Wednesday, December 10, 2014

'The Newsroom'

Aaron Sorkin's HBO series, 'The Newsroom' (2012–2014), had a pivotal and dramatic episode last Sunday... our beloved Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston) suffered a fatal heart Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) finally gets released following 54 days of incarceration (if you don't know why skip this - not a show you watch) is greeted by his wife MacKenzie (Emily Mortimer) and told of his death. Amazing that in the last couple of Sundays important and founding members of this ensemble have met their demise.
I have read many negative reviews of late about Aaron Sorkin and his views of life in America. So I wish to show you what a keen mind and exquisite writer he is. Movie audiences get very little dialogue this snappy; they get very little dialogue at all. In movies we are starved for wit, for articulate anger, for extravagant hyperbole—all of which flows like pebbles in a stream...with turbulence of course. The ruling gods of movie screenwriting, at least in American movies, are terseness, elision, functional macho, and heartfelt, fumbled semi-articulateness.
Some of the very young micro-budget filmmakers, trying for that old Cassavetes magic achieve a sludgy moodiness with minimal dialogue, or with improvisation—scenes that can be evocative and touching. But the young filmmakers wouldn't dream of wit or rhetoric, especially at par with Mr. Sorkin. It would seem fake to them. Thank heavens the swelling, angry, sarcastic, one-upping talk in 'The Newsroom' is unafraid of embarrassing anyone.
Aaron Sorkin writes a highly stylized dialogue which depends on certain conventions that he has made his own. First, there is the convention of perfect articulacy: everyone says exactly what he means, and without hesitation. Second, Sorkin unabashedly reveres high intelligence. Sorkin celebrates the guy who cuts through the crap, gets to the point, sees the patterns and implications buried within some matter. A lot of his writing consists of people questioning each other—sifting, correcting, overturning—as part of a furious drive toward a conclusion. He writes interrogation scenes without pedantry, in a spirit of high gaiety—getting to the truth of something is an adventure.
He has also developed a dramatically entertaining idea of how dynamic groups work together. In 'The West Wing' (1999–2006) the product was policy; in 'The Social Network' (2010) it was an entrepreneurial idea. Here, it's a good news show. Life may not work this way in the real world, but Sorkin's complaint about America is that intelligence is in a semi-apologetic retreat, while emotionalism and stupidity are on the rise—in public policy and in the media. He's setting up an ideal. He is an ethical writer—a moralist, if you like. He's neither ironic nor self-deprecating; he dislikes that part of the derisive culture which undercuts, as a ritual form of defence, any kind of seriousness. He's a very witty entertainer who believes that there's a social value in truth. I don't think this belief should be confused, as it has been recently, with self-righteousness. Here is a dazzling panoply to celebrate that and the best of Charlie Skinner.

© Frank Borsellino™
* From Where I Sit!
December 10, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fiorante's Feast @ Cavalli

'Take the time today to tell your friends the difference they have made
in your life.' ~ Catherine Pulsifer

Intended... unintended... whatever the intention, the result was a phenomenal
achievement in perseverance. Primarily, it had been 10 years to the month that
we had our 25th Reunion @ Le Challenger... and for the first time in a long
time, the group was made up solely of graduates, with the exception of one.

I'm here to laud the excellence that was 'Fiorante's Feast' @ Cavalli...
and as Mr. Cavalli (Gianni Caruso) himself proclaimed, of which I concur,
no one else but Patrick (Pat Fiorante) could have pulled that off in such
a spectacular fashion. The 'coup de grace' was seeing Betty Castiglione
walk through the door and greet the table. Bravo Patrick...Memorable!

First... A special mention to the guests of honor… Dina Merulla & Mary
Perrotta. We are all happy, overjoyed and elated that you were at the table
to talk, laugh, indulge in such a culinary extravaganza and enjoy the
rapport with us all. You both looked happy, healthy and in great humor.

Secondly... Gianni's generosity shows no bounds, and on this particular
occasion he surpassed any sense of normalcy ... I was floored! He really,
really, really likes us! He had as much fun exchanging, eating and drinking
as any of us, and most importantly, he was relaxed. There was definitely
a sense of deja-vu! All that was missing was Santo Ciavirella & Gino Famularo.

The food was remarkable and sublime, as it is always. Frank Gioffre is
an exceptional chef…I adore that man! Every dish was abundantly mouth-
watering and exquisitely prepared. They say the measure of a great restaurant
is the consistency of its dishes. Every dish was consistent... but better
because of the company.

There's a French terminology, 'radotte' meaning to tell a story repeatedly.
So at the risk of being 'radotté', on Thursday night, we surpassed every one's
expectations. I say 'we', because the success of these shindigs is a collective
endeavor of the whole and not of its parts. What started quietly enough, and
with little fanfare, in no time, spawned into quite an uproarious and a very
entertaining evening of 'Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll'. We are definitely
children of the seventies! Some of us louder than others! (I sit guilty as

'Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside
in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly
proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!' ~ Hunter S. Thompson

The following are observations I was able to retain in the onslaught of
tremendous boisterous exuberance... on my part as well, as the group as
a whole. We talked like it was routine as though no time had elapsed. It
had been a long time for me... and it felt comfortable seeing Jack Latino
ribbing Mamie aka Bubbles (Isabelle Mazzone). I had forgotten what that
camaraderie was like. We, eleven men and women, made the dinner in the
pantheon of life's journey one of those unforgettable moments. I observed
splinters of factions, huddled together, in delight of the evening, reminiscent
of school clicks. As is the case with 'group diners', the dynamics and
especially the landscape is different compared to a regular 'dinner party'.
I love change but sometimes I also enjoy continuity and familiarity... and
to feel a certain level of comfort. Add to that a sparkle of freshness in the
guise of a new Muse... Silvana Sanchez, and the ensemble is evolving. I'm a big
proponent of evolution. It's similar to an ever-changing, living organism,
that grows as it absorbs particles it picks up along its journey... such as
J.P. Giacomini e la Nonna (Lia Puma).

