Cabane à Sucre

This is one of my favorite things about living in Quebec.  Every year when the snow melts the maple sap starts to run and the blessed people of Quebec go out and collect all that yummy sap and turn it into even yummier syrup!  Then, these fabulous people host these incredible meals to celebrate this syrup that they have made.  Pea soup, creton, beans, potatoes, bacon, ham, eggs and ‘les oreilles de Christ’, MAPLE TOFFEE!  All drizzled in maple goodness.  Maple is a Quebec staple.

“What to eat first…the maple bacon or les oreilles d’Christ?”

My first experience with Cabane was in 2000, I went with Nadia, Lara and the Concordia Psychology department.  We went to a giant Sugar Shack with space for about 300, they had an arcade, dance floor and I think I remember some ski-ball.  It was quite the adventure and I figured it was something you had to do at least once.

Fast forward a few years and some of my new friends wanted to go somewhere for Cabane.  I ask one of my favorite Francophone’s where to go and she sends me to a place I will try to visit annually for the rest of my life.  Louise’s family has been going to the Cabane à sucre famille Éthier for years and I’m happy to continue the tradition with them and all the people I love.

Hears a taste:

Cabane à sucre famille Éthier.

There is no menu.  You arrive.  You eat.  The only thing I (the celiac) can’t eat is the omelet (there is a touch of flour to make it giant and puffy) and dessert, but la Famille Éthier is always happy to fry up a couple of eggs for me and this year, for dessert, they poached an egg in maple syrup!  Be jealous, it’s delicious.  The last part of the meal is my favorite, you roll a popsicle stick across a bed of snow covered in hot maple syrup, it’s called: La Tire d’Érable.

A meal with bacon, pork rinds (the French call them Christ’s Ears), eggs and maple syrup is really hard to mess up, but this place is special because of the people who run it and the music and the love of maple syrup.  Did I mention they refill the bowls?  Did I mention that it’s bring your own wine?  Wonderful.

This year, I went twice.

This does not look appetizing, I know, but it’s a bowl of hot maple syrup with an egg in it, you can’t deny that you want to try this. And you should, it’s amazing.

There are tons of Cabane in the Montreal area and throughout Quebec.  I highly recommend any of the ones that fit less than 100 people, it’s a way more realistic and pleasant experience!

Click me! for the Quebec Tourist website to find your own favorite Cabane!

Another one of my favorite things about living in Quebec is living in the same city as Dayle:


Apples to sticky apples

Ever since I moved to Montreal and discovered all the surrounding apple orchards I have made an effort to get myself a giant bag of apples.  Nothing says fall to me like apple picking.  For the second year in a row, I ventured out with Dayle, Dave and Zak (Andrew couldn’t make it out this year, work shmurk).  Dayle and I have been apple picking for a few years now, I still remember our first time — when she neglected to mention her severe motion sickness after I forced her onto a ferry to Oka — we had such a wonderful day out with our choir girls.  More than 10 years later, this feels like a traditional family outing that I would hate to miss.  Zak is 2 going on 5 and it was so much fun climbing ladders and racing through trees with him.

Dave, Zak and Dayle

This year we went to Quinn Farms where they have apples, animals, pumpkin patches and plenty of heavy duty trucks for a boy to climb on.  This is a big farm, you can pick strawberries and asparagus in the summer and cut down Christmas trees in the winter, so they have a store with jams and fresh veggies and a little hot dog and soup stand.  They have hot apple cider and fresh apple juice, popcorn and candied apples.  They also sell baked goods, nothing gluten free unfortunately.  Zak and I picked up a candied apple and are both happy to report we miraculously still have all our teeth; sadly, I wouldn’t recommend these shiny red treats.  The candy was really hard and stuck to your teeth and once you got to the apple your face was fluorescent from the dye (that you could taste more than the sugar).

Red dye no. 4

We picked two 18 pound bags of two apple varieties, Cortland and Empire.  Apparently Cortland are better for baking, so that is what I did when I got home.  Thanks to my Bob’s Red Mill gf oats and gf all purpose flour I was able to whip up a crisp!

Apple, blueberry and raspberry Crisp

GF Apple crisp
This is a gf, nut free version of the crisp my mom makes, it’s easy and it’s always delicious!  It’s also good for breakfast.
What you’ll need:
2 cups gf oatmeal (if you want nuts use 1 cup oats and 1 cup pecans), 1/3 cup of all purpose gf flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 cup of melted butter (1/2 cup will do the trick too), 1/2 tsp. salt, as many peeled and sliced apples as you can fit into your baking dish, any other fruit you might want to bake in there (I love blueberries and raspberries, dried cherries, pears and rhubarb)
Preheated oven (325〫), baking dish (this is enough crisp to cover a 9″x 13″ dish)

Layer your fruit into your baking dish, don’t be afraid to heap.  Mix the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle on top.  Bake for about an hour or until the fruit starts to bubble up along the edges.  Eat a la mode or with whip cream or all by itself.

