Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Dinner @ Globe‏

On December 10, to celebrate Christmas with my dear friend,
we partook in a most splendid dining experience on the Main
concluding that Christmas equals family we elected a familiar
place. Facing the giant floor-to-ceiling windows, staring out
onto St-Laurent Blvd, as I watch the white, fresh snowflakes
sprinkling the cars and passers-by, think how rapidly time
can pass you by.

Serendipity a word I truly enjoy saying, hearing and what
it signifies. On Friday night it signified culinary discoveries
and a return to what made Globe unique, the inventiveness
of the cuisine.

'The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new
landscapes but in having new eyes.' ~ Marcel Proust

We share a special connection, a bond, if you will, between
Globe and myself, along with my extended family. We have history.
My nieces have been celebrating their birthdays there since
turning eighteen, with each inviting their respective entourages.
Then there's my Godchild who was five years old when the
chef would prepare a special plate of pasta (which was not
on the menu). I remember she always adored him for it and showed
him with genuine hugs. He would take her their famous 'Tourte
au Chocolat', to enjoy at the bar, while I savored my cigar.
You see children, once upon a time . . . smoking, even a cigar,
was tolerated at bars and restaurants. The good old days!

There was no missing the long series of restaurants between
Sherbrooke and Pine Ave but all the action was at Globe. It
is the Hot Spot, especially on a Friday Night. It is the
destination 'de rigeur' that boasts eye candy and enticing
food. With their dazzling waitresses and up-to-the-minute
menus, Globe has always been considered 'hot' on all these
fronts. While some of its competitors have cuter waitresses
and better chairs, Globe always succeeded by offering the
full package. This past Friday evening I rediscovered an
old friend.

For a while the food wasn't up-to-par but it as returned
to its former glory, and rightful place above the fray of
restaurants and bistros all along the strip. The present
chef, Jean-François Baril has picked up that mantle and
brought back gusto to the kitchen. The plates produced from
that gallery were all topnotch.

Globe's cuisine exploits organic and local produce to its
fullest. This kitchen lets the quality of ingredients do the
talking. In that sense, let's begin with Les Snacks, a grouping
of marinated olives, Lupini beans and tiny slices of Sopressata
with chili audaciously packed a punch. The Hummus with chorizo
wafers was awesome. The appetizers, each separated in a bowl
with amazing flatbreads set on a butcher's wood slab, were cool
which best epitomizes what this restaurant is all about,
sophisticated simplicity.

The wine, selected by the proprietor, was a purple-red Sterling
Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa, featured an exuberant nose, dry,
full-bodied elixir of the Gods with a delicious woody bouquet.
The white selection, a Vintner's Collection Chardonnay, was
rather delightful.

It was followed by a Mesclun salad with raspberries, candied
pecans, and small, stubby, finger-shaped Fingerling potatoes
made it a real treat. Delish! The second or third course depending
on your perspective, were these 'Gnudis'. Picture ravioli without
the meat, with tomato, garlic flower and pistachios. Heavenly!

The main courses consisted of a Glazed pork chop with potato
rosti on the side, apple and cauliflower, all of which, was
illegally buttery and tasty. A delight! The other main dish was
a Salmon resting on a sheet of potato purée covered with slight
shavings of garlic and a leek emulsion. Every morsel is melting
and fresh.
Finally the dessert, was an Apple 'Croustade' with sour cream
ice-cream, raisins and whiskey with a Maple whip. Sinful!

Gorgeous waitresses, models and actresses-in-waiting are
practically a hallmark at Globe, and our waitress, Melissa,
easily fits that description. With charm and professionalism
to spare, not to mention legs to Heaven and back. After the
witching hour, Globe metamorphosis into a club scene, which
was our cue.

* Restaurant Globe
3455 St.Laurent Blvd.
Montréal (514) 284-3823

* Reviewed December 10, 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Enlightenment' Dinner Observations

Ladies & Gentlemen,
I shall pass through this world but once ... Any good therefore that
I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any other human being,
let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not
pass this way again.

Such beautiful words, which came to my cerebral as I gleaned up and
own that long train of tables and saw factions of groups of 3 - 4 that
had formed. People exchanging stories and gesturing to emphasize their

Back in my youth, as a product of my environment I was always in
a perpetual search of carnal knowledge. As I prowled the private clubs,
the bars and other venues for sexual gratification I came across the
beautiful, vivacious, and sultry older woman. I truly enjoyed the
enlightened fruit, but what enticed me, or what dictated my conquests
more was the devilishly, delicious divorcée. There was a creature of
infinite beauty and allure. To be in the presence of such a woman
of experience, without the baggage of a husband, was very stimulating
to the senses. Point in fact, there were several such very sultry
'Femmes Fatale' at the dinner party.
From this moment forward there shall, if they so desire, be made
room for to all the dinner parties and soirées to come. They will
be added potpourri. But I digress!

I'm back to extol the virtues of our latest gastronomic regale
and recount my elucidations. Once again, the evening was a fabulous
chef-d'oeuvre! What begun slowly and with very little fanfare
culminated into a most enchanting soirée. The best one yet, according
to several habitués. We amassed quite a montage of bon-vivants.

As is the case with each gathering, the dynamics and especially
the landscape changes. Not any more apparent than this recent group
of foodies and lovers of all things delicious. This ensemble was
different and unique, as they always are, but this time, due to
the volume of varied newcomers, was so much more eclectic.

Louise Latreille who drove from North Hatley, but none the less
It shows a certain commitment to the festivities. All these ladies
were positively delicious. And my buddy The Banker, who as been on
a month long whirlwind tour of his European operations, came to
dinner directly from the airport. A true friend.
Bubbles and her hubby, who came later in the game, but participated
fully. I do not say it enough that is a one very, well-meshed couple.

'Under the bright sun, many of us are gathered together with
different languages, different styles of dress, even different faiths.
However, all of us are the same in being humans, and we all uniquely
have the thought of 'I', and we're all the same in wanting happiness
and in wanting to avoid suffering.' ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama

'The first step toward change is acceptance. Once you accept yourself,
you open the door to change. That's all you have to do. Change is
not something you do, it is something you allow.'

I'm a big proponent of evolution, and this group has definitely
evolved. It's similar to an ever changing, living organism that
grows as it absorbs particles it gathers along its journey, like
Patsy Gallant, looking tres chic and yummy. There's a fresh particle.
The disco diva, who encompassed most of my childhood fantasies, was
dining at my table. Surreal!

'What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared
to what lies within us.' ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bravo to the personnel, especially Audrey, who showed tremendous
stamina in a sea of privileged patrons, and in the face of our constant
barrage of requests. Kudos to Ross, chef extra-ordinaire who’s dishes
were absolutely sublime. The Sea Bass with a smidgen of squash concoct
was exquisite, moist and mouth watering. The filet mignon was cooked
to perfection, slightly bloody with a roasted outer layer. The Salmon
Tartare so sinful, I felt I needed to go to confession after dinner.
Inspiring! As is the case, repeatedly, Gianni's generosity is infinite.

'A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work
and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise shall give
him no peace.' ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

'The world is divided into two classes; those who believe the incredible,
and those who do the improbable.' ~ Oscar Wilde

'To dream anything that you want to dream. That's the beauty of the
human mind. To do anything you want to do. That is the strength of the
human will. To trust yourself to test your limits, that is the courage
to succeed.'

I have been told, as was the case this time around, that such a group,
as we are, is a rare find, and should be preserved and nourished, to the
best of our ability. I try to be the enabler of such a noble task, and
at time, wonder if it's all for nothing, until these nights of ecstasy.
At one point I observed other patrons looking at our table and I sensed
certain invidiousness. We seem to have created a sort of regular troupe
or repeaters, of movers and shakers.

Finally, congratulations are in order to the ladies for showing they
are ladies. A special mention to the Matchmaker, who looked like she
stepped off of 'Sex in the City'. Everywhere I looked I observed
delectable limbs and slender stems that went to Heaven and back.
I relish in and appreciate the infinite beauty and exquisite curvature
of the female form. Show it, flaunt it, admire it and allow it to blossom.
For that I salute you all.

'Camminando le donne può tutto mostrare...Ma niente non lasciare vedere!
(Sensual women can show everything, without revealing anything!).'
~ Marcello Mastroianni

I believe in a long, prolonged derangement of the senses to attain
the unknown. Our pale reasoning hides the infinite from us. The body
is the soul's prison unless the five senses are fully developed and
open. I consider the senses as the windows of the soul. I think the
highest and lowest points are the important ones. Anything else is
just in between. I want the freedom to try everything, and to truly
release my soul.

Someone once said, "Life's euphoria is made up of little moments,
you steal away from the mundane." This was such a moment.

Life comes with no guarantees, no time outs, no second chances, you
just have to live life to the fullest!


* Observed May 28, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Harry Connick Jr @ Montreal Jazz Festival‏

Andre Menard, founder of the 'Montreal Jazz Festival', as
well as 'Planète Jazz 91.9 FM', the premier FM radio station
for serious Jazz Aficionados in Montreal, quietly strolls
onto the stage and announces, to the filled-to-capacity,
Salle Wilfrid Pelletier at Place des Arts, that in a few
minutes we will be making history. Harry Connick, Jr, has
decided to record a DVD for this celebrated event and we
should be made aware.

Then added, "If you're good and he's good."

Several minutes later, the lights come on and the curtains
began their ascension, while the band, of over 8 musicians
begin to play. The audience stands and an uproar of claps
and cheers ensues, but no Harry. "Is that Harry Connick,
at the upright base?" A woman next to me was heard saying.