'I made up my mind not to care so much about the destination, and enjoy
the journey.' ~ David Archuleta

Later, Gianni and myself, over a final 'bicchiere di vino', compared notes
and both concluded that the original diners are a special breed of graduates...
it was also observed by my Muse, along with Patrick's wife at the next table.
Such a group, as we are, is a rarity, and should be nourished and preserved,
to the best of our ability. I have tried to be the enabler of such a noble task,
but it took Patrick to take us over that hilltop.

'Love is when you take away the feeling, the passion, the romance and you
find out you still care for that person.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

* From Where I Sit!
November 27, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

My Luncheon w/Mamie

My Luncheon w/Mamie... I should clarify that statement... not the real
Mamie Grumman (Meryl Streep's daughter) a delightful ingénue, but a dear,
old friend from school. Several weeks ago, while comfortably viewing the
indie flick 'The Lifeguard' (2013), I saw my friend's 'doppelganger'... Mamie
Grumman and Isabelle could be twins. The smile, the blonde; the curve of
the jaw, the beautiful teeth...had to share my discovery. Lo and behold she
responded to the text that same day...and we decided it had been too long
for one of our confessional confers. She suggested 'Brasserie T!' on Jeanne
Mance in the 'Quartier des Spectacles' - an entertainment district located
in the eastern section of Downtown Montreal, designed as a centre for
Montreal's cultural events and festivals where many streets are now
converted into pedestrian walkways... a beautiful, vibrant neighborhood.

The term 'fine-dining' seems as dated as videos, actual cameras, and land
lines…but I like fine food, well-made food, food created by people who can
really cook. Frankly, I don't care how fancy it looks or how much it costs.
All that concerns me is whether it's delicious. Increasingly weary of those
dishes that try too hard, I remain a sucker for those times when great chefs
go casual, resulting in dishes like 'Au Pied de Cochon's' foie gras poutine
or 'Joe Beef's' lobster spaghetti.
In the summer of 2010, Montreal's top fine-dining chef, Normand Laprise
(Toqué!), decided to give casual a go, too. He opened this 55-seat
'Brasserie T!' literally, next door to Place des Arts with a menu that was two
parts brasserie and one part fun. There is even a hamburger, and boy was
it good. Main-course prices didn't rise above $20. The restaurant is a
resounding hit — so much so, in fact, that Laprise admitted that the profits
from the brasserie are used to help fund the maison mère, 'Toqué!'
After a slight feeling of restlessness, the drive downtown was horrendous,
due to the traffic because of the construction (it seems to get worse and
worse)... I thought there was this incredible migration to Toronto?!
They even have a terrific terrasse, that adds an extra 45 seats that spill
out on to the Place des festivals, but a little noisy for our purpose, so we
sojourned indoors, and settled in. Though the space may appear a little
cramped, we felt perfectly at ease. The crowd is pretty casual. The menu
is short and sweet…had many favorites, of course, that's common in the
brasserie/bistro genre…the perfect luncheon locale.
To begin, we shared, as is becoming the norm at these lunches, everything...
from the carafe of 'Côteaux d'Aix en Provence', a earthy, brilliant red wine
which was divine with the 'Foie gras poêlé'... pan seared to perfection.
Brasserie T!'s wine list is a serious draw, and affordable. Made up primarily
of well-chosen private imports, this list also scores because the majority of
bottles are priced under $60. And that juicy, charcoaled hamburger with
cheese, extra bacon was lusciously moist and was accompanied by a good
size portion of 'Pommes frites' one of the best upscale burgers in Montreal.
When the first plates hit the table, I thought, wow, this is pretty soigné
cuisine, so kudos to the chef de cuisine. 'Brasserie T!' may be modest in size
and appearance, but their food is brasserie de luxe. Service throughout the
luncheon was provided by a waiter, Vero, who was enthusiastic and efficient.
In choosing the wine I went through several tastings before I settled with the
'Côteaux d'Aix en Provence', and he never flinched. Impressive!

I am now a fan of Brasserie T! Fine dining indeed! Mamie and I loved
everything about our luncheon and made plans for many more… though
in a less congested area.

Life is short... Live your dream... Share your passion!

