Category Archives: salads

Hot summertime eats that will keep you cool

Montreal is sweltering, and the idea of turning on the stove makes me break out in a cold sweat. Actually, it’s only cold sweat because I’m standing in my bedroom in front of the air-conditioner. Otherwise, it’d just be your garden variety of hot sweat. Yuck.

In any event, cooking in the summertime is a challenge, not only because it heats up the house, but also because sometimes you don’t even want to think about food, much less prepare it. It’s just too damn hot.

Therefore, I have compiled a list of my top 5 Hot Summertime Eats That Will Keep You Cool. Check it before you wreck it!

  1. Chicken Caesar Salad – A favourite at my place all year ’round, but it’s during the oppressive summer months when this simple salad really shines. Grab yourself a rotisserie chicken from your neaby grocery store, a jar of Renée’s Mighty Caesar dressing (for the extra garlic punch!), a head of Romaine lettuce and some Parmesan cheese and you’re almost done. Wash that lettuce good ‘n’ proper, spin it a couple of times through the ol’ spinner de salade, rip it up into bite-sized hunks, schmear it with dressing, toss and place it on some nice plates. Rip up your rotisserie chicken with your hands, place the pieces on top of your lettuce, then grab some Parmesan and/or Cheddar cheese to sprinkle on top of the whole thing. Dinner is served!
  2. Sushi – It’s carbolicious, but it’s also served cold. Therefore, sushi is my summertime treat of choice. Save the saké for the winter months and drink a nice, cold glass of white wine with your choice of sushi. Yum! (Yes, this is a lazy woman’s choice, as you will invariably have to order out. Unless you know how to roll your own, which I have done before, but would not recommend as it is rather labour intensive for slug-like summer days.)
  3. moishescoleslawColeslaw – Okay, maybe this is a crazy item to have on this list, but coleslaw has become an obsession with me in recent months. In Quebec, most of the coleslaw is served in a weird vinegary oil. This is not the coleslaw I’m talking about. You want CREAMY coleslaw, something like what Moishe’s makes. Alternately, if you’re not into coleslaw, you can also try their deliciously garlicky potato salad with roasted garlic. Cold salads are your friend. (Except for those weird bean salads, bleh.)
  4. Cottage Cheese/Yogurt – A friend of mine remarked that although his family always had cottage cheese in the fridge when he was growing up, he couldn’t recall ever having seen anybody actually eating it. At my house, cottage cheese is a must-have staple. High in protein, low in carbs, and a great addition to your dairy intake, this could be the perfect food. Don’t stick it in a canteloupe the way those weird Californians in movies do; just eat it straight from the tub. Cold, delicious curds. Great when you don’t feel like cooking. Don’t like cottage cheese? Weirdo. No, but seriously: get yourself some yogurt. I’m a huge fan of the Source “dessert” lemon one by Yoplait, as well as the cherry version. Yum.
  5. Baby Carrots – Feel free to substitute any fresh veggies you happen to like, but I’m a big fan of the baby carrot. Or the “carotte genre miniature” as they are apparently called en français. (What a mouthful.) Cool, clean tasting with a satisfying crunch, with or without dips or dressings, the baby carrot is simply delightful on a hot summer day.

Honourable Mention – Deli Meats

Salami doesn’t seem to be much in demand in this province, which is all the better for me, as I love it. But really, any cold deli meats will do on a particularly humid, disgusting day. Peel off a few pieces, eat ’em alone, or wrap ’em up in a mini tortilla with some cheese. God bless deli meats. It’s the one thing I really miss about New York. Montreal doesn’t know shit about delis, and if they’ve got some of those amazing mozzarella knots hiding around here somewhere, like the kind you can see over at the Brooklyn Pork Store, I’d like to know about it. Those things are delicious. Deli style, jugga-jigga-wugga!

So, what are your favourite summer foods?

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Studio 10 King & Brûlerie St-Denis

Shoestring Montreal reader Myriam writes in to say that she works at a place called Studio 10 King in the Old Port, which includes the Avenue Art gallery, a printing shop, and a Brûlerie St-Denis that offers “affordable and delicious eats such as sandwiches, wraps, soups and salads and of course coffee and treats.” Located at 10 King Street, the studio is currently (until August 21) showing photography from Montreal called “Scenes of Montreal” featuring photos by Richard Anber, Francesca Anderson, Claudia Gomez and Darina Velkova. 10% of the sales on these photos will go to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, so if you’ve been looking for a bit of artwork to hang on your walls, stop by and check ’em out!

But since this is a blog about food, and I’ve tried the infamous Brûlerie St-Denis’ wares, I thought I’d write up a little review. Granted, I’ve never been to their café on King Street (though I have been to both the 3967 St-Denis and 1587 St-Denis locations), but it’s a chain; they’re all pretty much the same, no?

