Shwartz's Smoked Meat - Montreal

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Quebec has a couple of iconic dishes... Some of them more glamorous than others! Obviously a lot of them revolve around maple syrup, such as "Tire" or maple taffy. It's a good thing I don't live in Canada, I'm addicted to the stuff. It's boiled maple syrup that you pour on the snow and let crystallise. You then roll it on a popsicle stick and eat it! It's basically the socially acceptable way of drinking maple syrup (which I obviously *never* do...)

Another Montreal dish would be smoked meat! It originates from Romania (Pastrami) and made it's way up north to Montreal. The original, most famous and best place to get it is Shwartz's Smoked Meat. It was founded in 1926, and wasn't renovated much since then! But it's all part of the experience...

I'd say get there early but it's pretty much full all the time... So bring a friend to chat! And maybe don't go as a big group as it's easier to squeeze in 3 people than 8.

Plus, whilst you wait, you get to enjoy the art work on the walls surrounding.

Once you're finally in (hooray!) you will be seated at a big table. Probably with people you don't know. But it's all in good spirit! The menus are on the walls, diner style, but you usually just order the standard smoked meat sandwich with fries. It's customary to add a giant pickle as a side... but I'm not a fan!

When you order the sandwiches you have a choice of three "fat contents". You can pick lean, medium or fat. I usually go for lean but it's true that medium can be tastier!

Look at that sandwich! The rye bread is more for convenience in holding the meat, I mean ratios are way off. The bread is slathered in mustard and oh man is it good! You get melt-in-your-mouth meat with a slight tang from the mustard completed with a delicious smoky after taste.. yum! So good you could "freeze to death" in winter waiting for a place in the restaurant for it!

It was J's first smoke meat and he loved it! It's not so much of an acquired taste like maple taffy is, so no worries you'll like it too I'm sure.

It's also customary to order cherry cola with it, so if you want the full Shwartz experience go right ahead!
We walked it all off on St-Laurent street. It's full of vintage stores and small designer boutiques!

I can't recommend Shwartz's enough, if you're in Montreal give it a try!

Canada - Part 3

Sunday, August 25, 2013

In Canada there's a bit of a competition between people concerning their lake. You see, once you have a house on a lake, the lake becomes yours and is, without question, the best lake. As an outsider with no lake to my name I can sometimes be put in a sticky situation. You visit someone's cottage and say that they have an incredible view and they will undoubtedly ask you "Oh it is the prettiest lake you've seen isn't it?" Uhmm... Well... I mean... Yes of course! Is what you should say. To everyone. And hope they don't speak together.

I can't pick a favorite lake. Especially between mom's or dad's house (sorry mom, sorry dad). They're very different and both equally fun. The first posts were about my mom's lake and this post is my dad's.

We would start the day with a quick run of waterskiing at 7 am before breakfast after breakfast at 9am, whilst the lake was still mirror flat.

J had never skied before and after a couple of tries he got up and did really well!

So well he got overconfident and attempted dropping a ski (without warning us!) and ended up dropping both...

Waterskiing is a bit of an institution in the family... My 85 year old grand-ma only stopped slaloming 5 years ago! And still goes tubbing...

And we start them young...

With Cookie's (yes it's a nickname) personal horsie pulling her on the beach...

Linda showing her moves!

For lunch we went for a hike / trek in the forest and pic-nicked on top of the mountain.

We first walked to the rock and then back down to the beach.

This next picture looks like the scene prior to a murder...

They're both alive and well, although they had to be carried back home... good thing Mr. Strong was there!

Canada - La Framboisiere and Raspberry Jam

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I love raspberries. Like love love love them. I'd trade a bowl of raspberries for chocolate any day. Ok maybe not. If they're drizzled with maple syrup maybe. I don't know.

Anyways, next to our cottage there's this magical place where you can go and eat pick raspberries yourself. It's awesome. And I've been every year for as long as I remember! We make it into a sort of competition of who can fill up their bucket the quickest. I usually lose because I eat too many!