After that first set, he walks out non-chalantly, just as
quiet and sits at one of the pianos, he has three on stage.
This is the beautiful, black-lacquered Grand, turns slightly
to his right, to face the audience, and says, "This song
symbolizes the resilient, magical music capital, New Orleans."
Which is his hometown and proceeds to play. Following several
songs, stands and begins to interact with the audience, made
up of mostly 40 to 60 years old, and talks about coming to
Montreal, since the inception of the festival, in the early
He's also a raconteur, and proceeds to tell a story about
being somewhat related to Quebeckers. He's got some French-
Canadian blood in him; his great-grandmother was originally
from Quebec City.
'My New Orleans Tour' is an homage from native son Harry
Connick, Jr, and marks his return to the Big Band format à
la Connick, with taste, imagination and passion. 'Yes We Can',
together with 'Oh, My Nola' are two new releases that double
as love letters to the Crescent City. Endearing long ode to
his hometown of New Orleans and the bright spirit of her people.
Harry Connick has done, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, many
testimonials to the city that he left at 18, but has never
left him.

"The thing about New Orleanians is that they just kind of
pick up and move on, and that's what we're doing. The albums
are a great celebration of the musical influences that I had

As for the city's musical legacy, it's as ingrained as his
light Big Easy drawl.

"All my formative years were spent down there," he has said,
whose father was the city's long-time district attorney, and
his mother was a judge in small-claims court. But it was music,
not the law that beckoned Harry, who developed his skills at
the New Orleans Centre for Creative Arts under the tutelage
of jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis and boogie-woogie master James
Booker, whom he wrote, in honor of, and plays a song, he
dedicates to. Connick's first public performance came at age
5, a version of The Star-Spangled Banner that enlivened his
father's swearing-in. By 9, Harry had his union card and regular
gigs on Bourbon St., and a year later made his first record
with Dixieland jazz musicians, five and six decades, older
than he was.

An accomplished musicians, arranger and composer. He's also
an actor, which is either the reason for being so personable
and extroverted, a real showman. Or that he's an actor because
of those character traits. The show consists of an impressive
collection of classic songs associated with the city, and also
features four original compositions. Including the moving song
"All These People", written after Harry visited New Orleans,
two days following Katrina, when much of the city, including
his family's house, was still underwater. He will also be donating
a portion of his royalties to the New Orleans Habitat Musicians'
Village to provide refuge for over 300 displaced musicians.

* Reviewed June 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gala @ Sheraton 2010‏

Tradition, some say, is an outdated mode of a bygone era. Manners,
etiquettes, and a proper course of established criteria, is no more
necessary in a world dominated by Internet real-time. Not so in the
world I was privy to the weekend of November 20. As is customary,
for the past several years, I attend a Gala @ Sheraton. A sumptuous
affair organized to full aplomb by a natal village association of
which my father is a founding member.
The Associazione Cattolica Eraclea was the brainchild of a man,
recently passed away, who felt their arid corner of Sicily and its
customs deserved to be celebrated, honored and remembered, especially
for the generations that ensue. He set about to amass an array of
family, friends, and other like-minded businessmen to found this

Every year, at about the same time, they celebrate an event in
honor of La Madonna della Immacolata (Our Lady of the Immaculate).
An evening of succulent, gastronomic, fare, wine, dance, re-kindling
of old friendships and nurturing of new acquaintances. There is
a myriad of business luminaries and political dignitaries nearing
800 strong.
As a close family member of the organizing committee, I have the
privilege of enjoying accommodations such as a beautiful room and
a bountiful brunch the following day. The lodging allows much more
freedom with the night's festivities. This year I had the distinguished
privilege, nay, honor of having the ever so magnificent Maria be
my special guest. The devilish Maria was very tanned, tight as a
drum, and wore the most delicious décolleté.

'Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments...
searching for the marvelous.' ~ Anaïs Nin

The Gala was an amazing evening of unsurpassed expectations. The
Culinary delicacies were lavish and exquisite. The 'primo piatto'
was an assortment of aubergines, tantalizing Portobello mushrooms
and shrimps the size of a golf-ball. Then it was onto the Italian
indulgence of 'Fazzoletti con Ricotta'. The dish translates into
'handkerchief with ricotta cheese', which is exactly what these
large squares of fresh pasta resemble. They were laid out next to
a bed of small 'Macaroni with pomodoro' sprinkled with a touch of
basil and parsley.
To refresh one's palette for the night's most anticipated arrival
we were served a heavenly baby spinach salad with a juicy, diced
pear. The final course of this divinity was a Pan Roasted 4 inch
succulent side of Veal chop the size of a golf driver with Arugula.
The wine, including the spillage, was with licorice and leather
scents released from the dark garnet hues, along with ripe black
fruit notes. Coated tannins and flavours of cassis were perceived
in the mouth. A delightful sorbet with gelato topped off this elegant
banquet. My friend and I swayed with complete abandon to the cool
sounds of The Showmen Orchestra. Maria looked so delish I wanted
to stand and salute.

'Camminando le donne può tutto mostrare...Ma niente non lasciare
vedere! (Sensual women can show everything, without revealing
anything!).' ~ Marcello Mastroianni

Due to the recent events in the news, it was a much more subdued
and Serene soirée. In my humble opinion it felt roomier and easier
to get around, hence you were more prone to stop and mingle. It was
a spectacular night filled with a thousand and one delights.

* Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the
moments that take our breath away.

Tanti Baci Con Amore,

* Observed November 20th, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dinner w/Friends @ Luce‏

Ladies & Gentlemen,
'Dostoyevsky' (1821 – 1881), one of Russia's most eminent
authors and essayist, best known for his novels 'Crime and
Punishment' and 'The Brothers Karamazov', was considered by
many as one of the founding fathers of 20th-century

I was a guest at a soirée entitled 'Dinner with Friends
@ Luce'. The food was delicious, the service cordial and
the ambiance was jazzy. There was even a balladeer who
serenaded us after dinner and throughout the evening.

Except for my little corner of the table there were mostly
new faces. While I perused down the long table I thought
of something Dostoyevsky wrote over a century ago. . .

'We sometimes encounter people, even perfect strangers, who
begin to interest us at first sight, somehow suddenly, all
at once, before a word has been spoken.'

And I realized that I had found, through no conscious effort
of my own, individuals who are enlightened, of which I would
like to include on the journey known as life.

'We don't receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves
after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.' ~ Marcel Proust

'On a tombstone it's not the two dates that matter, but the
dash in between, for that represents your life story!' ~ Linda Ellis

* Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but
by the moments that take our breath away.

* Luce Restaurant Bar
8693, rue St-Denis @ Crémazie
Montreal, H2P 2H4
514.858.5823 Leo Iacono

Monday, November 1, 2010

Liverpool House * * * *

Several weeks prior, visiting Bombshell at the venue she slings her cocktails, was a local cooking show on one of the large screens. On the show, was Fréderic Morin (one of the chef/owners of Joe Beef and McKiernan Luncheonette Bar à vins) and Bombshell turned to me and said, 'That's where I want to go for my birthday, and I want you to invite Julie and her 'chum'. I don't want one of your big shindigs just Julie & Victor.' I could never refuse My Muse's wishes. It took some finessing, due to scheduling conflict, but it finally came to pass.

Friday night, October 22nd, to celebrate Bombshell’s birthday, we ventured to a place on Notre Dame St. West whose façade had that same weathered look and I thought of what that French novelist said a century ago, and for me it was the Quincaillerie Tillemont.

'We come together in unity to play a grand symphony of cosmic consciousness in the divine
meditation of our souls' manifestation as being one.' ~ ©Frank Borsellino

In fall of 2007, the dynamic trio behind Joe Beef restaurant (David McMillan, Fréderic Morin and Allison Cunningham) opened another restaurant a few doors down. Located next to the Atwater market and numerous antiquarians on Notre Dame St. Liverpool House is a triumph. As we entered, the hostess, a Moroccan princess, who is probably the most stunning woman to ever come across my periphery, greeted me by name. I thought it was customary, being the one who made the reservations, but lo and behold she also looked familiar. When I voiced my thinking she replied, 'I served you at Otto @ W Hotel a while back. You came in for a family dinner'. The minute she said Otto I said, 'Samia! My love, I have been on a quest to reconnect for some time.'

The other guests / friends were already there, which I had kept it a secret from Bombshell. Victor is family and his wife Julie, are a very eclectic couple. We love to spend time with them. Bombshell feels a connection with Julie I say it's because of a similar family name. No matter where or what we do . . . it is always fabulously cool. It was nice to see them again. We have not seen each other for some time. But I digress!

Liverpool House is split into a barroom, which is totally decked out in Canadiana, and a laid-back dining room, deer antlers and rowboat oars, and great artwork on the walls. The woodwork and cream-coloured wainscoting are painted a warm white. The rest is decorated with flowered wallpaper, brass chandeliers, leather banquettes, antique hutches and squash displays beside the door. There is an eclectic mix of paintings — over-sized modern canvases and tiny impressionistic works — and odd, pig-themed tchotchkes like the porcelain porcine head, affixed to the wall at eye level like an extra diner at my table. Listen carefully and you can hear Bob Seger's 'Against the Wind'. We sat facing the dinner menu, which is a large blackboard suspended over a row of tables. Throughout the evening people had to come stand near the patrons to take a look at the 'menu du jour'. This could be a great way to meet new people or irritating. Depending on which side of the bed you woke up on!

We started with a Marange Camil Giroux, a superb Bourgogne. Then we set off for the northern region of Italy for a splendid Barolo Alessandria. I am not a big fan of Italian wines but this one was a delightfully robust. Liverpool House has a rotating menu, so many reviews have mentioned specific dishes that were nowhere on the menu that night, so at first I was a little thrown but Samia came to our rescue, in spades. It offers seasonal entrees inspired by ingredients found in the market. We started with several to have a smorgasbord of delicacies. A plate of succulent 'huitres' (oysters), an antipasto of Bufala milk cheese (mozzarella's creamy cousin). The Beet Salad was delicious. We had the Gnocchi w/basil, leeks and bacon. It was creamy and soft, obviously made within the day. 'Artic-char 'Gravlax', a cured fish, was awe-inspiring and tasty. This had to be the biggest piece of char I have ever seen, and the smallest plate. For our main courses we enjoyed a veal cheek w/cauliflower mushrooms and homemade squash ravioli. Wild Striped Bass on top of a saffron risotto was unbelievable. The Lapine (aka rabbit) Putanesca could have served two, but I managed to finish it off! I have never had rabbit at a restaurant because it's a Sicilian specialty and homemade as always been exceptional. Their originality and taste shined brighter than the rainbow. The meal set the precedence for the fabulous dessert of almond cake with a slight vanilla tinge.