* From Where I Sit!
August 28, 2014

* Brasserie T!
1425 Jeanne Mance St. @ St.Catherine St. W.
Montréal, H2X 2J4
(514) 282-0808

Friday, August 22, 2014

Monica Vitti

'I've always had this deep-down conviction that I'm not like everybody else,
and there's an amazingly exciting new life waiting for me just around the
corner.' ~ Sophie Kinsella - - - ± Frank Borsellino

* Monica Vitti was born on November 3, 1931 in Rome, Lazio, Italy best known
for her starring roles in films such as 'L'Avventura' (1960), 'Red Desert'
(1964) and 'L'Eclisse' (1962). My all-time favorite... and when I discovered
her 'Modesty Blaise' (1966) (pictured below). Though mostly blonde, she never
changed hair color from part to part... her remote beauty and impassive demeanor
made her an Italian New Wave ingénue darling. In fact… she was the muse and
the companion of director Michelangelo Antonioni from 1957-1967.
After a long collaboration with Antonioni, Vitti changed focus and began
making comedies, working with director Mario Monicelli on many films,
including 'Jealousy, Italian Style' (1970) and 'Polvere di stelle' (1973).
She has appeared opposite Marcello Mastroianni, Richard Harris, and Dirk
Bogarde. Ms. Vitti won five David di Donatello Awards for best Actress,
seven Italian Golden Globes for Best Actress, the Career Golden Globe,
and the Venice Film Festival Career Golden Lion Award.

* From Where I Sit!
August 22, 2014

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Luncheon @ La Société Bistro‏

Nestled in the belly of the Loews Hotel Vogue on de la Montagne in
the heart of downtown this latest luncheon was a place recommended
by a dear friend…I love all that that word 'Luncheon' implies. It
signifies a time long ago and far away when ladies wore beautiful
dresses and men in business suits frequented the eateries in swanky
hotels along the boulevards of Manhattan. I looked over my shoulder
on several occasions expecting to see Holly Golightly and Truman
Capote to come waltzing in and take the little bistro table next to
ours. Even the name implies an inner circle, exclusive enclave or
hideaway somewhere in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris... the kind
of place Alain Delon and Romy Schneider came when they began dating.
'La Société Bistro' is the kind of establishment that takes you back
to that 'Golden Age'... and it did not disappoint.
It definitely resembles higher-end dining, but La Société also adds
small touches to give it a sense of trendiness as well like its picture-
covered walls and chandeliers. A little 'easter egg' in the design of the
restaurant is the colour of the walls. They chose a yellowish white
because the walls of bistros in Paris were originally white, but due to
all the smoking indoors, could only be that particular colour once they
were extensively cleaned.
I remember having lunch back in the 1990s' when it was 'Chez Georges'...
they were friends of Bombshell's mum. Last I drove by, looked inside,
it sat empty while the luxurious hotel continued to rank highly with
visitors. Montreal hotels generally don't have good restaurant, but
considering the Vogue's location right in the heart of the downtown
core; it seemed a waste not to fill the space, especially considering the
captive audience of tourists and business types who are happy to dine
in their hotel before heading to bed.
The original 'La Société Bistro' is located in Toronto and has been
going strong for several years... and is generally lauded as a great
place to eat, drink and party — especially during TIFF (Toronto
International Film Festival) time. Owned by the CEO of INK
Entertainment, Charles Khabouth (the biggest individual restaurant
and nightclub owner in Toronto), 'La Société Bistro' is a Toronto import,
a first in our fair city.

As I looked around the entranceway...I was once again transported…
this is a beautiful space. No expense has been spared. 'La Société
Bistro' has been given the Parisian bistro treatment complete with
a stained-glass ceiling, zinc bar, marble-topped service stations,
wooden tables and chairs, silverware and white porcelain plates...
and the most gorgeous black-and-white tiled floor I've seen since
my own bistro eons ago... The background Buddha Bar-like music
was an added bonus... and very soothing, though I would have expected
some Charles Aznavour, Serge Gainsbourg or Yves Montand… but
I digress.

Our server, a lovely young woman with an impressive décolletage,
was sweet and cordial. My luncheon companion and I love to order
and then share... it is a more diverse experience…so we began with
a green salad with Champagne vinaigrette. Morsels of 'Jambon de
Bayonne' served with breadsticks. The ham is air dried and salted
that takes its name from the ancient port city of Bayonne in the far
south west of France. But the 'pièce de resistance'... a positively
all-encompassing delight of the senses was the 'Club au homard'.
Thick slices of lobster meat from the tail and claws into crosswise
pieces, tomato slices, and avocado on grilled (baked on the premises)
brioche slices so thick you had to get involved in the consumption
of with both hands. The dish was accompanied by a very satisfying
serving of fries with sweet parsnip deploying their flavor when
accompanied by a creamy aioli infused with Dijon mustard and garlic
is a pure Provencal tradition.

When then moved to the bar where we met the general manager,
a delightful woman, Tina Faouaz, and the chef, Sean Reeve, who
reminded me of Martin Picard from 'Au Pied de Cochon'. After… we
enjoyed our espresso with homemade 'beignets' and vanilla ice
cream... and topped it with a chilled Proseco. It was a splendid
afternoon, but I was reminded that those ladies who lunched long
ago... were women of leisure.

* From Where I Sit!
August 8, 2014

* La Société Bistro @ Loews Hotel Vogue
1415, rue de la Montagne
Montreal, H3G 1Z3
(514) 507-9223

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Take Notice of the World Around You... we go through a day - what do we notice?

Lisa Beamer on Good Morning America - If you remember, she's the wife of Todd
Beamer who said... 'Let's Roll!' and helped take down the plane over Pennsylvania
that was heading for Washington, DC back on 9/11. She said it's the little things
that she misses most about Todd, such as hearing the garage door open as he came
home, and her children running to meet him.

