In Search of the Best…

A couple of foodies from MeetIn launched a series of theme dinners called “In Search of the Best…” and fill in the country. I thought it was a good way to summarize my non-bureaucratic adventures in March. (This might be a good time to note that I still haven’t received my Quebec health card.)

The first theme dinner was Afghan food at Khyber Pass on the Plateau, near where I bought my condo. The best way to describe the food is Mediterranean with a taste of India – spicy, flavourful food, no curry, not hot. I had lamb braised in a tomato sauce with three kinds of basmati rice. It was also my first experience with a BYOW (bring your own wine) restaurant. Everyone but the hosts brought wine and everyone shared. We also wound up having a great conversation about wines of the world. The other cool thing about Khyber Pass was the atmosphere. At first I was a bit worried when I entered the restaurant and then told to go outside and two doors to my left. Group parties were in the basement, which was made up to look like a cave. It was wonderful and unique. It was a warm, snowy night, so I decided to walk home and explore a bit of the neighbourhood. I am so glad I bought on the Plateau. There were all sorts of interesting stores, restaurants and theatres. Even though it was snowing, there were a lot of people out on the street, spending the night on the town.

The next week was an evening at the House of Jazz. It’s a Montreal must-see. For a $5 cover charge you get an excellent live jazz performance with dinner. The food is one step up from Swiss Chalet, but you really go to the House of Jazz for the music and the atmosphere. We had a perfect view of the stage and the spectacular chandelier featured on their business cards and marketing material. I can recommend the experience. If I ever go by myself, I’ll probably just sit at the bar.

Easter Weekend had several adventures. Friends from Toronto came to visit… bearing goodies from their stop over at the Big Apple. For those of you who travelled the 401 between TO and Kingston, you know the landmark. Well, we had no shortage of apple pies, apple cheesecake, apple teas and apple jelly for the weekend. Good Friday we went to Atwater Market where we emptied our wallets on all sorts of treats. That evening we met up with a couple of MeetIn friends at l’Entrecôte Saint Jean, considered a Montreal institution. They only serve one thing – steak-frites (steak and french fries) – and they do it very well. Afterward, we walked to the Planetarium to catch the show “The Milky Way: Our Galaxy”. The next day was Dim Sum, again with a group from MeetIn, at Kam Fung in Chinatown. Dim Sum is always best done in groups since you get to sample a little bit of everything. We started off very hungry and wound up leaving very full. We certainly weren’t hungry an hour later. I capped off the weekend by cooking a roast lamb feast in what I swear is the tiniest kitchen I have ever cooked.

Last weekend was Peruvian cuisine, at Villa Wellington, followed by tea at Cha Noir, in Verdun. Both places smelled wonderful as soon as you walked through the door. The conversation over dinner was lively and covered a variety of fairly intellectual topics, which carried over to the tea house. The monthly Meet-n-Greet the next night at Brutopia had a record 57 people turn out. I swear, we found 57 of the most interesting people in Montreal and brought them under one roof. We played a mingling game where we had to match interesting facts to the people. I chatted with someone who had tea with the Queen, someone else who had met three Prime Ministers, and someone else who had climbed a volcano in South America. That list barely scratches the surface.

Hmmm… after reading what I’ve just written, I should consider posting my reviews to Chowhound. The theme dinners continue out to the end of May and I’m pretty sure all the dinners in April are fully booked. It’s going to be a yummy spring 🙂 Oh, yeah, and I’m still losing weight, even with all these great dinners. I completely credit all the walking I’ve been doing since moving to Montreal.

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