Cadet

Cadet

Cadet may seem like an odd name for a restaurant, but in this case, it’s quite fitting. For starters, this new addition to Montreal’s food scene is obscurely located in an unmarked spot along St. Laurent that was once home to an army surplus store. More importantly though given the French meaning of, “cadet”, it’s the, “second son” to Bouillon Bilk, which has maintained its status as one of the best restaurants in the city for years now.

Having stopped by for dinner a couple weeks ago, I’d say that thus far, Cadet is following suit to become one of Montreal’s top dining spots.

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The menu at Cadet, as many are nowadays, is designed to share. We started with a heaping pile of slightly smoked, vinegary mushrooms with parsley and pickled shallots. Give me a big bowl of creminis and shiitakes, hot or cold, and I’m a happy camper.

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The crab was served simply in its shells with dill, daikon, and just a touch of chives. When crab season is at its peak, you really don’t need anything more complicated than that.

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My favourite dish of the evening was the asparagus, also a fresh, seasonal offering. The best way I can describe it is as grilled asparagus meets upscale Caesar salad. The creamy sauces, one with smoked mackerel and the other with anchovies, gave it that salty, savoury kick that made it difficult to stop eating. The almonds, especially the thinly sliced green ones, were a nice touch as well.

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For our last savoury dish we opted for chicken livers with morels and peas. They were served on “cornbread”, which was actually a yeasted bread with cornmeal, rather than your typical corn quickbread, was the perfect base for sopping up all of the jus.

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Admittedly, even for being a party of only 2, we could have ordered more food, but we were both adamant on saving room for dessert, all of which are made by Bouillon Bilk’s pastry chef. I don’t typically go for chocolate cake because it’s never “chocolatey” enough for me, but this one may have changed my outlook just a tad. The incorporation of caramelized white chocolate, in the white chocolate cream, aerated white chocolate, and white chocolate clusters, was really what made it for me. It was the sweet ending that solidified that Cadet isn’t just living in the shadows as Bouillon Bilk’s younger sibling, it’s worth saluting in and of itself.

Cadet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Willie’s Cacao

Willie’s Cacao

I first had Willie’s Cacao wandering the streets of Prague on a hot summer afternoon about 2 years ago. I had just stumbled into an obscurely located bean-to-bar chocolate shop and was intrigued by their simplistic but attractive packaging (to be quite honest, I think the font is what sold me – it reminded me of Willy Wonka). I picked up a bar of their salted milk chocolate and was blown away by what was at the time one of the best milk chocolate bars I had ever tasted. I’ve had plenty more since and am happy to say that Willie’s is still on the top of my list. Needless to say I was thrilled when I had the chance to taste a more diverse selection of their bars recently. I love that Willie’s Cacao opts to make all of their 50g bars relatively small, but thick. When you snack off a piece, it feels so much more substantial than a lot of the uber thin bars out there.

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The ginger lime bar was the one flavoured chocolate I had the chance to try. I loved the little bites of candied ginger dispersed throughout the bar, as they added a little bit of zippiness.

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I’ve never loved white chocolate until I started eating good white chocolate. The flavour of the cocoa butter in this El Blanco bar is so prominent, that the best way I can describe it is that it’s white chocolate that tastes like dark chocolate.

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When they decided to name this “Milk of the Gods”, they weren’t kidding. It is unbelievably smooth; the way it melts in your mouth is quite literally heavenly. Not too sweet, but sweet enough to satisfy that milk chocolate fix, it’s smokey and sultry and I just want to keep eating it.

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Madagascar chocolate has never been my favourite, largely because of its high acidity compared to chocolate of other origins, but this bar was pretty good. Fruity and smooth, it stayed away from being mouth-puckeringly sour.

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The Rio Caribe Venezuelan bar was the only one I really couldn’t get on board with. Initially, I got this weird tinny taste and the more it developed, the more it reminded me of canned tomatoes. The texture also wasn’t the smoothest. It goes to show that so much of tasting chocolate is personal preference and you’re never going to like every bar you try.

