Archive by Author

La Pendulerie, land of clocks and chocolate

18 Jun

On Montreal’s Crescent Street, you drift in and out of worlds in minutes. Traditional Irish pubs jostle with trendy nail bars. Fashion houses rest atop narrow staircases. My most recent discovery is a magical place that transforms the gentle slope north of de Maisonneuve into the Swiss Alps through a disarming combination of chocolate, cuckoo clocks, and flag-clad patio umbrellas.

La Pendulerie Sign

At La Pendulerie, choose from one of 40 varieties of hot chocolate or milkshake, ranging from milk to dark, including flavours such as hazelnut and orange. If you stay awhile, you’ll find yourself sipping your selection bemusedly to the ticking of nearby cuckoo clocks as tiny painted wooden figurines emerge at regular intervals and spin around to choruses of Edelweiss.

Hot Chocolate

On my first visit, I thought it best to start at the mid-point with one of the bittersweet varieties. I’ve since worked my way up to the noir-de-noir, an 84% cocoa concoction in hot chocolate form that witnesses will tell you made me weak in the knees and inappropriately flushed in public. I recently sampled my first milkshake version, wisely opting for mint chocolate, which was served with a rolled wafer cookie.


Perhaps the most charming aspect of La Pendulerie is that every visitor notices something different, from the imported chocolate confections nestled in the store window to the model cars tucked away in the back of the shop beyond the Edelweiss clocks.

La Pendulerie Store Window

Whatever the weather, I suggest you make your way down to 2080 Crescent Street and indulge in a multi-sensory treat that will make you forget all of your first world problems.

P.S. There are truffles.

A taste for tofu

13 Feb

Though tofu is much less maligned than it was when I first developed an interest in diversifying my protein sources over ten years ago, I still meet people with a real hate-on for my beloved bean curd. The thing is, tofu doesn’t have much flavour at all; it’s more about giving tofu a taste you enjoy than it is about developing a taste for tofu. Tofu haters don’t last long in the face of the delicious dish I’m about to introduce you to.

If you’re shaking your head in dismay and thinking “the texture is the problem”, rest assured: fresh tofu is available in a variety of textures. The most common are soft/silken tofu, which is usually sold in boxes, and firm/cotton tofu, which is usually sold vaccuum-packed (in larger grocery stores) or stored in buckets of water (in smaller/specialty stores). The latter can more easily be eaten with chopsticks and doesn’t jiggle like the former.

Vacuum-packed, cotton-style tofu

Vacuum-packed, cotton-style tofu

It’s the kind of tofu involved in this recipe, and I encourage you to try it out and see what you think. It just may change your mind about tofu forever (you’re welcome).

Faced with this?

Cubed tofu

Cubed tofu

Gather the following 4 ingredients for a marinade…

Marinade ingredients

Marinade ingredients (aka Why I'm a Librarian and Not a Food Stylist)

and transform it into this (see recipe below):

Cooked tofu

Ginger-garlic tofu

The best thing about this tofu dish is its versatility. You can add it to spinach salad for some extra flavour and protein. You can toss it in a stir fry. You can pile on some corn kernels…

Tofu with corn kernels

and a generous helping of mashed potatoes…

Tofu, corn, mashed potatoes

then stick the baking dish back in the oven on broil for a few minutes and have a delicious non-shepherd’s pie.

Non-shepherd's pie

Non-shepherd's pie

Serve with salad for a complete meal!

Eat your greens at every meal

Complete meal

That’s cranberry juice, btw.

You can also serve this tofu straight-up in lieu of the meat in a meat-and-potatoes dinner (move over, tofurkey). ‘Cause eating well is all about options. Without further ado…

Ginger-Garlic Tofu

1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1 block firm/cotton tofu, cubed

1) Mix all ingredients except tofu in a baking dish
2) Add the cubed tofu to the marinade and mix to coat evenly
3) Let sit for 15 minutes
4) Cook on 350F-400F for 10-15 minutes, until tofu is browned

Winners and sur-Prizes!

22 Nov

Here’s how we got our win on here at diglibdig:

1) Posted with a call for a tenth contributor and an announcement that one of our first nine contributors would also win a prize.

2) Checked our email account obsessively regularly, hoping for a post from said tenth contributor.

3) Jumped with glee when Carrie Schmidt heeded the call with a post about food priorities while moving. Our first prize pack would travel all the way across the country to Vancouver, BC!

4) Drew names from an oven mitt to determine which of our first nine contributors would win the other prize pack. ‘Cause we librarians are all about rigour. No chef’s hat was to be found in Laura’s kitchen, so we made do with what we had.

