Snacks & Street Food
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It’s no secret that desserts are the Achilles heel of the general population. Let’s be clear. No one is to blame. Desserts (when done right) can be one of the closest encounters with divinity a human can have. There’s no bad time for dessert – totally appropriate to be consumed at any time of day. Whether it’s decadent molten chocolate cakes, ricotta stuffed buttery puffed pastries, rustic homemade cobblers and pies (clearly just a few of my favorites), everybody has their guilty pleasure. When Expedia Canada asked us to share some the best Montreal dessert spots we were delighted. If you’re visiting Montreal, you’re in luck.
Just across from the historic Jackson Square, you’ll find the equally historic Cafe du Monde serving crowds day and night, 24/7 every day of the year, except for Christmas. Beignets are the only food thing on the menu here, and it’s been this way since 1862. To drink, you’ve got the choice between chicory coffee (a Cafe du Monde specialty), chocolate milk, milk or fresh pressed orange juice, keeping options sweet and simple. Two lines snake from the front front of the house all the way down the block – despite the sweltering New Orleans heat, there is a clear sense of commitment from the people in line.
Chiang Mai is heralded by food critics and top chefs as the holy mecca of Thai food. After watching Anthony Bourdain and Andy Ricker destroy the plates of roast chicken while praising this place non-stop, we knew we had to make a trip while we were in the city.
Over the recent winter holidays, we headed to Thailand for a bit of sunshine and a lot of good food (note emphasis on a lot). After our excellent experience with Culinary Backstreets in Istanbul, we had to see if we could replicate a similar Bangkok Food Tour. Lucky for us, we found Chili Paste Tours managed, owned and operated by the one and only Chin. Hi Chin!
Months ago in the summer, we spent a couple weeks abroad in Turkey. Istanbul was one of our most anticipated spots to check out – the things we’d heard from friends about the food, the culture and the weather were beyond excellent. While we don’t typically engage in food tours for fear of them being cheesy, too touristy or inauthentic, the hype around the formerly called Istanbul Eats Istanbul Food Tour, now Culinary Backstreets, was real. Listed as one of the top ‘things to do’ and Istanbul Food Tour on TripAdvisor, raved about by bloggers and publications alike, including NYT, CN Traveller and HuffPost, we were convinced we had to try it.
We recently headed to SF for a short getaway from the city. Not only was the weather perfect in SF, but as you can imagine, so was the food. After days of gorging ourselves silly on as many crab legs, oysters and sashimi we could get our hands on, we stopped by La Torta Gorda one early afternoon in the hopes of curing an exceptionally nasty hangover from a particularly intense evening of mini putt (s/o Urban Putt!).
Well, I mean because Paris. And obviously Ladurée.
Don’t get it wrong – Chez Chegrouni is not just another restaurant coasting on the laurels of the popular UNESCO ordained cultural heritage site, Jemaa El Fna. In fact, it is one of the most visited restaurants in the square, and for good reason too. Serving simple Moroccan fare for very reasonable prices, the restaurant boasts sprawling panoramic views from a terrasse upstairs as well as ground level views on a smaller patio at the front of the restaurant. There is a no reservation policy in effect so as a result, you will most likely see a line outside the restaurant and believe me, people wait. According to Conde Nast Traveller, even Michelin star chefs wait their turn, which says something.
By day, Jemma El Fna is populated primarily by orange juice vendors, snake charmers and monkey owners who offer their pets up for photos in exchange for a few dirham. Our time in Marrakech happened to coincide with Ramadan and the hottest time of the year. Walking through the square during the day was like wading through a thick, hazy hot mess. The air literally felt like it was on fire – any moment bare skin was exposed to direct sunlight, it felt like getting a first degree burn. To give you an idea of what we were dealing with at the time, temperatures hit highs of around fifty degrees.
