Thursday, January 23, 2014

Poutineville

About two weeks before I left for France two of my coworkers (Charles and Jean-Christophe) and I decided to go to Poutineville so I could enjoy a damn real poutine before leaving. Also I never went to Poutineville before so it was time I gave it a try.

It was a snowy evening, not too cold. The snow was fresh from the day, all white and sparkly. Unfortunately for us the bus was going sorta slow but at least when we got there the place wasn't crowded. A waitress greeted us and invited us to sit.

We went to the restaurant on Beaubien because it was the closest for us. The ambiance is quite nice and cozy and the materials used are mostly stone and wood, reminding me of the inside of a chalet. The waitress handed us the menu and a piece of paper with a pencil. You can either order one of their recipes or make your own poutine. Obviously the prices are not the same but there are so many options that if you really are willing to pay for it then you should go for it.

Now I'm sorry for the crappy pictures because I didn't have my camera that evening, only my cellphone.


Charles ordered the Poutineville (cheese curds, mozzarella, braised beef) but switched the red wine sauce for a 911 sauce. He asked for julienne fries.


Jean-Christophe ordered a Poutineville also, but he asked for crushed potatoes instead of fries.


I ordered a Filet Mignon (filet mignon cubes, mushrooms, onions, blue cheese, cheese curds and pepper sauce). I asked for the regular cut fries.

The poutines were actually quite good. As I have mentioned it many times before, I am very difficult when it comes to french fries. And mostly poutine. There might have been a little too much blue cheese in mine but the fries (in all three plates) were just perfect. We didn't find any burnt nor still slightly raw potato. Jean-Christophe, who comes from Gaspésie and basically finds that all poutines in Montreal taste disgusting, really liked his. The sauces were really good (some places it's too thin, others it's too salty) just thick enough and savory. Our food was warm when it came so the cheese was melting the right way. We all asked for a big portion and had trouble finishing. In my case I had to take a doggy bag.

Now let's talk about the service. One word. T-E-R-R-I-B-L-E. Yes.

For starters, when we sat down and the waitress gave us the menu, she came back two minutes later to take our orders. Obviously we weren't ready yet so we asked her if she could come back in a little while. She came back fifteen minutes later. Our food came another fifteen minutes later, which wasn't too bad. When it came though she didn't know who ordered what ... so she just put the plates in front of the wrong customer and we had to switch them between us.

Towards the end, when the guys were done but not me, we waited quite a while to see if she was going to come back but she never did. So we waved at a waiter and asked him for the bills and a doggy bag for my order. So he came back with the bills but didn't take my plate. He was about to go back to wherever he was so we had to ask again for a doggy bag.

Less than two minutes later our waitress comes to us ... and asks us if we needed anything else. We said no, it's fine, we already have our bills and would like to pay. She looked lost but whatever, she made us pay. Then the waiter comes back with my doggy bag.

The whole time my friends and I were laughing internally because we could have just got up anytime and left and no one would have realized or known whether we paid or not.

So do I recommend Poutineville? Yes for the food, hell no for the service. But anyways. The other day I was craving poutine badly. Obviously this is not something you can find in France and even finding the ingredients to make it is hard because they don't have the same cheese as we do and they don't sell gravy (you have to make your own). So I did what I could with what I had.


So I bought some oven french fries that I finished off on a pan to crisp them up and make sure they were hot enough. For the cheese I went with mozzarella since it's the closest here to our cheese curds in term of texture. As for the sauce I went with a pepper one since I actually really like pepper sauce but didn't feel like making gravy. So my craving was satisfied though it isn't the same as back home. Obviously when I'm coming back I'll be eating some damn good poutine.

For more information on Poutineville : http://poutineville.com/

Monday, January 13, 2014

Lyon; My hood for the next six months

I have been quite busy walking and eating since I have arrived in Lyon. Unfortunately for me the weather hasn't been always nice (rain or fog) so I didn't take my camera with me all the time. Still, since I have been here now for more than 10 days, I think it's time I show a bit of the neighborhood I'll be living in for the next six months.

I live in an appartment in Croix-Rousse, 1er arrondissement. Not close to the University but close to many other attractions and services and located in an old and quiet neighborhood. Actually compared to Montreal wherever you live in Lyon you're close to everything ...

