Bistro 7

29 08 2008

A couple of weeks ago, husband and I ate at Bistro 7 in Old City, Philadelphia.  This was, hands down, one of the best meals I have ever had aside from Cyrus in Sonoma.  Every single dish was perfection.  The small BYO was cozy and at times, a little noisy.  The open kitchen and the two chefs working side-by-side all night were captivating.  We stayed for a good 3 hours to eat through our carefully prepared meal of local produce and fresh meats.  Our meal consisted of:

Green Vegetable Gazpacho with Lemon Cured Salmon, Crème Fraîche and Pickled Vegetables.  This was so perfect.  The salmon was tender and moist.  The gazpacho was crisp and clean with a hint of every herb you could imagine.

Wild Burgundy Escargot stewed in Fennel Pernod Cream with Tiny Sourdough Croutons (Husband tried escargot for the first time and enjoyed. I declined.)

Olive-Oil Poached Rabbit Rillette with Avocado and Pickled Baby Carrots.  This dish was so inventive.  Little did we know that a small jar of rillette would be so filling.  I was daring, and tried the jelled dish of game, but it neither tasted like jelly or game, so it was a win-win for me.

Herb Roasted Striped Bass Filet over Saffron-Scented Mussels Stew with baby arugula, Israeli couscous, yellow pear tomatoes and basil aioli.  I was thrilled to have such a light dish for my main course because by now I was getting a bit full.  I did manage to finish almost everything, as Israeli couscous is one of my favorite grains, and this time it was prepared to just the right consistency.

Crispy, Slow-Roasted Pork Belly Glazed with Honey, Lavender and Peach Gastrique with roasted peaches, French green lentil pilaf and mâche greens.  If husband hadn’t ordered this, I would have.  The honey and lavender combo is always a hit, and the salty and crusty pork belly was such a great contrast.

Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Lemon Jelly and Summer Berry Terrine.  To be honest, I couldn’t manage more than a spoonful of dessert, but I have to say that the Berry Terrine was simply amazing and tasted like it had been prepared with freshly-picked berries from a secret bush in the back of the restaurant.

Bistro 7 is a restaurant that I will make countless excuses to return to.

Finger Lakes Wine Country

22 08 2008

If you live in the Northeast and California is a little bit of a hike, try wine country in the Finger Lakes.  The wines are not going to be as high caliber as some Napa and Sonoma wineries, but there are some diamonds in the rough, it’s very beautiful, and just a lot of fun.

A favorite is Dr. Konstantin Frank, who makes award winning Reislings and charges nothing for a tasting.  The staff is very knowledgable and will go out of their way to show you that Dr. Frank means quality, in all aspects of their customer service and wine making.

Award-winning Reislings.

Next on our tour was Bully Hill. We mainly go there for lunch and for the “show.” Lunch is always lovely, sitting out on the deck with views of the lake. The tasting is like a carnival. The wines are horrid, but for $2 you get to see at least one of the pourers make fools of themselves, pouring wine, cracking jokes, and trying to get people to buy their glow-in-the-dark underwear. What a hoot.

The last winery of the day was Hunt Country. I love Hunt Country because they pour some very decent wines for very decent prices, but they specialize in Late Harvest and Ice Wines that you have to order in advance.   Always very laid back and friendly, the tasting experience is a delight, and as an added bonus, they are open until 6:00–later than other wineries in the region.

There are hundreds of other wineries in the Finger Lakes region–I’ve just introduced you to a few of my favorites. Find out more at the official Finger Lakes Wine Country website.

Montreal Walking Tour Day One

10 08 2008

Montreal is a beautiful yet edgy city that is easy to walk around and see the sights in only a couple of days.

Houses along Sherbrooke

I started out in Centre-Ville near UQAM on Sherbrooke Ave. (505 Sherbrooke East, to be exact, at the Doubletree by Hilton hotel). I walked west down Sherbrooke, past some quaint houses, until I came to Boulevard St.-Laurent and made a left.

Just for Laughs

Along St.-Laurent I passed the famous “Just for Laughs” club or Studio Juste Pour Rire. Also along this street were some great graffiti and shops.



Costume Shop

Costume Shop

China Town gate

China Town pedestrian area

Along St. Laurent I passed “Chinatown” or Quartier Chinois. It was not very large, but the pedestrian side streets were lively.

Notre Dame

Past Chinatown, I made my way towards “Old Montreal” or Vieux Montreal. This area of the city has more visually pleasing sights and attracts the most tourists. The center of Old Montreal is the Notre Dame cathedral. Tour buses park out front to allow the hoards of tourists view the massive and ornate building.

Place Jaques-Cartier

Old Montreal boasts pedestrian squares with numerous restaurants and street performers; quaint, cobble-stoned side streets; and a waterfront with boat tours and magnificent views of the St. Lawrence River.

The views along the river, as I walked down the Rue de la Commune, were amazing. I passed all sizes of boats and ships, parks, shops, and museums, and past various Quays–Quai King Edward being the largest –before I turned right past the last quay back towards Old Montreal.

Berlin Wall

I wandered through Old Montreal on Rue St. Paul and made a left on Rue St. Suplice, back past Notre Dame. I walked past the Centre Commerce Mondial de Montreal (Convention Center) and snuck into an underground shopping mall as it started to rain. The mall was beautiful, and in the center was a piece of the Berlin Wall on display.

Crescent Street

By this time I was about 2 miles away from my hotel and the skies were still threatening rain, so I wanted to head back while I could stay dry. I walked up Rue de Bleury and made a left on Rue Ste. Catherine–the Walnut Street of Philadelphia, only many blocks longer. I wanted to check out Crescent Street, which is one block of concentrated clubs, pubs, and where you go to see and be seen. It was just as I remembered it, only luckily I was there in the daylight this time and it hadn’t become thronged with clubbers yet.

Museum of Fine Arts

After catching a bite and a pint at Sir Winston Churchill’s pub (fish and chips–not too bad), I headed back to my hotel, walking up Crescent to Sherbrooke, and taking a right after noticing the Museum of Fine Arts across the street. Since it was closed, I walked the 2 miles along Sherbrooke back to my hotel, soaked by the time I got back, but excited about the parts of the city I had discovered in one day.

Check out these blogs for more information on Montreal:

Montreal food blogs