2017 Year in Review

2017 Year in Review

I’m on a train travelling through rural Ontario as I write this, and staring out the window at the snowy country side is making me increasingly excited for the holidays. It has been quite the year and an admittedly absent one from this space. Mainly because I’ve been writing for other publications, but also because admittedly, I’ve lost my vision for what I want my own site to be about. Maybe that will change in 2018. Frankly, I’m not sure yet. In my other life as a PhD student in psychology, I spend the majority of my time researching, discussing, and trying to elucidate around topics pertaining to emotional eating and weight. I’d like to write about what I do in that field in a more informal way in this space (after all, the name “Because I Like Chocolate” always came from a place of wanting to help people have healthier relationships with food). Now that I actually do that in my day to day, it feels appropriate to have an online outlet to share about it. What do you think? Is that something that would interest you?

Because I like chocolate..I made Sarah Kieffer’s pan bang cookies (multiple times)

I did do a bit of food/psychology writing this year, like this piece for Eat North on emotional eating. Actually I did a lot for Eat North. I was super proud to be a part of this piece in celebration of Canada’s 150. Through the process of putting it together, I got to chat with some pretty cool Canadian figures, which lead to interviews with people like Gail Simmons and Jay Onrait. Interviewing is one of my favourite parts of what I do. I love chatting with people and learning about their stories. It’s fascinating and I only want to do more of it in 2018! You can check out everything I wrote for Eat North here (PS there’s a lot of it, 52 articles to be exact).

Probably my best meal of 2017 at Montreal’s Candide

I also began contributing more regularly to Eater Montreal, mostly putting together maps of local restaurants in certain areas or with specific offerings, like this one showcasing some of the best bakeries for bread in Montreal. Plus I had the opportunity to compile this map of the 18 Essential Calgary restaurants, which allowed me to showcase the ever-expanding food scene in my home town (I’m getting sappy now given that I haven’t been home in awhile and am clearly starting to miss it).

Beautiful bread from boulangerie Merci La Vie in the Laurentians

What else, what else? There was the usual writing for Culinaire (I always love getting to do their “Spice it Up” column, like this one from earlier in the year). And in between that, a trip to Japan happened (still figuring out how to write about that from a food perspective, because boy was there a lot of food), many weekends were spent up at the cottage, I wrote my doctoral comprehensive exam, and before I knew it, the year was almost over.

Japanese whisky tasting – the only sad part is that you can’t find most of it in Canada

Wishing you all the best this holiday season, with plenty of festive food and drink to be shared with those you love of course! I plan on making too many baked goods, roasting a turkey, and drinking all the BC wine I can get my hands on! If I can find a bottle of this, that would be the icing on the cake. Happy holidays!

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5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

5 Ice cream shops to check out in Montreal this summer

August is upon us, which means that there’s one more full month of summer to melt (pun intended) in all of the frozen treats your heart desires. That’s right folks, the time for ice cream indulgence is here. Here are 5 places to check out before the snow starts to fall again in Montreal. Dalla Rose 1

Dalla Rose 2

Dalla Rose

The new kid on the block, Dalla Rose recently opened down on Notre Dame in St. Henri (right next to Arthur’s, the modern Jewish deli that also recently took up shop). Try their ice cream offerings on their own, or sandwiched between a variety of homemade cookies (the only complaint here is that some of the cookies are a bit on the hard side, making the ice cream sandwich difficult to eat without squeezing out all of the actual ice cream – hopefully this is just the result of growing pains and they will work out the kinks). Flavours include tournesol (sunflower seed), which is especially good paired with vegan chocolate coconut.

Dalla Rose Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Diperie

La Diperie

Less about the ice cream and more about the bajillion different dips and toppings you get to chose to coat it, La Diperie brings out the kid in anyone who visits. Start with basic vanilla soft serve, and choose from at least a dozen varieties of melted chocolate to dip it in (salted chocolate and dulce de leche are both winners). Roll it in a mélange of toppings from crushed pretzels, to Oreo crumbs, and you are in for a treat.