So my crisp used 9 large apples, now I just have to figure out how to deal with the 15 pounds of apples I have left…I see apple bunt cake in my very near future (just saw a recipe in allergic living).  Happy Fall!

A Dark Dominion

That title alludes to a very heavy post, but I assure you, read on, this is a nice story…

This is a story about a restaurant that I like very much.  It has a charming, old world atmosphere, flavourful food, unique cocktails, passable pricing and so far, great memories.

Hears a taste:

Taverne Square Dominion.

Last November Jonathan (my partner in event coordinating crime) and I had our first experience at Taverne Square Dominion.  We had the good fortune of dining with someone who actually lived in the time that this former hotel bar had been a central part of Montreal’s gay village.  Jonathan and I both enjoyed a delicious steak and the three of us imbibed several bottles of red wine.

The next time I went back it was with Andrew and Jonathan.  We had tried to see a movie, but it was sold out, so we decided to dine.  Oddly enough we were seated at the same table as before.  Apparently it is our table.  We ordered fancy drinks (they have Pimms!) and set off on our second Taverne Square Dominion food adventure.  The waiter’s were very helpful and happy to go back and talk to the chef with any questions I had that they could not answer definitively.  I like that.

What I ate:
Rock Shrimp with toast (they replaced the toast with lettuce and I made little wraps) – I ate this the first time too and it was so yummy I had to have it again
Beef Striploin – same thing I had last time, but I hadn’t drunk as much red wine and still delicious

What Jonathan ate:
Fried Clams
Mussels cooked with bacon and cider

Andrew ate:
Salmon Gravalax
Mussels cooked with bacon and cider

The third time Jonathan and I made our way back it was to celebrate another summer visit with great friends (the theme of Jonathan and I’s summer).  Rachel, a marvelous friend from McGill, and Jason, her boyfriend (equally marvelous), came to town from Toronto for three fine days.  Now, if you thought finding food for me and Andrew (no nuts) was complex, try adding a vegetarian on a special diet and avoiding wheat, a fastidious pianist and an Atkins diet.  Jason was our easy eater.  We all took a peek at the menu and agreed this was the place for us.  The drink menu sealed the deal…homemade soda, tonique and an impressive list of gin was something we could all enjoy.

We arrived at the Taverne and were seated at the not our table in the back as the seating for large groups is limited (they won’t take groups larger than 8).  We ordered our cocktails and our meals and enjoyed each others company while we waited for our feast to arrive.  We all know, the minute someone gets up to go to the washroom the food arrives, so we sent Chris.  Only instead of our appetizers arriving there was a flash and we were in the dark.  A power outage!  Noooo!  Our food!

Half of the street was out, but no one was sure how long the dark would last.  Waiters rushed around adding candles in beer mugs and short glasses to each occupied table, then all of a sudden our appetizers arrive!  Apparently our timing had been perfect; when the power went out our order was up and cooking.  We were served our main courses as well.  After the power had been out for 40 minutes we noticed the waiters breaking the news to other clients that they had decided to call it a night, the power was still a mystery and the kitchen wouldn’t be able to make any more meals.  The waiters pulled out their calculators and started adding together the tabs manually, each bill was served up with a sassy round of shots.

It could have been strange eating in the dark, but when you’re with great friends and great food it turns into a rare experience we’ll never forget.

Click me!


On August 13, 2008, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  I can still remember the sense of relief that I could be fixed.  The month prior to my revelation I had been in for an endoscope of my belly.  When I came out of my drug induced relaxation, my doctor told me he had some good news and some okay news.  The good news: I didn’t have an ulcer or any unusual bumps, the okay news: I probably have celiac disease.

My first question: “Is there gluten in rice?”
“No”, replies the doctor.
Me: “Okay, then I’ll be fine.”

While in surgery, he took a biopsy of my stomach and told me the results were going to take a few weeks, he also sent me for another blood test and told me to continue eating gluten until I had the results in case they needed to run anymore tests.

On my drive home I decided I had three and a half weeks to eat whatever I wanted.  My system was already used to being sick all the time, so I went full out.  I admit that I didn’t know a lot about celiac, so I bought one book (mostly to make sure I ate all the gluten I could) and I planned to deal with the celiac thing starting the day after my appointment.