As Myriam notes, they always offer a soup of the day for $2.50, salad of the day for $3.50 ($2.50 if you get it with a sandwich), and a variety of sandwiches ranging from standards like ham & cheese to the exotic tuna & avocado, the pesto and goat cheese panini, and more. They’ve got homemade cookies at 50 cents a piece; brownies, Nanaimo bars and breakfast pastries are $2. A nice inexpensive lunch or treat, along with a cup of coffee, and at this particular location you can score a free art exhibit, which definitely sweetens the deal. After all, how often do you get to look at art for free?

"Café au choix" at Brûlerie St-Denis (photo by Flickr user pagnolle)

"Café au choix" at Brûlerie St-Denis (photo by Flickr user pagnolle)

My experience with the Brûlerie in general has been a bit mixed. I like the fact that they import and roast their own coffee, that it’s a local chain, and that they’ve got a laid-back attitude towards people who like to linger. I don’t like the confusing way their stores are set up, however, as it’s hard to tell whether you’re supposed to order at the counter or from a waiter if you intend to stay, but only want to order a drink. Apparently you’re supposed to order from the waiter, but there’s usually only one of them circulating through a pretty large space, which makes catching his or her attention a bit difficult. So that’s irritating, if you’d like your drink in a hurry, which I do. I mean, even if you intend to stay for a while, you still want to get your drink so you can drink it while you’re reading or writing, rather than reading through half a magazine while you wait to place your order.

However, the chain wants its customers to really know and appreciate coffee, which I like. They’ve got a few notes on their website about how to appreciate a good coffee, as well as the secrets to a perfect cup of coffee. They offer a different Coffee of the Day to get people interested in tasting different types of coffee, and offer a 10% discount on the daily brew at their retail counter (which I think means a 10% discount on beans, not on a cuppa joe, but you’d have to check with them).

"Brulerie St-Denis, maison de torréfaction de café, rue St-Denis Montreal" (photo by Flickr user pagnolle)

"Brulerie St-Denis, maison de torréfaction de café, rue St-Denis Montreal" (photo by Flickr user pagnolle)

In the summertime, they’ve got cold coffees and frappés mostly made without added sugar, as they’re using real coffee and not syrups—unlike most of the other chains with their frappuccinos and chillates. I tried their mochaccino last week and it was quite tasty, with bits of actual chocolate sprinkled in, very old-fashioned milkshake-like.

Overall, I would say that I like the Brûlerie’s food and drink, as it tends to be delicious as well as healthier than standard café fare, but I’m not a big fan of their service, since it tends to be slow. If you’re not in any hurry, or prefer to take your coffee to-go, this shouldn’t be a problem, but if you want to grab a quick bite, this is probably not your best bet. So I would encourage you to grab a cup of the daily brew, and a cookie or two, and check out the 10 King location for the bonus artwork. Maybe I’ll see you there!

ADDRESS: 10 King Street (Old Port)
METRO: Square-Victoria
PHONE: 514-397-9866
WEBSITE: www.brulerie.com

Java U

Tip options at Java U are typically amusing (photo by Flickr user kushari)

Tip options at Java U are typically amusing (photo by Flickr user kushari)

While I’m normally a fan of the Java U franchise, as a homegrown alternative to evil corporate entities like Starbucks and Tim Hortons, and the wildly-varying menus of the Second Cups and Van Houttes of Quebec, I’ve got to ask: what’s up with the wifi sitch?

See, the Java U McGill location would totally be my favourite new hangout, except for one little thing: they don’t have wifi access for their customers. Sure, there’s a JAVAUMCGILL listing when I fire up my Airport, but it’s got a password on it, because it’s for the company intranet. Um, wtf? Why would you have internet access that isn’t available to your customers? That’s like saying, “Look at all our delicious chocolate brownies and treats! Sorry, they’re only for the employees.”

Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, as I understand that cafés aren’t primarily in the business of selling wifi or hooking up customers with Internet access (free or otherwise), but I do find it weird that it’s not even an option. Especially in a town that has so many cafés offering free wifi, and knowing that several other Java U locations do offer free wifi. I mean, seriously… wtf?

But anyway…. despite their lack of wifi, the pros of this café are many. It’s got:

  • Super modern décor
  • A large seating area with plenty of comfortable banquettes and a long bar in the middle for large groups or business meetings
  • A steady stream of tourists to spy on
  • Friendly staffers
  • Clean bathrooms
  • The excellent Java U menu, which features lots of great sandwiches, salads and gourmet coffee, AND
  • It’s just a quick 20-minute bus ride from my apartment!
Java U's Guy-Concordia location

Java U's Guy-Concordia location

Unfortunately, the total lack of wifi (and outlets, now that you mention it) makes working here almost impossible. Sure, it’s a great place to disappear for a while, especially when you want to get some serious writing done, but being cut off from the Internet is pretty devastating for a freelancer who relies on the Intertubes for her business.

So, while I will probably still escape to this Java U location (among others) for a writing date with myself every once in a while, I can’t give this location the thumbs up I was hoping for. If they ever take the hint and allow customers access to their sweet sweet wifi, however, I’d be here in a heartbeat. Or 20 minutes, by bus.

ADDRESS: 124 McGill (Old Port)
METRO: Square-Victoria
PHONE: 514-954-0707
WEBSITE: java-u.com