Service was great, of course, Samia explaining all the wacky dishes and preparations, and she wasn't bad on the eyes either... even the ladies couldn't concentrate on what she said if they stared at her. There's a lot to like about Liverpool House, but the question is, 'How does it differ from Joe Beef?' I read somewhere that compared the two in this fashion, 'If Joe Beef is macho Liverpool House is more feminine.' You sit among a gallery’s worth of fine art and soak up the buzzing candlelit atmosphere.

* Liverpool House ****
2501, Notre Dame St. W. @ Charlevoix
Montreal (Little Burgundy) H8S 1A1
(514) 313-6049 Samia Hannouni


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Friend Nadine‏

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but, by
the moments that take our breath away.

The year two thousand and eight was a tremendous time of
journeys, new discoveries and friendships, culminating with the
pleasure, nay, the privilege of meeting this peerless vision.

Nadine Hennelly is what one would call a jetsetter, one of
the beautiful people, the glitterati, a member of Café Society
with a heart of gold. Born in Montreal but at the tender age
of 17 was plucked and jettisoned to Paris, where she embarked
on a glamorous career as a Top Model. She graced the covers of
numerous high-gloss, fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle,
Harpers Bazaar, Mademoiselle, Glamour and Cosmopolitan. Worked
with some of the world's most famous photographers including
Richard Avedon, Mario Testino, Steven Meisel and Herb Ritts,
just to name but a few. Who, in turn, helped cultivate her eye
for great photography.

Then, as anybody seeking to further their careers in the arts,
be it modeling, acting, singing, sculpting and photography, she
headed to New York City, the center of the universe. There she
honed her photographic skills while working nightly on the
'Late Show with David Letterman' for an unforgettable, glorious
eight years. All the while studied Fine Arts at the Arts Student
League, the Sculpture Center and at NYU.

'Those who create are rare; those who cannot are numerous.' ~ Coco Chanel

After 18 distinct years of globetrotting, as well as the aftermath
of 9/11, she relocated in Montreal, where she decided it was a better
environment for her young son, and set up 'Studio H - Nadine Hennelly
Studio' on St. Antoine St. W.

'The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the
sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to
vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also
himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.' ~ Marc Chagall

Her recent vernissage at Victoria Hall in Westmount showcased
a new series of spectacular stills and some of her sculptured pieces.
Personally speaking, I believe she has more than a wonderful eye
along with the rest of this spectacular Amazonian Goddess. But I digress!

Nadine's pictures are bold, strong and sensual. If you wish to have
a portrait created by such a photographer, with an eye for the beautiful,
high fashion layouts contact my friend, either through her site, via
Facebook or through yours truly.

* Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you
have captured is preserved forever... it remembers little things, long
after you have forgotten everything. Because it takes an instant out of
time, altering life by holding it still. A photograph is often a secret
about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know.

In essence Photography, alone of the arts, seems perfected to serve
the desire humans have for a moment - this very moment - to stay and
to be cherished.

'A work of art does not appeal to the intellect. It does not appeal
to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct, not to edify, but to
awaken our emotion.' ~ Eli Cedrone

* Studio H - Nadine Hennelly Studio

TEACHERS! A Profound Answer‏

The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO decided to explain the problem with education. He
argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his
best option in life was to become a teacher?" To stress his point
he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest.
What do you make?" Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and
frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?

(She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I make a C+ feel like the Order of Canada. I make kids sit through
40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit
for 5 without an I-Pod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to
know what I make?

(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)

I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize
and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for
their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything. I make them read, read, read. I make
them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain,
not the man-made calculator. I make my classroom a place where
all my students feel safe. Finally I make them understand that
if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their
hearts, they can succeed in life.

(Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me
knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and
pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know
what I make?


What do you make Mr. CEO? His jaw dropped, he went silent.

Teaching is...the profession that makes all other professions possible!

~ by Professor Leanne Sanders - Sept. 30, 2010
(My professor is a very astute academician.)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

'Oktoberfest' Dinner Party Observations by Q1‏

Unimaginable but true, our Host wasn't his usual self
this evening so I took the liberty of mental-noting my
own observations. If they meet with his approval, however
pale in comparison they may be to his, I would like to
share a synopsis, just for him.

It was an intimate soirée that hovered around the decadent,
delightful and delicious food fare. I classify Cavalli
as the 'Food Porn Palace'. Yes, Food Porn - insatiable,
tantalizing and orgasmic dishes that never disappoint.
The consistency of taste leaves you panting and breathless
for more. The Host would say that I digress, oh well,
too bad.

Let us evoke La Regina gallivanting in a chic hounds
tooth frock and a velvety JC tote. Our Host, the debonair
and charismatic gent, was enraptured, too, for lots of
'stems' abounded in the Palace; much to his delight.
New members of the entourage: Ms Meryl looked just like
(only with dark locks) and had amazingly similar dispositions
to Hollywood's own Meryl, only ours is more lovable and has
these little hands, like a doll! Madame Sotheby's and her
beau were oh so lovely and quaint. Our dearest AnnaBella,
Lorilicious and Vincerocious were fabulously enchanting.
Great souls, lots of amore all around. Oh and our one-and-
only Santo, always the man for smiles and good times.
Santo should be hired for parties - I swear, he's a killer !

Table chit-chat simmered from work
to kids
to business
to weather
to the Attorney's big, expressive eyes (according to Meryl)
to Brazilian waxes for women (nod your heads) & for men, too (yikes!)
to La Regina's disclosure about her love for *porn*
to Meryl's thigh-high costume malfunction
to the Host sneaking off for a (cough) (wink).

Surprisingly, the Host didn't cause any scandals this evening,
well, not that any of us noticed. And, the evening ended rather
civilly save for the shocking appearance of the Man-gina. As
for Gianni, he always makes things right and makes everyone
feel special. After all, he is the Food Porn Palace's King !

I had a wonderful time. After a «insert your fave cuss word»
of a week, it felt good to unwind in the 'Food Porn Palace'
surrounded by loving souls and embraced by Oktober's chilly
starry night.

Bubbles was missed, as were the Banker and the Photographer,
although regulars at the Palace, always so very extraordinary.

A la prossima,


* Observed October 1st by The Quiet One

Friday, September 17, 2010

Show Review - 'Bill Cosby, Master Storyteller'‏

The Comedy Festival came to a close in style, with
Bill Cosby, greyer and seated for most of the show.
Is he winding down? Probably, but he's still one of
the most gifted storytellers of all time. Cosby had
the audience, at Saturday night's show, at Place des
Arts, enthralled from the moment he casually stepped
on stage with no introduction. Like he needs one.
The man had a standing ovation before he even opened
his mouth, then proceeded to ramble for almost two hours,
with no intermission. Flanked by two huge video screens,
every roll of an eye, every raised eyebrow, every facial
contortion, gesture and grimace, were clearly seen by
the almost 3,000 people filling the seats of Salle Wilfrid
Pelletier, sending them into a thundering roar, at every
The show is probably scripted, but the Cos makes it
seem like he's an old uncle spinning yarns, getting sidetracked,
seemingly forgetting where he was in the narrative and
asking the audience to remind him. There's no way he was
lost. This is one sly and cunning comic who gives the
audience ruminations on his marriage, his grandchildren,
the ailments of old age and the never ending battle of
the sexes. The way Cos tells it, the winner is the wife.

'Wife and death are very similar, eventually they're gonna
get you in the end.'

Cosby has been married for 42 years. He and his wife,
Camille, had four daughters and a son. The boy, Ennis, was
killed in a drive-by shooting after his car broke down
on a California freeway. Crosby pays tribute to his son
in every show with a sweatshirt, draped over his chair,
which has the message 'Hello Friend', which was the way
he used to greet his son.
He had the audience screaming with his recollections of
his granddaughter's first birthday party and how all the
old people gathered compared medical ailments and the drugs
they took. Though Cosby is by no means a misogynist, and
by all accounts his wife is a wonderful woman, his hard
put-upon husband routine brought the house down, from both
men and women. This is my second time, watching him live,
in as many years, and had me and my companion, in tears
and stitches.

* Reviewed July 24, 2006

Restaurant Review - 'Leméac' ****‏

Leméac is a restaurant that throws you a loop. I first dined
at this Laurier Ave. 'bistro de luxe' shortly after its opening
in November'01. I was a guest of the man who did the design and
renovation from its earlier incarnation, as a 'librairie'. The
brainchild of two of the city's seasoned restaurateurs, Émile
Saine and Richard Bastien, Leméac had a winning formula, stunning
decor, fabulous location, a talented kitchen crew, and a menu
chock full of nouveau-bistro fare.
Now two years later, it has become even better. I can think
of no other establishment where the majority of the appetizers
are priced under 10$ (and main courses under 20$) yet are served
on Swiss china with high quality flatware and stemware on starched
white linen. The luxury doesn't stop there, plate presentations
are fancy, and the bathrooms are some of the most chic in the
city. The dining room is supremely handsome with tall arched
windows facing Laurier and Durocher. The wine-colored, wood-panelled
room creates the illusion of a fashionable fishbowl, where you're
sure to spot swank patrons, the upper crust of Outremont society
and celebrities. Case in point, two tables down, was a group
consisting of Luc Plamondon (producer, songwriter for Celine Dion)
and André Gagnon (pianist). Wouldn't of noticed except for the
fact that he does the Jack Nicholson thing, wears sunglasses
indoors, at night. Bombshell, being a French-Canadian and who
is familiar with this man's work, got up to greet him, has he
walked by us, returning to his table. Nice fellow!
Leméac is in the family of bistros like 'L'Express', and is
a swank restaurant like 'La Chronique'. The chef de cuisine,
Jean-Philippe St.Denis, has kept the original menu intact. The
food is fulfilling and in most cases surpasses our expectations.
The 'torchon de foie gras' was at par with that 'Au Pied de Cochon'.
The 'steak tartare', velvety and accompanied by a generous mound
of thin, crisp and delicious fries. The scallops, were pan-seared
to perfection. One of the other dinner companions had a delightful
goat's cheese salad. Unlike your typical bistro 'chèvre chaud',
this elegant starter consists of a galette of golden, pan-fried
goat's cheese paired with a tangle of frisée lettuce and green
Though main-course selections consist primarily of bistro classics,
everything is given a fresh approach. Given this novel treatment
is the veal liver, which is served in a thick fillet coated with
a minty herbed crust and paired with mashed potatoes mixed with
caramelized onion. The 'cerf de Boileau' (deer meat) topped with
a disk of 'maitre d'hotel' butter and cooked juicy-rare. In most
cases when asked how I'd like my meat cooked, I reply, 'Let the
chef decide', but in a handful of higher-end establishments, they
don't ask, they do it the way it's meant to be, Leméac is one
of those.
Desserts, simple and creative concoctions whipped up by the
pastry chef Julien Guillegault, end the meal on a high note. In
a city starved for good desserts, Guillegault's offerings, though
far from elaborate, are among the best. The wine list includes
a fine selection of predominantly French wines, though there's
a good selection of Australian, Argentinan and Chilean, fairly
priced. I would highly recommend the 'Deigar Estate' shiraz.
Though Leméac continues to market itself as a bistro/café with
the requisite steak/frites and confit de canard, there's a lot
more to it than that.

