Reviving white wine sangría for summer dog days

Reviving white wine sangría for summer dog days

We're in the hottest, sweatiest part of summer in the northern hemisphere. These are the dog days—and not because we want to loll around in the shade with our tongues hanging out like a couple of bluetick hounds. Apparently the period is so named because Sirius, the dog star, rises and sets with the sun. That's about as much scholarship as we care to indulge when it's this hot. But the temperatures give us a great excuse to revive a drink we have been making since Hector was a pup. Or at least since we cribbed it from a 1970s Bon Appétit! magazine. It's an extremely refreshing white wine sangría with the added punch of Orange Curaçao. For several years we endured an aesthetic crisis...Read More
Summer travel picnic #2: wild rice salad

Summer travel picnic #2: wild rice salad

This nutrient-dense and filling wild rice salad has seen us through many an epic road trip. Sealed in plastic containers, it keeps well in a cooler with ice. We've enjoyed it on picnic tables between lighthouses on the Maine coast and, most recently, on a trip down the entire length of the Connecticut River via the various river roads of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. The original recipe came from the Boston Globe food section a few decades ago. In those days, wild rice was considered an indulgent delicacy. Then Trader Joe's got into the act. In fact, we stock up on TJ's wild rice and dried Montmorency cherries every time we visit. We have long since lost the original clipping, but to look...Read More
Summer travel picnic: pesto, chicken & corn

Summer travel picnic: pesto, chicken & corn

For the next couple of posts, we'll been doing the reverse of “bringing the taste of travel back home.” When we're faced with long road trips in the summer, we often resort to dishes that bring the taste of home out on the road. One of our stand-bys for rest-stop picnics or campground suppers is a pasta dish we call “pesto salad.” That's shorthand. The dish evolved pretty much by accident. We grow a lot of basil in our garden. When it flowers madly in hot weather, we keep the growing tips clipped to prolong the season. That means we have a gallon or so of basil sprigs every few days. Since it doesn't refrigerate well, we turn it into pesto, adding a lot of...Read More
An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

An American shortcut to Spanish tortilla

Wherever we go, the local cuisine always seems to have a go-to item—something easily ordered, quick to prepare, widely available, and nearly foolproof. In much of the U.S., that's often a hamburger. In France, a slice of quiche and a salad. In Spain, it's the potato omelet, or tortilla española. You never know where you'll get a great tortilla. The lowliest dive bar serves tortilla and bars attached to fancy restaurants offer it. You can even get a decent one in the refrigerator cases in many supermarkets. The tortilla can be the model of simplicity—a magical amalgam of eggs, potato, onion, and olive oil. That's the first image on the right, shown with tomato-rubbed bread in La Gardunya at the back of La Boqueria market...Read More
Two new cookbooks pique our appetite for travel

Two new cookbooks pique our appetite for travel

For the last couple of weeks, we've been staring at a pair of cookbooks on our living room coffee table. One is Gunpowder: Explosive Flavors from Modern India, the other Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen. But instead of inspiring us to rush to Whole Foods and stock up on ingredients, they're making us consider booking some airline tickets. We tend to read cookbooks the way some people read guidebooks. We realize that this tendency works against our long-term interests, since we actually write guidebooks and don't write recipe books. But we can't help ourselves. Food is the easiest gateway into culture, and as we read the recipes, we imagine ourselves in distant kitchens. It doesn't hurt that both books are written by expatriate...Read More
Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

With Heineken as one of the sponsors of the Montreal Jazz Festival, there's no shortage of beer for sale at the outdoor food and drink stalls. But if you are a hops-head looking for something more than a quick thirst quencher, you might want to set aside time for a Montreal Brewpub Experience (montrealcraftbeertours.com). On a previous visit to Montreal, we joined one of the walking and tasting tours—along with a group of extremely cheerful guys on a bachelor party getaway. Stéphane Lussier (our guide shown at right) told us that Montreal jumped on the craft beer bandwagon about 30 years ago. He also pointed out that Montreal is one of the biggest brewing cities in North America. In addition to brewing giants Labatt, Molson,...Read More
Get front-row seats at Taverne F and Brasserie T!

Get front-row seats at Taverne F and Brasserie T!

Two spectacular and chic dining venues on the Place des Festivals give some diners front-row seats for outdoor concerts during the Montreal Jazz Festival. Known simply as “F” and “T” to most Montrealers, they are the semi-casual little siblings of a couple of high-end gourmet restaurants. They're built along the side of the Place des Arts complex. As you might expect, their food offerings are far removed from the casual handheld fare offered at the kiosks inside the festival grounds. Taverne F (below, left) (1485 rue Jeanne Mance, 514-289-4558, tavernef.com/en/) is the offspring of the city's go-to fine Portuguese restaurant, Ferreira Café on rue Peel. F focuses on petiscos, small plates meant to be shared. They range from pastéis de bacalhau (cod cakes with dried...Read More
Chill at Bar Furco before the band starts playing

Chill at Bar Furco before the band starts playing

When it opened, Bar Furco (425 rue Mayor, 514-764-3588, barfurco.com) attracted a lot of attention for its industrial chic renovation of a Canadian Fur Company warehouse. It even won a 2014 prize from Design Montreal, the city agency that's charged with keeping Montreal in the forefront of creativity. We were curious about the clever use of concrete in the interior. But when we arrived and discovered that one of the tiny round marble tables on the equally tiny terrasse was vacant, we grabbed it. A Montrealer would have done the same. The city's residents pretty much live outside during their short, glorious summers. Sitting on the terrasse surrounded by window boxes full of splashy nasturtiums was just too good to resist. Bar Furco is really...Read More
Two jazzy dining options shine in Place des Arts

Two jazzy dining options shine in Place des Arts

The Place des Arts complex is at the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles and many of the Montreal Jazz Festival ticketed performances take place in its concert halls. It's also a good place for a quiet break. Within Place des Arts, the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (185 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, 514-847-6226, macm.org) was Canada's first museum focused entirely on contemporary art. The often intriguing exhibits make a good counterpoint to the Jazz Festival's equally intriguing music. Within the museum, the Restaurant du MAC (above, left) is open for lunch and very early dinner (11a.m. to 6 p.m.) every day except Sunday. Chefs lean toward local products but often take their cues from the art on display. Inspired by this summer's exhibition of large-scale...Read More
Accords a jazzy spot for pre- or post-show dining

Accords a jazzy spot for pre- or post-show dining

Pass La Vitrine in the daytime and you might say, “oh, what a nice modern glass building.” Encounter it at night (above) and it might take your breath away with the extraordinary red rods that illuminate the structure. Located on rue Ste-Catherine est at the corner of boulevard St-Laurent, La Vitrine (lavitrine.com) houses a number of concerns. For starters, it's the ticket headquarters for almost everything happening in Montreal, including most of the city's many festivals. Jazz included. Since it is literally steps from Club Soda and across the street from M Telus (the former Metropolis), La Vitrine is in the heart of the shows on the east edge of the Quartiers des Spectacles. That's what makes Accords Bistro (22 rue Ste-Catherine est, 514-508-2122, accords.ca;...Read More