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I'm enjoying your website very much, learning about restaurants I didn't even know existed here in Montreal. Although I haven't perused your site completely, i have a question i hope you can answer:

I'm a big fan of soul food. Is there a restaurant in Montreal that serves fare such as ham hocks, black-eyed peas, grits, collard greens and the like? I had a meal in New Orleans a few years ago, and another in Harlem a year later, that had these items on the menu, and I'd love to experience them, and more, again. If not in Montreal, where is the nearest place I could enjoy this kind of cooking? There used to be a place in Toronto called "The Underground Railroad", but that closed years ago.

Michael Paitich

This is a good question. To have soul food, you need people with soul. Montreal is a great city for people with sole. Good French restos are plentiful. Some are cheap. Lots are great. Our soul is predominately European. The souls of others who come here are inevitably transmuted in this direction. Great soul food, as one gets south of the Mason-Dixon line (aka in Dixie) is rare and, when available, pallid in comparison with the real thing. Why, you can't even get grits in a grocery store. Ditto for Cajun and Creole cooking. However we have dynamite Trinidadian and Bajan (Barbados) food and some super Haitian spots.

Michael Paitich replies:

Very well put. The soul of Montreal, I suppose, is Gallic, and Italian, and Jewish, and Chinese, and several other types of cuisine, but not African-American soul food. Still, I can't help but wonder: why can there be room for hundreds of Chinese restaurants, and hundreds of Italian restaurants, and not one single soul food joint? I mean, were such a place to exist, it would absolutely corner the market on that type of cuisine. In a city of three million people, are there not fifty people a day who'd want to enjoy the food that is a staple of Mississipi, Missouri, and Louisiana? (By the way, I'm white. Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Flavourguy replies:
We got tens of thousands of Chinese and hundreds of thousands of Italians and Jews and have you checked out the hispanoresto scene in this city? ¡Muy fantastico! Could it be because there is a sizable Latino community here too? Now, why isn't there a decent soul food place in town? Well, why would anyone from the southern US voluntarily move here...? Let me look outside my window right now and see ... hmm, sleet and rain, several feet of snow, bloody cold ... can't understand why we don't attract more migrant labour from Georgia, the Carolinas, et. al.

Also one soul food resto does not a dish of red eye make. There has to be enough so that the good food and develop. True grits, so to speak.

That's why Haitian food is so interesting here. There are enough places to let some fail and others foster. Go to any small town in Canada and there will be a Chinese-Canadian restaurant on Main Street but the chances are that the food will be as authentic as chop suey in Chibougamou. However, go to any decent-sized downtown such as Calgary, Vancouver of course, Montreal, Toronto and there will be plenty of good Chinese restaurants at all price points.

Community creates culture.
Counter cultures create lunch.

I was intrigued by your article Saturday, Feb. 10 on Steel-cut oats. I had to search rather extensively to find oatmeal which was other than instant, and finally was successful. I think I would like to try these things you wrote about, but...can steel-cut oats be done in the microwave? I like to add blueberries and all sorts of stuff, but would like to continue me my short-cut method. Please tell me it can be done?

Judith Dillon

We make regular oatmeal in the microwave all the time—6 minutes on medium does the trick. My hunch is that steelcut oats would work the same way as brown rice. With our microwave, that's a cup of rice, 3 cups of hot water, cover and cook 45 minutes at medium, stirring occasionally. Long grain rice is about 15 minutes so anywhere in between should be right for steel cut oats. Let me know what works for you.

You and I must have been separated at birth.

Your reverie of Hungarian Paprika then, your recent adulation of steel cut/Irish oats, and today, just to affirm our kinship Cassis/black currants, the very best flavour in the world.

For years now I have breakfasted on steel cut oats to the virtual exclusion of other breakfast food, but thanks for the tip to use it as thickeners in soups. Since I cook it up in batches, more or less for the week, I always have it ready in the refrigerator. BTW I always cook it in Skim milk, a simple calcium/nutrition boost.

As for Black Currant, my memories of this wonderful taste treat strictly for the Vitamin C which many children enjoyed, during my childhood in wartime England. When this was available: HOW MUCH BETTER THAN COD LIVER OIL!!!!!!!!! which was our other alternative.