* Leméac café bistro
1045 Laurier Ave. W. @ Durocher St.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Movie Review - 'The American'‏

Crisp, compact and cryptic, 'The American' is a standard-
issue hit man thriller tailor made for George Clooney. Filmed
not too far from his Italian home, anchored firmly to his
performance and his star presence, it works its way past
'formula' by the manner in which it builds its suspense.
The film, directed by Anton Corbijn (famed rock photographer
and director of the excellent 'Joy Division' bio 'Control'),
makes brilliant uses of its rural Italian silences as well
as its gun-barrel silencers. Its quiet is its most unnerving
ingredient. The most American thing about this superb suspense
thriller is its title. True, Jack (George Clooney) is legally
a citizen of the United States, but as a trained assassin he
is a man without a past. He has no home, no family, no friends.
He cannot afford them, when his own life could end without warning
at any time in any part of the world his work takes him. For
the purposes of this elegant, sophisticated, draining redemption
drama, work is in the rugged, empty, mountainous Italian region
of Abruzzo.
Based on a character in a Martin Booth novel 'A Very Private
Gentleman', Jack is a man of few words. He is proficient, but
not Jason Bourne superhuman. He knows his trade, alone among
assassins, Jack is a master craftsman, and in odd, private
moments, he betrays the way it has made him paranoid, given him
a lifetime of guilt.
We meet Jack in snowy Sweden, sharing a rustic idyll with Ingrid
(Irina Björklund) a tall, thin lady friend, with a delicious
derrière. Within moments, as they are strolling on a frozen lake,
shots ring out and there's blood on the snow. When he finally
gets to the safety of a truck stop, he telephones his control
agent Pavel (Johan Leysen), and vows that his next assignment
will be his last.

"I've got a job for you, custom fit."

"I'll think about it."

And Jack is on the run, and he is asked to lay low. Pavel
sends him off to a tiny, ancient hill town in the boondocks
of Abruzzo with a warning;

"Don't make any friends, Jack. You used to know that."

Their terse exchanges give away no warmth, little history and
almost no trust. Jack has been told to go there and await for
the assignment. He poses as a photographer, covers his tracks
and keeps his guard when, as the guy the townsfolk quickly call
'The American', he is sought out by a chatty, elderly priest
named Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli 'Mission Impossible III').
Surprising himself, Jack seeks out the friendship that this man
of the cloth brings him. But don't expect any confessions here.
Clooney carries this with little dialogue.

Jack finally meets his client, a lovely Belgian woman named
Mathilde (Thekla Reuten 'In Bruges'). His assignment is to assemble
a weapon for someone else to use, a welcome change from firsthand
violence. Jack gives precious little away to anyone, including
the audience, but there is a sense he's had enough of the profession
of cold-blooded killer. It's just possible he may want to let
someone into his heart.
The other person who cracks his armour is a classic Italian beauty,
who happens to be the local prostitute. He joylessly enjoys the
pleasures of Clara (Violante Placido 'Fade to Black') and likes
her because she knows their physical intimacy is just business.
But because of the agitation in his dreams and in his soul, he will
develop a fondness for her that could turn to love, if he's not
careful. By stepping out of the shadows, Jack may be tempting fate.
But he is a man, and has to eat, after sizing up the waiter or the
couple at the next table. And despite his best efforts to blend in,
we know trouble is going to come looking for him.
Jack is nothing if not careful. He sees potential trouble everywhere.
He never lets down his guard, never relaxes. A strange man seen
once is marked. The same man seen twice is an enemy, and not without
reason. Though there is relatively little violence given the genre,
violence is a constant, unnerving threat. It's almost enough to put
you off the stunning scenery and Martin Ruhe's breathtaking widescreen
cinematography. The camera often sits on his shoulder and follows him
through the empty streets. He's alert, and this manner of moviemaking
makes us alert, too. We expect violence. So does he. We become as
jumpy as Jack must be. I had a few jolts of my own!

It sometimes seems that movies are overrun with hit men. The standard
way of portraying them is people who feel little, collect their cash,
do their dirty work and try to get out with that 'one last job'.
There's a bit of that sort of melodrama in 'The American'. Clooney's
moments suggesting Jack has regrets and fears are interesting, but
the film is very much caught up in the tradecraft. It takes its own
sweet time advancing Rowan Joffe's economical screenplay adaptation
of the novel. It is as though, everyone involved is seduced by nature
and the pace of village life, but inevitably, forces gather and Jack
is compelled to deliver on his promise of a weapon.
Corbijn plays his own cards close as this controlled exercise in
applied tension unfolds. 'The American' is a study in stillness. It
finds everyone at the top of their game. Clooney, as usual, is suave,
smooth, unassuming, rock-solid and entirely believable, while the
European cast, crew, writer and director deliver a genuine thriller
with all the high polish and intelligence of an art film.

* Reviewed September 5, 2010
w/help from I.M.D.B

Monday, August 23, 2010

Restaurant Review - 'Cavalli' 2005‏

Sitting next to the floor-to-ceiling windows at 'Cavalli',
I turn to see thin beauties in micro-minis and slick guys
handing the valet attendants keys to their very expensive,
exotic sports cars. There are Ferraris, Porsches and
Maseratis. I turn the other way and martini glasses glimmer
on tables down the length of the room, each filled with
a different pastel-coloured elixir. Refreshing, vibrant,
intense and fun, much like the restaurant itself.
After the demise of 'Mondo Saks'. The trendy new design
conceived by Architect Miguel Cancio (the visionary behind
'Buddha Bar' and 'Man Ray' in Paris, and Montreal's 'Med
Grill') might seem to overwhelm the food. The space is huge.
This 160-seat dining room is packed on a smoldering summer
night, at the beginning of the Montreal International Jazz
Festival, with a very 'Sex in the City' style crowd. You
see old friends, acquaintances, make new friends and find
yourself swaying to cool background music. I was actually
having fun, watching all those beautiful people parade up
and down the aisles. The decor certainly contributes to my
enthusiasm. Cancio has created a sort of preppy fun house
with alternating candy pink and celery green velvet chairs,
'70s wood-paneling, and an illuminated black and pink bar.
However, a restaurant is only as good as its food. In that
respect, I have nothing but praise for 'Cavalli'. Though the
underlying style is Italian, ingredients like wasabi, spices,
chipotle peppers, and plenty of coriander scream fusion. Yet,
it's fusion at its most disciplined and restrained. Not once
did I come across an off note, nor sample a dish that wasn't
perfectly seasoned. If ever there was an Italian restaurant
where a tableside shot of pepper should be waved off, this
is it. Every appetizer I sampled gets a firm thumbs up. Not
to be missed is the Shrimp Tempura. What's inventive here is
the way the chef has managed to trap spicy garlic aioli inside
the tempura shell. Every bite is tender, moist and garlicky,
with a wonderful taste of fresh seafood. If fresh seafood is
your pleasure, try the plate of White Fish Carpaccio. The olive
oil and lemon-tamari vinaigrette transforms this dish from
a plate of raw pink snapper to melting mouthfuls of meat
enlivened with crisp, bitter greens.
Main courses continue to impress. Sushi-grade tuna is
lightly seared in a crust of sunflower seeds, and served with
room-temperature bok choy, Israeli couscous, and enoki mushrooms
dressed with a wasabi and tobiko vinaigrette. The Chilean Sea
Bass is moist and delicate, topped with a brunoise of mango with
mint, and served with an intense pepper sauce. Desserts live up
to the sophistication of the savory menu, with colorful
presentations. A moist carrot cake iced with goat's cheese,
and a cream-heavy trio consisting of fluffy coffee mousse, paired
with mascarpone. 'Cavalli's wine list comprises Californian and
Italian wines, with a good choice of bottles in the $50 range.
Under the watchful eye of my good friend, and co-owner, Gianni
Caruso, service is solid. Though there is some wait between the
dishes, with all the action, you'll barely notice.
The Cavalli experience is one glitzy restaurant, that favors
smokers, including cigars. Love that! Food this good in a room
this beautiful should be accessible to all dinners, including

* Ristorante Cavalli ****
2040 Peel St.
Montreal (514) 843-5100

* Reviewed July 5, 2005

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Show Review - 'Tony Bennett'‏