Here is a Google map of my neighborhood.


I'm located where the red star is. Everyday when I go out or come home I have breathtaking views on the old Lyon, downtown, and the Rhône, because Croix-Rousse is a lot more elevated than most of the city. I've compared heights and it's equivalent to living on the top of the Mont Royal.

Here is the view I have when I go out and look south.



And the view I have on the Jardin de la Grande Côte, when I look north.



In order to go to the metro station Croix-Rousse or just to chill in Croix-Rousse I have to go up the stairs of the Jardin de la Grande Côte. I swear by the time I come back to Montreal I'll have an ass of steel.


I made the mistake of running the stairs up before going for a jog the other day. Terrible mistake considering the fact that I haven't worked out in more than a month. My quads and my lungs hate me right now.

Even if going up stairs everyday can be tiring for some, I find the views you have when you're right above the Jardin are totally worth it. Looking south, a bit towards the west, you can see the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière, located in the old Lyon.


If you look straight to the south, you have a nice view on the Saône, the river that separates the old Lyon from the center island.


This is what it looks like in the evening.


The orange light you see on the left is a Ferris wheel at place Bellecour.

Once you have went up the stairs of the Jardin de la Grande Côte, you're on a small public space made especially for gathering and to profit from the elevation and the amazing views.


If you keep walking one more street to the north, you're at place Croix-Rousse (orange star on the map). There is a metro station as well as bars, cafes, and stores.




Now how convenient is that?




Every morning there is the fruit and vegetable market. I go there whenever I can because it is a lot cheaper than buying in groceries. For 5€ I have enough vegetables for three days.



I don't know what this is ... but it caught my eye.







Right next to place Croix-Rousse is place du Gros Caillou (blue star on the map). It offers another view, this time on the Rhône but also on the Alpes. I didn't take photos because of the trees that I find take a lot of space in a picture. Here are some pictures of this public place.











And so that's it for today! Which is a lot actually ... I hope you guys enjoyed this little tour of my neighborhood!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Lyon; Paul, cheese and duck

I see Paul everywhere!

At Gare Part-Dieu.



At Centre commercial Part-Dieu.



On rue de Brest.




These are just the Pauls I have seen on my way home from the health insurance office today. I've been seeing them everywhere since I got here.


But what is Paul? It's a high quality bakery equivalent to Première Moisson in Québec except for the fact that they are everywhere. They basically sell bread, cakes, tarts, pastries, sandwiches, etc. As a joke but mostly out of curiosity I got into one today and bought a baguette and a small king cake (galette des Rois) for a total of 3,75€. It's like in any good bakery : you get in there, tell the cashier what you want, get served, pay and leave.




I never had king cake before because we don't really celebrate the Epiphany in Québec. I was curious because I have seen it being advertised everywhere. And every bakery and market has king cake. So might as well give it a try.


What is king cake? It is a pastry made to celebrate the Epiphany. Its consumption is done a few days before and after the Epiphany, sometimes until the end of the carnival in certain countries. Every country has a different way to make king cake. The one shown above (stuffed flake pastry) is the Parisian one. In Southern France the recipe is apparently different. Many other European and Latin American countries celebrate the Epiphany as well.

Mine was airy and sweet. I could not make out what the filling was, but I managed to taste coconut (among other flavors).

Since it was lunch time when I got home I made myself a small platter of cheese and meat to give the bread a try. Now I don't really eat bread because I am not a fan of it (but mostly because I have trouble digesting it) so I have a feeling my baguette will go stale before I have the time to finish it.


Porc terrine, on sale at 2 for 2,30€ and black olive sausage, at errr something like 5€. I've been eating the sausage over the last three days, so what you see is about half of it.


Blue cheese, 2,65€ and goat cheese, 2,01€.


Dried duck magret, 4,69€ for 90g.

And so this is what I had for lunch along with a glass of wine.


The bread was crispy outside and hard enough to make nice thin slices out of it without losing its shape. The inside was airy and soft, but not soft in a mushy kind of way. Soft in a spongy way. It tasted delicious and it held well when I spread my terrine and cheese on it.

