & Mail, Jamon Iberico has now been cleared for import to Canada and a supplier (the only exporter to the US) has been found. The hams of Embutidos Fermin (a small-scale producer from La Alberca) will soon reach us!

The article lists a couple of Toronto restaurants that will offer the jamon, and it gives information on where to get the jamon in Vancouver. It *says* that the ham will also be distributed in Montreal, but doesn't say where.

The article:

Anyone have any idea who might be distributing it, retailing it, or putting it on their menus?

Best fine dining: Quebec City or Montreal?

Actually, it's Au Pied de Cochon (
And it's definitely a must when in Montreal.
And while cosmopolitan Montreal certainly seems the more obvious first choice for a travelling gastronome, if you are really looking for fine (as in white-tablecloth, elaborate multi-course tasting menu) dining, I'm really tempted to steer you towards Quebec City these days.

-Toast! at the Hotel Le Priori is really a very special restaurant. The chef/co-owner trained at the French Laundry (not that that guarantees anything, necessarily) but the creativity and thoughtfulness behind a lot of the dishes is really impressive. And the host/co-owner is exceptionally good at his job.

-L'Utopie is unlike any other restaurant that I have been to thus far, in either Quebec City or Motnreal (but maybe I don't get out enough). Stéphan Modat's playfulness in the kitchen is a real joy and the sommelier is so generous with his knowledge and insights. I don't have my little notebook to hand (or I would give more details of what I ate there) but I do remember the most ingenious "palate cleanser": a slightly-larger-than-golf-ball-sized ceramic globe filled with keffir lime-scented almond milk and a tiny straw poking throughh the small hole in the top. Beside the globe, a small spoon holding maybe a 1/2 teaspoon's-worth of ingredients including salmon roe, a foam of wild carrot seed oil, a tiny dab of cauliflower purée, crushed caramelized almonds, and toasted sesame oil (might be forgetting a component or two!). In order to help transition the palate from a course of foie gras ice cream parfait (with hibiscus mousse, jellied rhubarb and cranberry cube, smoked cinnamon, and a crunchy sweet-salty muesli "cigar") to a course of Alaskan crab "canneloni" (in a clear kombu algae wrap with various cubes of citrus gelée and a canatalope purée), you took a little sip of almond milk, ate the contents of the spoon in one go, then finished the almond milk. The sweet, milky components and the briny-ness of the spoon's mélange really did wonders to help the palate move from the foie gras to the seafood dish. Anyway, just an example of what you could expect at L'Utopie. Molecular gastronomy with a definite touch of whimsy and really top notch ingredients (often local). Impressive wine list too. In addition to tasting menus they also offer the brilliant concept of the "menu bouteille": the sommelier regularly selects a wine from their cellar that he's excited about and would like to share, and the chef creates a menu around that wine. Same idea as a wine bar, but you simply order the bottle and enjoy how the different courses bring out different elements of the wine.

-Panache at the Auberge Saint-Antoine is another great spot. The food can be very rich so pace yourself, but François Blais does some magical things with locally-sourced ingredients. Tiny, north shore scallops served on the half shell with a lemon, cranberry, and Champagne granita were just exquisite. Lots of game dishes, the sommelier is wonderful, and you should take the time to tour the lobby area of the hotel itself. The way in which the hotel has been designed to showcase the various artefects unearthed during construction (some dating back to the 17th century; also included is a french cannon ball - a very rare thing, if you can believe it, as most surviving cannon balls in North America are of English provenance) is impressive and commendable.

Sorry about the architecture detour. Other delicious, recommended fine dining spots in Quebec City include L'Initiale and Laurie Raphael. Another tasty spot - but decidedly in the bistro camp - is le Café du Clocher Penché. I had a scrumptious boudin noir there and they carry great beers from local micro-brewery La Barberie. Have also heard good things about their brunch.

At the complete opposite end of the dining spectrum, Quebec City is also home to the chain of Chez Ashton restaurants that make possibly the best poutine in the province.

Marshmallow fluff

Thank you all! And thanks, fedelst1, for the offer of the guaranteed real deal from south of the border. As per maisonbistro's reports from IGA, I called the location closest to me and they do indeed stock Marshmallow Fluff brand. The grocery manager had me on the phone for a few minutes, waxing reflective as to how he had no choice but to carry it in the store, because his "blonde" is addicted to the stuff.

I have this fudge recipe in mind that I would like to try, and marshmallow creme plays a key role in the alleged addictive qualitites of said fudge. Fedelst1, I will keep you posted if I must have a jar of the American original. Ah, cross-border food shopping - such fun!

Marshmallow fluff

Thanks maisonbistro! And thanks for the tip about the ice cream section, cherylmtl. I've looked near the spreads (peanut butter, Nutella, etc.), the cake frostings, baking supplies, and near the actual marshmallows.

Marshmallow fluff

Hi, um.... yeah, looking for that great New England concoction known as Marshmallow Fluff. Or any comparable marshmallow creme product, really. No luck at my nearest Metro or dodgy 4 Freres (surprise, surprise). No luck either at the Loblaws at Jean-Talon and Parc. Gourmands only need reply. Many thanks.

Lunch near La Fontaine Park

Seems the Gazoo has them open Mon-Fri at 11:30am. Unless they haven't updated their website, best to call, I guess. Thanks for a first-hand opinion on the food.

Lunch near La Fontaine Park

While I can't vouch for it personally (haven't yet tried it), Le Pistou (corner of Mont Royal and Garnier) received a decent review from Ms. Musgrave in last week's Gazette (Jan 18th edition, I believe). Despite its location on the oft-uninspired Mont Royal strip, it seems a little less raucous, a little more refined.