Lisa recalled this story: I had a very special teacher in high school many years
ago whose husband died suddenly of a heart attack. About a week after his death,
she shared some of her insight with a classroom of students. As the late afternoon
sunlight came streaming in through the windows and the class was nearly over, she
moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there.
With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, "Class is over,
I would like to share with all of you, a thought that is unrelated to class, but
which I feel is very important. Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share,
love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience
will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is the power's way of
telling us that we must make the most out of every single day."
Her eyes, beginning to water, she went on, "So I would like you all to make me
a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something
beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, it could be a scent,
perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone's house, or it could be the
sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the
morning light catches one autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground. Please
look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some,
these things are the 'stuff' of life. The little things we are put here on earth
to enjoy. The things we often take for granted."

The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the
room silently. That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school
than I had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher
and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate
all of those things that sometimes we all overlook. Take notice of something
special you see on your lunch hour today. Go barefoot. Or walk on the beach at
sunset. Stop off on the way home tonight to get a double dip ice cream cone. For
as we get older, it is not the things we did that we often regret, but the things
we didn't do. May you be Blessed every day of your life.

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

Namaste ±
©Frank Borsellino™

* via Leo Cavaliere

Monday, August 4, 2014

Storyteller's Soirée Observations

Ladies & Gentlemen,

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in
the world." ~ Philip Pullman

The theme for this latest gathering of bon vivants was 'Storyteller's Soirée' so let
me begin by telling you a story. Once upon a time I was a young, somewhat good
looking, man-about-town with an abundance of confidence... some use to say I was
'cocky and arrogant'. In the many forays of late night gallivanting, I met a beautiful,
enchanting, and sophisticated 'Femme Fatale'... who, for the sake of this story we'll
call her 'Ursula'.
This high-society dame's maternal great-grandmother was European royalty from one of
those countries that was annexed to the Soviet Union after World War II. When she walked,
or rather swayed into a room everyone stopped...turned and followed her every movement.
She paraded her slinky self with such confidence; it was the female version of yours
truly. Her dresses or skirts had a slit down one side that would be very tantalizing to
any observer within visual distance for those spectacular set of stems à la Marlene Dietrich.
Whenever she summoned, I humbly and most happily serviced her every whim and
caprice to the best of my ability… and her delight. I was the poster-child for confidence…
except when it applied to her. I would regress back to that nervous little schoolboy
about to lose his virginity. Friday night at Cavalli... I had that same knot in my gut.
Although I have been having these dinner parties for the past ten years it felt fresh
and exciting... because it was the first one back at the NEW Ristorante Cavalli.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in
an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, cigar in one hand,
wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "Woo! What a ride!"

Let me first welcome a nubile into the fold, Christiane Kanaan... she oozed sensuality.
I truly am enthralled by her deliciousness and scent that emanated from that body.
After a prolonged absence, Filomena (Fil) is back and along with another long lost
soul who also made the trek Giovanna. Watching them catch-up with each other made me
warm all over. There was camaraderie within this diverse group that was ethereal.
What started quietly enough, and with little fanfare, in no time, spawn into
quite a raucous time and a most enlightened evening. The chairs filled, ladies came,
gentlemen (the female to male ratio was closer then ever before) and veterans and
newcomers, alike, mingled like it was routine, and no time had passed.
As is the case with each dinner party, the dynamics and especially the landscape changes
and every time I am slightly surprised at the scope of the guests and their immediate
amiability. This group, my group ... somewhat fresh ensemble, keeps evolving... to my
delight. I'm a big proponent of evolution. It's similar to an ever-changing, living
organism that grows as it absorbs particles it picks up along its journey. I believe
the Candidate's presence was such a particle, which added a whole other dimension. To
be in the company of an individual with such grand aspirations is humbling... a person
who's desire is to serve at the public's behest is noble.

The following are my observations of a most profound gastronomic gathering at the Food
Porn Palace. Kudos to chef extraordinaire Frank Gioffre... a culinary God! The dishes
were magnificent... an entire slice, not a cut, above anything and/or anywhere else.
Since they re-opened the food has improved... if that was at all possible! They say
the measure of a great restaurant is the consistency of its dishes... that dictum was
written for Cavalli…and the dance of dishes commenced.
Shrimp tempura, a staple at Cavalli. Light golden, slightly battered, and oh so
delicious. Then it was the always tangy oysters 'Wasabi con Limone' lime mustard, tobiko
and Prosecco. They got slurped up in a flash. 'Tuna sashimi' with celery leaves, green
olives, shallot, and spicy lemon with mayo capers, a new discovery. Another one of the
newer additions was the 'Burrata and heirloom tomatoes caprese' with figs, arugula,
prosciutto crudo di Parma and grilled pine nut focaccia… and a new favorite appetizer...
soft, moist, and not cheesy at all. The salmon tartare with kimchee sauce, pickled beets,
cucumber cigar and avocado cream, was sweet and perfectly seasoned. Grilled mackerel and
octopus with eggplant, caviar, tomato-oregano salad and kalamata olives was another dish
that combined flavors that are unlike anything you've had. So good, the dish was spotless
The first course 'Maccheroni' with fontina, cheddar and black truffle purée, with
brioche bread crumbs and black pepper... was like sex on a plate! To clear the palette,
we enjoyed the 'Endives' salad with radicchio and arugual, mango bacon, pecorino and
sprinkled with pistachio vinaigrette.
The meal continued in the same manner with a trio of superb main dishes that typifies
the simplicity of the kitchen... The inspired sea bass on a bed of crab, cucumber and
avocado salad, sticky rice, with a Wasabi Tobiko ginger/coriander emulsion. Pepper
crusted tuna, with braised lentils, caponata and pine nuts emulsion was a delight to
the senses... sweet and tangy. Lamb chops with roasted carrots, grilled banana pepper
and feta salsa. Perfectly grilled... bloody but did not look like they could walk away.
That flew off the plate quicker than the plates arrived.

