I’m a proud member of the Colonel’s Club even though I don’t often take advantage of it.
Nevertheless, every week, exclusive offers from KFC and KFC Select are sent to me, and upon presentation of my membership card at any restaurant, I get access to it. It’s magic!
In fact, a few weeks ago Colonel’s Club members get double the deals offered to them – a familly version and an individual version. However, as I said, I don’t often take advantage of it.
But since I was on my way to Montreal for the Liberal Convention, and since I had received the new deal by email earlier in the week, I thought I’d stop to the KFC in Casselman, exit 66 on the 417.
This Week’s Individual Meal Deal, for February 17th to February 23rd, is a Free Meal Upgrade With Purchase of Any Zinger BLT or BLT Deluxe. For the record, the Family deal is the 18 Piece Family Special for $29.99. But I wasn’t about to order that. No, no, no.
I got to the counter and showed them my card. The cashier seemed confused. It always happens. It’s like this Colonel’s Club is so exclusive that nobody has ever seen this membership card. The cashier called her manager over. They left the counter and went near the drive-thru window to consult some kind of a list posted on the wall.
Free Meal Upgrade With Purchase of Any Zinger BLT or BLT Deluxe. Seems simple. Turns out, it wasn’t. From my position, I could overhear their conversation:
“What do they mean, Meal Upgrade?”
“I suppose he buys the sandwich and gets a free combo?”
“Why don’t they say free combo, then?”
“I don’t know.”
“I hate these.”
She asked me what I wanted and I asked for a Zinger ($5.49), which wasn’t actually an option according to the offer. Nevertheless, she then proceeded to punch my Zinger into the register. Then, she yelled through the order window that she also needed a small fries with that.
“Why isn’t it on my screen?” answered the kitchen staff.
“Because of the Colonel’s Club.”
I felt privileged.
And I got my order a few minutes later.
The Zinger sandwich is made with a chicken breast, marinated in KFC’s hot & spicy seasoning, then double breaded before being deep fried. It is then topped with iceberg lettuce and smothered with their signature 2Hot4U spicy mayonnaise sauce and served on a toasted sesame seed bun.
The zinger offers a fairly big piece of chicken. ”Tender, juicy, Canadian chicken, grain-fed and hormone-free,” says KFC, in case you were wondering. It was tender, not sure it was that juicy, though. The double breading makes it very crunchy, which I liked, but said breading is also very salty. The lettuce and the bread were fresh, and there was plenty of chicken in each bite.
If you’re expecting a fiery hot chicken burger then you’re going to be very disappointed. The Zinger has a bit of a zing, but the 2Hot4U sauce, a thousand-island coloured mayo blend, was not that hot – although there was a slight build up as I ate my sandwich. Overall, the Zinger is not a bad sandwich – but I could see how making it a BLT would improve it. If only nobody had been confused!
I had a hastily arranged lunch date with a reporter who had been trying to pin me down for a few weeks now. Some free time opened up, so I suggested that we meet up at Milestone’s, which is both convenient and usually quiet early in the week.
As we tried to complete a few emails and phone calls, we peered at the menu, which had once again changed. New lunch options are the Spicy Thai Basil Noodles and the Stacked Burger. I ignored those and was looking at the Chopped Salad as a possible option, another one being the Fire-Grilled Salmon, served with a Pineapple and Pepper Salsa and Quinoa Pilaf.
My reporter friend wanted to try the Stacked Burger ($15) – but she was insistant on me getting it along with her, to share the guilt I suppose. I reluctantly agreed, and as I walked away to take another phone call, I told her to order for me.
And she did, nicely getting the Mixed Greens Salad as a nod to my previous attempt to eat healthy.
It didn’t take look for our glorious burgers to show up:
A sizeable Prime Rib burger on a Brioche Bun, stacked with Smoked Meat, Bacon Strips, Button Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Cheddar and Horseradish Cream.
As I pointed out earlier, the burger was served with a side salad, mixed greens with red onions and strawberries and served with a berry dressing. It was useful to clean the palate between Stacked Bites!
To better appreciated Milestone’s Stacked Creation, and to more easily handle it, I cut it in half.