For years this memory was virtually lost, until I began to see bottles of Ribena Black Currant syrup on the occasional store shelf.

I then discovered the wonders of the Cassis alcoholic beverage, and its marvels as a part of the Kir and Kir Royal—WOW!

Years Ago I heard the tip of adding Cassis to Lemon sherbet (sorbet). The flavours are a perfect counterpoint to each other, and it makes for a lovely light dessert.

I will be away for the next few weeks and already miss what you will write about during my absence. I'll try to catch you on the web.

Lea E. Steinlauf

Chers messieurs,

Je vous écris en tant que commercial d'huil produit en Espagne, concrètement de la face méditerranéenne. Nous sommes en disposition de vous offrir de l'huil d'olive 1&Mac186;, "extra virgen de oliva", en bouteille (non plastique), c'est—dire, la première qualit du pays, des prix très intéressants. De même, on peut discuter des boies en bois ou d'autres emballages... Si vous êtes intéressés en ce produit, vous pouvez nous contacter: pacomiquel@eresmas.com

Merci de votre attention.

I have been searching for a recipe on-line for "tamarind balls"—the candy the kids love! My son has informed me that mine don't taste as good as the one's "Eric's Mom made"! Well, she's Barbadian, and I only lived there as a child so that's my excuse. Anyway, I'd love it if you would share any recipe you might have for this treat, as I am fired up to make my next attempt at this treat as good as Eric's Mom's!


Tamarind balls, eh? My advice is to get Eric's mother's recipe and see what she does. I have some recipes somewhere but haven't tried them. My favourite ones (made spicy) are at Arawak, 5854 Sherbrooke St. W. (488-6918) The owner, Mrs. Walker, doesn't make them either although she might have a recipe. - Let me know what you do. I have a batch of tamarind pulp in the fridge and this might induce me to try to make them.

Hey Flavourguy,

I bought a nifty cake cookbook but one of the recipes calls for "Espresso powder." (Also, chocolate-covered espresso beans.)

I don't want to substitute instant coffee . . . do you know where to find this stuff?
—A fawning reader

What do Indian people use for cooking oil? I mean, they can't use ghee for everything. Is it salad oil? Peanut oil? What is it?

Why not ghee? I suspect that vegetable oil would be used too. They don't use beef tallow, I bet. Madhur Jaffrey in "A Taste of India" says that many of the dishes in the south are steamed while those in the north are baked.

Your article on olive oil was very informative. I made a beeline for my bottle of Carapelli to check if it carried the 'HS' you mention the Mastri Oleari give high quality olive oil. None was there to see! I note the Carapelli olive oil is imported by Aurora Inc in Mississauga. Before I rush off to Milano to scrutinize their umpteen varieties of 'Ol-Oi' just tell me please : Do the Mastri Oleari cover only Quebec or all of Canada? Thanks. Thea

Dear Flavourguy, I read a few weeks back a fabulous article on crème fraîche. You did write that "Unfortunately, crème fraîche is rarely available in Montréal." I have been buying crème fraîche for years now, but for approximately 6 months, I just cannot find it anymore. I used to purchased it at Atwater Market, but they do not have it anymore. Would you kindly tell me where I can buy it now, as I am desperate to find it again??? Regards,
Josée Kaine

I have tried to find the real thing and have been told that it is available sometimes (so I can't claim it doesn't exist) but each time I have gone back to a store, it is never there. I have to conclude that it is no longer in stock in Montreal. I did see some in NYC recently so you might try and get some if you are ever there. I am still looking here. I will let you know if I find it.

My dad would like to know where you would purchase the paprika you were talking about in your Feb. 3 article. He said it was a super article, but that there was no place mentioned where he could buy it. I thought he could get it anywhere like at your local Maxi food store, but he said the one you spoke of was more authentic, and a specialty item.

My dad is not on the Internet, so just phoned me this evening, to get me to write to you.

Anyway, he would be thrilled to find out some info.

I would suggest that he go to the Atwater Market and check out a very good spice place called Les Douceurs du Marché. There is also a good "en vrac" store upstairs at the market that sells Spanish and Hungarian paprika.