Names for draw (and Laura's Price-is-Right hands)

Oven mitt with Price-is-Right hands

Jennifer's name drawn from the oven mitt

5) Thought it was fitting that Jennifer O’Donnell, who posted about the joy of soup when the cold weather first made its appearance, should be our second winner as winter closed in. Her prize pack would take a much shorter journey to Kingston, ON.

6) Assembled Montreal/Quebec goodies:

Carrie's prize pack

Carrie's prize pack

Jennifer's prize pack

Jennifer's prize pack

Maple Pepper
Olive oil chocolates
Sucre a la creme
Ginger Lime preserves / Red Pepper preserves
Maple syrup candy
Fleur de sel spoon (probably not from Quebec but so cute Lora couldn’t resist)
Salmon jerky from the salmon store on St. Laurent
Powdered poutine sauce from St. Hubert
Maple potato donuts / Chai tea

(yes, of course we bought extras and ate them)

6) Bundled up the prizes and shipped them off to our winners.

Prize parcels

7) Wished we could see the reactions of our winners upon receipt.

Gratitude meets generosity (see also Prizes)

8 Nov

We’re feeling grateful over here at diglibdig. For the harvest, which nourishes. For our contributors, who inspire. For you, dear readers, who are our raison d’être.

And so, to bridge the seasons of gratitude and generosity, we’re offering some prizes: assorted Montreal delicacies that we’ll ship to our winners wherever they are.

St. Viateur Bagels

Hint-Hint, Nudge-Nudge

The first prize will go to our tenth contributor. We’re delighted that nine librarians have joined our feast so far and want to encourage more of you to do so. Here’s how to get in on the food-fueled fun – the first completed post (including pictures, suggested tags, a bio, etc.) sent to wins!

We’ll also draw a name from a chef’s hat to show our gratitude to the first nine contributors who pulled up a chair and wrote for diglibdig. We hope you’ll join us at the table again sometime soon.

Share your information. Share your food.

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Breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert

13 Sep

In my experience, grad school introduces heightened drama into the least suspecting of adult lives. For those of you pursuing an MLIS or other graduate degree, I offer the following antidote: breakfast for dinner with ice cream for dessert. Here is how it’s done.

First, assemble friends. In my time of need this summer, I was lucky to have two fabulous fellow librarians-in-training at the ready to lend a hand (and share the spoils) in this important mission.

Next, set the table. Despite being students on a tight budget, we had some lovely placemats at our disposal, plus a stand-out bowl from Anthropologie, which we used to hold our grapes. Note how these contribute to the final spread:

Crepes, fruit, ice cream

On to the breakfast, crêpes or pancakes being my preferred choice. If you’re without a favourite recipe, I recommend my grand-maman’s crêpes or Williams-Sonoma’s Blueberry-Buttermilk Pancakes. Whip them up and keep them warm while you tackle the ice cream, or prepare both in tandem with your pals.

Crepes cooking
In order to create a homemade version of the treat you thought you simply loved but are about to discover you can’t live without, I suggest that you beg for, borrow, or buy an ice cream maker. You’ll need to freeze it for a full 24 hours before pouring the combined ingredients into it. Sound high-maintenance? Trust me, it’s worth it. Beyond the unparalleled taste of homemade ice cream, there’s the thrilling process of watching liquid ingredients slowly transform into this beloved standby of comfort foods before your very eyes thanks to the freezing and mixing mechanisms of the maker.

Here’s a breakdown, with visuals:

1) Prepare the fruit and other ingredients (we relied on a simple recipe for Strawberry Peach Ice Cream that came with the mixer, using both puréed and chopped fruit for added flavour and texture)

Preparation of ice cream ingredients

2) Pour the combined ingredients into the frozen ice cream maker

Pouring the ice cream mix into the mixer

3) Mix the ice cream, slowly and gradually (oh, the suspense!)

4) Monitor the texture, which will indicate when the ice cream is ready to be served

Ice cream frozen to perfection

Then comes the best part…



Observe how goodness wipes badness away.

Eat some more.

Ice cream

Count your blessings.


♥ ♥ ♥

With special thanks to Aliya Dalfen and Judith Logan

Eat, Read, Blog

4 Sep

Listen up, you canning, pickling, and otherwise resourceful-with-the-harvest librarians: your facebook status updates and tweets are making me drool and I must have details. What did you preserve or prepare? How did you do it? Were books involved?! Surely, these questions are worthy of a response in the form of a blog post.

Contributing to DigLibDig is easy, fun, and way more affordable than a quest for self-discovery through Italy, India, and Bali. Just send an email to diglibdig at with:

  • your post, including a title
  • a picture (or several) to accompany your article
  • a 2-3 line bio (including links to your online life)
  • some suggested tags
  • an invitation to dinner ( j/k, sort of)

For inspiration, read up on our current contributors and peruse our posts, though we encourage you to break whatever mold you identify in doing so. We’ve had over 2000 hits since we went live on July 15, btw. Real people read DigLibDig!