What a stacked beauty!
This was a smooth, almost silky burger. Lots of complimentary flavours blending together. The beef patty was cooked well-done, but remained juicy, no doubt thanks to the juicy smoked meat and the melted cheese – though there could have been more cheese. The sauteed mushrooms gave some textural pop to the sandwich, while the caramelized onions gave it depth. The bacon could have been crispier to add to the textural experience. The only condiment on the burger was a horseradish cream, which was very, very mild – too mild, you were only getting the idea of horseradish in the mix. I would have preferred a stronger horseradish bite. The bun was of a good quality – the brioche-style made for a solid base while not being too bready.
Despite the sodium and the calories that was forced upon me, I can’t say I regret having eaten it. As far as eatery chains go, this burger was quite delicious, and wouldn’t take much to reach perfection. I wouldn’t hesitate to order it again – with a side salad, of course.
Coming back from the Liberal shinding in Montreal, I had to make a stop for a quick lunch. I had decided to go home via the 417, which meant taking the 40 West. Which meant that the easiest stop was going to be at the Montée Lavigne exit.
Your options at exit 17 include Harvey’s, Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s and the Hudson Inn complex, which has a table service option with Eggcellent, and three counters: Pizza Hut Express, Subway (which replaced the Dunkin Donuts) and Burger King.
I drove while pondering my choice, but despite my willingness to consider options, I had to come to terms with my craving – I wanted a Whopper. So I had to go to the Home of the Whopper.
The Whopper is Burger King’s signature hamburger. It was created in 1957 by Burger King founder James McLamore, 10 years before the Big Mac. Originally, the burger was made with a plain bun but BK switched to a sesame-seeded bun in the 70s – though they used a Kaiser roll for a decade starting in 1985.
Over the years, BK has sold several variations of the burger, some then sticking around the menu permanently, some as limited-time offers. We’ve seen the Chicken Whopper, California Whopper, Western Whopper, Texican Whopper, Whiplash Whopper, Wisconsin White Cheddar Whopper, Veggie Whopper, Chipotle Whopper, Avocado and Swiss Whopper, Teriyaki Whopper, LTO Canadian Whopper and even the Windows 7 Whopper, sold in Japan to celebrate the launch of Windows 7. Burking King even launched the BK Whopper Bar to brand their express, limited menu, franchises.
Currently on Burger King’s menu in Canada, you can find the original Whopper and its familly: junior, double, triple, and triple with cheese Whopper. And, of course, the Angry Whopper – which is what I ordered.
The Angry Whopper was first introduced in Europe in 2008 and made it’s way into the US in 2009 and in Canada shortly after. Since then, the Angry Whopper has come and gone a few times, sometimes triggering petitions. So far, the Angry Whopper has always come back, usually with an aggresive marketing campaign.
As usual, this Whopper has a 1⁄4 lb fire-grilled beef patty. Building on that base, you’ll find Pepper Jack Cheese, bacon, spicy onion petals, spicy jalapeños, smothered with their “angry” sauce and topped with tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and mayo - all piled on a warm sesame seed bun.
I’ve been meaning to try one for a long time but always delayed, afraid I would be too disappointed by the overhyped heat from the ads. But finally, I got my hands on one. The smell of the spicy bbq sauce was promising, and the burger itself was nicely assembled – no doubt because the place was quite quiet.
I took a bit. A little tingle. Where would it end up? I would soon find out.
The beef patty was what you expect – your standard fire-grilled Whopper patty with its usual spice mix. Which is fine, I wasn’t expecting the heat to come from it – although it would be the spot to hide some cayenne pepper. There was some heat from the pickled jalapeno peppers but this thing had too very few of them to have a real impact. A better option would be to go for fresh-cut ones.
The fried onions were just that – despite being called “Angry Onions”, I can’t say that they were spicy or anything. They tasted good, and were texturally pleasant. And since they were onion petals rather than rings, the intergrity of the burger remained as I was eating it.