This is Mamma Pina from Pasta Casareccia on Sherbrooke St. W., Just wanted to tell you that we import 14 and 25 years old Balsamic Vinegars from Italy and some exclusive oils; so when you are in the neighbourhood, please come in and try some for your next articles... WE also have a truffle boutique (the real thing not chocolate)... Happy new year and see you soon. Pina

Where does Teriyaki come from?

Teriyaki, a term which refers to a special glaze applied to fish, meat, or fowl in the final stages of grilling or pan-frying. This glaze is sweet and is based on a trio of favourite Japanese ingredients: soy sauce, sake, and mirin. Teri means gloss and yaki refers to grilling or pan-frying. The glaze is called teriyaki sauce and may be bought in a commercially prepared form or made at home.

can I please have a recipe in french that is one of the specialty's in Quebec

I assume that you speak French. You might want to look at a wonderful book—La Revanche du Paté Chinois by André Montmorency (Lémac is the publisher) ISBN 2-7609-5135-9. Also anything by our patron saint of cuisine: Jeanne Benoit.

I am escorting 8 teenagers to Montreal from the States in March and we are staying at the Hilton Bonaventure. Could you recommend a place for breakfast on Sunday? A Patisserie, perhaps? Thank you! Merdith Moses

I would suggest going to Central Station, the train station connected by an underground tunnel to the Hotel. There is a wonderful food court with lots of choices. Quite inexpensive. Good croissants, great coffee, all sorts of other food.

I would also suggest Movenpick which is in Place Ville Marie, connected by underground passageway too.

These are alot of fun , the food is good, and typical Montreal experiences. You'll find croissants, pastries, etc. If you want to venture further afield (and outdoors). I would suggest going to the Atwater market (Lionel-Groulx metro exit and then a short walk). This is the best farmers market in the city in March. There is a superb patisserie upstairs that could accomodate your group. it's open from 8 AM on.

Enjoyed your column on Saturday, noting the variable ways in which you prepare your oats.

I've been a fan of this cereal for a while, usually mixing a small handful of steel-cut oats into my regular breakfast rolled oats. Adds that certain crunch that just isn't there once those rolled oats have steeped awhile, don't you think?

But then, always playing with nutrition, textures and tastes, I like to add some Red River cereal to the mix, just to get some flax seed into me—except that I don't seem to digest the stuff too well. So the other day, after grinding the coffee beans, I stared at this machine in my hand, the Red River, the steel-cuts, and threw equal portions into the (cleanly wiped) grinder. Mixed up the result with an equal portion of commercial oat bran and made a jar of the mixture. My new breakfast is about 1/3 mixture and 2/3 rolled oats by volume, with double that volume of water, salted. Great thick stick-to-your-ribs stuff that stays there all morning!

Talk about your simple cereal!

Brian Merrett

Hi, I am looking for the best spagetti and meatballs in a Montreal restaurant can you help?

Thank you for you help, when i will be eating the best spagetti and meatballs i will be thinking of your web site - thank you

Why do you want to do this? Do you think that Montreal is Natick, Mass.? Next you will be wanting an eggplant grinder.

Bolognese, I might understand. However if you want spag and meatballs you will want to try Tres Marie in Little Italy (6934 Clark, 277-9859.) It is a pretty authentic local trattoria. May god have mercy on your soul.

I know another place, Da Roberto, that does this trick (yep—spag and meatballs) with ice cream, but I don't think you are ready for that.

I read your article in the Flavor of the Week section of Saturday, Jan 6 Montreal Gazette.

I would like to know how I can proceed to forward a sample of one of the finest olive oils made in Montalcino (Tuscany) to Mastri Oleari.

Any help you can provide me with is greatly appreciated.

The email address for this organization is info@mastrioleari.com

I'll be in Montreal over Christmas with my family. Used to go to Claude Postel for Christmas Eve -- where should we go instead? I have a reservation at Bonaparte. Should I choose Les Caprices or Les Ramparts instead, or do you have other suggestions? Many restaurants are closed, so it's tough... Also, why did CP close?

I would suggest any of the restaurants recommended by Gourmet and posted here. Nick and I went to a couple of them with the reviewer. We all found Caprice tooooo pretentious.

