Thursday, 31 May 2012

Craving for Fried Chicken

So lately I've been craving fried chicken. Here in Montréal, if there is one thing that's lacking it's a good southern cooking style restaurant that serves up some good fried chicken with hot biscuits, mash and corn. I mean we have KFCs here (known in French as PFK - Poulet Frit Kentucky) but that's all we have! And we don't have the same kinds of sides as in the U.S. where they have biscuits, mashed potatoes and gravy and corn on the cob. Instead we have coleslaw (radioactive green shredded cabbage), macaroni salad (which does taste awesome though), potato salad (uh.. ew?) and corn, but like from a can, not on the cob, which sucks. And have you tried the gravy at KFC? (Of course you did.) It has this god awful acid salty taste that makes you want to drink a whole gallon of water. To me it tastes and looks like some bastard ate too much chicken with eleven secret herbs and spices and got sick, then someone took that and put in a blender to get rid of the chunks and turned to some gooey purée. I mean that shit is so rank, you could probably use it as fake vomit as a prank, to excuse yourself from class, an exam or from work. As for the chicken, I don't know why, but I have the weird impression that the recipe has changed since I was little. The taste of the deep fried skin somehow burns the back of my throat now and I find the chicken to be way more greasy than it used to be. All in all, KFC's food quality has dropped. I wonder what the Colonel would think if he came back from the dead and witnessed what his achievement had become. Well he probably would come up with some form of Kentucky fried brains recipe I guess since he'd be a zombie.

To get back to the point, Montréal lacks a good southern-style fried chicken joint and here I am craving some good tasty fried chicken. So I went to one of the best chains in Québec when it comes to chicken: St-Hubert. For all of you out there who aren't from Québec, St-Hubert Rotisseries is named after the St-Hubert street here in Montréal where the original restaurant opened in 1951. It's kind of like Swiss Chalet, but a bazillion times better! Their chicken is one of the best chicken in the province country north-america along with the charcoal grilled chicken from the many Portuguese rotisseries here in Montréal. But their specialty is rotisserie chicken. To try to satisfy my craving I too a plate of 4 piece chicken tenders with creamy cole slaw, a garden salad and a half a hamburger bun with a cup of St-Hubert gravy which is as addictive as crack. Though I wouldn't know, I've never done crack. Sadly, I was not satisfied in the end. And I don't think I ever will be unless I go intoxicate myself at the nearest KFC.

What got me started about the whole fried chicken thing is that there's this friend I know who's from Atlanta. I've been doing a bit of research about that city just to learn a bit more about that place through different public forums and read about good places to eat, etc. And every time I read about that place, there's always someone mentioning Chick-Fil-A. In some other places people talk about Bojangle's or Popeye's and I thought "You know what? Montréal has restaurants with cuisines from all around the world, but we don't have any good fried chicken joints." Then I started craving KFC, but I remembered how sick I was last time I went. So I started seeking out an alternative. Sadly, there aren't any. Unless I cross south of the border. Anyone up for a road trip to get some fried chicken?

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Shitstorm - No walk today

Since yesterday Montreal has been bombarded by giant thunderstorms. Today was the worst as the entire city was flooded. It was so bad, water came gushing out of sewers and in some places the man hole covers were levitating above the holes out of sheer air pressure from inside the sewer pipes. Some metro stations were flooded and had to close down and this was all happening during the evening rush hour.

My mom happened to be in the underground mall at Place Montreal Trust when it all came down and she happened to shoot this very short video showing how the flood just came through the mall entrance all the way down the escalators to the levels below.

I was smart enough not to take my car today, because I knew, I just had a gut feeling, that we were going to have a shitstorm today. I've seen sewers gushing before on the Decarie highway and in the Ville Marie tunnel during heavy rainfalls so I left my car at home. And I left work a little earlier when it started raining because I saw the big ominous mushroom storm cloud approaching in the horizon and I knew hell was going to break loose.

It looked a little something like this, but bigger.

I finally got home safe and sound and without getting too wet and when I turned on the TV and watched the news and read my Facebook on my computer, I saw what I avoided and I felt pretty damn smart.