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If you like fruity chocolate, and I mean really, really fruity, then you will love Willie’s Peruvian bar. Honestly it’s like eating Glosettes if Glosettes were made with single origin bean to bar chocolate, without the actual raisins. There is a bit of acidity in this bar; I got notes of Sultanas or golden raisins more than I did Thompson raisins.

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The Venezuelan Gold Las Trincheras was one of my favourite bars of the whole lot. As the tasting notes suggest, it was incredibly smooth, but what really won me over was the depth of the chocolate flavour. Notes of fudgy cocoa, coffee, and roasted almonds/hazelnuts were most prominent to me.

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Out of all the single origin bars I was most excited to try the Indonesian, as I can’t recall ever having had Indonesian chocolate before. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like the lovechild of Madagascar and Venezuelan cacao. When it first hits your palate, you get the acidity of Madagascar cacao, which develops into cocoa and coffee bean notes characteristic of Venezuelan cacao. I’m not sure I got any caramel per se, but it was interesting to taste test none the less.

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Willie’s Cacao has quite the line-up; in addition to the bars I tried, they also have a variety of other flavours from sea salt milk to hazelnut and raisin. To learn more about Willie’s and to try some for yourself, check out their website.

**Thanks to Willie’s Cacao for supplying the chocolate for this post. The opinions shared here are exclusively my own.

Dandelion Chocolate

Dandelion Chocolate

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I’ve been meaning to try Dandelion chocolate for what feels like forever now, so when they sent me three of their bars to sample last week, I was thrilled to finally get to do some taste testing.

All 3 bars were 70% cocoa of different origins, so it was quite interesting to line them up side by side and evaluate the differences between the bars.

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We started with the Madagascar, which as expected, was quite acidic and citrusy. There were also lingering notes of raspberry jam, which I found not dissimilar to Swedish berries.

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Next came the Dominican bar (made with beans harvested from the same Zorzal bird sanctuary as the Hummingbird bar I also tried recently). Not surprisingly, it was much less acidic than the Madagascar bar. Rather, I tasted smoky, tobacco-like chocolate with nuances of raisin and walnut.

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Last but not least was the Venezuelan bar, which after reading the tasting notes, I was most excited to try. When it first hits your palette, it tastes like cocoa power melting in your mouth. This bar is chocolate that tastes like chocolate – fudgy and rich. There’s also a pleasant hint of roasted almonds to finish. As I expected, it was my favourite for its full-on chocolate profile.

If chocolate tasting is something you want to get into, I honestly think this is the best way to do it. Buy yourself 3 or 4 different bars around the same cocoa percentage but from completely different origins, sit down, and compare them. Close your eyes, let the chocolate melt in your mouth, and take notes about what you taste. Then have some fun tasting them blind to see if you can pick out which is which. It’s a great way to train your palette; it’s educational and it tastes good!

**Thanks to Dandelion for supplying the chocolate for this post. The opinions shared here are exclusively my own.

A little of my lately – April 2016 edition

A little of my lately – April 2016 edition

It’s hard to believe my first year of classes at McGill are over, just like that. Some might question whether I’m getting my Ph.D. in clinical psychology, or in eating my way through the city, but either way I’d call it a successful past 7 months or so. Here are some snaps of what I’ve been up to lately.

As you may of seen via Instagram, a few weeks ago J and I made it our mission to check out all of the top doughnut contenders in Montreal during #mtldonutcrawl2016. There may have only been us 2 participants, but I think we made a decent dent in the city’s doughnut stock over the course of the afternoon.

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Cremy Patisserie had absolutely massive (and massively delicious) offerings like this fleur de sel caramel number.

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Trou de Beigne had mini doughnuts which meant we got to sample more of them. My favourite was the Matcha one with Rice Krispies.

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The cronuts at La Cornetteria were a bit of a letdown – basically just mouthfuls of grease. But you can’t win ’em all.

