After an interesting discussion about the future of the NDP in Quebec, and after two hours of discussion about the NDP Quebec section‘s constitution, ND and I left Montreal’s Palais des Congrès, looking for a lunch spot. We walked a few blocks south, and hit the unassuming and narrow storefront of Le Gros Jambon, a Diner on Notre-Dame.
The spot opened a year ago in an old jewellery store, but it almost feels like its been there forever – except it is too clean and too slick here and there to really fool you. Still, le Gros Jambon is quite tight – an actual Gros Jambon could have problems navigating between the two rows of stools. The place was opened by Travis Champion and Monica Terlecki, who also run L’Orignal, a few blocks away.
The decor is retro-cool, with the wall stacked with vintage photographs and posters, a bunch of old licence plates and a series of pictures of a freckled kid eating poutine – the kid is clearly the restaurant’s mascot, and the pics were done by Montreal photographer Riccardo Cellere.
The place wasn’t super busy. We walked all the way across the restaurant and sat towards the back, at the counter facing the open style kitchen.
The waitress warned us – since it was only 1 PM on this gray Saturday, only the brunch menu was available - about a dozen different dishes - though the plain hot dog, the plain burger and the poutine were also available. Tempting.
I was hoping there would be something other than eggs on the menu. I was tempted to go with a burger and the poutine, but looked at the menu first. The Huevos Rancheros (Eggs, Salsa Verde, Pico di Gallo, Homemade Chorizo onRrye Bread) and the Breakfast Lobster Rolls (Lobster and Scrambled Egg in a bun topped with Hollandaise) or the Mushroom Toasts (Fried eggs and smoked meat served on toasted rye bread, smothered in a mushroom sauce) looked interesting, but too eggy for what I felt like having.
The Pumpkin and Cinnamon Pancakes could also have been interesting, but not this late in the day. Another sweet option was the Banana Bread French Toast. Naaaah.
In the end, I felt like my options were limited to only one thing – the classic Chicken and Waffles ($14). So I ordered.
To drink? I felt like only a good old fashion Coke would do the trick. And it came in a good old fashion glass bottle! Doesn’t Coke taste better in a glass bottle?
Mrs. Waffle was jealous.
I got to pig out every day while she couldn’t.
She had placed an order for pulled pork early in the week, but circumstances made it impossible. But tonight she was going to get lucky. After a hard day’s work, I made my way to Sparks street to assess the scene and pick up some much needed pulled pork and save my marriage.
However, I was stopped cold by some friends who enticed me to help them drink some ice cold Sangria on Brixton’s patio. Reluctantly, I accepted. But soon enough (ahem) I was back on the quest.
I walked all the way down to the end of Sparks Street. Line-ups were long everywhere, except at the Texas Rangers, where there was no line-up at all. Alas, no luck – they were out of pulled pork! Bad planning or exceptional pork? I will never know: I was on a mission.
I decided to turn around and try a new competitor this year, so new in fact that the official Sparks Street Mall web site didn’t even list its presence: Hawgs Gone Wild.
Hawgs Gone Wild BBQ team is from Daytona Beach, Forida. Their menu is slightly different than the other ribbers: they offer their beans and coleslaw at 1$ each (as opposed to selling them combined.) Also, they offer cornbread and Hawgs’ Hash, and a Heavenly version of said Hash. Intriguing
As I was lined-up, a Hawgs’ staffer was coming down the line to get folks to sample their sauces – the Hot and the Sweet. Hmmmm. Nothing like sauce on a stick.
The Hot sauce had a good kick to it. You could taste the chili peppers, there was no kidding around, but the heat level was totally palatable. Would be great on pork, for sure.
The Sweet sauce was very sweet, with a touch of sourness. To me it was a little too sweet, though I think it could work with chicken.
The choice of Hawgs Gone Wild was also a good one, speed wise. The line was moving quickly.
I ordered a pound of pulled pork, and as a bonus, two side orders of Hawgs’ Hash.
For good measure, I squirted a good helping of BBQ sauce on each side of the pork – the hot on the left, the sweet on the right. I should have squirted more, I’ve got to say.
I had some leftover buns and we used them to make some delicious sandwiches. The pulled pork was tender but could have been shredded better. It was a tad bit on the oily side, however. And as expected, the hot sauce worked better with the pork than the sweet sauce. However, mixing the two sauces together also worked.