The “Angry Sauce” had a very light colour for something supposed to be angry. One would imagine a Red Hot or Dark Brown colour, instead it was more of yellowish-brown hue. There was a little kick from it, but clearly blanced with sweetness and some smokey flavor. As for the Spicy Monterey Jack, well, we all know it usually looks better than it actually is – faking heat but actually being a cooling agent. The bacon was crispy and the produce were fresh, which is always key for a burger.
Nevertheless, this was a pretty good rendition of a classic. I suppose if you’re really keen to get spiced up, you would get angry eating this as it produces no more than an edgy whimper. But since I had low expectations, I actually enjoyed it and would order it again.
Everglades City was first an American settlement after the Civil War, at first a trading post for sugar cane and a fishing and hunting destination. To this day, stone crab harvests (Everglades City is probably the largest commercial stone crab supplier in the US) and alligator hunts are a big part of the local economy.
So are tourists such as ourselves. We had decided to explore the Everglades and settled on an airboat ride with Totch’s Island Tours, the sole location offering a short 30 minute ride, which was deemed most suitable for the toddler and baby we’re carrying around South Florida with us.
And so, after a fun ride taking us through the Mangrove jungles and shallow water bays of the Everglades and the Waffle Jr. getting to hold a baby alligator, we were quite hungry.
We decided to drive around the area a little bit, searching for a suitable lunch spot while enjoying the scenery, all the way from Everglades City to Chokoloskee and then back.
We finally settled on the Oyster House Restaurant, “World Famous” stated the big red sign, avertising fresh seafood and steaks and calling itself “Stone Crab Central”. Quite the pitch.
The parking lot was almost empty, despite the noon hour fast approaching. Of course, we’re in the middle of the week in the middle of the winter.
The Oyster House is part of Miller’s World Resort, which includes cabins, a marina and of course a restaurant and bar.
Owner Robert Miller, a New York City developer and entrepreneur, bought the Oyster House in 1992 and renovated it, using Georgia hardwood pine, old shrimp boat latches and Seminole Indian woodcarvings. Regional artist Skip Gage was commissioned to paint a lifelike mural of Chokoloskee Bay in the dining room.
His son Jr. is co-owner of the place and is also a professional chef. The Oyster House’s signature Pan-Seared Grouper was featured on Bobby Flay’s Food Nation.
Inside, the walls are covered with photos of famous people who’ve came by, including Craig Melnick, Joe Peschi, James Billie, Sean Connery, Joe Peschi, numerous Miami Dolphins, Arnold Palmer, Joe Peschi, Danny Glover, Joe Namath, the crew of “Gone Fishin’ and Joe Peschi. The rest of the decor is very Florida kitschy, with hunting trophies of all kinds, including mounted fish and wildlife hanging on the walls, as well as an 8 foot alligator hanging around in the bar.
The Oyster House’s menu is obviously focussed on seafood, either broiled, blackened, fried or sautéed. Clam, Alligator, Shrimp, Stone Crab, Frog, Conch, Oyster, Grouper, Scallop, Tilapia, Lobster – your pick! There is also a few “Land Lover” options, but why would you bother?
I hesitated for a long time. This place is World Famous for it’s Oysters. It is Stone Crab Central. The Grouper is highly recommended. The Shrimp are fresh from the Mexico Gulf. They have Gator meat! And so on…
I ended up ordering a few items: the Florida Gator Appetizer and the Kicked Up Oysters to start, then Mrs. Waffle talked me into ordering a salad for my main – I picked the Large Shrimp Grilled on a Tossed Mixed Green, which came with a cup of Clam Chowder.
The appetizers, which I intended to share, came fairly quickly.
The Gator was cut into bite-sized pieces, sautéed in olive oil with herbs and spices and served with corn chips. The owners claim they serve around a 1000 pounds of gator meat every month. Alligator is usually quite lean so I was not surprised to find these nuggets a little on the chewy side. However, the meat was fairly moist, all considering. Since the meat was sautéed, it’s delicate flavour was not overwhelmed by a batter nor was it covered up by the spices and herbs. What does alligator taste like? Well, it taste like chicken. Just kidding. Alligator taste like a rabbit who ate a lot of fish. I am not sure why they were served with corn chips, which were too dry. Perhaps a little bit of their famous mango salsa on the side would have helped?