There's always Ma'am Bolduc (de Lormier and Marie-Anne) and while it's quite cozy and close to the park, it comes with the same caveat as Carwell's suggestions: perhaps too casual for a business lunch. But I would second the café at La Maison des cyclistes. They often have lovely (and lovely-priced) lunch specials. Had a delightful chilled lemon soup there last summer. But it's not fine (or even fine-ish) dining, if that's what the occasion demands.

Haggis anyone?

A couple of years ago I orderd a haggis from Muir's Bakery. Formerly of Montreal, they are now located in Maxville, ON (Rideau area, I believe) but they deliver! At least, they did. Seems they still have a huge (well, I guess that's relative) clientele in Montreal, clamouring for their haggis.

I've had a few haggises (haggi?) in my time, and this one was quite good. Made from scratch, no preservatives. They even do homemade vegetarian haggis (a senseless act, I know) but it seemed to please the vegetarians in the room. (Would that be a vaggis - vegetable haggis? Or even a faggis - faux haggis?)

Their number:
(613) 527-1806

local yummmy casual Quebec City restaurants

In a couple of weeks I will be able to speak more authoritatively on Quebec City restaurants - planning a trip there myself - but from the extensive research and inquiries I have done thus far, I would say you must, must, must try Café du Clocher Penché (203 rue St-Joseph E.) and I've heard many good recs for Toast! in the Hotel Le Priori (17 rue du Sault-au-Matelot). I think it might still fit the "casual" bill, but perhaps someone else can clarify that. I am also anticipating great things from the croissants at Chez Temporel (25 rue Couillard).

Protection of the "Montreal Bagel" designation

"The Brownstein column that started it all". Except for the Chowhound discussion that started it all. Heck, even CBC Radio One talked about it last Tuesday on their afternoon show (day before Brownstein's column came out).

Steal Town. Love it.

Single Malt Scotch

I second the recommendations for Lagavulin 16, Bowmore (am currently working on a 12 year), or an Ardbeg (sipping away at a 10 year). I tend to like peaty, slightly briny malts.

Homemade fruitcake tips [moved from Quebec board]

Also agree. In addition, I tend to poke holes in mine with a bamboo skewer - that allows some of the rum/sherry to penetrate the cake a bit better. But...I do make my own and it is fairly moist to begin with (much more fruit than cake). If your cake is a bit on the crumbly side, vigorous poking and soaking might cause mushiness. The cheesecloth is key - if you can moisten it up a bit that way, then you may be able to slowly get more liberal with your dousings. I wrap in cheesecloth, then in plastic wrap, then store in a tin in a cool place.

Nov 27, 2007
lait cru in Home Cooking

Vosges Chocolate on Monkland!

La Vielle Europe ordered more in! Mo's Bacon Bar is back on the shelves, plus most of the other varieties in the Vosges line of "exotic candy bars".

Single Malt Scotch

Heartily agree! I'll raise a glass of my dwindling supply of Laphroaig to that! And good to know the scoop on the comings and mostly goings of SAQ outlets. Will go drown my sorrows at L'Ile Noire.

Single Malt Scotch

Thanks all. I think I have been mistakenly still wandering into the Maisonneuve/Cours Mont Royal location, thinking that was the one Signature outlet downtown. (I've only recently moved back to Montreal, and am downtown infrequently. Didn't it used ot be the Signature store?). I checked out the list of single malts supposedly in stock at the Complex des Ailes location (posted on their website). Not quite what I am hoping to find...but I'll try going down for an in-person browse, as the website might not be totally updated and perhaps the holidays will be marked with more selection. Thanks again.

Single Malt Scotch

Where in Montreal can I find a decent selection of single malt scotch? Is the Signature SAQ in downtown Montreal my best bet? Their offerings seem to have really slimmed down and, for the life of me, I can't figure out the reasoning behind the selections they have made. It seems spotty - with some "showy" bottles - and not evenly representative of a good single malt cabinet. I am particularly interested in Islay malts or ones from the Orkneys or Hebrides.

Great resto in Old Montreal with a 2-year-old?

Thanks, that's what I figured. As it turns out, the friends have been convinced that APDC is the way to go, child-schlepping aside. I will save CCP for a sumptuous dinner à deux! Merci!

Where to Buy Dia de Muertos Foods

Saw lots of little white skulls - with colourful eyes and teeth - lined up in the windows of Les Chocolats de Chloe last week. Just thought they were wax decorations at the time...but of course! Dia de Muertos. Perhaps they were indeed calaveras! You could give her a call to verify: 514-849-5550

Great resto in Old Montreal with a 2-year-old?

I know this topic has been addressed somewhat in the past - and it seems that Holder has been the top suggestion for fine dining in Old Montreal with a child in tow - but I have a few other questions/parameters to address.

Some goat-farming, cheese-making friends from Vermont will be visiting this weekend and staying at Hotel Gault. We had a reservation at APDC for Saturday night. Originally, dinner was to be four adults, but we are now going to bring their 2-year-old son along. APDC would still be the ideal spot, as it seems pretty kid-friendly, the pals love a relaxed atmos with exquisitely good food, and I was longing to take them there. They are great, adventurous cooks (and they do love pig), have exceptional wine knowledge, looking for top-notch experience, yada, yada, yada.

They would now like to dine closer to their hotel, so as not to have to worry about taxis and car seats, etc. We had already considered Club Chasse et Peche (and I am longing to go there at some point) but with no first-hand experience of the atmos, I'd be hard pressed to say if bringing a toddler - even a quite well-behaved one - was suitable.

Please advise on compatibilty of CCP and young ones!
Or please recommend other great, high-ish end, stellar (or as close to stellar as possible) restos near Hotel Gault that are child-friendly.

Your help is always appreciated!