As for the hash, well, it is a nice addition to the usual menu. In this case, all it was was skin-on smashed potatoes, but they were cooked properly, were fluffy and chunky. Good stuff.
Overall, Mel was pleased. And that’s what mattered.
The first meal of the last day was had in Montréal at the Delta Centre-Ville. Like our last breakfast here, the scrambled eggs could be topped by crushed tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese. I also had Potato wedges, bacon, sausage, fruits, and a peanut butter toast!
After a mainstreeting visit to the Atwater Farmer’s Market in Montreal, we hopped on the bus to head west. Along for the ride, croissants et pain au chocolat – I had a croissant somewhere on the 401.
We stopped at the Marriott on Kingston’s waterfront for filing and lunch. Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup, Poached Asparagus and Apple Salad with Roasted Pinenuts, Truffle Macaroni Salad, Fingerling Potato Salad with Bocconcini and White Balsamic, and a make your own sandwich station – I chose a thick brown bread, added all the cold cuts: ham, turkey, prosciutto, salami; all the veggies: tomatoes, lettuce and onions; and all the cheese: pepper jack, cheddar, aged cheddar. And also, mayo, mustard and horseradish.
Blitzing on the 401, we stopped in Kingston and then Oshawa. We loaded the bus with Swiss Chalet! I had a Chicken Breast Dinner, with french fries, bbq sauce, a roll, and a garden salad with ranch dressing. After filling up, we hit the road again, towards Beaches and then Scarborough.
And so it begins!
Once again, The Waffle will record dutifully for you dear Wafflers what it is that one eats on a national election tour – on Jack Layton’s tour, no less!
These posts will be short and descriptive, as I am otherwise busy. But I cannot let you down, so here we go!
The last breakfast with Melissa and Clara, at Wilfred’s, the restaurant located at the Château Laurier, where Jack Layton would launch the NDP’s 2011 campaign once the writ was dropped.
Deluxe Breakfast Buffet at $26 per person! (Yikes!)
Omelette made on order in front of my eyes: I asked for red onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, cheese. A tad disappointing.
Side of potatoes with onions, bell peppers, and sausage bits.
Sausages, salami, smoked salmon, cottage cheese.
Orange juice, berry smoothie.
We were greeted on the NDP plane with snacks before Jack Layton’s 2011 Tour inaugural flight!
Fruits and a selection of sandwiches were available. I sampled the swedish meatballs and the beef penne au gratin.
Folks had the choice between chicken and beef for lunch.
I went with the beef, which was served in a rich gravy, with mashed potatoes, baby carrots and green beans.
On the side, a green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, with an oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
For dessert, fresh fruits – with big blueberries!
Dinner was catered on the plane tonight, and Subway was the main provider. A selection of 1/3rd subs were available. I decided to ignore the bread and went for a Subway chicken salad instead:
Lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, cucumbers, green peppers, pickles, processed cheese (!) and of course, chicken. Lots of black pepper on it all. I added a balsamic vinaigrette.
Also available: pizza from Pagano. I avoided that. I am that disciplined.
The New Democratic Party Christmas Party… err, I’m sorry, the New Democratic Party Holiday Party is always a classy affair. (Though in french, it was still la “Réception de Noël”.)
This year, it included the usual classy skit and the finale of a Movember competition, where NDP MPs Nathan Cullen and Glenn Thibeault faced off to figure out who could grow the best under-the-nose facial hair. They ended up in a tie, which means they both lost half their moustaches and most of their dignity.
This year, a record number of 270 guests were in attendance at the fiesta, which was held at 200 West Block. This meant that gone were the convivial round tables, which New Democrats love, in favour of the more space-efficient rectangular tables, which Convention delegates love.
And so to accommodate all these people, the organizers went for the very democratic Hot & Cold Buffet, catered by the House of Commons catering services and its very capable and friendly staff.
Despite being a simple Holiday party, and despite the fact that nobody (or almost nobody) was actually on Holiday, Santa Claus was present to supervise the buffet proceeding.
Unless you fly First or Business class, domestic flights are indeed feeding you badly, and most often you have to pay extra for it.
But one airline does understand that a nice flight includes a nice meal – no matter where you sit.
