Monthly Archives: June 2012

MOVING OUTDOORS

Our terrace has a slightly awkward shape — it’s long and spacious, but a little skinny, like an outdoor hallway — so it’s been hard to find a table where we can sit comfortably. But I’d love to find a way to eat meals outside other than placing the bowl gingerly on my lap! In any case, it’s been so nice to admire all of our plants, our little potted garden. We have a small fig tree, strawberries, so many herbs, a few succulents, hanging flowers, all framed by the beautiful grape vines that grow on the terrace right beneath us and snake all the way up to our balcony. The heat wave last week was so intense that I was watering our plants two, three times a day. I’d come back after a few hours and the soil would be cracked and dry. It was incredible. But the plants have really been loving the full sunshine and generous waterings — they’re looking lush and soft, and I ate my first strawberry this morning!

The market is looking better and better everyday, too. I had lots of leftover vegetables from Sasha’s visit, so half of them went in this lemony, garlicky pasta, and the other half I had for breakfast in an omelette.

VEGAN SUMMER VIBES

Merida knocked it out of the park yet again with her latest installment of Vegan Secret Supper here at Le Pick Up. On the menu were a chilled beet and apple soup (with dehydrated beet chips, yum!), lentil and asparagus empanadas and parsley salad, and a juicy, gemlike rhubarb tart tatin. Merida always leaves me feeling inspired and full of new ideas. Like, it’s hard to imagine pastry without butter — especially one as reliant on it as the flaky, sticky tart tatin — but she did a beautiful job. I always love working her events, too. They’re super fun and chill and relaxed. Not often that vegans in Montreal get such a classy meal!

VENUS IN TRANSIT!

My VENUS crew at CKUT will be broadcasting live tomorrow from 12-2pm at my home away from home, Depanneur Le Pick Up! We’ll be spinning lots of rad lady jams, eating cupcakes, and selling awesome t-shirts. Montreal friends, stop by and hang out with us! Consider it the perfect soundtrack to your lunch hour.

[Poster by the awesome Nomn Ryn]

SAMPLING DOMAINE DE CHASSORNEY

Hey, wine buddies! Adam recently wrote a fascinating write-up of some Chassorney wines that we tried at the new Hambar. (I took the photos!) Our friends at reZin are importing a great selection, and I really loved the Burgundies we sampled, which are unsulphured, totally natural and biodynamic. Read it here! Then have that Volnay at Joe Beef — so yum!

KINFOLK MAGAZINE DINNER: LE GRAND AIOLI!

 

This Monday, June 25, I will be throwing a lush Provençal summer feast with my buddies from Kinfolk Magazine! (See their announcement here). My best lady and celebrated chef Michelle Marek (FoodLab) will prepare the meal, inspired by the wild, aromatic garrigue of the Provençal landscape. The highlight will be a Provençal-style Grand Aïoli, featuring local produce from Birri Et Frères.  And it will all be held at the beautiful new bar Alexandraplatz as a post-St. Jean Baptiste celebration. (Ahem, dancing afterward!)

We will be joined by co-host Theo Diamantis of Oenopole, who imports one of my most treasured summer wines, the Domaine du Gros ‘Noré Bandol Rosé. (I’ve been writing about them quite a bit!) Private wine importer Kermit Lynch has called the wines of Gros ‘Noré “magnificent Bandols made in the simplest manner, très franc de goût, with a whole lotta soul.”

This will be a Kinfolk-inspired evening of feasting, wine, laughter, and friends! We are thrilled to present the dinner at Alexandraplatz, one of the newest and most inspiring spaces in our neighborhood, and feature so many talented members of our food and arts community.

As a final note: We released the information for the Kinfolk dinner a few days ago, and I have been stunned by the response — it sold out (and then some) in a matter of hours. I’m thrilled by the level of response, and it has moved me and Michelle to take on more projects in the future. But for those who are patiently on the waiting list, some reassurance: the bigger, badder “official” Kinfolk gala will actually be held this September at the brand-new, stunning PHI Centre space in Old Montreal, so drop me a message anyway and I’ll keep you posted about future events.

To say this is a personal event that speaks to the depths of my heart is an understatement. I feel incredibly honored to work with so many extraordinary people and businesses, and just so happy that the dinner reflects so personally my own interests and passions. (I mean, really: how many times have I written about aioli, you know?) Now, if only I knew what to wear…

A VISIT FROM PORK FUTURES

Hosting the rad Pork Futures crew was a wonderful way to celebrate the beginning of summer here in Montreal. I’ve wanted to work with Andrew and Nick on an event at Le Pick Up for a long time, and for our first collaboration they had the best suggestion: how to build your own smoker. (Out of a wine crate! Genius.) Just in time for summer! It was a fun and relaxing afternoon — both educational and delicious. Who says no to smoked mozzarella, anyway?

BREAKFAST BLOOMS

Peonies, my very favorite flower, are almost finished around here, but Adam and I snuck in a few early-morning/late-night walks to admire the blooms and take a few home for ourselves. (Don’t worry — I always snip strategically from deserted or public spaces, and most come from Adam’s front porch bush!) They invade any space with their intoxicating, sweet scent, and it’s so nice to gaze at a few blush-colored stems over a breakfast of eggs and spinach. This latest bouquet included a poppy and the last of spring’s lilac, too.

A SIMPLE TART, ADAPTED

Now, I know I’ve written in the space before how much I love David Tanis’ easy fruit tart. It’s a simple, clever dish from a book packed to the gills with simple, clever recipes. I recently adapted Tanis’ recipe to make an easy savory tart, topped with tiny zucchini from the market. (That it looks like a pizza was entirely unintentional, I swear!)

I rolled out the pastry, cut it into a circle, then brushed it lightly with heavy cream. To make the topping, I sprinkled a cup of finely grated gruyere, and layered baby zucchini, sliced thinly on a mandoline, and drizzled with good olive oil. After 30 minutes, the tart was finished! We ate big slices with a lemony salad of bitter greens and radishes, and the meal was just the right balance of sumptuous and lightness. In the future, though, I would cut the zucchini thicker and use even more cheese — the buttery, rich crust can handle more aggressive toppings!

SUMMER SNACKING

I recently splurged on a big bundle of white asparagus at the Jean Talon market. (I did the math — almost $1 per spear!) The spears, fat, pearlescent, and tipped with faint lavender and the palest green, were so beautiful. They glowed. I couldn’t resist. White asparagus, which is much more delicate-tasting than its above-ground green counterparts, doesn’t like to be roasted. It turns them an unappealing muddy color and makes them bitter. So I kept it extremely simple and steamed the trimmed, peeled spears for four minutes, and served them warm with good French ham. The perfect early summer snack, and finger food, too!

LADIES’ AIOLI

Call me saccharine, but I’m totally into the idea of Ladies Night. (I even like calling it ‘Ladies Night.’) I’ve always been more of a girls-girl, and feel happiest when I’m hanging out with my girlfriends. So after a heavy weekend of partying, a light, ladylike meal of chilled rosé, steamed vegetables, garlicky aioli, and a big, crunchy salad with avocado with some super cool ladies was exactly what I needed. Dessert was simple but special — we ate the one souvenir I brought back from Provence, a single bar of nougat from Sanary-sur-mer, sweetened with honey and crunchy with pistachios (my favorite!). That it tasted heavenly was really a bonus — I confess that I bought it for the detailed bee-stung wrapper. (Which now hangs on our refrigerator!)

Le Grand Aioli isn’t just for ladies night… it’s the perfect thing for summer, boys included. (I have a more detailed write-up about this light summer meal here).