Friday, November 19, 2010

Never enough

I spent the past week eating my way through Montreal. This is my sixth visit since I moved in February. It was also my longest stay which allowed me to whet my appetite of all good things edible.

Brunch was a must. Brunch at Fruit Folie with Angela. Then dinner at Laloux with Cora and Milos. Despite our distended stomachs, Cora and I ventured to a night of swing dancing.

I love Cora not only because she has such a razzle dazzle smile, but because she “dragged” me into swing dancing two years ago. In the If World, had I not gone swing dancing with her, I would not have fallen madly in love with dance and realized that my legs could move in rhythmic musical manner. If it wasn’t for Cora’s zest for adventures, I probably would not have met most of my fabulous friends in Montreal.

After dancing and not giving our limbs a moment to rest, we made our way back to the hotel. At 1am in the chilly night, our breath vaporized between us belting Love Me or Leave Me and Moondance. And it only made sense to stop by Fairmount bagels and pick up fresh bagels. We skipped down du Parc with a sesame bagel in one hand and chocolate orange squares in the other.

Cora and I spent a beautiful day in old Port the next day. We sipped lattes, giggled over a wasp that found a deep attraction to Cora’s nose, and pranced around abstract statues.

Later at night, I was pleasantly surprised when my friends slyly organized a dinner party with me at Jane (!!). Recently reviewed by the Montreal Gazette, touted for its “grown-up twist” on pizzas, it’s always fun to try new places. With its dimly lit interior and brick walls, it was cozy and warm.

My favourite, the Rosea pizza was doused in creamy cheese that oozed with each mouthful. Another pizza was dressed generously with taco toppings. The third called the Schwartz was draped with smoked meat and shaved pickles.

I spent the following days lazying about: sleeping in, lying on the couch watching cartoons, and gazing out the window as the sunlight danced in the shadows.

There was also Romado’s. A Portuguese chicken take-out joint. Barbequed chicken served with seasoned fries makes for a good meal and sharing opportunity with a friend.

And who wouldn’t want to share when your friend looks this excited?

Though Milos may blessed with a stomach of steel, I am not. Nor did I decline his offer to go to Juliette et Chocolat for dessert. I was already a little queasy from hoarding all the fries; I knew sweets wouldn’t be a good idea. But what do I know?

There were profiteroles—cream puffs filled with chocolate, vanilla and hazelnut ice cream covered with dark and milk chocolate sauce.

There was fondant au chocolat—molten chocolate cake with hazelnut ice cream. The contrast was truly delightful. The ice cream melded with the soft and tender cake. Then there was me promising not to be too greedy when it comes to food.

I stayed with my friend during the rest of my vacation. As he went to work, I prepared roast chicken with sweet potato fries and maple-roasted brussel sprouts for dinner. There were fresh croissants dipped in maple syrup and cream for breakfast.

There was also banana bread for any time of the day.

I added dark chocolate, keeping them roughly chopped. I like biting into shards of bittersweet chocolate; it’s rustic, without being too showy. It’s deliciously eaten at room temperature, but resistable when it's still warm from the oven.

I’ve made this banana bread several times, playing with various additions including: toasted coconut flakes, walnuts, almonds, chocolate chips, or toffee chips. Milos suggested something his Swedish friend did: chopping up an entire chocolate bar (Mars or Snickers) and adding it into the batter. Which ain’t such a bad idea.

Banana Bread with Chocolate Chunks

Adapted from Epicurious

-1 cup all purpose flour
-1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1 cup dark chocolate (70% cocoa content), roughly chopped
-3/4 cup of anything else (walnuts, slivered almonds, desiccated coconut, or raisins)
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1 cup sugar
-2 large eggs
-1 cup mashed ripe bananas (from 2 bananas)
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
-1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 9x5x2 1/2-inch metal loaf pan. Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Combine chocolate chunks and any other additions in small bowl; add 1 tablespoon flour mixture and toss to coat.

Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Beat in mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract. Beat in flour mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of chocolate mixture. Spoon 1/3 of batter over. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate mixture. Cover with remaining batter. Run knife through batter in zigzag pattern.

Bake bread until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool.
Recipe here!

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