A Handful of Macarons

Our little street in Montreal (on St. Dennis) was crammed with restaurants, lounges, and little speciality stores. The block is mostly 3 or 4 story townhouses, with the basement and first levels of each home all commercial. Tucked into the ground level of one of these buildings is Marius et Fanny Patisserie Proven├žale. This place has it ALL. Chocolates, cakes, savory goods and sandwiches, croissants, macarons, EVERYTHING.

So of course I had to get one of every macaron…for photographic purposes! They even made them all the way back to the states so I could photograph them. I honestly don’t even remember what flavor all of them are, apart from delicious. Some were filled with creams and ganche, while the fruity ones had jam sandwiched in between. Why haven’t I thought of using jam?!

I really adore the bold colors they used in creating these. I know some of the Parisian macaron makers prefer to be a little more subtle with their colors, but it’s great that they’ve created their own palette so to speak.

With the weather finally being cool enough to whip up a sturdy meringue, perhaps it’s time to give making macarons at home another shot. Since the possibilities are endless they’re a great treat for just about any occasion. Maybe a set of fall/Halloween colored macarons?

Traveling Photo Shoot: Truffles

Montreal is rumored to have some of the best pastry shops this side of the Atlantic, and while I was skeptical (I’m coming from the NYC area after all) I was excited to try as many pastries and confections as possible. On a particularly overcast morning walking through downtown Montreal, I passed by Suite 88 Chocolatier which just looked so tasty and so damned posh that I knew after a museum visit I’d be returning to give it a try.

I ordered two of everything.

Even still, several pieces didn’t make it till the photo shoot. Which brings about another concern – how do you photograph delicious pastries while on vacation? Sure, taking photos of the store displays and local dishes is great and makes for amazing photos, but what if you’re doing it in your hotel room? Or in my case, a comfortable bed and breakfast in the Plateau/Mont Royal neighborhood. In the small shared kitchen was what amounted to a thrift store collection of plates, one small white one suitable for a truffle display, and a brown and silver patterned scarf I brought along for the possibility of chilly evenings. An open window and 20 minutes to goof off and I had a completely makeshift traveling photo shoot.

All of the truffles were gone by the next afternoon, just in time to try another pastry shop. Travel photography is definitely a skill I’d like to develop, but with New York in my back yard I think I’ll have a lot of opportunities to practice.

The Best of the Worst – Vacation Food

Most chefs that I’ve met will eat almost anything. They’ve got good taste, but that doesn’t mean that they’re picky. Even if it’s bad, they’ll try anything…because you just don’t know until you try. Furthermore, while professional chefs may eat and cook well now there’s still a good chance a little bit of fast food or microwave mac and cheese is comfort food.

In honor of these foods, here’s the quick roundup of some of the not-four-star but tasty foods I came across on vacation.

Vacation was kicked off at the Norwalk Oyster Festival, where I convinced myself to finally give oysters a try. To ease myself into it I ordered some fried oysters, which taste like generic fried seafood I suppose. Yummy! Next I tried a raw one , and well – I just can’t do them. After spitting out my first, last, and only raw oyster I headed back to the fried oyster booth and got another. Also, tartar sauce is pretty good. Why haven’t I tried that before?

The Marchiano’s Calzone. I’m not entirely sure this is actually a calzone, but it’s calzone-like. Sunday mornings living in the East Falls & Manayunk neighborhoods of northwest Philadelphia were some of my favorites because of this thing. After a typically obnoxious Saturday night on Main Street we’d wake up and walk down the hill to Marchiano’s Bakery for one of these delights, and wander on home in time to catch the football game. I don’t even want to begin to analyze the nutritional values of this (or lack thereof) but it’s the definition of comfort food. Unfortunately, I’ve never tasted anything like it.

The entire time we were in Montreal, we kept meaning to try Poutine. According to our trusty guidebook, “The legend is that sometime in 1957 a customer walked into Le Cafe Ideal…and asked owner Farnand Lachance to add a handful of cheese curds to his order of [fries and gravy]. He shoved the result in front of his customer and muttered “Quel poutine” – which could be roughly translated as “What a mess.” ” Finally, on the last evening of our stay we went down to the Rapido diner on the corner for a fresh plate of poutine, and were pleasantly surprised. So surprised and delighted that we nearly cleaned the plate.

After tasting them and deciding I liked them, I mentioned to Greg that it was just like cheese fries, but with gravy on them. He reminded me that it wasn’t the gravy that originally made the dish strange, but the addition of the cheese – which I’m still having a little trouble understanding.

On the Road

Hello out there! I’m sorry for the interruption in posting, but fear not – I have not abandoned you! I’m currently traveling and eating my way across Montreal, and taking as many photos as I can of all of the lovely things I’ve come across. See:

Vacation started Friday night after work with a bottle of champagne and a trip to the Norwalk Oyster Festival, where I tried fried oysters for the very first time! It then spilled down into Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday for a far-too-short trip, and then the long drive up to Montreal on Monday. I’ll be here exploring and discovering every nook and cranny till Saturday. In the mean time I’ll be away from the blog. Hoping you’re eating sweet!

xo, Jenny

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