Later, following the dinner, while people were coming and going for a smoke, I observed
little niches that had formed, huddled together, in delight of the evening, exchanging
thoughts and ideas. The Candidate was recruiting support from the Jazz Singer, and
her lovely friend. Vin Diesel, Domenic and Wendy going head-to-head on several subjects,
and the delightful Antonella... who comes in with a smile that becomes contagious.

Somebody once said, "Life's euphoria consists of little moments, you steal away from
the mundane". The 'Storyteller's Soirée' was such a moment that makes me as I'm as
happy has a little girl!

Your Cruise Director
Food is my Compass
August 1st, 2014

* Ristorante Cavalli
2042 Peel St.
Montreal, H3A 2R4
(514) 843-5100

* 'Cruising' by Fabian Perez

Friday, July 25, 2014

Dinner Alfresco @ Globe

What started as an impromptu al fresco dinner evolved into a delightful
soirée of revelations. On the Main on a summer's night, there's no missing
the long series of restaurants between Sherbrooke St and Pine Ave, in the
Plateau 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? Is it the restaurant known for its cuisine or the hot spot
that boasts the latest celebrity sightings? With their comely waitresses,
groovy color 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. Now, add to that the cool outdoor space... and voila!
I was there not long ago for a family dinner... but tonight I or we were
going to enjoy a beautiful night of dinning alfresco... but at the last minute
Mother Nature decided to be uncooperative. So Poppy and I moved indoors
to wait for our friend Wendy.
Facing the large panoramic view looking out on the setting sun 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. But I digress!
To complete the trio, Wendy, arrived and we proceeded to order every item
on the special Thursday '3@33$' menu. Globe's cuisine exploits organic and
local produce to its fullest…the new chef de cuisine J.-P. Miron lets the quality
of ingredients do the talking.
We began with an abundance of oysters... just enough to satisfy any longings
I had. One of the appetizers 'Cold green pea soup & King crab', a pea purée
with plenty of crab meat... it was a new flavor for me and Poppy said it was
divine. Endive salad covered with slight shavings of Parmesan cheese
accompanied by pork croquettes. It was simultaneously tangy and refreshing.
Finally, a smoked Halibut mousse with homemade potato chips... my favorite
For our main dishes we got spoiled... 'Cavatelli' with corn, Shiitake mushrooms,
shallots, and scallions. Wendy truly licked her fingers. A truly local dish… the
fried chicken with celery salad in blue dressing…was sweet, crispy and truly
decadent. Finally, Poppy's selection, 'Salmon Wellington', an oleaginous dish
that is rich beyond reason wrapped in a puff pastry. It was sublime and best
epitomizes what this restaurant is all about, sophisticated simplicity.
The wine... a rather intense purple-red Cabernet Sauvignon, 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, Gabriella, who was Lebanese/British, easily
fits that description, with charm, professionalism and a delicious voice. As the
crowds prove, Globe remains the perfect choice if you're up for the hullabaloo
of the St. Laurent scene.

* From Where I Sit!
July 24, 2014

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

Brasserie le Pois Penché‏

Today was a most delicious lunch with the Attorney. I had not been back
in some time, so on the advice of counsel... we lunched as Parisians do on
a beautiful, sunny afternoon. It could have been on the Champs Élysée or
rue des Cigalles in the heart of the hustle and bustle of Paris in July...
but we were in the heart of downtown Montreal @ Brasserie 'Le Pois Penché'.
'Le Pois Penché' is ideally located and invites you to take a trip back
in time. Inspired by the 40's Paris scene, it offers a bistro destination
like no other marked by art deco. The ideal venue regardless of the time
of day or the occasion, 'Le Pois Penché' is the ultimate bistro for those
interested in a traditional slate which features all the French classics.
'Le Pois Penché' will entice your palette with its high-end bistro fare
and is a must see on the Montreal culinary scene. Le Devoir newspaper praises
the restaurant for its classy service, which I can attest by our amiable
serveuse Maud... who was at our beck-and-call, and the quality of its
private import wine cellar. Its decor has that fantasy French brasserie
look, part 'Alexandre', part 'L'Express', part New York City's 'Balthazar',
but more red velvet than red leather.
Being a hot and muggy day we decided to forgo the usual full course lunch
and opted for a smorgasbord of French entrées. For starters we indulged
in an 'Assiette de charcuterie'; cheeses, dried fruits with toasted slivers
of baguette... crisp and a bowl of pommes frites with mayonnaise
à la Dijon... then we were spoiled with a dozen oysters (half 'Raspberry
Point' from Nova Scotia and half 'Beausoleil' from La Malbaie)…served with
a Cabernet Sauvignon from Bordeaux for 'moi' and a Sancerre Blanc for the
legal eagle.
The finale... our 'Pièce de résistance' a 'Torchon de Foie gras' terrine
aux délices d'herbes fines. It has been too long since I enjoyed such un
bon 'dîner à la Française'. We caught up... she had missed several dinner
parties... and I was inspired. Bon weekend!

