Snow Village X Grumman ’78Posted By Jennifer Ho Mar 17 2012 · 0 comments · Events
Just over a week ago, we made our way to the Snow Village in Ile-St-Helene in anticipation of the Grumman hosted outdoor food event that was said to include restaurants such as the Satay Brothers, Nouveau Palais, La Fabrique, Brit and Chips and Pas de Cochon Dans Mon Salon among others. The lineup was fantastic – we are fans of all of these restaurants, so we had to go, not to mention food events like this are rare in Montreal. Running for four days, we must have chosen the worst possible one to go – the weather was just terrible. Warm enough to make the snow melt but still cold enough to give you a frosty chill, the wind was absolutely unforgiving. We paid $6 for parking and then $8 each for entry – the latter was not mentioned in the ad for the event so that additional cost was a bit of a surprise. It set us back as we hadn’t set out to spend that much just to get into the village to begin with.
No matter, we thought. We made the effort to drive all the way to the island – might as well go for it. As we carefully made our way through the unlit icy path through the woods (about a five minute walk) and down the slippery steps onto the gravelly slush covered ground below, we could hear loud party music blaring from the centre of the snow village. Before we headed in, we stepped into one of the peripheral igloos to check it out. I have to say the structures are definitely impressive – how often do you get to hang out in an igloo mansion? Or lounge in ice chairs (though admittedly, don’t know how long you’d actually want to do that), drink at an ice bar or walk through mysterious high ceilinged ice tunnels? I think the experience would have been even cooler if the temperature had been a little colder so that the ice wasn’t melting and dripping down onto us at a constant rate as we walked through.
As we approached the centre of the village, the lack of people at the event was startling. We purposely came a little later (around 8 pm) thinking that there would be more of a lively atmosphere and a bigger crowd would be present. Most people that were there were part of a private party hosted by Deloitte. Apart from that it was us and a couple of other strays aka excited food lovers like us. We headed towards Grumman’s taco truck and bought about $40 worth of coupons to be exchanged for food at the different kiosks.
We decided to start off with a trio of Grumman’s famous tacos: one red kidney bean, a chicken mole and another stuffed with pork. With a generous drizzle of lime juice and a good squirt of hot sauce, these were perfect. As usual, they delivered with panache. There’s no reason not to either – they consistently deliver solid products that taste good, every time. Everything was delicious and these were, hands down, the best dishes of the evening. We moved on to survey the rest of the kiosks to see what was offered.
After taking a quick look around, we made Nouveau Palais our next stop. They were serving straight up cheeseburgers topped with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and onions. Unarguably simple, but definitely a classic. And they did it well too. With the patty smoking hot and the cheese just oozing out over the sides, the palm-sized burger was finished off amidst silence. We didn’t talk because we were so busy scarfing the thing down.
To our surprise/disappointment, a lot of the booths started closing up at this point. We had been there for about fifteen minutes and paid the relatively steep entrance fees to get in to the place. We understood why they were closing shop – the main reasons being the total lack of customers and the awful weather – but for us, it just kind of sucked as we had just arrived. There was no choice but to rush around to the booths we wanted to visit and plead with them to serve us their last couple dishes. It wasn’t the leisurely sort of way we had wanted to go, but under the circumstances, it was the best we could hope for.
After our fantastic experience last summer at the Satay Brothers’ restaurant at the Atwater Market (check out our post here), as soon as we spotted them at the Snow Village, we made our way over. They were serving brochettes and sandwiches as well as some traditional square tapioca cakes. We chatted with a friendly Matt Winnicki as our sandwich was being prepared, and ended up taking it to go as we ran over to the next closest booth. The sandwich was a monster – and let me say it was just what we needed. Sharing it between the two of us, the thing was gone in a couple of big bites. Juicy, flavourful and fresh, we realized we should have just gotten one each!
Oysters were served at the catering company Pas de Cochon Dans Mon Salon, also the chefs at Salle a Manger. Being one of the booths we hadn’t yet visited, we took a threesome of Malpeques with lemon and slurped those down rather quickly as time seemed to be running out faster than we had expected. Oysters are oysters – cold, slippery and perfect.
We stopped by La Fabrique for grilled cheese, ultra thin shoestring fries and a small cup of hot, creamy soup. The grilled cheese was alright and the soup was decent. The major problem with the soup was that it was served in a thin plastic/paper cup that couldn’t handle the heat. My cup actually burst – the bottom completely fell out as I was sipping the thing, spilling all over my jacket and the wooden kiosk floor. Oops. The chef at La Fabrique was nice enough to give me another portion, this time double cupped. The dessert we had came from him as well – a nice, thick brownie topped with pieces of maple (?). That one was a definite winner.
I think this event had a lot of potential. I don’t know how well the other days at the Village went – hopefully they fared better than the first day they opened. The Thursday that we went wasn’t particularly good for all the reasons outlined above. That’s not to say the food wasn’t good, because most of it was. It just that the experience wasn’t all that we had anticipated or expected it to be. The idea to put a number of great restaurants together to serve small bites to eat is fantastic. With the added ‘fun’ factor of the DJS, the iced dance floors, the igloos and the snow village concept itself, there is definitely a unique aspect to the event. It’s like an Oysterfest on a smaller scale and during the wintertime. Overall, with more publicity (I had only heard about the event through Facebook – nowhere else really) I think the turnout on Thursday might have been a little better. It could have also been because of the weather but that’s something that’s out of anyone’s control. I hope this isn’t the last time we see a Grumman hosted Snow Village event!
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