Tony Bennett, dapper and smart, wearing a perfectly pressed
dark suit with red pocket square, finally closed in excellent
style, after a long-awaited 5 months, the Montreal Jazz Festival.
A little humor from André Menard (founder of the festival),
as he announced the final leg of the festival. He had postponed
his June 30 performance because the singer had agreed to take
part in a special 80th-birthday television special in his honor.
On his 80th birthday, Tony Bennett can boast of conquering
the charts for more than five decades. But after a lifetime of
accolades and countless hits, he says he still struggles with
the most basic of his art form's skills, reading sheet music.
Walking out at 8:30 p.m., after Kelli-Lee (an Ottawa native),
who opened for the legendary crooner, just a few steps behind
his quartet, the audience rose, a roaring, whooping standing
ovation, with few sporadic shouts of 'Tony! We love you!'
when they saw him.
Bennett moved to center stage, bowed and broke into a huge
smile. He never stopped beaming the rest of the night. The
octogenarian Bennett, dazzled the audience at Salle Wilfrid
Pelletier of Place des Arts. One, very excited, woman shouted,
'Marry Me Tony!' I'm sure his age is beginning to show. He
moved a little slower, and sang just a little quieter, but
he was still in the kind of form you'd be a fool to undersell.
To see him up close, to see him at the helm of his longtime
quartet is perhaps the greatest thrill of all, mike firmly
in his left hand, so often chest high, his right gesturing
and accenting and intimating nearly every nuance for his
colleagues, pianist Lee Musiker, guitarist Gray Sargent,
bassist Paul Langosch and drummer Harold Jones.
He opened with 'Watch What Happens' and very quickly went,
from one familiar tune to the next, 'All of Me, I Got Rhythm,
Speak Low', a typical and still immensely pleasing tour of
the Great American Song Book. There was even a spot for his
early '50s hit, Hank William's 'Cold, Cold Heart', and plenty
of that irreplaceable banter. He reminisced about his first
days in Greenwich Village in the late '40s, discovered there
by singer Pearl Bailey, and given his name, Bennett for
Benedetto, by Bob Hope. "He got a big kick out of me," Bennett
remembered, to instant laughter, "because I was the only
white guy in the show." Before you were born, heck, maybe
before your parents were born, Tony Bennett and Rosemary
Clooney, were television's original American Idol. "I started
that way (on TV) with Rosemary Clooney, years ago," Bennett
In a recent interview he declared, "We were the first
American Idols, in the '50s. That's when television was just
black and white. We got a break on an amateur show, and as
a result it started us off. Bob Hope picked us up, and we
went on the road with him," said Bennett. "He gave me my
name, Tony Bennett. He thought Anthony Dominick Benedetto
was too long for the marquee." The rest, as they say, is
history, decades upon decades of history, culminating last
week with the release of 'Tony Bennett: Duets, An American
Classic', a compilation of 18 standards made famous by Bennett
that have him crooning side by side with the likes of Bono,
Elton John, The Dixie Chicks, Barbra Streisand and Canada's
own Michael Bublé. Unlike some 'duets' that have two singers
record their tracks at different times in different locations,
Bennett insisted that his partners be side by side with him
in the studio, with the song recorded in just a handful of
takes. Bennett said, "That Michael Bublé, is a good kid. He
respects the old masters," Bennett said. 'He's got a lot on
the ball. He's my favorite singer these days of the young
contemporary artists."
Bennett's career has reached a new zenith in this his 81st
year, with the duets album, a documentary on his life being
produced by Clint Eastwood, a TV special airing this fall
directed by 'Chicago' helmer Rob Marshall, and even a painting
of Bennett's added to the Smithsonian's collection. Not bad
for a guy who got his big break singing on TV. But to this day,
nothing beats a live audience. 'They became my greatest teachers,
the audience,' he said, 'It's addictive. You can't wait for
the next audience, to give them a good show.'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chef David Adjey @ Globe Restaurant‏

Outside the sun is setting inside the mellow rhythms
of Bryan Ferry playing in the background gives a sense
of electricity in the air. The smells, emanating from
the kitchen, are intoxicating and the lovely ladies
have a bounce in their step. To fans of the Food Network
staple 'Restaurant Makeover' this was a real treat.
Chef David Adjey preparing your dinner was very surreal.
I was told by someone in the know that the large majority
of the reservations came from women, not surprising,
this lanky, good looking (by Bombshell standards),
blonde and blue-eyed culinary master was very gracious
and mingled with everyone.

The customers seemed as grateful to be there has he
was of being so honoured. The sound and fury of the
patrons was a telltale of the mood among the diners,
who were out in droves on an otherwise uneventful
Wednesday night. I know from friends in the restaurant
business that Wednesday is usually their night off.

It was six courses of pure delight to your palate.
Our wine selection was a 'Malbec Flechas de Los Andes
Rothschild Mendoza'. A purplish, red full-bodied Shiraz
with a medium nose, exuding fruity aromas and offering
a slight acidity and fleshy tannins. The extravaganza
began with Grouper, which is a very delicate and moist
white fish. Wrapped in banana leaf, placed on a bed of
cubed yellow peppers, along with slices of pink grapefruit
and purple potatoes. Sophisticated simplicity.

Next came a sublime breaded potato salad in a lobster
bisque, very tart. The third starter in a dish with three
compartments was cool, warm and hot. Consisted of various
vegetables and a hardy slab of hot and spicy, seared tuna.
Then it was on to Ancho Rabbit, again served in a dish
with separate sections. One had a Pozole Poblano Stew and
on the other Espanzote-Hominy Ensalada. Then came pristine
thin strands of Smoky Entrecôte (strip steak) with one bite
Caesar and Clam vinaigrette. Every morsel was a melting
sensation of delectation and very fresh.

Finally, the 'piece de resistance', our dessert was
'Les Trois Chocolats'. White, milk and dark chocolate
whipped to a frenzied mousse. . . Utterly sinful. It
was a 'Menu de dégustation' (tasting menu) but by the
time you had your sixth course you were satiated.

Gorgeous waitresses, models and actresses-in-waiting
are practically a hallmark of Globe, and our waitress,
Nathalie a Peruvian Goddess, easily fit that description,
with charm and professionalism to spare.

* Restaurant Globe
3455 St.Laurent Blvd.,
Montréal, H2X 2T6
(514) 284-3823

Monday, August 16, 2010

Film Review - 'La Fille Coupée en Deux'‏

Sometimes you watch a film or movie that resonates strongly
and triggers something within you that makes it hard to look
away or forget it. It is similar to a really satisfying read
that you can't put down. This past weekend I looked at such
a film.
In researching it I discovered there is an American version
titled 'A Girl Cut in Two', but if for any reason you can
not view it in its original French version, don't bother.
You will miss out on all those nuances, rhythms and pathos.

Nouvelle Vague master auteur Claude Chabrol ('Madame Bovary',
'The Blood of Others') balances subtle stabs of humor and
biting class criticism to explore a love story and the seedier
side of the haute bourgeois. 'La Fille Coupée en Deux' (2007),
is a present-day French drama whose climax is loosely based
on a real life incident from 1906.

Gabrielle Deneige (Ludivine Sagnier 'Swimming Pool' a delicious
ingenue) is an ambitious, independent, local TV station weather
girl with a future: she is self-confident, self-possessed and
destined for rapid promotion.
In Lyon, on successive days, she meets two men of high status
and begins an affair with one, a renowned, middle-aged author
named Charles Saint-Denis (François Berléand 'The Transporter'),
after the pair meet by chance at the TV studio where she's
employed. Despite the significant age gap and the fact that
Charles is still happily married to his wife of 25 years Dona
(Valeria Cavalli 'Coco Chanel'), he continues his affair with
Gabrielle and gradually initiates her into a shady world of
high-class sex clubs.
Meanwhile, obnoxious, ultra-rich pharmaceutical heir Paul
Gaudens (Benoît Magimel 'The Piano Teacher') becomes increasingly
obsessed with Gabrielle and is furious to discover her affair
with Charles, towards whom he harbors an irrational hatred.

Both are attracted to her and both have flaws immediately
evident: Charles, who is married, can be dismissive; Paul can
be possessive and threatening. There is as well an unspoken
past between the two men which heightens tensions, and though
she's initially certain of her love for one of them, the see-saw
demands and whims of both men keep confusing and darkening
matters. She is torn and before long is encountering emotional
and societal forces well beyond her control, inexorably leading
to a shocking clash of violence and passion. To the dismay of
one, Gabrielle chooses the other.

Ludivine Sagnier is great as Gabrielle and she has surprisingly
strong chemistry with Berleand, despite the whole age gap thing.
In addition, Berleand is perfectly cast as Charles, while there's
strong support from Magimel and from '80s sexpot Mathilda May
('The Jackal' 1997) as the mysterious, alluring Capucine, whose
appearances are all too brief.

Chabrol's films are frequently referred to as Hitchcockian
and there's a definite trace of old Alfred here, particularly
in the obsessive nature of the relationships and the way in
which the script hints at something much darker occurring
behind the scenes. The film is also strongly reminiscent of
'Secretary' (James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal) notably in
the way that Saint-Denis' repeated humiliation of Gabrielle
only serves to intensify their relationship. He creates an
extraordinarily intense, frequently uncomfortable atmosphere
that works brilliantly - indeed, the air is so thick with
obsession and desire that you can practically taste it. That
said, the abrupt climax, while suitably shocking and undeniably
fitting, is vaguely unsatisfactory in a way you can't quite
put your finger on.

In short, enjoyably dark, superbly acted French drama that
proves veteran director Claude Chabrol hasn't lost his touch.
'La Fille Coupée en Deux' is an engaging, powerfully intense
drama with outstanding performances from Sagnier and Berleand.

* Reviewed August 15, 2010
with help from I.M.D.B.

Show Review - 'Femmes - Toutes Les Femmes'‏

On Saturday, Bombshell in tow, I did something I don't
usually do . . . go to the Casino de Montréal.
At the Cabaret du Casino we saw a new musical called
'Femmes - Toutes Les Femmes', which applauds and showcases
the various facets of women. This adventure takes you
around the world, giving you a closer look at the
diversity and beauty of female who have left their marks,
in all their glory. It stars that doyenne of the seventies
Nanette Workman, along with Julie Dassylva & Martin Lacasse,
and a dozen showgirls and male performers.
I've been a big fan of Nanette, since back in her glory
days. In fact, once upon a time, back in the 80s', when
I had the opening of my Bistro she and Boule Noire aka
George Thurston, were my special entertainment, celebrity
Thurston was one of the prominent figures in dance and
R&B music in Quebec during the 1970s and 1980s.
Nanette Workman can still belt it out and her co-stars
did music, without accents, in whichever country the song
took them. All the time, images constantly being projected
on a large screen.

