August 31, 2011

Olive et Gourmando: Chocolate and a Salad in Montreal

For my next few posts, I will be doing a brief series on Montreal, as I just returned there from a week-long vacation.

To begin, I want to talk chocolate.

This is not an idle conversation. Chocolate is an important part of my life. I consider it to be a minor obsession.

I'm well aware of the health benefits of chocolate- that the flavonoids are good for your heart and that there's even some evidence that eating a little chocolate everyday can help depression.

But none of those things matter. Not really. I'd eat it anyway. 

So it should come to no surprise, that last week while vacationing in Montreal, I had my fair share of the sweet stuff. Largely, I enjoyed hot chocolates and chocolate pastries, often at the same time.

I roamed the streets of Old Montreal, taking in the cobblestones and old buildings. I had my fair share of food at various restaurants and cafes. My favorite meal however, was at Olive et Gourmando.

I could have eaten there every day and been satisfied. How satisfied? To get back to the hotel on day five, all I would have needed would have been a really good push.

Their most outrageous chocolatey pastry is their Valhrona Chocolate Brioche. It's the type of pastry that's probably meant to be split, but you won't want too share. The outside is flaky, but the inside is as moist as a muffin. Rich veins of chocolate run throughout. It is well worth sinking your teeth into.

To really go overboard, pair with their hot chocolate. Be sure to mix well, the bottom of the cup is where most of the chocolate is hiding.

Olive et Gourmando is a stylish and trendy sort of place. It's always bustling with people, whether they are standing in line for one of the two counters or enjoying their meal. At one point, I ate a late lunch at two in the afternoon and it was still as busy as ever. When you walk into the cafe, you can immediately see the first line of people waiting for their coffee and pastry. The second counter is in the back and has a large chalkboard, listing the many sandwiches available. Not-so-visible is the inside of the counter, where more food options are often hidden by people waiting to order them. 

The one thing to be aware of before you visit is the menu. Simply put, they don't have one. At least not in the normal sense. Instead, the staff will direct you to the many chalkboards that are scattered about the restaurant. The pastries are all labeled by tiny white markers and lunch options are showcased similarly in the back counter. Tea, coffee, and hot chocolate options are tightly squeezed on a long chalkboard located in a tiny corner, right next to the pastry line.
As busy as this place is and as diverse are their options, I highly recommend that you check out their website at for the extensive list of pastries, sandwiches, salads and more, before visiting. It's easy to miss food options that are hidden behind customers otherwise.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the chocolate? Quick! Stare at this kale.


Olive et Gourmando also has the best vegetarian/vegan fare for breakfast and lunch. I ate The Herbivore as my next meal after my chocolate overdose. It's a monstrous dish made for a veggie lover with an appetite.

The Herbivore is a delicious and healthy salad, full of shredded and chopped vegetables, such as kale, carrots and radishes, mixed with different kinds of seeds and nuts. The whole thing rests on a pile of Soba noodles. The plate is topped off with sprouts and your choice of dressing. I went with a spicy peanut sauce. Fabulous.

Olive et Gourmando was one of the most pleasant places I ate at while in Montreal and I highly recommend you check it out if you are ever in town, whether it be for a meal or a pastry to go.

August 27, 2011

Spinach Pesto Pasta

Quinoa. The love of my vegetarian life. 

It has everything a woman could ever want. Protein and high fiber, the grain is more than just a pretty face. And since it comes in three color choices, tan, red and black, it can go with just about any meal.

I'd like to say that this dish is the culmination of everything I've been working toward. A masterful work of culinary art born of genius. Each ingredient the natural partner of the previous flavor inserted.

I'd like to say that, but really I got bored. And this consisted mostly of leftovers I had laying about the kitchen. 

The macaroni noodles from the box of Annie's Mac and Cheese that never saw the cheese sauce-

The fresh pesto that had been made the day before from the basil plants outside-

Extra spinach that didn't make it into the lasagna-

Sometimes things happen for a reason. Just go with it.

The ricotta cheese adds a richness to the whole meal. Basil and garlic prevails over the taste buds. The spinach gives an italian flair. And the peas? Well, you can never have too many peas.

Any type of quinoa will do. There isn't a large difference in the flavors of each kind. But the red gives the plate a lovely color.

Mix in that quinoa. It's crunchy and delicious and adds great texture.

And while I'm in the confessing mood, I'd also like to say that before this lovely creation come into existence, I utterly failed to make pumpkin soup. Oops.

Spinach Pesto Pasta

olive oil(for pan)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup pre-cooked macaroni
dollap of fat free ricotta cheese
basil pesto
1/4 cup cooked quinoa

Saute spinach and peas in olive oil in a medium sized pan on medium low heat. Continue until peas are thawed and spinach has wilted. Turn heat down to low. Add cheese, mixing well until vegetables are coated. Add the cooked pasta to the pan. Mix and let sit for 30 seconds.

Take pan off of the heat. Add pesto to mixture. Serve. Sprinkle heavily with quinoa to add extra crunch.