Here is what the tray looked like when it appeared in front of me:
The menu was printed as follows:
Tabbouleh with tuna
Choice of main course
Curried chicken accompanied by rice with raisins
Filet of barracuda with sorrel and mushrooms, dauphinoise potatoes au gratin
Coffee and tea
Jacquart Brut Mosaïque
Vin de Pays d’Oc Chardonnay 2008 La Baume
Vin de Pays d’Oc Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 La Baume
Coffee and Tea
Brandy and Liqueur
This was probably the best meal I’ve ever had on a commercial flight.
Even though the tabbouleh was low on parsely and mostly made of couscous, and the tuna was from a can, it was not bad. The baracuda was tender and moist, the potatoes were nicely done. The cheese, a camembert from Président, was half-decent, the bread was fresh, the fruits were alright, and the crème caramel was not the worst I’ve ever had.
All in all, a very decent meal.
Which is a good thing, considering the long layover I had at Charles-de-Gaule. Exhausted, I could not sustain myself in the Food Court, which was closed, and could not bring myself to indulge in caviar from one of the Expensive Duty Free Stores in Terminal 2E.
I had the choice between an Illy coffee shop and an Exki outlet. I hesitated, passing the time reading, playing some games on the courtesy PS3 machines in the terminal or on my own PSP, and even was able to get some micro-sleep. After hesitating, I finally settled for the Belgian chain.
Exki’s philosophy is to serve high-qualiy fast food, “offering natural fresh produducts (sic) at all the times of the day.” Their motto? “Natural, Fresh, Ready.”
Their fare is simple: salads, sandwiches, soups. They claim not to use any additives, and some of their products are organic, such as their bread.
I decided to go with something simple, so I picked the Louise from their Vitalis selection , which was only 376 calories: homemade cooked ham and gouda cheese, served with a honey mustard dressing on an organic bread made with Malt. The bread was of a very good quality, with nice tasty flakes of cereal. The ham was also very good, nice and thick. They were a bit cheap on the cheese, and they could have added more honey mustard as the sandwich was a tad dry. Thankfully, I had a Coca-Cola to help me out.
Even by airport standards, at 9.60 Euros, this was a pricey meal.
I figured I couldn’t blog much while in Guinea, and wouldn’t be able to write about everything. So I decided I would do a photo-blog.
Every picture below is clickable and you can have a closer look at the food. Generally, the Guinean food is either from the sea or spicy. Lots of stews. Generally, they have a plate of hot crushed peppers available to increase the heat. Perfect. You can also find skewers and all sorts of food stands while wandering the streets of Conakry, as everybody tries to sell some food for a bit of money. But I decided to stick with restaurants, except for the food cooked in the little shack attached to Café Obama. If you plan a trip to Conakry, you may want to look at this dining guide.
Obviously, French cuisine is very present in Guinea as well as Lebanese. A couple of Chinese and Korean restaurants are there too to serve the workers who came to work in the mining or fishing industries.
Côté Jardin Restaurant.
They wanted me to give some classes on campaign, share my experiences, hold workshops and participate on a youth panel.
They also wanted me to be available to assist as needed in one-on-one consultations.
I have agreed to go, of course, but since it was a bit last minute, I had to scramble to get the green light from my boss, get the visa, get the vaccines and make all the other arrangements.
To get to Conakry, one doesn’t get a direct flight. My itinerary was as follows:
Ottawa-Chicago-Brussels-Dakar-Conakry. 19 hours of flying time, plus the layovers.
So my first layover was in O’Hare, where I had 3 hours to grab some lunch before taking off for Europe.
So I picked the O’Hare Bar & Grill – it looked like the most comfortable place to eat around Terminal 3.
A Ceasar Salad, garlic bread, Redskins Mashed potatoes and a 12 oz Sirloin Steak.
It was the most expensive thing on the menu, at 24$ US, but I somehow did not feel cheated at all and left quite satisfied, having chased it down with a couple of beers.
Then it was off to Brussels, were I landed a little bit past 8 am. The Brussels Airport is quite modern, thanks to an influx of European money, but the Terminal to Africa, Gate T, is a tad bit empty, depleted of boutiques or restaurants. The only thing available to travellers is a sports bar. At 8 in the morning, after a sleepless overnight flight over the Atlantic, the possibilities seemed endless.
And Hoegaarden seemed fully indicated.
And hopefully, I’ll sleep somewhere over Africa.
Last day at our HQ in DC, the Omni Shoreham.
At $18.50, its not cheap. But it is of a very good quality – everything is natural, meaning their meats have not been injected with anti-biotics or hormones, and they offer organic coffee and cage-free eggs.