What does one eat while saying goodbye to gluten?
– so much pizza (homemade and restaurant)
– Chinese food = most importantly dim sum, ginger beef (in Alberta), any vegetable in oyster sauce or hoisin, salt & pepper squid and many dumplings (I am proudly 1/4 Chinese and this was one of the hardest things for me to give up)
– Japanese food = most importantly shrimp and veggie tempura, any sushi roll with tempura in it
– Pasta! (homemade and restaurant)
– Chocolate cookies with white chocolate chips
– Crispy crunch cake with white chocolate icing
– Bread = croissant, pain au chocolat, baguette, biscuits, dinner rolls (homemade), cranberry orange bread and cinnamon toast
– Beer = Dieu du Ciel

The day of my results appointment I planned a last hoorah at my favorite Ethiopian restaurant and then beers at DdC.  If only I had read my book a wee bit more, I would have known that Ethiopian bread is traditionally made from teff and is perfectly safe for people avoiding gluten!

Hears a taste:

Nil bleu.

I love going to Nil Bleu.  Ethiopian is best enjoyed in groups and when you have a lot of time.  I would not recommend Ethiopian before a show, deadlines do not exist in this world.
You eat with your hands, teff bread is your utensil.  The mix of flavours and spices are unique and delicious.  From the spicy and tangy berber sauce to the sweet, stewed potatoes and carrots.  So good.

What I ate (and can still eat!):
Doro Watt – spiced chicken with onions and a boiled egg
Assa Watt – fish cooked in berber sauce
Gommen – spinach
Yatakelt Watt – potatoes, cabbage and carrot
Yebeg Tibbs – lamb with green peppers and ginger

Ordering Ethiopian:
In my many trips to Nil Bleu, I think I have mastered the perfect order.
Start with 1 vegetarian platter, then add 1 meat/per person.
Example – For a group of 4, I would order:
1 vegetarian platter
1 Doro Watt
1 Yebeg Tibbs
1 Assa Watt

More people = more meat and an extra spinach.

Click me!

Veggie Basket!

Week 5

Meet my beautiful veggie basket.  This is her 5th week in our lives and we couldn’t be happier.  Andrew and I decided to purchase a farmshare this summer to help with our menu making and it has been inspiring.  Every week we have something new to play with.  Everything tastes better!  I eat raw zucchini all the time (I thought it had to be cooked to taste good), cucumbers and carrots are incredible, and the blueberries!  Oh the blueberries!  Quebec has so much goodness to offer.

What have we been making?
So much SALAD!
I’m not a big salad fan, but I do have to say that lettuce picked the day before you eat it is so good.  I might become a salad liker…as long as Andrew keeps cleaning the lettuce.  So far my favorite salad dressing has been a mixture of avocado oil, pomegranate molasses, salt & pepper with a hint of dijon mustard and a little bit of maple syrup.
Andrew also made a delicious zucchini ribbon salad with red onion and red wine vinegar.

Zucchini is still my favorite grilling vegetable.  I like it with a bit of crunch or soft and mushy.

I made hummus (not from the veggie basket), the perfect dip for carrots and cucumbers and zucchini.
Green Sauce!  With all the mint, basil and cilantro we want, how could I not make Krista’s green sauce? (I’ll have to get her permission to post the recipe)

I have a taco addiction and I found an amazing recipe for Radish Salsa on Martha Stewart’s site.  She calls it a salad, but I’ve adjusted it a little (add more heat!) to make it more like a salsa.  The lime and jalapeño were not from my veggie basket.

Let’s talk about blueberries.  They are delicious and jam packed with healthy.  Whenever I buy a pricey little pint of these blue goodies, I end up picking out a bunch of the yucky ones or some will be sour or too mooshy; I’m never totally satisfied.  Then came my veggie basket.  I’ve never had blueberries like this, so when they offered us the option of buying an extra case I jumped for blueberry joy.

The case

I’ve had these two pie crusts in my freezer for quite some time and my case of blueberry perfection called for a pie!  Last Thanksgiving, I found these crusts at Whole Foods in Toronto, they are by a company called “Circle of Life Bakery“.  They bake up very nicely and are super easy if you’re not in the mood for crust making mess.  I cut up one crust to make a lattice pattern.

Raw, but still pretty



This restaurant does not call for a fancy post title.  I only need to say: Pushap.  If you have been to this place, you will know what I mean.  If you have not made your trip out to Namur Metro for a Thali at Pushap, then you have not lived the real Montreal experience.

This restaurant has so much character!  From the colorful display case of sweets to the year round Christmas lights, multi-colored walls and light up Taj Mahal to the family of staff and cooks with friendly faces and sneaky smiles.  The food is delicious.  Always.

