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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Montreal Sugar Crawl

Recently I joined a meetup group called cheap ethnic eatz. It is a group of people who get together for food related excursions with like minded foodies. Last Saturday was my first outing with them and I had really been looking forward to it since the theme was sugar!

The first stop was Suite 88 chocolatier which is a chocolate boutique which serves cakes, warm Belgian waffles drizzled with rich milk chocolate, smooth unctuous hot chocolate and a panoply of other delights which will send any chocoholic into pure bliss. Here are a bunch of pictures of their offerings:

These chocolate are almost too pretty to eat!

In the middle there are whole cherries dipped in chocolate with the stems still attached.

These are chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate covered pretzels.

We got free samples of white chocolates with a matcha green tea filling. Usually I'm not a big fan of white chocolate but it went really well with the green tea.

After looking at the menu I decided to go with a Belgian waffle covered with milk chocolate. I was a little disappointed that the waffles weren't made on the spot but were warmed up, however they were good quality and the chocolate was amazing. I picked up as much as I could with my fork and then tried to resist the urge to lick my plate clean.

The next stop was La Maison du Macaron. The two owners have a very cute story. They're a married couple who met while working for a very famous pastry chef in Paris. They fell in love, got married and decided to come to Montreal to open their macaron shop.

Their macarons are very pretty and visually appealing. They have a ton of different flavours, from humble chocolate and vanilla macarons to their more exotic cousins, mango and pepper, and pear and cassis.

Here is a closeup of a chocolate macaron. The filling was a very thick and creamy chocolate ganache. The store is very cute and you can tell that for the owners it is a labour of love as their products are really well made.

They also offer some very beautiful looking macaron pavlova desserts. The owners took their time explaining their own personal story and how the macarons are made. They have very charming Parisian accents and are really likable. They are both young and I wish them all the best in their business although with the high quality and eye appeal I don't think they'll have any problems attracting devotees!

This is a park which we passed on our way to our next stop. Our little excursion was in the Plateau neighborhood which is very trendy. I had never been there before but I can see why so many people want to live there. It is very close to the city but has green spaces and lots of cafes and great restaurants.

Our next stop was Lab Cocktail Bar. First of all I have to confess that I'm not a big alcohol drinker as I prefer to eat my calories rather than imbibe them. The atmosphere is very cool and casual and they serve lots of exotic cocktails.

The reason that the cocktail bar was added to the itinerary was because they serve absinthe in the old school manner. Don't worry, no one went insane or blind regardless of absinthe's reputation. The barkeep explained that at one point absinthe was becoming so popular in France that wine sellers began to spread rumours about it being dangerous to try to stem its popularity and malign its reputation. I'm sure that in some quarters that only made absinthe more popular.

Anyways, the contraption above is filled with ice cold water and ice in the first chamber, water in the second chamber and it is allow to drip into a glass over which a slotted spoon and a lump of raw cane sugar has been suspended.

Absinthe tastes very strongly of licorice which I don't like but I can say that the smell that filled the room as the water was dripping was pretty amazing.

I decided to try the Oriental Lab tea which is a mix of mandarin vodka, rose syrup, apricot liquor, orange juice, rose water and iced tea. It was pretty good but very strong. I was noticeably more mellow and happy when I had finished my glass. No, I don't hold my liquor well. I kept on losing my balance when trying to lace up my boots after the last office Christmas party in the lobby of a rather fancy hotel in downtown Montreal while giggling uncontrollably. This is why I don't drink often.

I had a lot of fun on this trip and I can't wait to go to another meetup. Everyone was really nice and since I don't know many foodies it was really nice to talk to other people who are as food obsessed as I am. I went alone so I was pretty shy but I got over it fast. Nothing helps people bond like food in my experience and good food only makes the process easier!
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