* From Where I Sit!
Fourth of July, 2014

* Brasserie le Pois Penché
1230 Boulevard de Maisonneuve Ouest,
Montréal, QC H3G 1M1
(514) 667-5050

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Birthday Dinner @ Cavalli‏

After many months, and some bad press along the way... we made our way back
to an old haunt, Ristorante Cavalli. Being my mom's birthday and her favorite
restaurant… it was inevitable. So a little after 7:00, my dear mom, my sister
and I made our way back to that familiar, expansive entryway to the Food Porn
There are definitely changes to the decor... more on that in the coming
month... but the first thing you notice… no more famous 'Pink bar', but
replaced by a more subdued version…. all dressed down and welcoming:
a perfect place to come in from the sweltering summer heat.
I was greeted like no time had passed (smiling) and MY regular, round table
was still in the same spot. In a matter of moments... I was sipping my glass
of Cabernet Sauvignon... and began to look at the updated menu. An added bonus…
the personnel was very similar... including executive chef Frank Gioffre...
who assured me I would sample a plethora of new appetizers.

And the dance of culinary delights began… a 'Beef tartar' with tomato,
olives, capers, shallot accompanied by zucchini fries. Light golden, slightly
battered, and oh so delicious. Then it was the always tangy 'Tuna sashimi'
with celery leaves, green olives, shallot, and spicy lemon and mayo capers.
Followed by a dish my sister raved about, 'Burrata and heirloom tomatoes
caprese' with figs, arugula, prosciutto crudo di Parma and grilled pine nut
focaccia... because she recently returned from a week in Paris where she
enjoyed that very dish at several bistros in the arrondissement where she

The rest of the meal continued in the same manner: technically assured
cooking that typifies the simplicity of the Italian kitchen... like a main
course of 'Rack of lamb' with split pea puree, roasted carrots, sauteed
escarole, grilled banana pepper and feta salsa. Or the inspired 'Chilean
sea bass' on a bed of crab, cucumber and avocado salad, sticky rice, with
a Wasabi Tobiko Ginger/Coriander Emulsion. It was like sex on a plate!

'They say the measure of a great restaurant is in the consistency of
its dishes.' ~ ©Frank Borsellino

* From Where I Sit!
June 27, 2014

* Ristorante Cavalli
2042 Peel St.
Montreal, H3A 2R4
(514) 843-5100

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sweet Tooth @ Rosalie Observations

I sometimes get invited to events that are a feather above my line of aptitude... but I go
because we must delve into newer experiences and venture outside our comfort zone as often
as we can. I have lived by that doctrine my whole life... good or bad!

'Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.' ~ André Gide

Recently, through a friend... we'll call her 'The Emissary', I attended such an event...
an educational program with Robert Beauchemin, professor of Anthropology at LaSalle College,
and one of the only food anthropologists in Canada. He was a food critic at La Presse for
24 years and he is in fact one of Quebec's only Olive Oil experts recognized by Unaprol,
who sponsored the event. The benefactor of our afternoon, the new Bistro Rosalie, I say
new because, to my surprise, there was a changing of the guard some time in the fall of
2013...but I digress.
They delighted us with a smorgasbord of all things virgin to our palettes. I asked my
old friend, Virginia Wolfe, to be my plus one for this 'Extra Virgin Olive Oil' extravaganza.
I like her company, she's very intelligent, worldly and this is 'right in her wheelhouse'.

The welcome cocktail was called 'Sgroppino al Limone'... was a good Prosecco served with
two small balls of olive oil and lemon Granita….an absolutely delightful and refreshing
drink from Venice. Some of those wonderful hors d'oeuvre including Israeli couscous Pilaf
with apricots... large pearls of couscous sautéed with olive oil and flavored with dried
apricots. Grilled smokey corn toss... and a Crab and avocado salad tossed with sweet and
tangy passion fruit vinaigrette.
But the 'Raison d'être' of this gathering was an education in 'Extra Virgin Olive Oil'...
and so we got comfortable and Mr. Beauchemin began to enlighten us. To Virginia and myself
it was a very learned way to spend several hours... like being in a high-end Home Ec class.
Let us first get this out of the way... I don't know about you but I always wondered why
the term 'Virgin'... it means mechanically produced without chemical treatment.

What he professed very strongly about was reading labels, if there is no info on labels
it's probably a mixed product of olive oils. Not a good choice... best to discard. A good
quality producer will have an Expiration date on label and will have a Yellow and Blue label
with a harp, stars of the EU (European Union). Shelf life is from 18 to 24 months. Diminished
if exposed to light, oxygen and/or heat. Optimum climate and soil in regions will be
distinguished with a DOP, AOC or DOC on the olive oil bottle.
Xtra Virgin olive oil flavor peaks first two months of production. Olive harvest is in
late November early December and they must be treated within 15 to 20 hours from picking,
otherwise olives will oxidize. The best flavour is the first month from opening the bottle
and flavour diminishes after 2 years of shelf life; olive oil loses its bitterness and
taste, and the average life of an olive tree goes from 300 to 600 years.
Basically, olive oil doesn't age, but loses its quality. High quality extra virgin olive
oil should not be more expensive than $20/litre max and should be a product of Italy...
which exports most of their olive oil to USA... more than its produces. Xtra Virgin olive
oil should be stored in a cool, dark place. Never refrigerate, because it'll become cloudy
and crystallize... rancid oil from oxidation is poison
The largest producers are Italy with 7000 types of olives. 450 types of olives selected
for variety of mixes and flavour. Produces 500 to 600 thousand tonnes per year. The next
closest country is Spain with 15 types of olives. Greece falls in number three with one
hundred thousand tonnes per year and it produces a poorer and cheaper quality product at
a more expensive price at $25/litre. France is very low in the scale of production with
only 5000 tonnes per year.

