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Hi Been There Ate That fans! We have moved our website to http://beenthereatethat.ca/ 

Go check it out! Same delicious posts just a new address!

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Michelle is a self-described gnocchi expert. She has travelled far and wide for those magical potato dumplings and once proposed a rating system for them based on her approval. Jackie, though not an expert, has made gnocchi, eaten gnocchi and has weird dreams about gnocchi. Those dreams have led to a few psychology sessions and a great idea for a post: 

The greatest gnocchi restaurants in Montreal!

      We decided to try a wide array of spots that would meet our different gnocchi criteria: The classic gnocchi, the overall best gnocchi and the most innovative gnocchi.

This ended up being a tougher task than previously thought… Gnocchi, as you know, isn’t the lightest food out there! We rolled out of each restaurant feeling like a sack of potatoes… Get it… Potatoes!

      Our first stop for the more traditional gnocchi was Vinizza, a local Italian trattoria with two locations in Montreal. We tried their ricotta gnocchi in a classic tomato sauce. The gnocchi itself was delicious and light due to the fact that they are made out of ricotta. Though the sauce could use a little work (we couldn’t figure out what was missing but when we figure it out we will let you know!), overall the gnocchi were a good first stop!

Soon after (seriously we swallowed those bad boys in 15 minutes flat! We are sure there is an inappropriate joke we can plug in here!), we made out way to our second stop for what has to be the best gnocchi in Montreal. Yeah we said it! These gnocchi were so out of control good that we had to stop eating (which is hard for us to do, let’s be real) and pinch ourselves. What is the location of these mystical gnocchi? Graziella, a fantastic Italian style restaurant located in Old Montreal. These ricotta and grano padano gnocchi had it all! They were a little soft but not mushy, were perfectly seasoned (the grano padano ricotta combination was perfect!) and the tomato sauce was divine.

       The last stop on our gnocchi tour was to try the now legendary gnocchi poutine developed by Sergio Mattoscio at Macaroni Bar. We knew that this dish was going to be a hit because it essentially combines everything that we love: gravy, cheese and fried gnocchi. This gnocchi dish is fantastic especially with one of their fantastic cocktails to wash it down. 

      So, would these restaurants rank highly on Michelle’s approval system or make a cameo in one of Jackie’s dreams? Absolutely but word to the wise, we recommend trying them all on different days!   

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      Pie: A baked dish of fruit or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry

      Pi: One of the most common constants in math. Denoted by the numbers 3.14

      March 14th is Pi day… Get it… Get it… And there is no better way to celebrate the mathematical number than with treating ourselves to some delicious pie. There is no way we would purposely do math!

      Though everyone knows about “sweet” pies, not many people indulge in their savory counterparts. We, however, are not most people and relish at the idea of a good meat pie (that’s what she said!). So, in an attempt to find a delicious meat pie, we found ourselves at TA, an Australian and New Zealand pie shop which serves the tradition Australian comfort food… Pretty much an Australian Tourtiere! Michelle opted for the steak, bacon and cheese pie. When she saw the vegetable option, she started to laugh hysterically… like that’s ever going to happen! Jackie went the traditional route and took the classic beef and cheese. After selecting our pies, we had the decision of whether or not to top it with the big stack; mash, mushy peas and gravy. It didn’t take long for these ladies to decide… Sold! We’ll take two! The pies were out of this world (or maybe just this continent, wink, wink). The mash and gravy added a nice texture and made the pie a well-balanced dish. C’mon, we need to have some vegetables sometimes! 

      After a quick, Tim Tam purchase and a bus ride down Parc Avenue, these ladies found themselves face to face with Fou D’ici. Michelle asked Jackie if it was a grocery store. Jackie said “no, it’s a high end food shop”, to which Michelle responded, “so… a grocery store?”. What was clear, however, was that this little shop had some delicious little pies (or tartelettes as some of you may know them). Being good Italians, we choose the Nutella tarte and seeing as we love caramel, the other natural choice was salted caramel. Both provided a sweet treat and great way to end our new favorite holiday, Pie Day.

Oh wait, we weren’t supposed to take the day off? 

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During the summer month, everyone knows that Montreal is hustling and bustling with street fairs, cultural festivals and half naked montrealers taking in every ray of sunshine the summer has to offer… We only get 4 months people! Montreal tends to be on the quiet side during the winter months. Let’s be honest, -40 degree weather doesn’t “encourage” most people to enjoy the great outdoors.