I thought I'd add these little bits for shits and giggles ;)

Complexe'd Desjardins

The other day I went downtown by car because it was late and I was afraid I might not be able to walk around long enough before the Metro closes. It was a terrible clusterf*ck because of all the police cars racing up and down Boulevard René-Lévesque, cutting people off, driving over the median and caravans of dozens of paddy wagons running red lights to go load the protesters that were walking around the UQAM university. They caused complete chaos, so I decided to get the hell out of the way and park at the Complexe Desjardins underground parking. A cop car almost hit my own car while making a sudden last minute turn so I was pretty shaken and angry.

Until I spotted this incredible gem on my way up in the elevator.
Lookin' pretty smooth there. A true lady killer!

That picture made my day.

Also, I noticed they decided to put colored lighting at the ceiling of the Complexe which made it look really nice from the outside, through the tall glass wall.

Now that's a pretty cool looking credit union!

Anyway, I just wanted to add this little memento of that evening on here before I forget.

Bonne nuit!

Asian Restaurants, a couple of honorable Chinatown mentions.

I love food, and one of my favorite activities is eating out. When I'm in the mood for some adventure I go for Asian food because I find it's the weirdest and most exotic kind of cuisine. I mean, we're talking about eating raw fish, squid, sea weed, chicken feet and even tendons and tripe in certain dishes. You also find certain foods that are all gooey and slimy, made out of glutinous rice and starch, with a texture that can feel quite unusual for westerners. And lets not forget the exotic fruits and vegetables with weird shapes and peculiar flavors.

However, the restaurants I'm going to talk about today are pretty accessible and are not too weird. They're a couple of places that I really like and that I've discovered in the past few years. First, I'd like to start with a couple of places in Chinatown. Now, Chinatown was never my favorite spot for Asian food, mainly because I had a couple of Asian friends who worked there and mentioned how some places were very dirty and that they would fail an inspection pretty fast and hard. I also have seen many a exterminator truck parked in the streets around that neighborhood. Not to mention that according to the website, there is a high concentration of restaurants there that have had infractions. That's why I prefer to go around Concordia, the second and unofficial Chinatown. But the places in Chinatown I will talk about are okay, trust me.

So you're in Chinatown and you want to eat out on a budget? The Noodle Factory is the place to go. That restaurant is a little hole in the wall on Saint-Urbain just off of De la Gauchetière and they have really good food. Especially noodles, you know why? Because they make their own freakin' noodles, that's why! And that's amazing. How many Asian restaurants do you know who actually make that kind of effort and still serve you a meal under 10$? Well The Noodle Factory does it! And their dumplings are pretty freakin' solid too if you like stuffing your mouth with balls of noodle covered meat. (hehehe)  My favorites are the Hunan pork dumplings with spicy peanut butter sauce and chopped green onions.

The Noodle Factory from outside.

The restaurant is very small and kind of cramped so you'll want to get in, eat and get out. Thankfully, their service is super fast and the people are super nice and friendly. Make sure you give them a good tip. Oh and did I mention it's cash only?

When you're done eating your meal, you might want to satisfy your sweet tooth with some dessert. That's when you cross the street and go to the Chinese bakery Patiserie Harmonie. It's a tiny bright little bakery full of baked goodness. They have all sorts of Chinese goodies such as "mochi" balls (they're not really mochi, but that's what they call 'em.) which are soft coconut covered balls made from glutenous rice and stuffed with sweet red bean paste, sweet black sesame paste or some other sweet stuff. (Like big soft sweet testicles.) They also have some green tea cakes, almond cookies and sweet buns stuffed with cream. (Sorry!) And if ever you're in the mood of a small snack, they have some very tasty Chinese hot dogs and buns stuffed with meat. (There's really no other way to describe it! I swear!) Dirty references aside, their food is really good and I love their desserts. They also serve bubble tea with a large variety of flavors if you want to cool down on a hot summer day.

Those are Chinese hot dogs apparently

The said testicular treat: the "mochi" balls

Though this looks like something you'd see  dripping from a zombie's mouth,
that black stuff is actually sweet sesame paste and it's very tasty.