I reside in Houston, TX and my daughter is doing a school project where she is to prepare a Greek dish. Can you tell me where I could purchase Masticha?

You should ask at a Greek bakery. It is traditionally used in Chistmas and Easter breads. I know several places in Montreal that have it but none in Texas.

Please help!

I use to live in Montreal, but that was years ago. I know that in Montreal you can order (or buy) Smoked turkey, it is similar to the Monteal smoked meat, but it is a turkey. You buy it whole. I need to know where or even a phone number. If you have any info on this, please reply.

Many thanks, Irene

The following places should be able to ship you a whole smoked turkey:

Quebec Smoked Meat (514) 935-5297, ask for Mark. Deli Snowdon (514) 488-9129

Quebec's is crusted with peppercorns. Snowdon's doesn't have as many but is still quite tasty.

Make sure it is shipped whole and not precut.

I used to live in Montreal 1991-1997 - and am wondering if the restaurant called "Queue de Tortoise" still exists - sorry for the mangled spelling. It was a wonderful, small Cajun restaurant east of St. Denis and north of Sherbrooke, we used to just wander over to it, so I don't have the exact location. So please let me know if this restuarant still exists, or if it's changed names.

It doesn't seem to exist under this name. It may have changed names but when that usually happens the fod orientation and owner usually change too.
If you were to assemble a list of the top 5 chefs in Montreal who would they be (they cannot be owners)?

I dunno, but they would also be teachers (not sure why a chef can't be an owner - so much for James Macguire of Passe-Partout).

A good chef is not just a craftsman, he is an artist and a teacher. He - or she - has the ability to impart a view of life through a unique medium. A great chef is usually nothing but a prima donna and can teach me nothing but how to say "hey, I'm so great; this food is about me." A top chef is in a different (and better) category. This is one who can teach me about life, about how food is part of life, about how to appreciate life. A top chef is a philosopher who gives me permission to eat at his table.

Two in this category are Normand Laprise at Toqué and David McMillan at Globe, but I would also include a chef who is an owner (and whose name I forget) at a wonderful small fish restaurant called Le Petit Port.

Hello, hope you can help me. I would like to find some store selling maple sugar and pure maple extract. Do you have that type of information?
I appreciate whatever assistance you might give to me.

Barbara Paling

Call Les Douceurs du Marché at the Atwater Market. Ask for René or Glen.

To the Flavourguy, I was fascinated to read your recipe for gefilte fish in the Weekend Section of the Gazette on Saturday, January 13, 2001. I have a quick question which I hope that you will be able to answer for me, where on earth do I purchase a glass bundt pan. Please reply as soon as possible so that I may try this recipe. Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

Sincerely, Arlene Rosenberg

Any good kitchen supply place should have one in stock. Try Kitchen Warehouse at 357 Victoria in Westmount (486-6314). It doesn't have to be glass but it needs to work in a microwave oven.

Hi there!! Would you happen to know where one could order the figurinesthat bake into the king cakes? Thank you soooo much.

Rhonda Rose

Are you from Montreal? I would get try one of the better Italian bakeries such as Alati-Caserta 277 Dante (514) 271-3013. Also get in touch with www.betterbaking.com

Michael Clark sent a note that samphire is the common English word for salicorne, a delicious briny weed I wrote about a few weeks ago. He writes “as a lad in England, we used to go to the marshes on the Wash in Lincolnshire and pick (and eat) the Samphire."

The next time I use it, I will think of Clark’s pleasant ramble as well as a further comment in The Oxford Companion to Food that "pickled samphire was once so popular and saleable in England that men risked their necks to collect it from the cliffs.”

"Every summer, I need to taste the sea" - oh boy, I sure can understand that feeling. After reading your column on salicorne, I just knew I had to get some. So off we went to Jean Talon Market, found Chez Louis and salicorne. We were told it was the last week to have some and the price was $4.50/100 grams—a little steep but, what the heck, when you miss the ocean, why not !

I was expecting a more salty taste but it was enjoyable—threw some in with olive oil, onions, garlic and mushrooms ! Just delicious ! Thanks for the information—the ocean just became a little closer to home !

Suzanne Lacroix

© Barry Lazar 2000

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