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After just under two food happy weeks in Peru, we’re back in Montreal and still dreaming about all the incredible things we ate during our first foray into South American territory. Lima is of course, known as the culinary capital of the continent – we couldn’t have picked a better place to kickstart our adventure !
We spent the morning in Vacherie, touring the Oak Alley and Whitney plantations for two vastly different experiences. Oak Alley is stunning – the picturesque row of huge oaks lining the front entrance to the main house is a sight to behold. The tour focuses on the lives of the plantation owners – the guides are dressed in historical costumes and go to great length to make visitors feel like they are being transported back in time to the period. Mint juleps are served on the porch to the throngs of tourists wandering by.
After an interesting and educational tour of the St. Louis cemetery No. 1 (s/o Nick Cage, bad omens and his cult-y pyramid grave) in New Orleans earlier this year, we walked towards Treme for one of the most anticipated meals of our trip: a taste of America’s best fried chicken at none other than the institution that is Willie Mae’s Scotch House.
Earlier this month, we spent the better part of a beautiful day out in the Louisiana swamps, quietly cruising around the little hidden parts of the Atchafalaya bayou for some of best bird and gator-watching the state has to offer. Huge trees with thick, ribbed trunks densely populate long stretches of the swamp, with long tendrils of Spanish moss clinging onto branches in all directions, gently swaying with the breeze. From far, they almost look like cobwebs, a perfect haunt for the famous ghosts and otherworldly spirits of Louisiana. Further adding to the unique landscape are sharp stumps jutting up from the water in clusters, the remainders of clear cut trees from years ago.
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.
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!).
Dead and gone to seafood heaven. That’s what happened to us when we visited Swan Oyster Depot in SF a couple weeks ago. The 100 year old SF institution is known for its insanely fresh raw bar offerings, the casual and informal dining style and the long lines of locals and tourists eagerly waiting to get a taste. Named by the James Beard Foundation as an American Classic in 2000 and featured by Anthony Bourdain on The Layover, the restaurant receives hundreds of visitors a day that come from far and wide.
This summer, we were lucky enough to have spent a bit of time travelling Turkey. Dream destination. Some of the most memorable moments we experienced were in Cappadocia – from the unique, insanely shaped landscapes we saw to the hearty, local foods we ate – not to mention the impossibly beautiful hotel we stayed at (Argos), we could not have asked for a more perfect vacation.
Cafe Parvis is the newest addition to the Furco – Buvette Chez Simone family. In the same way its’ siblings have brought a nonchalant cool and trended towards a casually fashionable following, Parvis exudes the same vibe, promising equal parts good food and good company.
You’ve already heard the hype. You don’t need me to tell you that Jeffrey Finkelstein has an impressive resumé of work experience at world famous restaurants Noma, El Bulli and French Laundry and that he’s set up shop here in Montreal. You know that the bread from his Hof Kelsten has fed diners at likes of Le Filet, Club Chasse et Peche, Toqué, Dominion Square Tavern, Nora Gray, Joe Beef, Toqué and Les 400 Coups because you’ve already tasted it. Yes, you can breath a sigh of relief. We’re finally in on secret source of good bread in this city.
Frequently referred to as “that other pho spot on Ossington” by Torontonians, Pho Tien Thanh holds its own in a city where pho shops are a hot commodity. As most pho places are wont to operate, the food arrives quickly and piping hot, all to the ambient background sounds of slurping and sipping with minimal chatter to be heard. As per norm, cash only.
As one of the most multicultural cities in the world, Toronto is home to a large population of new immigrants, most notably from East and South East Asia. Communities have settled across the GTA, setting up restaurants and businesses that fuse old culture with new culture, bringing elements of “back home” to Toronto life in surprising and delicious ways – cue the multitude of Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican restaurants (the list goes on) that define the city. It’s no surprise then that a wealth of top notch Japanese restaurants can be found in Toronto.
Another successful restaurant import from Vancouver, Kingyo has made it to the Toronto food scene, following in the footsteps of Guu Isakaya and Sakabar, Kinton Ramen, Ramen Raijin and others. Located in the East end of Toronto, Kingyo Isakaya has got a distinct vibe that differentiates itself from its competitors. Instead of the typically cramped quarters and loud, boisterous atmosphere found in many isakayas, Kingyo gives its customers breathing room and a little more leeway for a normal noise level of conversation.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure everyone loves a good bowl of pho. It’s got this warm, comforting flavour that makes you feel right again, or at least helps you along the way to getting there (esp key in winter). The broth is usually made from simmered beef bones, oxtails and onions but unsurprisingly, every pho establishment ends up with a different final product, some preferring to use more onion for flavour, while others rely more heavily on spices like ginger and cinnamon. In terms of toppings and add-ins, the offerings are typically bean sprouts, Thai basil leaves, red chili and a selection of various sauces. I like mine with extra lime, extra bean sprouts and a touch of sriracha.
Since Alex and I now live in different cities, we decided to meet up in New York for a little weekend getaway. Where better than New York City to sightsee, eat good food and drink even better cocktails?
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.
If you’re looking for a sophisticated lunch or dinner in Madrid, look no further than Cilantro Gastrobar. We stopped by for lunch one day after reading a little bit about the place on Conde Nast and of course, they were spot on. This place serves some really nice food that makes for pretty pictures and a satisfied belly.
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.
One of our first stops in New York was The Butcher’s Daughter. Known for its ability to serve simple, delicious and wholesome food, the restaurant has a wonderful way of changing the way the people think about the way vegan food looks and tastes. We stepped into the shop and fell immediately in love with the entire look of the place.