The Kicked Up Oysters were indeed kicked up. 6 Gulf Oysters garnished with tomatoes, spinach, garlic and loads of jalapeños, covered with cheese and broiled. They were large, loaded and delicious. Served with a wedge of lemon and a garlic sauce, they packed a good level of heat without being overpowering.
It had been a lot of food already, thankfully I got help around the table before their mains arrived.
The New England clam chowder was a hit at our table, as many had ordered it.
They didn’t skimp on the clams, that’s for sure. The bacon was harder to find, but the flavour was there. Everything was thickened with the potatoes’ starch.
The chowder was really thick, rich, flavourful. Thankfully, we were served only a cup – the perfect portion.
Next up, the actual main course. Mrs. Waffle had opted for the Broiled Grouper Sandwich while I was glad my salad dressing was served on the side.
The grouper sandwich was quite simple. A big grouper filet, lettuce, one slice of tomato served on a bun. The fish was delicate and flaky, nicely done. The sandwich itself was pretty good, though the garnish could have been more creative. The sweet potatoe fries were golden dark, very crispy -maybe a little on the overdone side of things.
The base of my salad was a combination of iceberg and romaine lettuce. A couple of tomato wedges, a few slices of cucumbers, some shredded carrots and a couple of red onion rings completed it. On top, half a dozen plump cajun grilled Gulf Shrimp. They were pretty good, snappy and juicy. The cajun seasoning was quite mild, if flavourful. Not bad, and I got a good intake of fresh veggies in the process. Both dishes were served with a tasty hushpuppy- crispy on the outside and tender inside.
The service was efficient and friendly, and we all ate merrily – though we skipped dessert!
After a fun morning at the Naples zoo with Rod, Emma and their kids, checking out primates, big cats, giraffes, gators and birds of all kinds, we were overdue for a lunch break. Once Emma suggested The Cheesecake Factory, Mrs. Waffle enthusiastically agreed. “I’ve always wanted to go to a Cheesecake Factory. That’s where Penny works!” she said, referring to the Big Bang Theory character.
I shrugged. Who wants cheesecake for lunch, I thought? But in short order, we made our way to the restaurant, located a few blocks from the zoo, adjacent to one of those typical Florida shopping malls.
The first Cheesecake Factory opened in Beverly Hill in 1978, when David Overton founded the business as a spin-off of his parents cheesecake delivery service. The formula was simple: a sandwich and salad place where people could go to enjoy one of the 10 original varieties of cheesecake from the family business
The Cheesecake Factory now operates 162 restaurants in 36 states, 1 in DC, 1 in Puerto Rico and 4 more in the Middle East.
We got there shortly before one – and were told there was a 15-20 minute wait. Damn. There seemed to be plenty of empty tables, I thought, but there were a lot of people lined-up at the front door. We moved up the line slowly, and were soon able to check out the cheesecake display counter.
45 minutes later, we finally got our table. I was not pleased, but the size and age of our group made a move complicated, and Mel loves cheesecake. We were brought to a table in the back of the restaurant and quickly got organized.
Once our drinks were ordered, we were able to check out the extensive menu – over 200 items, and 50 cheesecakes! Pizza, “Glamburgers”, Pastas, Fish & Seafood, Steaks & Chops, Salads, Sandwiches, Eggs & Omelettes, and on and on. Oh, and to add another layer to the menu, they have a special “Skinnylicious” section with about 50 items promising to keep your calorie’s counter down.
Faced with that many choices, it took me a while to decide. Thankfully, it took forever for our drinks to arrive, so I could ponder. I was hesitating between the Factory Burrito Grande and the Famous Factory Meatloaf. I decided that Cheesecake Factory didn’t really sound Mexican enough to go for the Burrito, but that the Famous Factory Meatloaf ($11.95) had a good ring to it. I was also convinced to go for the lunch portion as opposed to the regular ‘dinner size’. It took some convincing, but I figured I could always order cheesecake.
Melissa wanted the soup of the day, a Mexican Tortilla Soup ($4.95), and she wanted to add a salad but wasn’t interested in the Soup and Salad combo on offer. Instead, she went for a lunch-size Santa Fe Salad ($10.50).