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We ended on a high note with fresh, warm cinnamon and cocoa sugar donuts from Chez Boris. I later found out that if you go there before 10AM on weekdays, you get free doughnuts with your coffee. Now that’s a deal! #mtldonutcrawl2016 was a roaring success if you ask me. You can read more about some of Canada’s best doughnuts over at Eat North where I’ve been continuing to write up a storm.

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Last weekend J’s parents were in town for a visit. Needless to say, a lot of eating was involved. We headed out to the country to experience the shock and awe of a cabane a sucre for an evening (for those who have yet to be initiated into this Quebecois tradition, it’s an over-the-top feast to celebrate the maple sugaring off season). I knew it was going to be a lot of food, but I still managed to underestimate just how ridiculous it would in fact be. I’m not sure I’ve ever consumed that much pork and maple syrup in a single sitting before. They put a little baggy of cracklings on each table and I aimlessly munched on them all night, in between bites of sausage, ham, pancakes, and of course, tarte au sucre and jack wax.

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The next morning we went for brunch at Cirkus back in Montreal, and somehow managed to consume even more food. Look, there were greens involved though!

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I inadvertently did a detox by signing up for dental surgery a few days later that limited me to eating soft foods only. Ok, well maybe not that much of a detox. I got bored of mashed sweet potatoes after about a day and a half and decided that ice cream was in order. I’m not sure it was worth the 45 minutes I waited in line for it at La Diperie but soft serve on a hot day tends to hit the spot.

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Other food related finds as of late:

Another stellar meal at Le Mousso. This take on borscht was stunning.

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Tacos and some killer shrimp and grits at Fortune.

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Pretty chocolates from Divine.

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My favourite dish in Montreal, J’s scallops and white miso at Arts Cafe.

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The ooziest chevre you ever did see.

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My secret partner in crime. Stay tuned to see what trouble we get up to next. Once my mouth is healed I’m feeling like a really greasy burger is in order. Maybe one kinda like this…we shall see. In the meantime, happy weekend!

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Hummingbird Chocolate

Hummingbird Chocolate

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I’ve said it before and I will probably say it again; Canada has an incredible selection of bean-to-bar chocolate. For a country that is too cold to ever stand a chance of actually producing cacao beans, chocolate makers here sure know how to source the optimal product, and have the skills to pump out bars that can hold their own against any others around the globe. Take for example Hummingbird chocolate out of Almonte, Ontario. They cleaned up at the 2015 International Chocolate Awards, receiving acclaim for both their flavoured and single origin bars. I was fortunate to get to sample their many offerings recently and tended to agree with the verdict from the awards; they’re good, really good.

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Let’s start with a bar I knew I would en”joy” the second I read the description. As the name suggests, Hummingbird’s PB & Joy bar combines the ever-popular flavour pairing of chocolate and peanut butter. But get rid of any preconceptions you have of sugar-laden chocolate peanut butter cups. With this bar you taste both the chocolate and the peanuts to their fullest potential. Not tooth-achingly sweet, it’s a grown-up version of a chocolate pb treat.

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Their Hispaniola bar made from beans sourced from the Dominican Republic is also worth noting. I always like cacao from this region because I love the combined fruitiness and tobacco notes you get when it melts in your mouth. It’s a winner, literally and figuratively.

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The Zorzal bar is particularly interesting, not only because of its lingering notes of apricot and pecan, but because a portion of the proceeds from the bar’s sales go towards supporting a bird sanctuary in the Dominican Republic. The Zorzal is a songbird that spends its summers in Canada, and its winters in the Dominican. It is threatened with extinction so the sanctuary in the Dominican helps to protect it’s habitat.

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I also really liked Hummingbird’s fleur de sel bar (so much so that I devoured it before remembering to take a picture), with salt sourced from Vancouver Island Salt Co. Their other flavours include the spicy Mayan bar, as well as the honey lavender bar, both of which ingredients are sourced locally.

To try Hummingbird’s bars for yourself, check out their online store, or see where you can find their chocolate near you!