However, Montrealers are starting to adapt and taking to the streets during the winter months to enjoy such events as Igloofest, Fire and Ice and Montreal en Lumiere. Though we are born and bred montrealers (we get separation anxiety when they are more than 50 km away from any poutinerie), we tend to shy away from Montreal’s “colder” activities. However, seeing as 2013 is a new year, filled with new experiences, we decided to enjoy the great outdoors and head out for La Nuit Blanche!

      La Nuit Blanche, the grand finally to the Montreal en Lumiere festival, is a night filled with art installations, musical performances and food. Did you really think we would go somewhere that didn’t have food?!  We started off our evening at the Quartier des Spectacles and were ready for all that the festival had to offer. We were in awe at the way that the site was set up. As soon as we saw the fire pits with people roasting marshmallows, we knew it was going to be a great night!

We made a mental list of all the food stands we wanted to hit up but decided to partake in an activity beforehand. What was this activity that would delay these hungry mamacitas from eating? The ability to get some free publicity, of course! Bell Canada was offering Montrealers the chance to project a message of their choice, for the festival goers to see.  After careful deliberation (We debated confessing our love to every soccer player in existence) and a long waiting time, these girls projected Been There Ate That for the world Montreal to see! Look mom, we made it!

      After some great fireworks and a lot of time deliberating whether David Usher was actually singing, these ladies divided and conquered the food stands. Michelle headed over to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory for some Belgium waffles and hot chocolate and Jackie waited through the madness of Atelier Argentine for some empanadas.  Both the sweet and savory options were a great treat to keep us warm and fill our bellies. So, would we hit the streets for another Nuit Blanche during one of Montreal’s brutal winters?

Absolutely!  

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Montreal’s Chinatown was established in 1877 and is one of the oldest in existence within Canada. It is also filled with some of the most delicious food this great city has to offer. So, with the year of the snake upon us, we decided to indulge in some Chinese delights! Although Michelle knows Chinatown like the back of her hand (she has never met a fried dumpling she didn’t like), Jackie isn’t so lucky when it comes to this area. She always seems to get lost and can never remember the names of restaurants (even ones as simple as L2!). In order to get Jackie through the experience, the girls got reinforcement in the form of their Asian Assimilation Agent, Miss. Jenn Sheng. Jenn promised to show them the ins and outs of the community and promised that they wouldn’t be leaving hungry.

                  Before meeting Jenn, we took a quick promenade through the Holiday Inn Chinatown. Our attempt to get to the roof of the hotel was unsuccessful (Oh the things we do to try and get a great picture of the city for you!) so we decided to check out their beautiful koi pond (they fish really seemed to really like us!). We then made our way over to meet Jenn at the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. Before our arrival, Jenn had warned us to “wear clothes you don’t mind throwing out and make sure to bring garbage bags to put everything else in”. Translation: If you don’t protect yourself, your clothes are going smell for days! The idea behind hot pot is quite simple: You get to cook your own delicious veggies, meats and seafood in a very delicious broth.

Jenn also gave us specific instructions as to how to truly enjoy our hot pot experience.  (We are going to share them with you because we like you!)

Step 1: “Cook the shit out of everything!” We aren’t joking, that is literally what she said! The idea is that the longer it stays in the broth the less likely you are to curl up in a ball, on the floor of the restaurant, praying to San Iker that you didn’t have a stomach! That being said, it is very safe!

Step 2: If you can’t handle the heat, don’t cook your veggies in the spicy broth. Vegetable tend to soaks up the spicy goodness much quicker, so be careful!

 Step 3: This has got to be the most important step of them all - Cool down your food before you eat it up! No matter how good it looks, second-degree burns on your tongue make eating a lot harder! (We weren’t very good at this step!)

Jenn then showed us the wall of produce. We picked out what we wanted to cook and piled up our plates with fish balls (there’s a joke here but we will let you figure it out!) veggies and fongus… Yes FONGUS! We are pretty sure that this was a fail on the part of Google Translate but we steered away from it just to be on the safe side.

                  After our delicious experience, we decided to head over to L2 for another Chinatown delight: Bubble Tea! Though Jenn opted for a hot-milked tea, Jackie and Michelle opted for a colder tea with boba instead of the traditional tapioca pearls. With the exception of a girl wearing a Tron helmet, and their sudden urge to sing Daft Punk, the bubble tea was the perfect conclusion to our Asian affair! One thing is for certain; we will definitely be back in Chinatown!