We waited a few more minutes then we got a few baskets of bread. Thank God, we were starving, it being past 2 already. The Mini-Waffle received a special treat – a few slices of their bread and a few slices of banana. Lucky him. We waited, and waited, and waited.
Our food finally arrived: Mel’s soup got there first, a very thick concoction topped with fried tortillas; the kids’ corn dogs ($5.95) – 3 small ones per order, served with fries or fruits, and heavy batter the kids got rid of immediately – and chicken strips ($6.50) – white meat, very crispy – with different dipping sauces, Rod’s lunch-size Spaghetti with Meat Sauce ($11.95) – a huge bowl that he almost completely killed, Emma’s Hawaiian Pizza and Salad lunch combo ($11.95) – she couldn’t finish the last piece.
The server came back, stating that the missing soup was coming, it was out of the bag. I chuckled and informed him that no other soup was needed and that they could put it back in the bag.
Melissa was thankful she had ordered the lunch salad – claiming she was basically full after the soup! The Santa Fe salad was quite a significant mound to climb
Lime-marinated chicken, corn, black beans, cheese, tortilla strips on a bed of mixed greens, mostly iceberg lettuce, tossed in a spicy peanut and cilantro vinaigrette. Overall, despite the size, this was a light and fresh salad. The chicken was rare, there was corn and beans is sufficient amount to give the salad a fun texture without overtaking the dish. The tortilla strips were out of a bag but were crunchy. Flavourwise, the peanut and cilantro dressing was more subtle than strong, and the lime marinade was also quite light. I would have chopped the tomatoes instead of going for wedges, and I would have served it with lime wedges to brighten it up to taste.
My Famous Factory Meatloaf was served with Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Grilled Onions and Corn Succotash.
This is the lunch portion. I can’t imagine how much food there would have been on that plate if I had ordered the regular portion. Here we had two thick slices of meatloaf, about an inch thick. They were covered with caramelized onions and smothered with gravy. So were the mashed potatoes, who also served as a receptacle for Lake Gravy. A generous portion of their corn succotash completed the dish.
The meat was very tender, yet held together nicely. There was a lot of flavour here: herbs, carrots, onions, garlic. Lots of salt. There was a nice beefy flavour, though it was subtle – clearly here we have a mix of pork and beef. The gravy was made with mushrooms. And lots of salt. The mashed potatoes were made with red potatoes. There were chunks in it, some with the skin still on, and what felt like a generous amount of cream and butter. And lots of salt.
The corn succotash included zucchini and bell peppers sautéed in a generous amount of butter. I’m a sucker for corn, and this succotash version was pretty darn good. The corn was fresh, some kernels were caramelized in butter, and having zucchini in there was the textural contrast you usually get from lima beans, though obviously not as creamy. And of course, lots of salt.
I finished my meal last, getting help from the Mini-Waffle to kill the plate. Those who were ready for dessert thankfully knew what they wanted, so I figured this would at least go quickly. A mistake, as it took forever for our server to come back. At least, there was no need to look at the menu: the kids wanted to share the Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cheesecake ($7.50) while Mrs. Waffle wanted the Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake ($7.95), and they were so ordered.
And again, we waited. And waited. Not only did we wait, our tables weren’t cleared off. So Rod took it upon himself to take away the dirty dishes and pile them on a nearby counter to make room for the desert and facilitate the sharing operation once they would arrived. And they did arrive, eventually.
First, they get points for serving their cake with real whipped cream. Second, these are rich cheesecakes. Third, these were big servings.
The Chocolate Raspberry Truffle was what as expected: In my opinion Raspberry flavour is too strong and doesn’t actually marry very well with chocolate. Despite the Chocolate cookie crust, the Chocolate Mousse, the Chocolate Ganache, the cheesecake flavour had a strong undertone of fake raspberries and I didn’t like it. The kids, though they liked what they saw, didn’t seem too impressed either. In fact, despite the adults sampling it, there was about a third of it left at the end.
The Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake is probably their basic original cheesecake, with sour cream and on a Graham Cracker crust, garnished with a couple of fresh strawberries dipped in a strawberry glaze. The cake was creamy, rich, dense. Not too sweet. A good cheesecake. “A perfect New York style cheesecake, only possibly made better by trading up the graham cracker crust for a chocolate one” Mel said, “but you do have to wonder who seriously needs two mountains of whipped cream with a cheesecake?” This one did better around the table – it was basically all gone.
We asked for the bill, waited another 10 minutes to pay and were out of there by 3:15 – or almost 2 hours and 30 minutes after our arrival.
‘Tis the season for Christmas lunches, and so it was the case today at Les 3 Brasseurs. Not that I was on a Christmas lunch – but it seemed that the entire place was occupied by Christmas Lunchers. Not that the place was packed, however. There were plenty of seating available, and we were brought to a comfortable booth on the second floor.
One one side, 5 different groups of Christmas lunchers. On the other side, 1 mega-group of Christmas lunchers. Fa la la.
Marc-André and I didn’t take too long to decide – we would go for the daily lunch special. We ignored the Tuna Melt and barely considered the Chicken Pesto Penne and opted for a Flammekueche of our choice for $12.99. On the side, you can add a salad or a soup for $1.50, which we did. And to drink, the 1/2 pint of blonde is at $2.99. Which we ordered.
Today’s soup was a tomato-base fish soup. It arrived very quickly, and it was piping hot. The broth was light but flavourful. There were lots of herbs, some vegetables (mostly tomatoes and celery) and small pieces of fish – little baby shrimp and pollock, when you could find them. Because this was not exactly overflowing with seafood. Nevertheless, while not chunky, it was comforting and tasted quite good.
We waited for our main dish while beside us, the megagroup luncheon was going into high gear, with speeches, prizes, laughter and heckling – most of the latter not coming from me.
Marc-André had selected the Moulin Rouge Flammekueche. “It’s hot,” the menu warns.
Thin slices of spicy steak, sautéed mushrooms, jalapenos and Québec Gruyère cheese is what is advertised. Missing from the description were the red bell peppers and the onions.
Marc-André seemed pleased with his Flammekueche, although he was generously using the chipotle hot sauce made available on the table. Not that hot, then?
“There could have been more beef, and it could have been spicier,” stated Marc-André. Still, he left nothing on his plate
For my part, I decided to be a nice boy as always and selected the Vegetarian Flamme.
It featured bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, green and black olives and feta cheese and was topped with arugula and spicy olive oil. Missing from the toppings were the advertised zucchini. Odd, but I’m not about to make a fuss about a few slices of zucchini.
This was a colourful, light and fresh dish. A wedge of lemon was helpfully provided and I used it to brigthen the flavours a little bit.
My biggest “beef” (ha! ha!) with the Flammekueche is that I always find that there is not enough toppings. Perhaps that is because of its ressemblance with a pizza? I know this artisan-style flatbread is only remotely from the same family, but I always feel there could be a little more “je ne sais quoi.” I tried the chipotle sauce, but it was too powerful for the delicate vegetables and the feta cheese. So perhaps the issue is one of ratio.
Which means I will likely always like the 3 Brewers’ Flamme, but never really fall in love.
Even at Christmas.
The Rt. Hon. Charles Joseph Clark is Canada’s youngest-ever Prime Minister and the last real Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, before Peter MacKay sold out to Stephen Harper in 2003.
During his career, Joe Clark was also Secretary of State for External Affairs, President of the Privy Council, Minister Responsible for Constitutional Affairs, and Representative of the Secretary General of the U.N. in Cyprus.
And today, Joe Clark was the guest speaker of the Canadian Club of Ottawa, in the ballroom of the Château Laurier.
As we sat at our tables, the first item was already waiting for us: a spinach salad with baby greens, poached pears and feta cheese.
The spinach was fresh. The dressing was a light oil and vinegar mix, which you drizzled yourself.
Pear and feta made for an interesting combination – the sweetness of the fruit was an interesting tandem with the briny cheese.
The main course was roasted turkey served on dressing, with mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.
