Since the tender age of 8 I have been in love with cheese. My adoration for it began at a Christmas supper, after the main course had been served. My father's family had always been strong supporters of apéritifs and cheese before dessert. My brother, cousins, and I would always see them conversing and laughing over a few bottles of wine and a large cheese platter. Many cousins often made funny faces and held their noses when this tray would come out of the kitchen which confused me some because my father, his siblings, and my grand-mother swore by cheese. How could the adults be so passionate about cheese and the kids so revolted? I needed to get to the bottom of this!

Afternoon Tea Fit for Royalty

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10634254_10152311395150423_298325594_n.jpgFinger sandwiches, scones, and bite size desserts oh my! Afternoon tea is not just for the elite anymore. Everyone can enjoy the delectable finger foods and flavourful teas while gossiping with friends. There are a handful of places in Montreal that serve afternoon tea, as well as thousands of places in the U.K. I have had the opportunity to experience afternoon tea from both these areas.

My friend and I planned a trip to Scotland and were curious if Montreal's afternoon tea scene was as good as the U.K.'s. Here was our chance to compare the two. We started with a trip to Montreal's Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel and ended two weeks later in Scotland enjoying afternoon tea at the Howard Hotel in Edinburgh.

Roll Up the Rim to Win or Lose?

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P1060503.JPGWill I win or will I lose this time around?

The first sign of spring is not the increase in temperature, the disappearance of snow, or the first sight of flowers in bloom. The first sign of spring, for Canadians, is the red, yellow, and blue Tim Hortons' coffee cups and the constant reminder to 'Please play again'. Tim Hortons' Roll Up the Rim to Win contest is the true announcement of spring. A new abundance of prizes and chances to win transfix the minds of customers and mask the slow and brutal last leg of winter. From February to May, the contest becomes an addiction for many; henceforth, it straddles the line between good and bad.

On your Set One, Two, Meghli: A Lebanese Recipe

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Hey Montrealers! Do you want to impress some of your Lebanese friends? Do you have a newborn in the family and want to make something special to celebrate? Well, not to worry! Below you will find a simple and delicious meghli recipe that is sure to impress and put a smile on everyone's face.

Meghli is a Lebanese treat for special occasions. Traditionally, this desert is made when there is a newborn and is served to family members and neighbors. Meghli is a recipe often handed down among the women. Of course, in true Lebanese style in the everyone claims that theirs is the best, but I know that there isn't any meghli out there quite like my mom's.

DSC_0123 (2).jpgAs a student, living in an apartment away from home, I can say eating healthy is not always a top priority. During my first year of university, most of my money was spent on outings with friends, clothes, coffee, tuition, rent, textbooks, and coffee. Buying and eating healthy food did not come before school. I cannot count the amount of times I chose a package of Kraft Dinner or Ramen noodles over a meal containing actual nutritional value. I picked unhealthy food options because the price of the food was cheap and the cook time was minimal. Eating healthy in-between going to class, procrastinating on assignments, working, or hanging out with friends seemed impossible. There was so much to do and no time to make a healthy and cheap meal decision.

Who Cares, Just Eyeball It!

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DSC_0201.jpgJust Eyeball It! creator Jonathan Cote Lahue. Photo taken by Olivia Robinson.

Having a YouTube channel is not new for Jonathan Cote Lahue, who has been experimenting with his cooking channel Just Eyeball It! for two and a half years now. With the success of the channel and the drive to experiment with other genres Jonathan has started four other YouTube channels that focus on everything from gaming to daily events. Being an official YouTuber comes naturally to Jonathan who is upbeat, lively and excitable. Key aspects that any successful YouTuber needs to have.

Gaining Experience: From Line Cook to Sous-Chef

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Slicing tomatoes and onions, mixing ground beef with secret spice combos, hand cutting potatoes into perfect French fry slices, and warming handmade buns to perfection: Working at a high end burger joint requires more than just flipping patties. Burger fabrication is an art that only cooking experience can help you with. For 21 year old Wesley, finding new ways to gain experience is how he got to his sous-chef position at Montreal's Burger Bar.

A Single Cabbage and a Gopher Named Joe

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I am an avid gardener and I have been for at least five years now. It is the feel of dirt between my fingers, the hopefulness of having a plant sprout out of the ground, and the pride when that plant blooms which keeps me gardening year after year. Gardening brings with it a sense of determination and an appreciation of nature. I live on a small cattle farm which brings with it its own amount of awe; however, gardening introduced me to a new world filled with insects, birds, and pesky rodents. Insects that I had never seen before found their way in between my tiger lilies and my rosebushes. Caterpillars hung out on milkweed leaves, and humming birds would occasionally reveal their presence by a quick glint of green feathers as they themselves found something to eat.

An Abundance of Bubbly at La Champagnerie

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All photos in this post are courtesy of Adam Castonguay Photography

I attended a private event at La Champagnerie on Monday, February 17th as part of the John Molson Undergraduate Case Competition (read more). For those interested in hosting an event there, I would not recommend having over 150 people as we were 160 and it was completely packed. Both restaurant and bar, La Champagnerie is beautifully located on rue Saint-Paul in Old Montreal, literally across the street from Marche Bonsecours. It's a great place to take tourists!