Dinner and a show! Fabulous! I even won a couple of
dollars at the Blackjack table.

* Reviewed July 3, 2005

Sunday, August 8, 2010

'The Jerry Seinfeld Montreal Show'‏

'The Jerry Seinfeld's Show' at Place des Arts' Salle Wilfrid-
Pelletier was opened by Larry Miller ('Runaway Bride' - '10
Things I Hate About You'), who delivered a well-received
routine skewering spoiled North American life, including
a solid bit about license plates creatively tweaked to
include Quebec's own 'Je me souviens'.

Let's be clear, Jerry Seinfeld doesn't have to work. By
his own admission, he's old - 57! He's tired, the result
of helping raise his toddlers this late in life. And lest
we forget, he's rich! In fact, it's a good bet that with
his TV series popping up 18 times a day in syndication,
Jerry Seinfeld could buy Bolivia. So why does he still
tour? He is truly obsessed with life's minutiae, and he
needs a forum for his views and rants.

It's likely the audiences attending two stand-up shows
Saturday night were expecting nothing. Not in the sense
of a lack of jokes, or some sort of nihilistic void. But
rather nothing in the form of the satirical observation
of life's minutia that so defined Seinfeld's eponymous,
hugely successful '90s sitcom, frequently called a 'show
about nothing'.

Seinfeld performed, and enthralled two sold-out audiences
on Saturday Night, and it was not nothing, but a lot of
little somethings. Like Pop Tarts and horse races and
BlackBerrys, all woven together into a manic, hilarious
set that avoided rehashing the show's routines, with
observations on everything from email to marriage, to
breakfast cereal. The knock against Seinfeld had always
been that he rose to the top on the tube on the coattails
and neuroses of his sidekicks. That was then, this is
now. It is no longer the case, he has elevated his
neuroses into an art form. He has never been sharper
or funnier.

The New York comedian has seemingly lost little of his
popularity since the last Seinfeld episode aired in 1998,
earning a standing ovation simply by walking out on stage,
actually, running and skidding out. He's also not visibly
aged, looking youthful and healthy at 56. One might imagine
that sweating the small stuff is actually a form of exercise.
And his comedy - though familiar in form and style - drew
nothing but adulation from the crowd.

After the welcoming applause died, Seinfeld launched into
a meta-routine about the myriad annoyances and irritations
that likely befell audience members on their way to the show,
eliciting laughs and the echoed, chorused mantra of 'so true'
from all over the theatre.

Next, a lengthy but well-paced segment about food and drink,
ranging from specials at restaurants. . . . .

'If they're so special, put them on the menu. I'm not interested
in auditioning food.'

He even did a bit on over-cheesed pizza. Apparently still
hungry, he then began a particularly frantic diatribe about
cookies, a highlight coming when he suggested that. . . . .

'They should have names like Chocolate Sons-of-Bitches'.

On stage, Seinfeld is much more animated than suggested
by his show, where he spent much of his screen time leaning
against something and smirking. Live, he seems only a heart
palpitation away from one of Lewis Black's aneurysms, helping
to elevate some of the less groundbreaking material, such
as a segment on marriage, which is to stand-up sets what periods
are to sentences. That energy never lagged during his 75min
performance, particularly during a piece on voice mail or
an almost existential, homespun take on entropy: 'The world
consists of garbage, and pre-garbage.' And it was returned
in kind by a vocal and adoring crowd. Not bad for a set about

* Reviewed August 7, 2010

Friday, August 6, 2010

Restaurant Review - La Gaudriole ***‏

Every week or so, dining companion in tow, I arrive at a new
dining establishment, with the expectation of spending, at least
$250. It's always interesting to see just how far it will go.
Sometimes, due to inflated wine prices, dishes enhanced with
luxury ingredients, or an irresistible, pricey cheese course,
I tilt the bank. Last weekend, after a dinner at La Gaudriole,
the opposite occurred, especially considering that the meal
did strike several memorable moments.
La Gaudriole draws neither the crowd-loving trendies nor
the decor-needy fashion plates. This neighborhood bistro is
THE place for budget-conscious gourmets. Nestled, inconspicuously,
between the chic boutiques and acclaimed restaurants of
Laurier Avenue West, and the specialty food stores and branché
restaurants of Laurier Ave. E., could not be more appropriate.
La Gaudriole offers the best of both worlds, the stylishness
of the West and the lack of pretension of the East.
The food is the story. At La Gaudriole, the excitement is
on the plate. The ingredients are exotic, the plate presentations
are decorative, and some of the combinations of flavour are
downright adventurous. For starters, a generous portion of hot
foie-gras with roasted apple and cherry wine. The three thick
slices of pan-seared duck foie gras are placed atop a round of
toasted apple topped with macerated cherries and surrounded by
a pool of reduced cherry-wine sauce.
Flavours come alive again with the main courses. Grilled Lotte
is a tender fish, succulent, with a hint of butter. My companion
had a Merou, which was so rich and fabulous. To finish off our
wine we had an offering of both Quebec and French cheeses. An
aged cheddar, a Victor & Berthold, and a cinder-coated goat's
cheese. The plate is served with sliced apple and pear. At
La Gaudriole, presentations are glamorous and flavour combinations
As one would expect, prices for wine are reasonable. Unlike
many restaurants that double or triple the wine's retail price,
here the markup is only one and a half times. I know of no
other Montreal establishment where patrons can get a Chablis,
Sancerre or a top-notch wine such as a Cahors Château Lagrezette
for less than $40. A meal here is most pleasurable, service
is so friendly, discreet and professional that you get the
feeling you're eating dinner at a friend's house. Amazing!!!

* Bistro La Gaudriole
825 Laurier Avenue East @ St.Hubert
Plateau Mont-Royal
(514) 276-1580


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Restaurant Review - 'Le Margaux' ***‏

On an especially gloomy night, my dinner guests and
I ventured into a gastronomic feast, full of delicacies
and delights, at a new Park Avenue restaurant. Back in
2002, 'Le Margaux' was a 28-seat bistro set on a quiet
corner in the Plateau, whose chef and owner, Jerome
Chatenet, cooked up lovingly prepared and presented
French food served by his wife and co-owner, Corinne
Cauhapé. After the birth of their daughter, the couple
decided to have a go at country life in Magog, and Le
Margaux's tiny Villeneuve St. locale was taken over
by a different team.
Now, two years later, the duo is back with this quaint
42-seat space as well as an enticing menu sure to lure
locals, young diners and frugal gourmets. 'Le Margaux'
is a low-budget affair. It's decor consists of a few
prints, a bar, a rust-red banquette across one side of
the restaurant and several white linen-topped tables.
For those of us used to seeing eyebrow-raising restaurant
bills, Le Margaux's prices are a steal. But that doesn't
mean cheap ingredients.
There was asparagus, lamb, beef and duck and more duck.
Chatenet hails from Bordeaux, which not only explains
a love of our feathered friends, but a fine taste in wines.
Proof that fine wine wine doesn't always equal expensive
wine, 'Le Margaux' offers a short but well-chosen selection
of bottles, the priciest being a fabulous $52 Lalande de
Included with the menu is a first course of either soup
or salad. The delicious thick tomato potage swirled with
aromas, and the salad was also quite nice, a little more
seasoning than you might be use to, but just right. Of the
starters sampled, the goat cheese salad is a great choice.
The escargots inside a puffy pastry was delicious, not mushy.
The main event was a duck sampler (variations sur le canard)
that included a duck 'tapenade' (shreds of confit-style meat
mixed with olives), tender bits of preserved gizzard, slices
of smoked magret, and a foie-gras crème brûlée served in
a porcelain spoon. The same crème brûlée spoon was served
with most of the main courses, which included lamb, trout
with a layer of foie gras and duck. Tender and tasty.
Desserts were a great finish. The espressos was, for once,
at par with Italian bars. There was a rich chocolate triangle
in a delicious 'jus de framboise', finger-licking.
'Le Margaux' is a simple restaurant with no pretensions.
A place to have a great meal with an old friend, a no-fuss
lunch or a downright lovely dinner. Chapeau mes amis!

* Le Margaux cuisine française
5058 Park Avenue (Laurier)
Montréal, H2V 4G1
(514) 448-1598

Kabana Supper Club @ Quartier Dix30‏

The premiere party for Kabana Supper Club @ Dix 30
was the stuff of dreams. Food, wine, song, and wall-
to-wall babelisciousness. I felt very privileged to
have been included.
I also feel sorry for people who don't drink. They
wake up in the morning and that's the best they are
going to feel all day.
The hotly anticipated new restaurant, bar and lounge
from the boys at CUUK.ca took Le Quartier Dix30 by
storm from the moment they opened their doors at the
beginning of October! It's the newest, most exciting
place to be on the South Shore. Kabana's got everything
you need for the perfect night!
Showcasing fantastic design by Internationally
renowned designer, Miguel Cancio (Cavalli Montreal,
Buddha Bar Paris, Man Ray New York & Paris), KABANA's
unique and sophisticated interior includes a striking
40 foot bar, 3,000 square feet of dining space and
three open gas fireplaces lining the staircase leading
to a spectacular mezzanine lounge.
Enormous totem poles surround the room and a world
class DJ spins the music! The Italian market fresh menu
is a collaboration of kitchen c.e.o.'s Rosario Guerreri,
Franco Gioffre and Nick D'Onofrio, known for their
success at Cavalli.
The place rocks! Filled to the gills with a strange
mix of older and younger. The music was fly and the
women were breathtaking. I almost stood up!