Here are a few points he wanted us to take note so I will dictate numerically:
* 11 lbs of olives pressed = 1 Quart (32oz) of extra virgin olive oil
* one tablespoon of olive oil = 120 calories, 14 grams of fat, and no cholesterol
* substitute extra virgin olive oil for butter in baked goods, they will have a longer
shelf life due to vitamin E and Polyphenals in olive oil

The time flew by in a nanosecond and as we ventured to the beautiful terrace I was
glad to have made a new friend in a wonderful lady, Ms. Imbeault hopefully will be
a joyous and delicious addition to my soirées... if I promise to be good!

* From Where I Sit!
April 5, 2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Jewel on Peel

Last night, a friend and myself, by happenstance, ventured into the most
wonderful little bistro. You have two options at this quaint little jewel on
Peel Street… your first choice is a salad with Walnuts, and steak w/French
fries (they call them 'Pommes allumettes'). For option number two you get
the soup of the day or tomato juice, salad w/Walnuts, steak w/French fries,
and for dessert, Profiteroles au chocolat'.

The environment was serene... beautiful, classic bistro decor, of which
I am a somewhat an aficionado / connoisseur. We began with the traditional
Baguette bread basket w/butter (a traditional bistro signature), accompanied
by a 'Domaine Tour de Pech Merlot Cabernet, 2012, Château Pech-Céleyran
(private import). It was a subtle blend offering flexibility and red berries
associated with Merlot Cabernet material… an elegant and silky wine. The
first course… a fresh Boston salad seduced us and it was all top-notch from
that moment forth. The Strip loin steak was seasoned just right and perfectly
grilled topped with a world class sauce... which we devoured (both not being
big red meat eaters) with such ease and rapidity. We forgo of the soup because
of the heat…. and the dessert was a sin.

The first restaurant opened in November 1983 in old Quebec on the street
'St-Jean', hence the origin of its name. The founder Mr. Reverberi grew up
in France, where he was inspired by the restaurant concept which already
existed in the streets of Paris and Geneva... eventually established in the
heart of Montreal in March of 1991. Today, L'Entrecote Saint-Jean continues
to maintain the quality standards to which has benefited their reputation
as an institution... where it has upheld a high popularity amongst the
amateurs of the French bistro restaurants.

* From Where I Sit!
June 2, 2014

* Bistro L'Entrecote Saint-Jean
2022, rue Peel,
Montreal. H3A 2W5
(514) 281-6492

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Confirmation @ Le Crystal‏

'I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk
in darkness, but have the light of life.' ~ John 8:12

Confirmation is one of the seven sacraments through which
Catholics pass in the process of their religious upbringing.
According to Catholic doctrine, in this sacrament they are
sealed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and are strengthened
in their Christian life. My nephew Anthony begun his journey
on Saturday.... and a small, intimate gathering of family
and friends celebrated @ Le Crystal.

The culinary offerings were exquisite, delicious and
mouth-watering. The wine choices were superb and the meat
sizzled to perfection... all with a touch of excellence and
white glove service.
One of life's greatest joys is the opportunity to be able
to celebrate our happiness surrounded by those we hold
dear... and make memories we will cherish forever.' ~ ©Frank Borsellino

* From Where I Sit!
May 31, 2014

* Le Crystal Reception Halls
5285 Henri Bourassa Blvd. W.
Ville Saint-Laurent, H4R 1B7

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dinner w/Desjardins‏

After many months of anticipation the evening arrived for our 'Dinner w/Desjardins'.
André aka Mr. Patterson, the distinguished gentleman and his lovely wife, late 50s' but
they look late forties. I have known them almost as long as Bombshell (her aunt & uncle).
A very smart man, who runs a multinational... and found a way for it to work for him
rather than he work for it, like I said...very smart.

Montreal is not just a good eating town, but an opinionated one, too, with deep roots
and a culture all its own. There's always a debate about where to get the best rotisserie
chicken or the most authentic poutine, that classic Québécois belly buster of French fries,
gravy and squeaky cheese curds. Or whether to go to St.Viateur Bagel Shop or Fairmount
Bagel Bakery for sesame bagels that are baked in wood-burning ovens and put New York City's
fluffy bread bombs to shame.... and the best 'foie gras' will always be where David and
Fred apply their craft.

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 or a bit of light
labor. 'Joe Beef' was a man of the people.'
The place itself isn't 'tres chic' but the reason one goes, isn't for fancy decor, place
settings and cutlery, but it's for the gastronomic explosion. And our palettes 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 your friends, as you would at a dinner party...and
last this night was no exception.
We enjoyed great wine from their private cellar... and for our dessert, 'Tourte au chocolat', Frederic (Fred) Morin came to our table, sat with us and we reminisced and caught up just
like old friends do.

* From Where I Sit!

