Finally, we get to our trip to Montreal. We had such a fantastic time. Neither of us had been before, so we went armed with a long list of things to do, places to see and, of course, dishes to eat and cocktails to drink. We were prepared. And, because we could, we decided to take the train up instead of flying. The train ride was even better than I thought it would be, although, as expected, we ended up being delayed about two hours as we made our way upstate due to a storm the night before. No matter, though. We had plenty of books to read, plenty of podcasts to listen to, and I packed plenty of snacks to keep us placated. I went to Eataly the day before and picked up all the ingredients for a seriously delicious Italian sandwich, complete with fresh ricotta (think smoked pork loin, salami and prosciutto). We chowed down on those, napped and read while we gazed out the window at the green scenery passing us by. When we finally arrived in Montreal, we hopped in a cab to meet our AirBnB host, who greeted us with a beer, a list of bars and restaurants close by, and a map. We chatted with him for a bit before doing a bit of bar hopping. We first stopped at Bily Kun, which was a little loud and crowded for us (sigh), so we drank our drinks and headed over to a little tapas bar across the street from our apartment. The tapas there were underwhelming, but we did have a really nice Cuban rum. We still wanted to find the perfect spot to end our night, and not wanting to do that with mediocre tapas, we just happened to run into our host while walking around and he took us to Le Lab, which was lovely. We had a few creative cocktails, watched the bartender make insane looking shots for a brave table near us, then headed home to get some shut eye.
Hanging out in Montreal.
The next day, Kramer and I immediately headed over to Patisserie Au Kouign Amann, thanks to my friend Emily’s recommendation. The namesake pastry, the kougin amann, was by far the most interesting and delicious pastry that either of us have ever had. Insanely buttery with a crystallized sugar top that crunched with each dreamy, sticky bite, I could easily have eaten a whole pan of this stuff on my own. We grabbed a coffee to go, then wandered around the Plateau/Mile End area. After walking a bit, we landed at Schwartz’s for a famous smoked meat sandwich. I hate to say it, but this place blows Katz’s out of the water, both in how good the sandwich is and how reasonably priced everything is (the sandwich you’ll see below was a mind blowing $7, versus the $15+ you’d spend at Katz’s). After splitting a sandwich, we continued walking, checking out the cool shops and street art along the way, before heading to a little cafe for a beer and to watch a soccer game (remember the World Cup?). The game ended and we continued on our way, then ended up at Bishop and Bagg to watch the next soccer game, followed by drinks at The Sparrow and dinner at Lawrence. We had told ourselves that we’d go home, rest up a bit and go out for poutine later, but we just couldn’t stomach more food, if you can believe it. We had a glass of wine in our little balcony back at the apartment, then went to sleep to prepare for round two the next day.
I’ve made harissa before, but Mina Harissa is made right here in New York, and as I am always happy to support local small businesses, I couldn’t wait to give it a try when Mina herself contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in sampling and giving away a few jars of the good stuff. Harissa is a traditional Moroccan pepper paste, packed with flavor and just the right amount of heat. This jarred variety has a little more olive oil in it, which makes it perfect for marinating. This is my preferred method for roasting pork if my end goal is to just shred it with two forks and add it to a salad, tacos or buns. Cutting it up beforehand helps the meat cook more evenly without having to bother with meat thermometers or worrying about the pork drying out. You can use this same method with a chuck roast or a piece of lamb. I chose to use the green variety of harissa because I love green peppers along with a good punch of spice. If you want to give this recipe a go, and you’re curious to try a delicious Moroccan harissa, leave a comment or retweet this post. Mina has been kind enough to offer up three jars of her harissa to three lucky people. Even if you don’t win, check your local specialty food store for a jar of harissa, or even try making it yourself. Not only is it a terrific marinade, but it makes a tasty alternative to your usual addition of hot sauce, salsa or Sriracha.
The namesake pastry from Patisserie Au Kouign Amann – buttery deliciousness.
Handsome Kramer, ready to dig in.
Happy to be in Montreal, smoked meat by my side.
Ricotta on toast with zucchini.
Charcuterie at Lawrence.
A negroni at Sparrow.
Mina Harissa – made locally and it’s awesome!
Marinate your pork overnight, then cover and roast for 3 hours before removing the cover and roasting for another 30 minutes.
Shred and serve on buns, tortillas or on a salad.
Or just eat on its own!
- 1 5-lb boneless pork shoulder, cut into cubes
- 1½ cups green or red Harissa sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- tortillas, buns or mixed greens, for serving
- First, cube your pork and place it in a sealable bag. Combine the harissa, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, then pour it over the pork. Marinate overnight or at least for 3 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. Place the pork in a 9x13-inch dish, cover tightly with foil, and roast the pork for 3 hours, then remove the foil and roast for another 30 minutes. Remove the pork from the juices, shred it, and add back about half of the juices. Serve on tortillas or on a bun (or on a salad, like I did) with extra harissa or hot sauce.