You can also go A la carte, but why would you? The buffet includes cereal and toast sections, including bagels; fresh fruits, smoked salmon, cured meats, cheeses, oatmeal, waffles, and their hot breakfast section, which today included scrambled eggs (regular or with spinach), home fries, and an extensive selection of meat: Thick-cut bacon, chicken maple sausages, breakfast sausages and home made corned beef hash.
Never afraid to go all out for you, dear Wafflers, I decided to sample every type of meat offered.
The bacon was indeed thick – and therefore, it was not overdone as is often the case in buffets.
It was not too salty either, a little crispy. Well done.
I’ve never been a big fan of corned beef – too salty. And this corned hash was no exception, despite cutting the meat with some bread crumbs, it was still a very salty affair. Just not what I like.
The breakfast sausages were awesome. Thick, juicy, spicy, they were the highlight of the meat selection. They were fairly dense too, but they were definitely not dry.
The chicken maple sausage came in the form of a sausage patty. Unfortunate, as the taste wasn’t bad, but the texture would have been better had the meat been properly encased. It was also a bit dry.
The potatoes were good – not deep fried, which is good – the red peppers gave them a nice touch, but I would have added more onions. They could have been a touch crisper too, but still, they were a good side-dish.
As for the scrambled eggs, they were quite creamy and uniform – they must use liquid eggs. So of course they are cage free eggs, it is really hard to keep liquids in a cage. The ratio of spinach and tomatoes was just right, and with a bit of black pepper, it was a very honest performance
The restaurant’s entrance is at the bottom of some stairs opening directly into the lobby, which can get pretty noisy, but it wasn’t too bad, and I got to enjoy my breakfast with the USA Today as a companion.
She decided that we would have lunch at the Métropolitain Brasserie because she is quite a fancy girl.
Located at 700 Sussex, The Met is a relatively new favourite for politicos, journos and lobbyists of all types. They claim it is at the corner of Les Champs Élysées for marketing purposes, but you are soon reminded of where you are when you look down Rideau Street. The place was opened in 2005 by the owners of The Empire Grill, and has been trying to attract Hillites with specials such as The Hill Hour, from 4pm to 7pm on weekdays, where oysters, jumbo shrimp, mussels and othere appetizers are offered at decent price. Oysters for instance can be had at 1$ a piece during the HH.
I was craving a bloody ceasar, and ever since I tried it, I enjoy horseradish in them, so I got them to make me one with some in it. It was simply great.
To start, we ordered two dozen oysters. To be precise, we ordered 21 as Kevin only wanted one. The Métropolitain claims to have the largest raw bar in Ottawa. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. Today, the Met was offering Malpèques oysters.
10 millions Malpèques oysters are harvested in P.E.I. every year. They are certainly one of the finest oysters you can find. They have a pleaseing appearance, are fairly easy to manipulate and therefore, to enjoy.
The Met serves their oysters with an offering of four different garnishes: a traditional seafood sauce, a lemon mayo, a classic mignonette and horseradish. There is also plenty of lemon served on the platter. If they do not offer, feel free to ask for tabasco if that’s what you like, they always have a bottle handy.
The oysters were fresh, quite tasty and I could have had more but refrained.
I followed that with their Crispy Duck Confit, served with cranberry chutney, roasted potatoes and greens. Duck Confit is defintely a french specialiy, from Gascony in fact. It is made with the leg of the bird. You usually rub the meat with salt, let it cure for 24 to 48 hours, and then you poach it in its own fat. Yummy! But yeah, fatty.
I won’t feel too guilty as it was a small leg, and it was very tasty. The skin was nicely crispy, the roasted potatoes were not extraordinary but firm and well seasoned, the greens were fresh and crispy. I wasn`t too crazy about the cranberry chutney, though. I felt it was too acidic and something more earthy would have been a better side to the duck, perhaps apricot or fig chutney.
To accompany our meals, I selected a bottle of Pinot Blanc, a white wine from Alsace. Contrary to some other alsacian wines, the Pinot Blanc is a softer, less aromatic and not very sweet wine. It is a nice wine, fresh and well balanced.
Brad picked up Gaby’s meal and the oysters, I picked up the wine, and after tax and tip, I coughed out
90$. A tad bit pricy for what I had – but I can’t say I’m unhappy about anything I had.
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