To be honest, we stumbled upon Café des 2 Moulins. As a big Amèlie Poulain fan, should I be embarrassed? Walking around the beautiful Montmartre area after seeing the basilique Sacré Coeur, we strolled around the area and found the cafe organically. After Amèlie came out in 2001, the café has become a huge tourist destination, somewhat of a homage spot to the film and the story itself. The café has a typically Parisian feel – as soon as you walk in, you notice there’s something special about the place, from the bar to the light fixtures themselves.
The falafel in Paris is legendary. Any mention of the word brings up Rue des Rosiers in the conversation and usually, L’as du Fallafel quickly follows along with the words “insane”, “best” and “ridiculous”, in no particular order. Let me explain.
Impromptu visits to pastry shops, unplanned scenic walking routes and people watching at beautiful cafes seemingly around ever corner has got to be one of the best parts of being in Paris. Eating expertly crafted, thoughtfully decorated and tasty desserts really takes the cake for me, literally. After visiting the Notre Dame cathedral, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower for some obligatory sight seeing. On the way, we stopped by the cutest Parisian choux creme shop called Odette.
Bubble tea. You love, I love it, your little brother loves it, your mom and your dog loves it … Basically everyone loves it. If you don’t, then you need to seriously reconsider trying Nos Thès up on St. Mathieu downtown because I’m almost positive they’ll change your mind. They brew the best bubble tea in Montreal, hands down. No contest. I’ve been going here since the day I was introduced to the place, sometimes up to three times a week. I know, I know. The calories… But it is so worth it. You don’t have to believe me. Try it yourself.
Can Paixano Barcelona (Xampanyeria) is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. It’s the real deal. It’s a loud, crowded, rowdy, messy, salty, drunken experience not to be missed. Located on a narrow side street in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona, Can Paixano is safely hidden from the unwashed masses of tourists plaguing nearby La Rambla.
Chocolateria San Gines is the churros destination in Madrid – if you do a little research, this chocolateria comes up in almost every search result. People from all over call it an institution… and it is. They’ve been serving churros since 1894. That’s a long, long time. If you had any doubts about commitment or worries that this place was resting on its laurels, you should know that they’re open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Damn.
Do you like surprises? Do you like to be delighted? Do you enjoy the feeling of happiness? If you answered “Yes” to any or all of these questions, you’ve come to the right place. And, let’s be honest, if you didn’t answer “Yes”, you have got to be pretty twisted. Espaisucre is one of the first of its kind in Barcelona – a tapas bar completely dedicated to making desserts and satisfying the sugar craving in all of us in the most interesting and unique kind of way.
Quimet e Quimet is a small but lively traditional Barcelonian tapas bar serving a catered selection of both cold and hot dishes. Frequented mostly by locals, it’s a spot where shouting, laughing and an abundance of wine and champagne can be found – always a good thing. The walls are basically stacked up to the ceiling with different bottles of fine wines, malt whiskies, legendary vermouths and cold cavas, an impressive thing to look at to say the least.
Head down the stairs into the Cartier building, walk past the “sushi” joint taking up the entire seating area and you’ll find a little slice of unexpected heaven. It comes in the form of a small depanneur known affectionately by its greatest offering: the one and only Super Sandwich.
People are going apeshit for donuts. You know what I’m talking about, Montrealers. The wave of trendy donut shops has not yet tided over – you’ve got Chez Boris, Leche and Saint Donut leading the charge in bringing gourmet donuts back to reality. Forget about Tim Hortons, Dunkin Donuts and what you thought you knew about how donuts taste. These guys are reintroducing the dessert in a way that will turn donut eating into your new bad, albeit delicious habit.
La Cornetteria. You’ve probably heard of this tiny Italian patisserie before because of their zeppole. Ah, the famous zeppole that makes an appearance only once a year, for a one month limited time only. Come March, Italian bakeries from all over repurpose their ovens to produce the little puff pastry almost exclusively, popping them out at a dizzying pace. La Cornetteria happens to make some of the best ones.