La Diperie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kem Coba 1 Kem Coba 2

Kem CoBa

Kem CoBa has been a fan favourite on the Montreal ice cream scene for awhile now, so much so that there is even a Twitter account dedicated to monitoring the size of the line to get some (be prepared to line up around the block if it’s a scorcher out). It’s worth the wait though for their Asian-inspired flavours of ice cream and sorbet like pandan and chai. Don’t forget to try their homemade soft serve either, which is an ever-changing sorbet/ice cream combo, making for a refreshing, creamy treat.

Kem CoBa Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pandan

Pandan Cremerie

Easily the most unique “ice cream” on the list, Pandan is one of only a handful of Thai rolled ice cream shops in the country. Given that all of their ice cream is frozen and rolled right before your eyes, it does take at least 4 to 5 minutes per customer, but time goes by quickly when you are watching the novelty of it all (honestly it’s worth it just to get a video of the process in action). Try the Vietnamese coffee ice cream topped with a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

Pandan Creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ripples

Ripples

Located on St. Laurent right across from the infamous smoked meat shop, Schwartz’s, Ripples may look like your typically old-timey ice cream shop, but it is anything but, as indicated by unique flavours like kulfi and pistachio (loaded with pieces of actual pistachio). It may not be the lightest option, but it is decadent, full-fat ice cream at its finest, ultra dense and super smooth.

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

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.

Cadet 1

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.

Cadet 2

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.

Cadet 3

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.

Cadet 4

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.

Cadet 5

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

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.

Creamy

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

Trou de Beignes

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

Cornetteria

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

Chez Boris

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.

La Diperie

Other food related finds as of late:

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

Le Mousso

Tacos and some killer shrimp and grits at Fortune.

Fortune

Pretty chocolates from Divine.

Divine

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

Arts Cafe

The ooziest chevre you ever did see.

chevre

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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Fall in Montreal

Fall in Montreal

Fall is my favourite season. Farmer’s markets overflow with produce, the air turns cool and crisp, and the leaves colour and fall, their musty scent permeating every breath you take. Fall invigorates every one of your senses, but given that all I’ve got are pictures, you’ll have to settle for looking at the moment.

squash

A bounty of organic squash at Jean-Talon.

mushrooms

Plus all of the shrooms, many foraged in Quebec nonetheless! See the chanterelles hiding in the back? You can run but you can’t hide you sneaky chanterelles!

apples

And apples. If I have anything less than 10lb of them in my fridge at any given time, I know I need to stock up.

apple crisp

Fall means apples, apples mean apple crisp. Am I right or am I right? Cut back on the sugar and you can justify eating it for breakfast AND dessert.

Boulangerie Guillaume

I’ve discovered my new favourite boulangerie here in town, Boulangerie Guillame. Bread is easy to come by, superb bread, not so much. They make these blue cheese and walnut buns that are dense and chewy, yet crusty and doughy all at the same time. Makes you want to tear your teeth right into them and chow down!

 

Marou chocolate

Good chocolate. This bar is made by Marou out of Vietnam, which I picked up during my visit to La Tablette.

blue cheese

Stilton.

mushroom gravy

The highlight of my Thanksgiving feast; mushroom gravy. Is it socially acceptable to consume gravy on its own by the spoonful? This was too good to care. I pretty much cried when I finished the last of the stuffing drenched in gravy leftovers.

delicata squash

Roasted delicata with hoisin and soy. Perfectly suitable for eating straight off of the sheet tray.

purple cauliflower

When cauliflower doubles as art. First off, look at the size of it! Second, that colour! Almost but not quite too pretty to eat.

pickled carrots

Sometimes you want pickled carrots and you only have enough to make a single jar. This IS being saved for a special occasion.

Kem Coba

A couple of weeks ago it was still nice enough to eat ice cream (half almond milk, half Vietnamese coffee from Kem Coba). **Sidenote: It was good but I kind of regret not trying their homemade soft serve instead. And now they’re closed so I’m going to have to wait until next year.

hot chocolate

And now I’ve switched to this. Bring on the snow Mother Nature. I’ll take any excuse I can get to make a warm mug of homemade vegan hot chocolate. Forget that. Chocolate doesn’t require excuses.

Happy fall!