I avoid downtown pizza at all costs — my reports for Serious Eats are a good guide for Montreal’s best spots — but what do you do when you find yourself famished, near the Bell Centre, and without a clue of where to eat? We had just tried a ton of wine with reZin, and I was starving, so we took a chance on Arlequino, which isn’t supposed to be that terrible (Anthony wrote about it for the Mirror back in the day and liked it, so it probably used to be better). Mostly, I wanted to see how the glut of downtown corporate joints measured up to the homey suburban spots I adore.
Well, for a revealing compare-and-contrast, check out my two recent stories for Serious Eats. Exhibit A: Pizza downtown. Exhibit B: Pizza in the burbs. What a differences a few kilometers makes!
Adam and I had a lot of fancy food when we were in Provence, so it figures that one our most memorable meals was actually a cheap wood-fired pizza made in the back of a truck. It was inspired by the Savoyan “tartiflette,” a creamy, rich gratin made with potatoes, lardons, Reblochon cheese, and crème fraîche. If only I could find thin-crust pizza this good in Montreal! Read my report at Serious Eats’ Slice here.
I was catching up on last week’s Slice posts over at Serious Eats (sometimes I have to actively wait to read their posts until after I’ve eaten a meal and feel full, otherwise I get such intense hunger pangs for pizza!), and totally fell in love with this new video series feating Nancy Silverton, of La Brea Bakery and Pizzeria Mozza fame.
So you can imagine how stoked I was to poke on the Internet for a few seconds longer, only to find this totally incredible old-school video series featuring a very young and very beautiful Nancy Silverton with Julia Child! I have to admit, ever since Ashley planted a bug in my head about starting a video series, I haven’t been able to shake it. If I ever attempted such a feat, I would want it to be as genuine and loving as the moments shared between these two women.
Watching Nancy show Julia how she makes her custard brioche tart with sauteed fruits (!) is beyond inspiring. It’s actually really moving. (There’s another video here). So much passion and love and care. I could watch that woman whisk a sabayon forever! (And also — love learning that Nancy likes to fortify her whipped cream with creme fraiche. Now that I know that, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make it another way!)
“Powdered sugar? That’s about as far as this can go, isn’t it?” And I’m dead. Thank you internet for existing.
My hunt for the best Montreal pizza continues! This time, my quest took me to Via Ristorante, a tiny restaurant in Montréal-Nord. Adam brought me to Via for my birthday lunch, and it was perfect. Read the full review here.
Fellow pizza freaks, I recently wrote a little write-up for Slice about the fantastic VPN pies at Pizzeria Libretto, a small restaurant in Toronto’s Little Portugal. In my own limited experience, it is, by far, the best pie I’ve eaten in Canada. (Miles better than anything we have in Montreal, that’s for sure.) I went to lunch alone while Adam was doing some research, and brought him my leftovers, neatly packaged by the restaurant in a cute bag. Needless to say, he was stoked when I surprised him with some cold pizza to snack on while we drove to Norman Hardie! Read the whole thing here.
Also, as we made our way through the city on our way to Prince Edward County, I noticed this Kay Gardner bridge and immediately thought of Kay Gardner, the awesome new age musician. I couldn’t believe that someone in Toronto would name a bridge after her! I thought it was the coolest thing that I had ever seen. Adam, however, thought I was crazy and that no one would do that. He was right. The bridge is named after some politician. Lame.
Even though I’ve written for Serious Eats a fewtimes in the past, this week marked my first contribution to my all-time favorite pizza website, Slice, the sister site of Serious Eats. Even better, the comments section has been super helpful — I have so many new spots to try!
And that was the face I made when Vanya brought out that sublime St. Honoré cake you see above. “Please, please, please no more!” Reflecting upon the stupendous meal the next day — through the purple haze of one brutal wine-hangover — I decided that I probably ate enough food for four people. At least. Maybe five. But oh, was it worth it.
For a full rundown of our epic Fleisher’s hosted feast, read my full article in Serious Eats here. What a special evening that was.
My first byline in Serious Eats appeared earlier this week! I wrote about my very first experience at a Cabane à Sucre, at the infamous Au Pied de Cochon outpost. It was one of the most fun meals I’ve ever had in my life, and a truly unique — and delicious — experience. (Where else would you be able to punctuate a world-class four-hour meal with a snowy, romantic hike through the woods?) I was beyond honored to cover it for the venerable Serious Eats, a site I have read religiously for years now. I was particularly happy with the photos — I was fortunate enough to borrow a fancy DSLR camera for the meal — but now I’m scheming to find a way to buy one of my own. (Cue this number).
Sigh… this is my last Montreal post! The good news: I can finally start writing about Singapore and Bali. The bad news: I am no longer in Montreal. While there, I was able to slash another key item from my bucket list: pizza from scratch! I was so proud of my novice results that I spontaneously submitted a few photos to Slice’s’ ‘My Pie Monday’ feature. Slice is my favorite website devoted to pizza by far, so I was stoked they ran the photos of my pizzas, which, to be honest, were not really pizzas, but chewy crackers. Flatbread pizzas, if we’re being generous.
But who cares!! I made pizza dough from scratch! Although I debated using Mario Batali’s focaccia recipe, I ended up using the flatbread recipe from the Moro East cookbook, partly because it doesn’t require 1/4 cup of olive oil. I know. While the recipe was freakishly easy, I think think I messed up by rolling the dough out too thinly. The dough, pre-rising:
Given that pizza is my favorite food of all time, I was so excited by how cute and smooth and precious it was that I raced around the house, clutching it to my chest like I had just laid a golden egg. I mean, I made that! What! Who needs kids when creation can be had in just 15 minutes??
The first pizza — grandiosely deemed a ‘potato chip pie’ — was covered with fried discs of baby purple potatoes, garlic slivers, rosemary from the garden, and fruity olive oil. The second pizza — which we agreed was much better — was even simpler: olive oil, flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper, grape tomatoes (of the $10 variety), and finely minced arugula (brilliant idea! I wish I could take credit for it), all finished with a thick flurry of grated Pecorino. The textures were perfect, the colors intense, the flavor profile spot on — I actually gasped when it came out of the oven.
This summer and fall I am devoting my energy to perfecting the perfect pizza dough. Moro East is not quite what I’m looking for, but for a first attempt, I’m super proud of the results.