This was a generous serving of turkey – 4 slices of white meat sitting on dressing. I poured gravy generously from the gravy boat and garnished my plate with cranberry sauce.
The meat was surprisingly moist, the gravy a tad salty. The dressing was boring, obvioulsy baked separately, The scoop of mashed potatoes was fine, creamy, with parsley to give it some colour.
The vegetables consisted of a small carrot and some sliced zucchini. If the carrot was cooked perfectly, the zucchini were a bit mushy, slightly overcooked.
For dessert, an opera-style cake was served, with chocolate ganache and coffee cream.
It was a sizable portion. Not too sweet, moist, with a mild coffee flavour, it was actually a pretty good cake.
Meanwile, Joe Clark spoke about how Canada needs to reassert its international position as an agent of change, diplomacy, and peace, plugging his recently published book, “How We Lead: Canada in a Century of Change” in the process.
Clark was very frank while sharing his views with the Canadian Club. He made a strong criticism of Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy, notably pointing out that if trade had been driving foreign policy in the 80s, Canada wouldn’t have played its role against Apartheid.
For his effort, Joe Clark got a standing ovation from the attendees.
The food, however, got only passable reviews – but since it was the first turkey of the year, nobody complained about not being served rubber chicken for once!
Today, McDonald’s has announced that they were putting an end to their discriminatory practice of offering Poutine in Quebec only.
A popular McDonald’s menu item in Quebec since 1990, the McPoutine has popped up here and there as a limited-time only menu item across Canada.
But no longer. McDonald’s will offer this Quebec favourite to their customers across Canada and it will be a permanent item.
Created more than 50 years ago, the Poutine has grown in popularity and sales represents a $79 million category in Canada.
On various blogs, social media and even McDonald’s own Q&A website, customers in various regions across the country have been asking for the McPoutine.
McDonald’s answer, until now: “We serve poutine but it’s only available as a regional offer in Quebec, much like how the McLobster is only available in the Maritimes. That said, we’re always looking to bring our regional products to other parts of Canada. Of course, we think our World Famous Fries stand up pretty well on their own!”
But it appeears McDonald’s has finally listened to the poutine-loving clamour. Priced from $3.99 plus tax, McDonald’s Poutine is made with their French Fries topped with real Quebec cheese curds and gravy. It can be had on its own or for an extra charge, it can replace the fries in any Extra Value Meal. Or you can, like Barbara at Dose, get a poutine with a side order of poutine!
I haven’t had a McPoutine in a while. If I recall correctly, the cheese is not squeeky, the chicken-base gravy , with tomato, onion and garlic flavours is lightly drizzled and the whole thing is too salty.
But perhaps it’s time for The Waffle to give it another try.
I was visiting Montreal to give a helping hand in the Bourassa by-election, as I do from time to time. And as I regularly do, I took the opportunity to have a quick business lunch with a reporter who from time to time covers politics from his Montreal base.
He suggested that we meet at one of the 3 Café République: the popular location in the Quartier des Spectacles.
Since 1996, Café République offer a casual dining experience in a bright, open environment. Rich wood tones and lots of lights coming from the Ste-Catherine side windows, giving you the opportunity to indulge in people-watching, if you are so inclined. The clientèle is a mix of art-lovers, concert-goers, students and hip workers, looking for a quick bite. Their menu is eclectic, offering what they call “continental meals,” whatever that is. Eggs, Pastas, Burgers & Sandwiches, Grillades, Fish are what is on offer on the regular menu.
But today I elected to go with the daily special (Soup, Main, Dessert) and started with the Stracciatella soup.
Stracciatella is an Italian egg drop soup. “Stracciatella” means “little shred” in Italian, which describes the “shreds” of egg, obtained by stirring a beaten egg slowly into the hot broth.
This version was honest: a light, flavourful chicken broth base. The eggs were little clouds of yumminess. There were hints of Parmesan cheese, too.
Some baby spinach leaves as a finishing touch, to change the texture and give more character to the dish.
A good start to the meal.
For the main, I had picked the Shrimp with Exotic Salsa on a Bed of Rice and a Side Salad.
The plate arrived and it was quite colourful – a nice blue dish and bright fruity colours from the salsa.