Balls of meat in your mouth, meat and cream filled buns, sweet testicle-like desserts. I told you Asian food was weird and erotic exotic!

Next time, I'll talk about a couple of Japanese places and my most favorite restaurant in Montreal.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Spending money feels good

These past couple of months I have been very depressed. Walking helps me get my mind off of my problems so this is why I have been walking around so much. This month I was able to save on some extra cash because I've been a lot more quieter than usual. Last weekend I went on a little shopping spree. Besides, I needed some new clothes for this summer because the ones I have are like 10 years old and kinda washed out. So I bought a couple new western shirts from Salt Valley at Urban Outfitters with some t-shirts.

Gotta get my daily dose to stay fresh! And some chicken.

Yesterday my brother in law and I hung out and went downtown. He wanted to do upgrade on his iMac, but just as I thought, you can't upgrade an iMac. Now he can't play Diablo III. I warned him. But now he's stuck, the poor bastard. Anyway, later on he told me he saw a shoe store with some nice Vans. We went to take a look and lo and behold! I found the nicest pair of shoes to complement my recent clothing purchase!
I went and got myself a new pair of classic Chuck Taylor All Stars! Now I'm stylin'.

Looks good from my perspective.

Yep, I'm lookin' pretty fly for a white guy.

We went back to my place and walked around the fancy high-end neighborhood of HoMa. (If you're not from Montreal, read "the ghetto") and we came across a candy store called Oscar. Now, a friend of mine is a hardcore candy freak. And there's one candy in particular for which she would sell her own mother to get some. I'm talking about Cow Tales. That candy is so hard to find, you'd have better luck searching for the poop of the Pope. (That's actually translated from a local French Canadian expression, "plus rare que la merde du pape" for all you crazy anglophones out there.)

The funny thing is I recently got in touch with the good folks at Goetze who make the Cow Tales and asked them if they knew of any store that sold it on Montreal. They told me that the only store they know of was called Oscar and they were located in Plaza St-Hubert. As luck would have it, I happened to find one just a couple of blocks away from my apartment! Unfortunately they were closed when I passed by, but I made it my personal mission to go check it out the next day. And I did.

So today, I put on my new shoes and took 'em out for a test. As ghetto as HoMa is, there's a wealth of interesting things to see. Especially when it comes to street art and graffiti. My most favorite is the Back to the Future mural somewhere on Sainte-Catherine East. Here's a little cheery one that I found in my hood on my way to Oscar's.
"Merci!" says the little French doodle, smoking his cigarette.

After making a stop at the ATM to get some cash, I went to Oscar's candy store to find out if they had the famous Cow Tales. The store is this little place with a lot of bulk candy, gummies, cookies and nuts. They also had some brand name candy, chocolate bars and various candy-related accessories. (Like candy g-string underwear, yum...)

EDIT: Here's the website for the Oscar candy store and here are the addresses of the stores in Montréal:

It's a nice little place, but it seriously pales in comparison to a store I went to in New York city. That other place had shelves of candy of every freakin' kind imaginable from all over the world as high as 2 floors up! And it was just a little family store on the ground floor of an apartment building! It's too bad we can't find stores like that here. But, Oscar is still a pretty cool little store. It has this quaint little general store kind of feel to it. And guess what? They has teh Cow Talez!

Actually, they're not really Cow Tales. See, an actual Cow Tale is a long stick of soft caramel filled with an Oreo-like cream in the middle. These are just Caramel Creams but they taste the same. They had two kinds, the classic caramel and the chocolate caramel variant. So I grabbed a couple of bags of those and I looked around for some other candy that I might like, paid for the candy and went home with a mouth full of sugar. 

Hostie!! I don't know why they had those, it's not even sweet!

Teh spoils!

What you see in the picture above are a licorice pipe, some raspberry-lemonade sticks, a chocolate covered sugar fudge bar, a peanut butter pretzel Dairy Milk chocolate bar, some ChupaChups lollipops, peaches and cream hard candy, big ass Whoppers/Maltesers, Caramel Creams and Chocolate Caramel Creams. By the way, I've been dying to buy the peaches and cream sort of Campino hard candy just for this:

Cut the rope!! Omnom wants it!

