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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.
So you’re walking around the Distillery District, checking out art, spending time in Old Toronto, taking in the view… out of nowhere, the smell of warm chocolate hits your nostrils. It’s sweet and thick, fragrant and unmistakable. The smell makes the taste of chocolate almost palpable. You don’t know where it’s coming from or what exactly is going on, but you know you have to find the source. If you follow your instincts, you should end up in front of SOMA Chocolate. Go ahead. Take a look inside.
Whilst scouring the Old Port for lunch places to eat at during work breaks, I came across Safran et Cannelle. Peering in from the outside, it looked more like a sit down place, so I’d been hesitant to try it for fear of not being able to make it back to work on time. One day though, the tagines sitting on the table outside just seemed too alluring so we decided to check it out. And you know what? Food service made it just so I had a couple minutes to power walk back and make it in time.
After a semi-satisfying dinner on St. Denis (more on this in a following post) at Mache, we were hankering for something sweet. Obviously, right. A quick search on Google showed me the closest ice cream shops and just steps away was the one and only Dr. Frost. I had passed by multiple times but never had the chance to visit. The bright pink sign had stuck in my mind, but for some reason I had recalled it as Pinkberry… We don’t have those here yet, unfortunately. Scanning over reviews and commentary from various users online, I learned that the “macarons givrés” were something they were known for, and that it was a must have.
After a delightful dinner at Kaza Maza with Diana, fellow food blogger of Foodology and her friend Jess, we decided to walk off the meal by heading towards Les Givrés for a cold treat. I had been to Les Givrés before around Christmas time, in search of one of their famous bûches de Noel or the unique igloo/marshmallow ice cream cake.
Lacking signage save for the colorful, hand drawn words across the glass door and an adorable cartoon character we can only assume is Léo, we passed by Léo le Glacier for a brief break from the blazing heat Saturday afternoon. After spending the majority of the day out in the sun in Park Lafontaine, gelato seemed like the perfect refresher. Stepping into the tiny gelateria, we quickly chose our flavor combinations.
With the recent popularity of froyo aka frozen yogurt – cue Yeh!, Pinkberry and others – gelato seems to have taken a back seat. Places like Havre aux Glaces and Leo le Glacier in Montreal as well as La Dolce Vita and Paysanne Gelato in the West Island are part of the growing movement to bring it back. Every bucket of gelato is unique, from the color, the consistency and of course, the taste.
Damas is the other major contender for the top spot in Syrian cuisine in Montreal’s Mile End. Going quite literally head to head with Kaza Maza (the two restaurants are within a couple blocks of each other), I have to say both places are very good – but there are slight differences that may sway one diner towards one or the other. For example, Kaza Maza has more of a casual dining atmosphere and prices to match. It is smaller and has a more homey feel with a little couch in the front, some throw pillows and a beautiful Syrian printed cover to match as well as a house-like interior with alcoves and a variety of different rooms partitioned by stucco-like walls. Damas has more of a fancy “night out” feel as the place is more ornately decorated, has dimmer lighting and a more open space concept. Prices here are significantly higher but the size of the main meals are more than enough to fill one hungry person whereas at Kaza, you might order a few mains to share to get full. Both places though, as mentioned before, are phenomenal. You’d be in good hands no matter which of the two you choose!
The West Island welcomes a new addition to its ethnic roster of restaurants: Aryana. And no, it’s not another serving Indian food – this time its Afghan. It’s nice to see some more diversity in the curry, stew and grill departments on des Sources Boulevard. Having been open a mere three weeks, the family run restaurant is still very new to the scene in terms of notoriety and recognition – hopefully people will hear more about it and take the time to visit the place because it is unbelievably good. Some even make comparisons to the more established Khyber Pass on Duluth and conclude that Aryana has a better grasp on the authenticity of the cuisine!
Located in the basement level of the prestigious Regent Hotel (incidentally where Lady Gaga chose to stay when she came to Taipei for a show several weeks ago), the Brasserie is an upscale all-you-can-eat buffet style restaurant with a selection of foods wide enough to make your jaw drop. The sushi/sashimi bar features freshly caught lobsters, crabs and oysters, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, sea urchin among other premium raw seafood. The Japanese section also had cold soba and oolong noodles prepared on demand, just fried tempura (fish, potato, taro, shrimp), miso soup among many other choice selections.The “American” section featured some typical foods you would expect which for some foreigners may be a welcome relief from the rather different Asian foods you find most places in Taipei.