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When you think of poutine, a glorious combination of gravy, salty french fries and the infamous squeaky cheese comes to mind.  Poutine is a symbol of Quebec pride and a culinary marvel. Frankly, it is the only food warm enough to keep us from killing ourselves during the cold winter months. So what better way to celebrate our fair poutine than with a week in its honor?

We decided the best way to approach poutine week was to travel from one restaurant to another and try three unique and inventive dishes. This seemed like a great plan until we came face to face with the frigid -30 degree Celsius weather Montreal had planned for us! Clearly, those first settlers were down right crazy! Regardless, we made our way to Scena where we quickly realized that it was not open. After a quick brainstorming session, we decided to make our way over to Montreal Poutine. Not only had it closed up shop for the day, but we quickly started to doubt our poutine finding abilities.

Just when we were about to throw in the towel, a miracle in the form of Bevo Bar + Pizzeria appeared right in front of us.  A sign from the squeaky cheese gods? We like to think so! After settling into the warm restaurant, we ordered their Italian Sausage poutine. Though we are generally turned off by the typical “poutine Italienne” (a combination of meat sauce, fries, and cheese), this poutine was nothing like what we were expecting! It was absolutely stellar! Nothing like some Italian sausage to get us through those long, cold nights… That’s what she said! The fries were wonderfully golden and the fried onions and peppers were divine. Overall a great and luxurious poutine!

                  For our second stop, we chose Poutineville. Poutineville, located in the Mile End district, is a new staple on the Montreal poutine scene. Their poutine week special was Le Montrealais, a poutine with smoke meat, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and a fried pickle. Although we started off optimistic and excited, the long wait made us hungry and a little weak. When we finally got our plate, it was not what we were expecting and the disappointment on our face was evident. The smoke meat didn’t actually taste like proper Montreal smoke meat and the cheese didn’t add much to the overall taste. The only positive point? The delicious fried pickle! Overall, it wasn’t our favorite poutine, but we appreciate the effort! 

For our last stop, we headed to La Betise, a delightful tapas bar. The goal was to try their General Tao poutine… and regain some feeling in our toes (did we mention how cold it was?). We were quite skeptical about this combination but are very adamant about the idea of “don’t knock it ‘til you try it!”. To our surprise, there was something magical and almost dessert-like about this plate. The crispy chicken nd General Tao sauce, on top of a bed of french fries, was divine. We were very satisfied by La Betise’s creation and they will definitely have us as returning customers.

What did our experience during poutine week teach us? It taught us that even though the traditional poutine will always be the best, sometimes a new spin on the dish could be just as fantastic. We also confirmed that no one does poutine quite like Montrealers do!

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When it comes time to set our resolutions for the year, don’t they always seem to revolve around looking better on the outside? What about the things that should really count? Many people tend to forget one of the most important aspects of life… Feeling good and taking care of yourself from the inside, out! With this in mind, our fourth resolution was born. LET’S GET HAPPY PEOPLE!

We spent many hours discussing the ways that we could approach our final resolution. Since meeting our favorite soccer players was out of the question (FOR NOW!), we decided a little pampering was in order! There is nothing that will lift your spirits or boost your confidence like treating yourself… Or being treated (Listen up boys!) to a relaxing massage, a purifying facial, or a colorful mani-pedi.

With its abundance of spa’s and nail salons, the city of Montreal seems to know how to keep its residents happy… That is, until we hit a pothole!

After much research, we made our way to the newest nail salon on the scene, Nstyle. Hidden on the fourth floor of Place Montreal Trust, this beauty bar should not be missed! Their friendly staff welcomed us in and escorted us to the “Wall of Color!” So many choices, so few fingers!

Our manicure include a complimentary back rub… Which Jackie was very excited about but made Michelle very uncomfortable. If Jackie could make a living out of getting massages, she would!

This establishment is a refreshing take on the traditional salon, with its state of the art facilities, including wireless headphones to watch your favorite episode of Modern Family or Sex in the City. This beauty bar also offers other beautifying services such as reflexology, scalp and face massage, threading, and makeup application.

Although we went in for a simple manicure, we came out two hours later with a new eyebrow shape and a face full of makeup. We are ready for our close up!

Overall, these simple treatments had us feeling like we could take on anything in our path… Except for the extreme cold! No amount of nail polish can solve that!

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imageAs Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod always said, “remember to keep fit and have fun!”

That was our goal for week three of Resolution Month! We wanted to try and find a way to stay healthy but not deprive ourselves of doing something fun and something we enjoyed; and there is nothing we enjoy more than Brazil. Did you ever think you’d hear two Italians utter those words? Even without exercise, nothing gets us pumped up more than the idea of all you can eat meat, Michel Telo, and Marcelo’s fantastic hair!