With thanks to librarian Cabot Yu and apologies to author Elizabeth Gilbert for the title.

teany treats

24 Jul

Born of a hangover, bred by the lovely Kelly Tisdale and then-boyfriend musician Moby, and comfortably nestled in a sunny nook in New York City’s Lower East Side neighbourhood, teany could be one of the gastronomical highlights of your next trip to Manhattan. It was for me when I visited the city on a whirlwind mother-daughter trip to celebrate the merciful completion of my interminable undergraduate degree in the winter of 2008, just prior to starting library school that fall. And here, my friends, is why.

Sweet Apple Plum Tea steeping in teany tea pot

teany tea #69: Sweet Apple Plum

First off, teany revolves around tea; 98 varieties, to be exact. Suffering from hangovers and bemoaning the lack of proper local establishments serving comforting tea and rich food to aid in recovery, Moby and Kelly decided to open their very own tea shop in May 2002. While the teas and tisanes are lovely served hot, the cold tea concoctions offer an interesting departure from tradition for those who are so inclined. These include the Teany Antioxidant Cooler (with a base of white tea), the Peach and Tea Milkshake (with chai tea), and the Lavender Lemonade. We tried tea #69: Sweet Apple Plum and found it to be the perfect balance of tart and sweet thanks to the mix of hibiscus and apple.

Second, teany welcomes everyone with a menu that appeals to a wide range of tastes, while catering specifically to vegetarians and vegans. This placed it at the top of my list of NYC vegetarian/vegan must-eats that also included Cafe Blossom and Angelica Kitchen. Teany snackers can indulge in tea sandwiches, scones and petit fours (bite-sized desserts) alongside their tea, while hungrier visitors can opt for heartier fare ranging from the Cashew Butter Sandwich to the Asian Vegetable and Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce. Tea even makes its way into the food, as with the green tea-infused jasmine rice.

Third, teany is tiny. I’ve already shared my adoration for things in miniature, so there’s no need for me to belabour the point, but I do think it necessary to mention this aspect of teany’s charm. It’s in the name and it reinforces the shop’s low-key, local, neighbourhood appeal. The mini vases of flowers placed on the tables and the tea lights tucked into small holes carved in the shop’s brick wall complete a decor that already radiates warmth thanks to large south-facing windows.

Fourth, there’s the neighbourhood itself. A visit to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum had endeared me to the area on a previous trip with my Liberal Arts program in college back in 2000, and further exploration this time around revealed an abundance of foodie delights (Guss’ Pickles! The Doughnut Plant!) alongside the Lower East Side’s historic appeal and friendly inhabitants. Staff inquired after our visit and a handsome fellow diner (complete with newsboy cap) indulged my interest in teany’s origins by explaining that Kelly had taken over sole ownership of the cafe in recent years.

teany spread: apricot scone, chili, sweet apple plum tea, grilled cheese with ploughman's pickles

teany spread: apricot scone, chili, sweet apple plum tea, grilled cheese with ploughman's pickles

Last, and certainly not least considering the authorship of this blog, teany has a companion book. Yes! You read that right! Get it at your local library! It’s a gem that conveys the eclectic spirit of the place through an enticing blend of humourous anecdotes, tea-inspired musings, and delicious recipes. Read it cover to cover, refer to recipes as needed, or flip to a favourite feature when you need a quick pick-me-up; my favourites include “Comrade Moby’s Revisionist Prehistory of Teany”, “Lulu’s Tea Party” (a photospread of teany’s youngest regular enjoying a tea party with her friends real and stuffed while discussing “the pernicious lack of transparency in the operations of the international monetary fund” and dancing to the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK), and “T.” (a poem by teany regular Dimitri Ehrlich). As for the recipes, I’ve found a perfect potluck offering in the Avocado, Beat, and Mango salad with Blood Orange Tea Vinaigrette (aka Dish of Bliss).

Oh, and did I mention teany’s mascots, two tea robots purchased at an outsider art fair? Enough said.

; I’ve found a perfect potluck companion in the avocado, beat, and mango salad with blood orange tea vinaigrette (aka dish of bliss) and am eager to try the Indian dishes,

Crêpes that conjure

17 Jul

It may come as no surprise to you, given the focus of this blog, that my favourite scene during the entire first season of True Blood revolves around food.

When leading lady Sookie loses her grandmother to the show’s mystery predator, she has no time to grieve in the chaos that ensues. Early in the episode, a particularly pushy visitor mistakes her grandmother’s last piece of pecan pie for just another post-funeral snack. Sookie rushes over, snatches the pie, and clutches it to her chest with a vehement “that’s gran’s pie” as an empathic friend shoos the imposing neighbours away. Much later, in the episode’s final scene, Sookie sits quietly at the kitchen table, alone for the first time since her beloved gran’s death. As an instrumental version of the funeral song swells in the background, she slowly devours the very last slice of the very last pie her grandmother made, and finally weeps.