Hears a taste:


The first time I ate at Pushap (B.C.) was with Krista (a great singer & great friend).  I have no idea how she found out about this little restaurant and sweet shop off the Decarie highway, but I’m so glad I followed her on this adventure!  This restaurant offers mouth-watering and authentic vegetarian Indian cuisine at a very low price.  We used to gather groups of friends, fill our cars and make our way out for dinner or lunch weekly.  The Thali is $5.75!  Who could resist?!

I have ordered food from Pushap to cater my birthday party and I have ordered meals to freeze and take to my friends across the border.  Pushap is the place I always take my visitors to and whenever Krista or Kelly or Megan or Aimee (my Pushap pack o’friends) come back to town, it is high on the list of food priorities!

Andrew eats here too!  He is allergic to nuts and peanuts and lots of legumes make his throat itch.  There are no peanuts in this restaurant, but the sweets do have nuts (pistachio, cashew and almond) and there are peas in several of the vegetable dishes.  Fortunately for Andrew, I have been going there long enough that I know what is in each dish and the servers are always happy to let us design our own Thali.  I should also mention that Andrew’s pretty safe around nuts, peanuts are his big problem)

What I eat:
Pakora – deep fried spiced chickpea flour with onions and potato and spinach
*B.C. I enjoyed the Samosa and Pakora combo.  For those of you who can eat gluten: try the samosa, thank me later.
Thali with lentils (or chickpeas) and NO bread – includes 2 daily selections of veggies (my favorite are Alu-Gobhi and Shahi-Paneer) and rice
Ladoo (picture) – chickpea flour sweets

What Andrew eats:
Special Thali (nut and legume free version) – we order Alu-Gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes), Palak-Panneer (spinach and cheese) and if he is not in the mood for the slight itch caused by chickpeas, we will order a third veggie like Zucchini
Gulab Jamun – honey ball sweets

A fair warning:
I have never been sick from the food at Pushap, but if you are there in peak hours (12pm-1pm & 6pm-7ish), the possibility of contamination is higher.  The kitchen is very small and they move fast, someone might forget that you said no bread and throw a piece on top of your food BUT the one time this happened they understood that I needed a new plate with all new rice and veggies.  Be clear with your allergies and you will be fine!

Click me!

A little reminiscing: The sweets are delectable and even if it were no longer safe for me to eat here, I would still recommend it to everyone and I would still call it one of Montreal’s hidden treasures.  The owners are always asking about my friends and when they can expect to see us again and I love them.


I can still eat these!

I’ll be at Lola’s

I’m in Montreal all summer, so be prepared for lots of Montreal posts!  I have some serious catching up to do on my favorite city in the world (thus far).

This particular post is all about Lola Rosa Café.  This little vegetarian bistro is one of my favorite places to eat and fortunately for me, they have started to cater to gf diets!

The Faculty of Music at McGill is right downtown, but somehow it is in kind of a strange ‘restaurant black hole’…it’s not quite on the McGill campus, so the cafeterias aren’t super convenient and the one in the building grossed me out.  When I started studying there, the only quick and inexpensive place to run for good food was a natural food market across the street.  Over the years a variety of restaurants and food options have appeared; there is now a Tim Hortons, which helped me notice the Basha tucked away below it,  a Java U (mmm…french fries), a Thai Express/Cultures and Starbucks all within a block.  Fast food is great for students on the go, but when you are at McGill all the time (working and studying), you want access to some real cooking too.  Lola Rosa’s is that place.

I still remember my first time:  My friend Andrea was acting a wee bit crazy, (she lived across the street from Lola’s) but she convinced me to come to her house after work where she blindfolded me, spun me in circles and walked me across the street for my half birthday lunch; I thought she was taking me to the Dépanneur (french for convenient store), so Lola’s was a very happy surprise.  We had Lola’s nachos and I was sold.  This is the place for me and it became my go to place for a real meal.  They even delivered to my little box office window!

When I was diagnosed with the celiacs, I was worried that my options there would become more limited, but they were kind enough to go through the change with me. 😉  Their menu is not 100% gluten free (like me), but GF options are indicated on the menu.  Couscous can easily be replaced with rice and I’m trying to convince them to make the change to corn tortilla (that taste so much better than flour).

Hears a taste:

Lola Rosa Café.

What I eat (pretty much every time I am there):
Lola’s nachos
Chickpea Curry with raita
Ratatouille Polenta

Click me!

I’ve been eating at Lola’s for several years and I enjoy myself and my food every time.  The staff is always happy and the owners are so passionate about their restaurant, it makes it hard to resist.  Although this restaurant is completely meat free, I (the born and bred meat eating Alberta girl) never think of this place as strictly “vegetarian” because I always leave with a full stomach and contented taste buds.  If you still have room for desert, they have a ginger-basil crème brûlée on the menu that is gf and big enough to share!