I finally had to go buy a couple more things downtown, so I took advantage of my sugar super power and drove down to the Eaton Center to get some new bed sheets for the summer. On my way there I saw this crazy awesome red Porsche Cayman S, but I noticed something peculiar about it. Check out the licence plate!

Gangsta life

Now think about it for a second. If this guy has M0* DEF, that means there is someone, somwhere with a M05 DEF licence plate. That's Mos Def! My favorite rapper! Why don't I have a cool licence like that!?!? People would think a cool rapper is driving my car! Instead mine has to end with BRF. That's short of BARF! And there ain't nothin' cool about BARF.

I couldn't check if it was Mos Def in the car, but after all this excitement I finally got to the Eaton Center. I went over to Simon's and I made the most awesomest discovery evar. I was browsing the bedding section of the store when I came across this.

Afro pillow?

Yeah, that's a pillow. An afro pillow. So you can lay your head with your face in a pile of hair, because who doesn't like to have hair in their face, especially when they're trying to lie down and relax. The only cool thing about this pillow is that the underpart has a zipper and you can remove the pillow stuffing and shove that thing on your head and pretend you're Dolemite or Black Belt Jones. Too bad I didn't have any company to share this with at that time, but then on the spur of the moment I asked a nice random person if they could take my picture with that thing on my head and they did. Looking back at the picture I realized the whole afro style just wasn't meant to be. Maybe for Halloween I'll come back and by it to make a cool Afro Samurai costume. (Or Cracker Samurai?)

Finally, I was talking to a salesman in a camera store about buying a camera for an upcoming trip to San Francisco and he told me he went there himself. He told me about a Japanese neighborhood and how much the food was great there. So being a complete ramen freak, I asked him if he ever tried it. It turns out the guy actually went to Japan for almost a year for school! Lucky son of a bitch got a taste of the real authentic Japanese ramen over there. Then I told him about my favorite spot in Montreal: Ramen-Ya, he didn't know of the place but he told me about another one called Hakata Ramen on Stanley and he told me they were pretty good. So you can look forward to me writing a post about this very soon.

Paint your own gnome

A couple of weeks ago I was walking down St-Denis one evening and I saw a couple of girls painting some clay figurines behind the window of a shop. I assumed it was some kind of place where they made their own clay objects on site and sold them. I thought it was cool that some crafters were selling their own hand made creations right there. But, I passed by that place again a few days later and I realized it was actually a coffee shop! So I thought I'd go in and ask what the heck was going on up in there.

Look! They got gnomes!

So the place is called Le Céramic Café Studio and it's located on the corner of St-Denis and Marie-Anne. It's a coffee shop, restaurant, store and a ceramic painting studio all in one. They had plates, cups, figurines and other things to paint. I asked the lady at the counter how it works if you want to paint something and she said that after you pick your object, whose price vary depending on the type and size, you pay for a certain amount of time and they provide you with all the colors and brushes you  need! And they even cover your creation with a clear coat of varnish and they bake it on for you! How freakin' cool is that? But, she said it takes a week before you can actually retrieve your item because of how many they have to do. That's a pretty cool concept. You can drink a nice cup of coffee or tea and even have a meal, then digest your food and relax while creating something that's unique. Oh and they sell painted objects as well if you're too lazy.

Monday, 21 May 2012

New blog.

Hi people!

I've had a few poor excuses for blogs before where I tried to write down my thoughts or whatever and I guess I'm at it again. Except this time I thought I'd try it with something Google related since I use pretty much all their services now.

What basically brought me to do this is because I have recently decided to start wandering the streets of Montreal to try to get my mind off recent personal events. I need to entertain myself and I thought I'd entertain the web at the same time. Write some articles, post a few pictures. I dunno, I've never been really good at this but I'm giving it one last desperate shot at trying to create something uh.. creative. Knowing myself, it's going to be inconsistent and sort of mixed up and that's why I decided to call it Walking Solo: Ramblings in Whateverland.