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

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Life's Journey Dinner @ OTTO

Ladies & Gentlemen,

'Enthusiasm, if fueled by inspiration and perseverance, travels with passion
and its destination is excellence.' ~ Napoleon Hill

Once again another succulent soiree... No surprise the W Hotel slogan is
'Welcome to Wonderland', and OTTO is a perfect feather in that cap...the
women and men... who came to be inspired left enlightened.

Designed by architect Miguel Cancio, the visionary behind the uber-trendy
Buddha Bar and Man Ray in Paris, 'Otto' is all eye candy. Multi-colour stripes,
black on blonde wood. Long, cone-shaped chandeliers hang in a row, leading
to curved banquettes framed in what looks like giant bubble paper. For our
enjoyment music, from Frank Sinatra and Diana Krall were beautifully pulsating
in the background. Votive candles flicker throughout the low-lit space, which
makes the room feel more like a nightclub than a high-end luxury restaurant.
In a restaurant this trendy I would expect nothing less. The hotel literature
describes the cuisine as Italian fusion, like the décor, Otto's menu is a fusion
of styles thanks to our old friend from Cavalli, chef extraordinaire, Frank
There's a little Italian, some French, a dabble of Middle Eastern, with a
number of upscale ingredients assembled into wonderful dishes. The foodie in
me was in ecstasy from our juicy grilled baby lamb chops, to our Shrimp Tempura,
the Mini burgers, to the Arugula salad, Yellow fin tuna tartar, to our Cavatelli
in a tomato and basil sauce…licking the plate level of unbelievable delicious.
The meat, pan seared Angus tenderloin, rare and flavorful, was the highlight
of the plate. The other main course of grilled red snapper was a fitting finale
to a spectacular meal that lasted hours.
'Otto' may be one of those expensive restaurants in town... but they offer the
best food and service, and all this eye-candy to boot. Score one for the kitchen,
plate presentations are stunning. Score two, ingredients are topnotch. Score three,
service was courteous, professional, as expected, and our servers, beautiful and
very accommodating…are as hot as the patrons, was like that little bit extra. Bravo!

'Remember tonight... for it's the beginning of forever.' ~ Dante Alighieri

Your Cruise Director
Food is my Compass
April 26, 2014

* Ristorante OTTO @ W Montreal
901 Square Victoria
Viger & St.Antoine & McGill
(514) 395-3180 Pasquale Ruffolo

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Queen Latifah

Behind the moniker of hip-hop's first lady, Queen Latifah, is Dana Owens,
who was born on March 18th, 1970 in East Orange, New Jersey. She came
from a police family--both her father and older brother were cops, which
would later influence her rhyming style and life philosophy. Owens is of
both African American and Native American... and witnessed both sides
of Black urban life in the USA while growing up.

After a brief stint in a mediocre job, she soon found herself making
waves in the hip-hop music scene alongside 'Ladies Fresh'. At 18 she broke
through in the late 1980s with a style that picked selectively from jazz,
reggae, and soul traditions, from beats produced by 'D.J. Mark the 45 King'.
Her debut single, 'Wrath of My Madness', was released in 1988. A year later,
her debut long-player, 'All Hail the Queen', enjoyed favored reviews: an
old, wise head was evident on the top of her young shoulders.

She was nicknamed 'Latifah' by a cousin while she was in her teens, which
is Arabic for delicate and sensitive, but she has often been anything but
in her rhymes and the messages she sends out through them. One of the most
prominent female hip-hop artists on the scene for over a decade, Queen has
also made tremendous inroads in movies, television, and artist management,
with her company, Flavor Unit Entertainment, alongside her business partner
Shakim Compere.

Miss Latifah is the first female rapper to be nominated for an Academy
Award. Became the first hip-hop artist honored with a star on the Hollywood
Walk of Fame on January 4th, 2006. Of all her roles to date, her personal
favorite is Cleopatra Sims from 'Set It Off' (1996). My favorites are...
'The Dilemma' (2011) w/Vince Vaughn & Kevin James + 'Just Wright' (2010)
w/Common + 'Living Out Loud' (1998) w/Holly Hunter & Danny DeVito.

* Movie Trivia: Queen was set to star in 'Monster's Ball' (2001) alongside
Robert De Niro with Sean Penn directing. Unfortunately, due to scheduling
conflict, because producers could not set up the film in time... it was
delayed and recast. Her role went to Halle Berry and DeNiro's to Billy
Bob Thornton.

* From Where I Sit!
February 15, 2014

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Marcello Mastroianni : Italian Style

'Marcello Mastroianni is the epitome of Italian style. Thanks to his
devotion to basic black suits, French-cuffed dress shirts, and uncomplicated
black ties… he holds the unique honor of proving that breaking boundaries
can be done while adhering to simplicity and tradition.
He knew that the key to style wasn't wearing the most elite labels or most
expensive fabrics. For him, it was all about the fit… and didn't try to
make waves with outrageous colors or excessive detailing, but instead
focused on the cut of his garments. He proved that when the fit is right,
everything else falls into place, and his lasting legacy is an important
lesson: it doesn't matter what you wear, only how you wear it.
That is why his incomparable style doesn't stop at his wardrobe. He
crafted a complete look to ensure that he always wore the clothes and
that the clothes never wore him. His style was in his smile, his stare,
the tip of his sunglasses, the way he crossed his legs, his poise and
posture. No detail was left out, and his commitment to creating a look
that was truly all his own has made Marcello Mastroianni one of the most
difficult style icons to replicate.' ~ ©Frank Borsellino