Since our Portuguese is presently non-existent, when we found out that there was a Brazilian dance class being offered at Studio Dance Montreal, we said “obrigado!” This would be perfect way to achieve our third resolution for 2013!

What was the best part of the class? It’s pay as you go, which means no obligation for all of you commitment phoebes out there! We’re talking to you Cristiano Ronaldo… Would you just return our phone call!

The class ran for one hour and was filled with lots of jumping, hip shaking, chest popping, and bouncing. Usually this is a great recipe for fun but this class was more aerobics than the choreographed dance we were looking for. How else are we supposed to seduce the Brazilian national soccer team in 2014? (Ai se eu te pego!)

After the class was over, there was no doubt in our minds that we had had a great workout… Especially evident from the throbbing pain in our legs and our sudden urge to faint.

So the question remains, will this third resolution stick for 2013? Maybe… With their wide array of classes and flexible scheduling, who’s to say the year won’t be filled with a little Bhangra or down dog at one of their other classes. 

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With one successful resolution down, we decided to face our second resolution of 2013 with enthusiasm and excitement. That is until we actually realized what that would entail.

For our second resolution we decided to try a new and healthier type of cuisine. Michelle, who loves her golden brown colored food, was somewhat skeptical. After some discussion, and a little reluctance, we chose to go vegan!

We had heard so many fantastic reviews about La Panthere Verte, a vegan restaurant located in downtown Montreal, near Concordia University. We decided that if we were really going to do this (was there still time to back out?), there was no better place to go.

When we first walked in, we noticed that the restaurant was buzzing with University students. Huh… There really are people who actually eat vegan! We caught a glimpse of the menu and suddenly all of the excitement was gone. No meat. No cheese. All vegetable. WHAT HAD WE DONE?

Jackie chose the Traditional Falafel and the Balooberry smoothie while Michelle chose the Veggie Burger and the Hibiscus ice tea. Maybe if we ordered something that usually has meat in it, we would be okay. The food came quite quickly and was presented to us in the most delightful way.

Things started looking up when we took a sip of our drinks and automatically agreed that they were delicious! We then took a bite of our meals and were pleasantly surprised. The taste was quite enjoyable and we couldn’t get over how fantastic the homemade pitas were! Jackie was in love with her falafels probably due to how crispy and fried they were. The piece de resistance that evening? The pickles… It was all about the pickles!

In the end, we decided that our second resolution had turned out to be very different from what we expected. Still, we don’t think you’ll see us there too often. All we could think about while we ate was a Triple Pork Poutine from Smokes Poutinerie up the street.

Vegan food just isn’t for us… Didn’t you see that one coming?

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imageWith the New Year in full swing, we decided to grab it by the horns and follow through on some resolutions. We plan to keep each and every one this year! Our first resolution was to learn something new. Seeing as we lovely ladies (Positive thoughts in 2013!) adore getting our food on (we have not met a dish we didn’t like), we felt like a cooking class was very appropriate. Plus, if we ever meet Gordon Ramsay (Michelle dreams of being yelled at by him!) and are forced into a cooking showdown on Hell’s Kitchen, we want to make sure we know how to boil water at the very minimum.

So, after a little research, these hungry ladies made their way to Les Agitateurs Gourmand, a cooking school and bistro located in Little Italy to learn some breakfast cooking techniques.

       The plan was to make some savory breakfast specialties including a mushroom and cheese crepe, a zucchini clafouti and lastly a sweet apple turnover. So, after being handed a very stylish apron and served a much-appreciated mimosa, these girls were put to work. They sliced veggies like the professionals and minced garlic like 5-year-old kids. Seriously, we don’t understand why our teacher told us to use the back of our knives to mince but hey, he’s the teacher!

Where did these girls really shine? On the mushroom sauté line, of course! Among their group of 12 people, Michelle and Jackie were carefully selected (and by carefully selected we mean we volunteered) to prepare the mushrooms for the crepes. A little butter, parsley and BAM! (We love you Emeril Lagasse!), they were like sautéing machines.

       After what felt like 8 hours (Note to self: Eat a little something before you go. It can be close to 2 hours before you eat anything!), we enjoyed the fruits of our labor.

Did we enjoy our food? Absolutely! Could we reproduce the dishes we learned? Probably not! But that’s okay; there is always Le Gros Jambon!

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