Whet your appetite for Montréal en lumière
The lucky 13th edition of Montreal en lumière starts today and should inspire you to get out of the house. The latter part of the month the graces forgot will see local restaurants bringing in chefs and vintners from away for the culinary part of the festival.
Coming to Montreal are cooks from the European crossroads of Brussels and Wallonia, others from hipster West Coast Seattle. Wine producers will be hauling in bottles from Washington and Oregon. Food folks from the Quebec side of the Ottawa Valley will also have a chance to strut their stuff.
There are plenty of tempting higher-end meals on offer, in which local chefs mix it up with invited knife-wielders, such as at Toqué!, DNA, Cocagne, Les 400 Coups, or of course La Chronique, run by Brussels-born Marc de Canck. Some restaurants cozy up to visiting vintners, coming up with menus to complement West Coast wines, such as at Jolifou or Bistro Lustucru. If your wallet’s not as fat as you’d like your belly to be, some of these restaurants will be serving lunches more affordably than dinners.
And if you’re on a really tight budget, a few interesting local restaurants are being grouped under the rubric of "Midis du monde" and providing lunches for a mere $12.95 from February 20 to 24. Rumi and the Mauritanian La Khaima are nice bets. I’ve been meaning to check out Salon Mogador and Tasca; this gives me a good excuse.
I like the sound of the culinary tours given on Saturdays, and "Micro-brasseries, maxi saveurs" is a particularly fitting subject given the Belgian tenor of the fest. Other walks and tastings explore the market neighbourhoods, Old Montreal and the Quartier des spectacles.
The weekend of February 18 and 19 will be hopping at Jean-Talon Market’s Mezzanine, where Outaouais chefs will be showing us tricks of their trade (check schedule for exact times). Beer crème caramel? What a great idea, possibly even better than beer jelly. The secrets to making these will be unveiled by Romain Riva of Wakefield Inn, using beer from Gatineau’s Les Brasseurs du Temps on Saturday. The next day, Riva cooks Petite Nation lamb with lemon, lavender and tamari almonds from Les Amandes de Maribel. Also Sunday, Chef Gérard Fischer of Hull’s La Tartuffe will prep waffles with Fromagerie Montebello’s Tête à Papineau cheese and stew bison from Takwânaw Farm.
Two lectures will be given at UQAM, promising mysterious-sounding sensorial components (February 21 and 23, 6 p.m., reservations required, www.coeurdessciences.uqam.ca). One on cheeses should reveal what makes each
unique, and at "The Raw Materials of Chocolate," chocolatiers Laurent Gerbaud and François Deremiens will explain how the raw cacao bean is transformed into our fave addictive treat.
Festival-goers will also be able to buy some of the Belgian chocolatiers’ wares at the outdoor site’s Maison du Chocolat. Other goodies, from waffles and fries to Grumman 78 tacos, will be available at the Place des festivals. And to mark the all-night Nuit Blanche party, Brasserie T will offer a Truffles Galore menu, for those who want to mark the darkness with dusky fungus.
Montreal en lumière
February 16 to 26