When I was a youngster I would go with my grand-parents, but my bucket would always be nearly empty when we went to the till. The owner knew exactly what was going on (it probably didn't help that my face was covered in raspberry juice mind you) and put me on the spot. He said "Hey little girl have you been eating all my raspberries? How am I going to weigh the ones you ate so that you can pay for them!". And I whipped out my sass and said "Well you should've weighed me when I got in and weighed me on my way out... Fault's on you!" And since then I have to step on the scales when I go pick raspberries. It's sorta stressful, I've got to diet the week before and everything. Ok not really, but it's still embarrassing.

I filled up my bucket this time! First in the race too!

Since we're a competitive bunch we ended up with way too many raspberries. Even for me to eat them all. So we decided to make jam. I took out the old recipe book to look up the recipe and was astounded by the amount of sugar in there! It was 1 cup of fruit for 1 cup of sugar. That would mean 8 cups of sugar! Way too much for my liking. It was white sugar as well which isn't the healthiest. So this is the revised version:

Gaby's Healthy Raspberry Jam

I had 8 cups of raspberries, but I do realize most people won't have that much when making jam for sunday breakfast! So I've scaled down the recipe.

  • 2 cups of raspberries
  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
If you're using store bought raspberries give them a rinse. I didn't bother because we picked them ourselves from an organic farm and bugs well.... they're protein!

Tip your raspberries slowly in a big heavy bottomed pot. Pour the sugars on top and let it sit.

You want the fruits to give their water and the sugar to dissolve naturally without heat. Sort of like this:

Once the sugar is almost all dissolved you can put the pot on the stove on low heat. You don't want to stir too much otherwise the raspberries will break and you'll end up with raspberry purée jam.

Once it's bubbling and steaming away you can put the timer on. The jam will be ready in 7 to 12 minutes depending on how firm you want it. 7 is very runny, perfect for yoghurts and 12 is more firm, better for toast. This jam is all natural and doesn't have any thickening agents or preservatives added to it. So better eat it quick! It wasn't a problem for us...

Once the jam is done pour it into your mason jars and pop them upside down whilst still hot to seal the lids. Voilà!

Canada - Part 2

Friday, August 16, 2013

After the jet-lag passed we started to get into a routine. We would go swimming in the morning and fed the ducks:

Or go kayaking...

And then feast on berries by the fire reading a book...

Canada has pretty amazing weather. Not amazing in the way that it's always really hot and sunny. But it amazes me how quickly it can change. You're sunbathing one second and then clouds roll in and a huge thunderstorm crackles above your head.

Thunder retires as quickly as it came and leaves behind beautiful peace and quiet.

This is perfect weather for waterskiing, or rowing, or swimming or whatever. You have to enjoy the calm while it lasts as the wind can pick up at any time! But we adapt and go windsurfing, well Xavier does, I watch.

(Check them guns!)

Being at University in London with family in Canada, France and Czech Republic it's really nice to all meet up here and I feel very fortunate to be able to go back so often!

With Love,

Gaby xx

Montreal - Part 1

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I know I've been MIA for a while but I figured it was better to enjoy a holiday and then blog about it rather than trying to do everything at once!

I've been in Montreal for the past three weeks and am leaving on Thursday (sniff sniff) to go back to Nice (not too shabby I guess) and will dedicate the next few post to some Canadian Adventures! Exciting, eh?

One of the perks of being jet-lagged (the only perk really) is that you get up early enough to see the sunrise on the lake. Since the nights are cool and the lake remains warm a thick fog forms in the morning to give the prettiest of views...

I took the time to rekindle with my old time chipmunk friend and fed him some seeds. We had a long conversation as you can see...

After breakfast J and I took the quad bike out and explored the forest behind the cottage.

We stumbled upon a beaver dam which had flooded the trail! I was oh so glad I had my wellies! The beavers weren't so happy about our intrusion though...

After lots of mud and lifting fallen tree trunks we finally made it to the "secret" lake I used to go as a little girl with my grandpa. It's a protected lake where no houses or boats are allowed. It's really really quiet. Which is exactly what we needed in order to be cut from the world for a little while.

Chlorophyl overdose.

We jumped from the rock and chatted until we heard thunder and decided it was time to head home!

After the storm passed we felt we deserved a good ol' steak. So we fired up the BBQ and tucked in! We followed with a beautiful sunset of a desert...

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