Tag Archives: Montreal

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.

My Obsession with Aux Vivres’ Dragon Bowl Sauce

19 Oct

by Marsha Taichman

If you know me, and we eat together at a restaurant  more than once, we will probably go to
Aux Vivres (4631 St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal) if I have my way. This is the sad truth for my friends (all three of them). As far as I am concerned, everything there is tasty and nothing hurts my stomach because there is no dairy to be found anywhere, and I am lactose- intolerant. The restaurant/cafe serves fresh and often organic foods and is a proudly vegan institution. The food is so delicious there is no need to apologize for its meatless-ness or mimic meat and dairy, but they do have a lot of foods that feature creams made from tofu or nuts, and tempeh bacon and tofu scrambles are popular items on their weekend brunch menu. My boyfriend and favourite dining companion, Henry, pictured below, always gets the BLT on chapatti bread, which is composed of lettuce, tomato and smoked coconut with a white spread that is reminiscent of good old mayonnaise.


Henry and his BLT on chapatti bread

The sandwich is smoky, salty deliciousness. Every week there are specials that showcase seasonal items, and recently they had a beet latke plate and sweet potato burritos.

I order the same thing every time I go to Aux Vivres, which is the Dragon Bowl. Just typing “the same thing every time” makes me feel a little, how do you say, boring. In my defense, I have ordered other dishes there, thoroughly enjoyed them, and then pined for the Dragon Bowl all the way home. It is a bowl of organic brown rice topped with piles of fresh vegetables: spiraled beets, shredded carrots, chopped lettuce, two kinds of sprouts, and daikon radish. This mound of goodness is sprinkled with gomashio (unhulled black and white sesame seeds and salt) and is served with Dragon Bowl sauce, which is liquid gold.

dragon bowl

dragon bowl

I eat the vegetables and rice in the Dragon Bowl because they are a vehicle for said sauce. You can purchase it bottled at Aux Vivres, but then you have to cut up all the vegetables and cook the rice and I figure I will never be able to do it as well as they do (I have yet to invest in a mandolin for that perfectly thin daikon slicing), so I am happy to pay about ten dollars to feel like someone is looking after me for an hour or so.

Recently, my friend Lorie pointed me to a recipe for Dragon Bowl sauce written by the talented jae steele, who used to make Aux Vivres’ desserts. Her sauce calls for:

1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tbsp grapeseed or olive oil
2 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
2 tbsp. filtered water
1 large or 2 medium cloves garlic

Blend all ingredients with a hand blender, or in a blender or food processor. Makes enough sauce for 3 Dragon Bowls. Store any leftovers in a sealed glass jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.

This version is good, but not as good as the one I long for when it’s been a while since my last fix. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I used regular soy sauce rather than tamari soy sauce, and my olive oil might be a little off. Next time I will follow the recipe and maybe add a bit less than 2 tbsp. filtered water. But try it! Or just go to Aux Vivres and have a Dragon Bowl. You won’t be sorry. At least, I never am.

Check out Marsha’s bio on the Contributors page.

Lobster tales 2 : Sfogliatella

18 Jul

Sfogliatella, lobster tails from Patisserie Alati-Caserta

Sfogliatella / lobster tails from Patisserie Alati-Caserta

Lobster season continues.  The pastry pictured above is an Italian favourite. Sfogliatella translates to many leaves, or many layers. This pastry also goes by the name of code di argosta – meaning lobster tail.

I should have put my hand in there for scale. They’re monsters and these 2 fed 6 people. The outside is a flaky layered pastry and the inside is filled with a creamy ricotta that has strong hints of citrus and vanilla.  The bakery that makes these, Patisserie Alati-Caserta , is in the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy. They also make cannoli, cookies, intricate marzipan fruits, special Easter pastries, almond cake, and spumoni ice cream. The Calderone family has been running the business since 1968. If, for whatever reason, I stop  librarianing you will find me at the door of this bakery begging for a job.

A lot of what I know of my Italian heritage is about food. I don’t speak the language, although I am trying to teach myself Italian using free podcasts and books . I’ll let you know how that goes when I actually have to use it and I’m prepared to use the same line I use when people ask me how I learned French. To quote Manuel of Fawlty Towers “I learned it from a book”.

Lobster tales

14 Jul

I love eating dinner outside and I am often invited into the lush backyard of my close friends. They live in what is possibly the oldest house on the Plateau in Montreal. It is surrounded by a 10 foot (at least) fence and is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city.

Last weekend we got an invite to dinner. Our friend knew someone who was bringing him lobsters from Maine. So we hit the Jean-Talon market for some seasonal local contributions (Quebec potatoes and tomatoes – pronounce as you like), grabbed some wine and headed over. The cooking of lobster for those who do not have the luck to be born and raised on the coast can be a guilt-ridden event. There was much apologizing to the lobsters. Many thanks were given to the lobster. In the end we cooked them and we ate them.


Ah! So neat, tidy, and shiny. The eating of the lobsters was not a neat or tidy affair, although it did get a little shiny. While eating the lobster, one runs the risk of spraying lobster water across the table and laughing as it lands on your dining companion’s face and sleeve (that happened).  Also a possibility, shells may go flying out of  slippery hands and fly across the table (also happened). Good thing we were all wearing kitchen aprons.

Properly, a big paper napkin or plastic bib is provided for the lobster eater. Wear it, for certain, since the work involved in eating a lobster often produces a few squirts and splashes as the shells are cracked.

For certain, indeed! One dining companion remarked, and the others agreed, that I appeared to know what I was doing. In fact, I did have some notion of what to do. This wasn’t my first time eating lobsters using my mad techniques. I promptly informed them that my lobster eating knowledge came from a book. More specifically, Emily Post’s Etiquette, 16th edition (from which the quote above is taken). My ironic readings of etiquette books have come in handy and while I am still terrible at introductions and firmly believe that I only need one fork per meal (Hey! I do the dishes), I seem to have remembered the bits about the actual food and how to get at it. Now that I’ve revisited the passage, which doesn’t even address the tail, I’m thinking I may also have spied on diners during trips to Maine.

“But how was it?”, you might be wondering over your marvel at my pretentiousness. When I asked a dinner companion what I should include in this post, his response was “Yum!”  Lobster eating is a messy and violent affair. Emily, my gal (or should I say m’lady), makes it sound so civilized. She calls  for special implements and finger bowls which really mask the caveman aspect of it all.

My life is not all lobster and caviar or lobster caviar. I recently got excited about a giant tub of  Fluff.  Lobsters are rare in my life and given the difficulty I had writing this post – you may notice I’m all over the place and I can’t discuss the actual boiling of the lobster – I’m just going to hope that you enjoyed the good parts.