I thought of the power food has to evoke not just memories of a person but the whole sensory experience of that person. I thought of my own grand-maman and wondered which, of all the foods she has nourished me with, would most evoke her. It was a tough call, but in the end, her crêpes won out.

Crepes de grand-maman

The thing about these crêpes is that they aren’t crêpes in the strictest sense of the word; you don’t spread the batter to distribute it evenly, resulting in a paper-thin crêpe that you can then roll and stuff with fillings sweet or savoury. They aren’t pancakes, either; not nearly as thick and floury as your average flapjack. No, they fall somewhere, deliciously, in between. Their spongey goodness gives you something substantial to chew on while proving light enough to heap with toppings if you choose. Enjoyed the way she serves them, with real butter and maple syrup, they are pure perfection. I’ve never found anything like them outside of my grand-maman’s kitchen.

Never, that is, until I saw this episode of True Blood and missed her so much that I called her up and had her recite the recipe to me over the phone. I proceeded to replicate the steps I’d watched her perform on countless occasions over the years and brought her to me in the best way I could. Interestingly, it isn’t just the finished product, it’s the whole ritual of preparation that conjures up the presence of people who’ve taken us into their hearts and homes and cooked special foods just for us. The emptied yoghurt container filled with freshly made batter awaiting preparation is almost as satisfying to me as the crêpes themselves.

Beyond the fact that I’ve hoarded these thoughts since the first season of a show that’s now well into its third, I share this to illustrate one of the reasons I most love cooking and baking. When we take the time to prepare food for each other, especially recipes that we’ve honed according to our own tastes and those of the ones we love most, we give each other something to hold on to in a world of things that come and go.

Bon appétit!

Crêpes de grand-maman


1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

3 tsp sugar

4 eggs

3 tbsp butter

¾ cup milk

¾ cold water


1.     Melt butter on low.

2.     Combine dry ingredients and sift into a medium-sized bowl.

3.     In a large bowl, beat the eggs then add the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk together.

4.     Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and beat until smooth (3 minutes with hand blender or cake mixer).

5.     Let batter sit, refrigerated in a covered container, for at least 1 hour.

6.     Cook in a non-stick or buttered pan on medium high until bubbles appear across surface of crêpe. Flip and cook until underside is golden brown.

7.     Keep cooked pancakes in a covered casserole in the oven at 200 F to keep moist and warm while preparing the rest of the batter.

8.     Serve with butter, maple syrup, fruit, etc.

Small is beautiful*

14 Jul

Pull up a chair, friend – we need to talk about mini muffins.

Mini Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Talk, you ask? Can’t we just eat?

Hold your hungry horses! The concept of mini muffins may not be new, but I think it merits some serious pause. Have you ever considered the possible appeal factors at work, here? After all, why would you want to make something so delicious any smaller? Doesn’t this mean less surface area on which to lather your butter, jam, honey, or (insert preferred muffin spread here)?

Maybe the attraction of mini muffins is akin to that of the dollhouse with its itty bitty furnishings; their cradle-me-and-coo cuteness tugs at our heartstrings in some primordial way and we just can’t help ourselves. I know I “aw”ed in a slightly high-pitched voice when I saw this pan at the grocery store, and I “aw”ed again in an even higher-pitched voice when I took my first batch out of the oven. I somehow felt fonder of these wee things than any other muffins I’d ever made, and I’d made lots of muffins. I wondered, with a particular glow about me and a swelling feeling in my chest, how anyone could not love these adorable little bundles of floury sweetness the way I did.

Perhaps you don’t identify with the maternal feelings I have toward these baked goods and the above musings are making you nauseous. We can discuss this again after you make your first batch. In the meantime, I propose an alternate explanation. Maybe the diminutive size of these muffins reassures us that we won’t bite off more than we can chew, a refreshing prospect in a world of bigger-is-better. Those Costco muffins are frightening. They’re huge. They’re dense. They overwhelm. Not these babies; you can eat one in a few small bites, or pop the whole thing in your mouth and be on your way, simple as that. Small is beautiful.

Whatever the reason, I’m here to tell you that mini muffins bring joy not only to their makers but to all who consume them. This has been proven on multiple occasions in my very own kitchen. Admittedly, tea was always involved, which may have skewed the data. You had best serve some of that as well, just to be safe.

Now go get yourself a mini muffin pan and enjoy the only thing that could make cake for breakfast even better.

* with apologies to E.F. Schumacher, who tackled graver topics in his essays on “economics as if people mattered” in the 1970s