* Kabana Supper Club @ Quartier Dix30
6000, boul. de Rome - L.50
Brossard, J4Y 0B6

* Opening Party October 2009

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Restaurant Review - 'Globe Restaurant'‏

After a prolonged absence, I returned to a familiar place.
Saturday, prior to the Harry Connick Jr. show a the Montreal
Jazz Festival, I partook in a most splendid dining experience
on the Main. Due to some major road repair, not much of
a Main, but definitely worth the slight inconvenience.
On a summer's night, there's no missing the long series of
restaurants between Sherbrooke St. and Pine Ave. vying for
your attention. With all the action, eye candy and enticing
food, one wonders how to pick and choose. Is it the space with
the most cutting-edge decor? The restaurant, known for it's
solid cuisine? Or is it the hot spot that boasts the latest
celebrity sightings? With their comely waitresses, groovy
colour schemes, and up-to-the-minute menus, Globe has always
been considered 'hot' on all these fronts. While some of its
competitors have cuter waitresses and better chairs, Globe
always succeeded by offering the full package. For a while
the food wasn't up-to-par, until this night. A return to
what made Globe unique, the inventiveness of the cuisine.
There's a special connection, a bond, if you will, between
Globe and myself, along with my extended family. My nieces
have been celebrating their birthdays there, since turning
eighteen, with each inviting their respective entourages.
Then there's my Godchild, who at the tender age of 5, had
the then-chef prepare for her a special plate of pasta (not
on the menu). Which she always adored him for it and showed
it by showeing him with hugs and a kiss. He would always
take her their famous 'Tourte au Chocolat' to enjoy at the
bar, while I savored my cigar. You see children, once upon
a time, smoking, even a cigar, was tolerated at Globe. The
good old days!
The present kitchen c.e.o., Alex Rolland, who hails from
Rosalie and who interned under the great David McMillan,
has returned the Globe to its former glory and rightful
place above the fray of restaurants, bistros, and ristorantes,
all along the strip. Along with a new chef de cuisine,
comes a refreshed ambiance, a new look for the waitresses,
and the sense of a new beginning for this landmark eatery.
Due to time constraints we dined at 6:00, a first for me.
Sitting next to the large panoramic windows along the sidewalk,
in daylight, watching passers-by, ranging from both extremes
of the social spectrum, über-babes to street urchins. I was
transported back to a time when I was living in Puerto Vallarta.
On the main artery called Calle Guarez, which stretched from
one end of downtown to the other, facing the ocean, was one
of the more hip hot spots, Casablanca. We would always begin
our evenings there, before moving on to clubs and other
nightspots. This place had the same large windows, where you
would sit and have 'Nachos con Queso', with your Corona, and
watch passers-by, mostly tourists, scurrying to their destinations,
with their arms filled with bags, from neighboring merchants.
All the while, catching the final stages of the setting sun
into the Pacific ocean. The atmosphere was palpable, albeit
no sunset or ocean.
Globe's cuisine exploits organic and local produce to its
fullest. This kitchen lets the quality of ingredients do the
talking. In that sense, the 'Foie gras Spring roll' on a bed
of salad was sublime and best epitomizes what this restaurant
is all about, sophisticated simplicity. The 'Goat Cheese on
a Tomato confit' covered with slight shavings of pear, was
divine. 'Soft-shell Crab Carapace' was actually constructed
to resemble an actual crab. Very artistic. The 'Maigret de
Canard' pristine thin slivers of duck breast glazed, with
Juniper, perfectly seared on both sides. Every morsel is melting
and fresh. I abhor meat that's so rare and bloody, you expect
it to get up and walk away at any given moment.
The wine list is well-selected and our choice, a rather
intense purple-red wine, from Tuscany, features an exuberant
nose, exhaling perfumes of raspberry, pastry and eucalyptus.
Subtle aromas of cocoa and freshly ground black pepper, were
also present. Gorgeous waitresses, models and actresses-in-
waiting are practically a hallmark of Globe. Our waitress,
Jennifer, easily fits that description, with charm and
professionalism to spare. As the crowds prove, Globe remains
the perfect choice if you're up for the hullabaloo of the
St. Laurent scene.

* Globe Restaurant
3455 St.Laurent Blvd.
(514) 284-3823

* Reviewed July 5, 2007

Monday, July 26, 2010

Michael Bublé @ Montreal Jazz Festival

Every pop star owes something to his predecessors, and Michael
Bublé is no exception. Admittedly, the holy trinity to whom he
pays homage, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, isn't
quite what you'd expect of a 29 year old pop idol, particularly
one whose female fans are fond of screaming, 'We love you Michael!'
or 'Take it off!' But the strangest thing about Bublé's debt to
the past is how little it feels like nostalgia.
When the Vancouver-born singer took the stage at Place des Arts,
to a sold-out show, to launch the 26th Montreal International
Jazz Festival, it was not as some swivel-hipped savior of swing,
but rather as a charming young pop star who just happens to prefer
big-band brass to screaming guitars. He never tried to be cool and
that made him totally hot! If all you know are his recordings on
disc, his shtick seems to be singing pop songs as if rock 'n' roll
never happened, conjuring some parallel universe in which Queen's
'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' was a swing tune and the Beatles'
'Can't Buy Me Love' bore the stamp not of George Martin but of
Count Basie's arranger.
He does that on stage, too, but the impact is completely different.
For one thing, he dispenses with the jazz fetishism that weighs
down most retro-swing acts. While it's easy to catch echoes of
his heroes in Bublé's set, his performance never smacks of
impersonation. Somehow, he manages to take on the likes of 'Come
Fly With Me' and convey its punchy, finger-snapping charm without
falling into the Sinatra emulation. His Elvis bits, particularly
the cocked hips and rakish silhouette, were simply playful.
The artist Bublé most clearly recalls is everyman crooner Bing
Crosby. Just as Crosby cultivated the image of an easy-going,
average guy who just happened to be able to sing, Bublé’s mellifluous
delivery is so effortless and unaffected that it's easy not to
notice how much power his voice actually has (the last verse of
'A Song for You', was audible from the back of the hall without
a microphone).
It doesn't hurt that Bublé is funny. Not only was his between-
songs banter full of self-deprecating wit. (He joked that he was
happy to hear fans scream, 'I love you Michael!' 'I know that next
week it'll be, 'I love you Clay Aiken!') But he slipped in some
good musical gags as well, mocking the pop operatic 'Il Divo' with
a vocal impression that was more Jim Nabors than Placindo Domingo.
In short, it was the kind of performance that would turn even
a casual listener into a fan.

* Reviewed July 2, 2005

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

'Dave Brubeck Quartet'‏ @ Montreal Jazz Festival

The Montreal International Jazz Festival closed with a giant,
who's been playing here for the past 25 years. He might be
85, but Dave Brubeck hasn't settled into complacency. Sure,
he still obliges fans by playing his two best-known songs,
'Blue Rondo' and 'Take Five', in the roughly 80 shows he
does a year. 'It doesn't bother me,' the jazz pianist has
said, in his gravely voice. 'Why should it? Did Duke Ellington
quit playing 'Take the A Train?' How stupid can you be when
you have sold-out concerts all over the world, and they want
to hear 'Blue Rondo and Take Five'. If you don't play it
would be impolite.'

The 'Dave Brubeck Quartet' was created in 1951, but before
that, it was a trio. The trio had won a new combo of the
year in Downbeat and Metronome. Which actually started with
the octet, between 1946 and 1949, then came the trio, which
evolved into the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
Brubeck has watched with bemusement as 'Time Out', which
includes those two aforementioned tracks, has played a see-saw
game over the years with Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue' as the
biggest-selling jazz album of all time. Coincidentally, both
were released in 1959. There's a thornier issue of hip credibility.
For many jazz snobs, Brubeck's West Coast cool jazz, however
ubiquitous it became, should never be mentioned in the same
breath as the groundbreaking work of the unimpeachably cool
and mysterious Davis.

In the post-quartet years, Brubeck has focused largely on
composition, writing and performing. A nine-minute score to
accompany Pope John Paul II's 1987 entrance to San Francisco's
Candlestick Park is a career highlight. Contributing to a
section of the unfinished C Minor Mass by Mozart is another.
He's recently written five new pieces for the Monterey Jazz
Festival. He says he derives equal enjoyment from composing
and improvising, insisting the two are not opposed. 'There's
very little difference in improvisation as a jazz musician
and what you do as a composer,' he's said. 'You're improvising
as you write it down.'
In spite of the Dupuytren's Contraction that sometimes flares
up and affects his fingers, Brubeck's still having trouble
getting those 80 concerts down to 40. If that means his current
quartet, featuring drummer Randy Jones, Bobby Militello on
alto sax and flute and bassist Michael Moore, must play that
many more versions of 'Take Five', so be it. 'You don't play
it,' he says, 'You play off it. It's different every night.'

* Reviewed July 8, 2006

Show Review 'Stirred by Sting'‏‏

Last night was a strange mix of old-timers and spirituality,
which was fitting. Sting himself has built his brand on
feel-good world music that aspires to spirituality, but
cannot be identified as belonging to any particular group
in his multicultural musical casserole. For urban hippies,
like myself, for the hour and a half that he took the stage,
the former Police singer entertained and charmed the fans
with songs that spanned his career, from his recent CD
'Sacred Love' to everyone's favorite 'Roxanne'.

Dressed very casual, with the loose white collar and
cuffs out of the tight-fitting sweater. Sting is in
remarkable shape, a look legions of female fans in
attendance appeared to appreciate.

He began the set strumming a giant bass for 'Walking on
the Moon', but quickly followed that trip into the past
with the new 'Send Your Love'. A dance number lifted beyond
club-floor mediocrity by a lifting guitar line and Spanish-
influenced drumming, the song was accompanied by projected
images of dancers from around the world, Bollywood heroines
and heroes followed by women twirling in spectacular Chinese
red silk dresses. The global world theme resurfaced several
times during the show, such as during 'Desert Rose', the much
remixed dance hit that borrows from Arabic music, and on
the playful and delightful 'Stolen Car'. It was a non-stop
eclectic drunken visual stupor. 'Fragile', 'An Englishman
in New York' all classics with beautiful projected images,
it was all very spiritual.

A note about the opening act, 'Chris Botti', a trumpeter
from the jazz school of 'Miles Davis'(the father of cool!).
He did an homage to Miles' 'Happy Valentine' made the ladies
in the front rows squeal. I enjoyed him so much I got an
autographed CD at the intermission. All in all, it was one
very pleasing outing.

* Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but
by the moments that take our breath away.

Show Review 'k.d. lang'

'Twenty years in the music business and it all boils down
to a medley'. That was k.d. lang, joking with the crowd
at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, before belting
out a stirring rendition of 'Constant Craving', her most
famous hit.
K.d. lang has a voice that can only be described as an
irrepressible force of nature. It's easy to forget just
how powerful her pipes are, when you've become accustomed
to hearing her Grammy Award-winning torch songs and country-
pop medleys wafting through restaurants and shopping malls
across the land.

Anyone who ever saw the rockabilly chanteuse back in her
early days, when she'd blow the roof off a smoky little joint
wearing sawed off cowboy boots and white wedding dress, can
tell you that she possesses a wild rapture that's capable of
much more than just pretty medleys. And rapture is exactly
what Lang delivered at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Several
times interrupted by ecstatic standing ovations and shouted
pledges of undying love from her fans.
Originally from Consort, Alberta, a tiny speck of a town
near Red Deer, lang moved to Vancouver after college in the
mid-eighties, where she was discovered and signed her first
record deal.

Lang hardly looked nervous as she strode onto the stage
in bare feet and a kimono-style jacket, bowed down to the
crowd and dove into a soaring rendition of 'Don't Smoke in
Bed'. She mixes material from her 20-year career with songs
from her latest CD release, July 27 'Hymns of the 49th
Parallel'. Which include 'After the Goldrush' by Neil Young
and 'Hallelulah' by Leonard Cohen, instilling them both with
a pure, simple reverence that lifts these classics into
a whole new stratosphere.
The performance was so powerful lang overwhelmed the
orchestra, in this case the MSO, which barely could be
heard over her voice. Along with her longtime band of
keyboard player, bassist and steel guitarist.
Lang is a playful and political as ever. A devout buddhist,
her trademark exuberance is now combined with a Zen-like
calm that must come from a very peaceful place inside.

By the end of the night, the spellbound audience certainly
walked out breathless, shaking and many in desperate need
of a cigarette, having witnessed one of the most emotionally
rousing concerts in a while. I wasn't a big fan prior to
the Jazz Festival, but all that has changed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chef David Adjey @ Globe Restaurant‏

Outside the sun is setting, inside the mellow rhythm of
Bryan Ferry, playing in the background, gives a sense of
electricity in the air. The smells, emanating from the
kitchen, were intoxicating and the lovely ladies had this
bounce in their step. To fans of Food Network staple,
'Restaurant Makeover', this was a real treat, Chef David
Adjey prepare your dinner was very surreal. I was told,
by someone in the know, that the large majority of the
reservations came from women. Not surprising, this lanky,
good looking (according to Bombshell), blonde and blue-eyed
culinary master was very gracious and mingled with everyone.
The customers seemed as grateful to be there, has he was
of being so honoured. The sound and fury of the patrons
was a tell-tale of the mood among the diners, who were out
in droves, on an otherwise uneventful Wednesday night.
I know from, friends in the restaurant business, that's
their night off.
It was six courses of pure delight to your palate. Our
wine selection a 'Malbec Flechas de Los Andes Rothschild
Mendoza'. A purplish red, full-bodied Shiraz, with a medium
nose exuding fruity aromas. Offering a slight acidity and
fleshy tannins. The extravaganza began with Grouper, which
is a very delicate and moist white fish. Wrapped in banana
leaf, placed on a bed of cubed yellow peppers, along with
slices of pink grapefruit and purple potatoes. Sophisticated
Next came a sublime breaded potato salad in a lobster
bisque, very tart. The third starter, in a dish with three
compartments, cool, warm and hot. Consisted of various
vegetables and a hardy slab of hot and spicy, seared tuna.
Then it was on to Ancho Rabbit, again served in a dish with
two separate sections. One had a Pozole Poblano Stew and
on the other Espanzote-Hominy Ensalada. Then came pristine
thin strands of Smoky Entrecôte (strip steak), with one bite
Caesar and a Clam vinaigrette. Every morsel melting and fresh.
Finally, the 'piece de resistance', our dessert was 'Les
Trois Chocolats'. White, Milk and Dark chocolate whipped to
a frenzied mousse. Utterly sinful. It was a 'Menu de
dégustation' (tasting menu), but by the time you had your
sixth course, you were very satisfied.
Gorgeous waitresses, models and actresses-in-waiting
are practically a hallmark of Globe. Our waitress, Nathalie,
a Peruvian Goddess, easily fits that description, with charm
and professionalism to spare.

* Restaurant Globe
3455 St. Laurent Blvd.,
Montréal 514.284.3823

Monday, July 19, 2010

Restaurant Review - 'Joe Beef' ****‏

The name conjures up a steakhouse, but actually there's history
behind 'Joe Beef'. The name is in fact that of Charles McKiernan,
a legendary 19th century Montreal innkeeper and working-class
hero who offered food and shelter at his Old Montreal tavern
(the building still stands at the corner of de la Commune and
de Calière). Stragglers, longshoreman, beggars and outcasts
were admitted to Joe Beef's Canteen in exchange for a bit of
light labor. 'Joe Beef' was a man of the people.'
After many months of anticipation and waiting for the right
occasion and companions, we ventured forth. We were not
disappointed; it's everything you thought it would be and more.
The place, itself, isn't 'tres chic', coming from Globe and
Rosalie, you would have expected something else. But the reason
one goes, isn't for fancy decor, place settings and cutlery,
it's for the gastronomic explosion. And we exploded!
Dinner at Joe Beef is like being at a dinner party, so tight
are the tables, so genial is the vibe. You chit-chat with
strangers in the next tables, very easily. Swapping stories
and enjoying more than a few giggles with our friends, as you
would at a dinner party. Your host to this shindig is none
other than Montreal's most personable chef, David McMillan,
who co-owns with two old friends, Frederic Morin (also from
the Globe, who was away in Europe) and manager Allison Cunningham.
Opened for a year or so, Joe Beef has generated so much buzz,
that it's the envy of any restaurateur.
How did this trio come together? After a decade cooking for
the 'branché' and other celebs at Globe and Rosalie, McMillan
and Morin had had their fill. Ready to kiss the restaurant
business good-bye, they decided instead to take over their
neighborhood hangout, a little café on Notre Dame. But this
time there would be strict rules. The restaurant would have
to be small, and would only be open for dinner, five days
a week. McMillan and Morin would cook only what they wanted
and the menu would change daily. The wine list would be small,
but interesting.
They decided to look to the past for inspiration. The first
was the name and the second glance backward is the menu. Oysters
were a staple in McKiernan's day and are a favorite of both
chefs. Joe Beef sells a good 4,000 east-and-west-coast oysters
weekly, imported directly for the restaurant. So we indulged,
and partook of 3 dozens served on an expansive tray topped
with crushed ice. One of the starters, 'Parfait de Foie Gras',
served with pain rustique, is highly recommended. McMillan
will come over with homemade jam for you to spread. Mussles,
which according to my companion, were finger-licking delicious.
Though this food is far from flashy, I can't think of much
tasted here that I didn't thoroughly enjoy.
By main-course time, we were stuffed, and the crowds pick
up. They're preparing for the second seating, which is 9:30.
We meet a restaurateur, from one of the finer eateries in
Little Italy. He confessed curiosity got him to come and see
what the fuss was about. By the end of the dinner he smiled
and gave me a nod, of pure contentment. The 'Lapin Farcie'
with something only McMillan could pull off, sliced hot-dogs
toppings. My friend's steak, served with these delicious
circular fries, was mouth-watering, cooked just right, and
not too rare. The other fabulous dish were these cutlets topped
with mounds of scallops. Unbelievable! Desserts are another
sinful chef-d'oeuvre. I think 'Joe Beef' would have approved.
After all, that's why his legend is still with us a century
later. Like these young restaurateurs, he did it his way.

* Restaurant Joe Beef ****
2491, rue Notre Dame O. @ Atwater
Little Burgundy, H3J 1N6
(514) 935-6504

Andretti Wines @ Cavalli‏

Friday, before the Grand Prix de Montreal, I had the
distinct pleasure, nay, the privilege of experiencing
a succulent and savoury afternoon escapade. An endorphin-
induced diversion of culinary delights and flavourful
wine-tasting @ Ristorante Cavalli.

'In wine there is wisdom, In beer there is freedom,
In water there is bacteria.' ~ Ben Franklin

With Bombshell in tow, we were granted access to a world
of enthusiasts, lovers the grape and connoisseurs of the
liqueur of the Gods. Headed by a group of very astute and
generous corporate executives including one very delicious
lady-about-town Madame Ambassadeur.

The group who organized this tasting of several superb
vintages was 'Kruger Wines and Spirits' (www.krugervs.com/)
and its c.e.o., a very warm and friendly gentleman, named
Steve Sinodinos, who was the epitome of a world-class
chief-executive, his trusted aide-de-camp Ms. Rachael Sirois

and Carmelo, sommelier at Cavalli. I'm sure I have forgotten
some names but such is life.

The winemaker in question was 'Andretti Winery'. Founded
in 1996 by Mario Andretti (one and the same - Grand Prix
driver extraordinaire) and his longtime friend, Joe Antonini,
former Chairman & CEO of Kmart Coporation.

'Andretti Winery' is dedicated to celebrating the Italian
lifestyle, complete with the finest wines produced anywhere
in the world. Blessed with premium grapes grown in the most
acclaimed valley in California, 'Andretti Winery' produces
an array of wines that - like Mario Andretti himself - are
second to none.

The finest things in life are often hidden away and
that's the case with the award-winning 'Andretti Winery'.
Nestled alongside a quiet country lane in the heart
of the legendary Napa Valley, 'Andretti Winery' exudes
Old World Charm as it whisks wine lovers back in time
to a slower pace of life.

'Honor the Past, to Shape the Future.' Modeled after
a rambling Italian village, the winery conjures up the
boyhood home of its namesake, Mario Andretti, the finest
race car driver of all time.

'Wine is bottled poetry.' ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

* Andretti Winery
4162 Big Ranch Road,
Napa, California

* Observed June 11th, 2010