You will admit that it looked appealing. And it was pretty good. The salsa was made fresh, popped with flavours and contrast (peppers, kiwis, citrus, tomatoes) and the juice was doing a double duty by flavouring the rice, which was tender and absorbed the flavours well.
The shrimp were nicely seasoned but sadly, they were overcooked and hard to peel. It made for a messy undertaking, but at least it tasted good. The sauce was fruity, with hints of pineapple and some smokiness to it, which worked well with the dish.
On the side, a salad that was very rudimentary, an insult to other salads in fact: a bit of lettuce, a slice of lemon and a wedge of tomato. The tomato was mealy, not pleasant at all.
Overall, this dish was not unpleasant, but not satisfactory either – which is what happens when it looks better than it tastes.
As for the esteemed reporter who was entertaining me with tales of municipal and provincial politics while I was giving him the latest about the federal scene, he went with a pasta dish.
His plate looked very appetizing, big rings of Calamari with big pieces of Poached Salmon on a bed of Linguine, covered in a rustic, chunky tomato sauce. The dish was finished with a sweet and spicy tomato reduction.
I actually regretted not going for it – it looked really, really good!
And indeed, my co-luncher ate it with appetite.
And since dessert was included, we had no choice but to indulge. I was particularly happy since my main dish had left me a little hungry.
Apple crisp was on the menu, and that’s what we both ordered.
It was served warm, and it came with a swirl of chocholate sauce.
The square had a rustic feel to it, a simple home-made dessert, classic basic comfort food. I would have prefered it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream as opposed to the chocholate sauce – I thought it was too sweet and powerful for the apple flavour – but then again, I didn’t need to dip it in the sauce at all.
Finally, the service, while familiar, was efficient and friendly. I wouldn’t be hesitant to go back to the Café République for a casual lunch in the heart of the city.
Taking a page from the popular Ribfest, the Sparks Street Mall is moving forward for three days of poutine eating. Outlets were getting ready to open this morning – but unlike Ribfest, the aromas weren’t filling the air.
Yet, Golden fries, cheese curds and war gravy will be served by over 20 different outlets during Poutinefest, from Friday November 15th to Sunday November 17th!
Friday afternoon is the Poutine Eating Contest – some have suggested that The Waffle should take part, but Ms Waffle has vetoed the plan.
You’ll be able to ample your classic poutine, but also all kinds of variations. Poutine Passes sounds like a great option if you wish to sample a variety of poutines. For $20.00, will you get 5 tickets good for 8 oz. poutine samples. Poutine Passes will be available at the Sparks Street office or under the Central tent.
Here is a sample of what’s on offer:
Parliament Pub: Poutine Pizza with homemade dough, vegetarian gravy, potatoes and cheese curds.
D’arcy’s McGee’s: Guiness Poutine with Keith’s braised beef short rib.
Brixton’s: Power Play Poutine – vegetarian gravy, traditional smoked meat, chicken and pulled pork.
Yesterday’s & Centretown Tavern – Italian, pulled pork, bacon and caramelized onions, Mexican BBQ chicken, Italian sausage and loaded Poutine (sausage, crushed chilli and onion).
Cock and Lion – Traditional and Jerk Chicken.
Other vendors are 73 North, L’ange, Twisted Tomato, Smoke’s Poutinerie, Big D’s Dog House and Poutine Emporium, Fadi’s Fab Foods , Vanier Snack Shack, Manhattans Hand-Made Burgers, Le Smoking BBQ, Le Snack Attack, T & T Fries, Routine Poutine, Gabriel’s Pizza, The Works, Green Papaya, Golden Fries, Tiny Tom Donuts, Fritomania and Twisted Funnel Cake.
Get your Poutinefest map here!
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- Renée T. on La Poutine du Parc Vert
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- Cameron H. on ZaZaZa? YaYaYa!
- The Waffle on Poor Filet-O-Fish
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- Isaac C. on Poor Filet-O-Fish
- Marion K. on Poor Filet-O-Fish
- Ray T. on Poor Filet-O-Fish
- Amy B. on Sometimes, St-Hubert is what you need
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