The space itself is very cool. There are two bars and two semi-levels. The main bar is in the centre of the main room and is surrounded by small tables to the side where you can sit in small groups. At the back of the venue, there is a second level with a second bar and large booths that are perfect for getting bottle service with a group of friends. The front end of the restaurant offers little windowed alcoves that are the perfect setting for a romantic date.

Let your Taste Buds Explode at Ateliers & Saveurs

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In a 140-year old building that was used as the centre of a vast telegraphic system, an original concept, Atelier and Saveurs, has been in operations since 2008. This building is located in Old Montreal, where activity choices are endless. Horse ride around town? No problem.  Fireworks over the water while enjoying a poutine? Sure. Infinite dining and entertainment options? Old Montreal may be "old" but it is definitely keeping the city young by providing Montrealers with a beautiful area, filled with history to enjoy a night (or day!) out on the town.

Even with the clutter of activity options, Atelier & Saveurs adds something special to the city.  Located on the bottom floor of the historic and award-winning Telegraph building, it provides cooking, cocktails and wine appreciation lessons in a beautifully designed setting.

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A&S Workshops

Ateliers & Saveurs (A&S) offers a wide range of different workshops that correspond to several levels of expertise. From half-hour sessions for people on a tight schedule ($20) to two-hour elaborate lessons on specialty cuisine ($55-$75), A&S can evidently cater to a diverse group of individuals.

The "Fancy Tapas" Workshop

In the "Fancy Tapas" workshop, students are encouraged to make four types of tapas (small portion entrees) and a unique dessert, all while enjoying a few complimentary glasses of wine. In a group setting of 12, faced by the head chef, all the ingredients come together to create tasty meals.

Following an informational demonstration by the head chef, each student is assigned a specific task to ensure participation by all. The workshop's stages follow the usual steps that take place when preparing a meal from the preparation to the assembly and finally, the tasting.

From simple chopping and marinating, participants' engagement results in an incredibly delicious product: sauté of mushrooms on crispy puff pastry with melting old cheddar, crispy mini-tortillas topped with guacamole and marinated shrimps, Shrimp tempura marinated in spicy mayonnaise and curry pepper salad, beef flank steak and balsamic caramelized onions over country bread toast and for desert, a deconstructed lemon tart.

Restrain from salivating, if possible.

lemon.jpgThe deconstructed lemon tart

Other note-worthy workshops include:

Follow the Chef...at the market ($95):  Includes a chef-guided tour to the market to educate students on how to pick the best ingredients, followed by a cooking lesson using the ingredients purchased and then a tasting! 

Pastry Delirium ($55): Bake 3-4 popular pastries and take them home to enjoy in a take-out box. 

Private event workshop - Battle of the Chefs: The group is separated into two teams, accompanied by a chef to compete on making the best starter, main course and dessert.  The group then dines together to decide which team cooked up the best meal.

The A&S Team

These innovative and collaborative workshops would not be possible, of course, without the talented A&S team, comprised of renowned chefs, mixologists and sommeliers. Head chef, Marc Bilodeau, received his education from one of the world's most prestigious culinary schools, Cordon Bleu Paris in Ottawa. Not only does he have a highly educated knowledge of food and extensive experience in the industry, but he also has a contagious, dynamic personality. His workshops include delicious, yet simple, recipes and useful cooking tips for every day use such as "Never wash your mushrooms in water because they are like little sponges. Use a brush or damp cloth to remove any dirt."

GROUP.jpgAlthough A&S gives you the option to schedule private events, the group workshops are of such an interactive nature that it brings a different dynamic as you cook with people with different cultural backgrounds, that you have just met. 

A&S clearly has all the elements needed to create an unmatched customer experience with its qualified and dynamic staff, a lovely setting, as well as a long list of workshops that can suit almost anyone, even those not particularly fond of cooking! It is the perfect place to enjoy a fun, interactive activity with friends followed by the chance to indulge in your creations by kicking back in the dining room with a nice glass of wine selected by the sommelier to perfectly match the blend of ingredients. Taste buds exploded.

Recipe for Sauté of Mushrooms on Crispy Puff Pastry with Melting Old Cheddar
(Serves 4 persons)

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Ingredients for the sauté of mushrooms

150 g      Button mushroom(s)

150 g       Shiitake(s)

1 unit       Onion

1 clove    Garlic

2 sprigs    Thyme

100 ml      White wine

100 ml      Cream 35%

15 ml         Grainy mustard

Ingredients for the crispy puff pastry bites

½ leave     Puff pastry

75 g           Old cheddar

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Butter

Preparation 

1. General preparation (30 minutes - preheat oven to 400 F°)

Cut the button mushrooms into small dice. Remove the feet and slice shiitake mushrooms. Chop the white onion and garlic. Chop the thyme. Cut cheddar into 12 squares.

2. Crispy puff pastry preparation

Cut circles of puff pastry using a cookie cutter. Place the circles on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with parchment paper and second baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. 

3. Sauté of mushrooms preparation

In a pan, drizzle some olive oil and add a knob of butter. Sauté the onions and the mushrooms over high heat. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped thyme and cook a few minutes, until lightly browned. Add chopped garlic and cook for one minute before deglazing with white wine. Let reduce by half. Stir in cream and mustard. Simmer 3 to 4 until the sauce thickens.

4. To serve

Place the mixture on the circles of puff pastry then cover with a square of cheddar. Bake in the oven for 3-4 minutes to melt the cheese. Serve immediately.









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