The plate looks big because it's a close-up but it's not actually. And I know I look like I've been pigging out on rich food for the past week but I actually eat salad in the evening to compensate. My appetite hasn't been as big as I thought it would be. It's most probably because I have been eating alone and, well, it kinda sucks.

So that's it for today. If you want more information on Paul (and see the ridiculous amount of Paul bakeries in Lyon) : www.paul.fr

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Lyon; Grand Café de la Soierie

This Saturday I spent most of the day in bed. My left shoulder was already hurting a bit before I left but my flight didn't help my case at all. I was sitting by the window next to a man who had no concept of personal space whatsoever. I'm too awkward to let people know it annoys me so I usually use subtle signs to let them know. For some reason I have a feeling he was doing it on purpose. His feet and elbow were on my side, touching me all the time ... *shivers*. Even more awkward is he often fell asleep his head turned towards me.

Here, a picture of how I spent this six hour flight.


Swiss Air seats are very comfortable but damnit this guy ruined everything.

So what was I saying? Yes I spent the whole day in bed wishing the pain would go away. My left side is still a bit sensitive but it's mostly gone now.

Basically I didn't get to visit a gym nor my university but that's okay, this can be done another day. In the evening I went for a walk around Croix Rousse, went down to Pont Lafayette and then Gare Part-Dieu. Obviously everything was closed except for bars and restaurants.

I had spotted this bar when I got here, le Grand Café de la Soierie (and other places obviously) so I gave it a try because it looked warm and cozy (and because it's in Croix Rousse, basically next to where I live). I got in and was already prepared to get bad service because I have been told this is the way in France. There were two ladies, one at the bar (probably the boss) and a waitress. They both looked at me and said hello but that was it ... didn't ask me if I was looking for something or someone. I talked to the older one and told her I wasn't from here so I didn't know whether I could sit where I wanted or if they had to assign me a seat. Apparently you can just walk in, sit where you want, and hope the waitress saw you or else you'll never get service.

After I had sat down the waitress comes and asks me what I want to order ... euh dude I don't know? I told her I wanted to eat and drink but didn't know what was on the menu. So she left. After a while (which seemed like an eternity to me but I guess that was because I was alone and still don't have a cellphone) a waiter comes to me and hands me a menu saying "I've been told you wanted to eat, right?" In my mind I laughed. He looked like a typical French guy with a mustache. All that was missing was the scarf and beret.

I took a look at the menu which didn't look like a bar menu ... they had frog, beef tartare, cheese, sandwiches, wine by the glass or the bottle, many types of ice creams and sorbets ... I might have to come back try the other items on the menu. I ordered the honey duck with potato gratin (gratin dauphinois) and a glass of white beer ... don't remember the name.



The place was quite nice. There are tables, a bar and tables outside as well. For some reason kids are allowed in bars here ... obviously they can't drink alcohol. People come here to have a coffee or a drink with friends. I felt like such a loner haha. There were television screens displaying music videos so I was watching them while I was waiting for my order.


The beer came first with a small bowl of olives. I don't know if that's the way everywhere but it's okay I was happy to be able to put some food in my mouth.




Green olives, kalamata olives, spicy olives ... it was an interesting selection. I love olives so I was quite happy. Unfortunately for me I didn't have the time to eat a lot when the waiter came with my plate ... and took away my nibbles. But I wasn't even mad because the portion was huge.




The gratin could have been a meal by itself. It's supposed to be a side dish but I think I could have shared it with someone. The gratin was quite rich. But I can't say much because it is the first time ever I eat gratin dauphinois. Yep. Oh shame on me.




I was surprised to see the size of my portion of duck. Like an entire breast. Something tells me I am going to abuse duck for the rest of my stay. The nice part about it is the waiter asked me how I wanted my duck, told him pink. And guess what I got?




Delicious bloody fat duck. No, do not worry. Duck meat is still good for you even if it's pink inside. I don't know why it applies to duck but not to chicken or turkey. Go figure.


And as if it wasn't enough, the waiter brings me fresh water and a basket of bread, as well as salt, pepper and ... DIJON MUSTARD. At first when I saw the yellow bottle I was like oh ew, yellow mustard. Then I thought no, I'm in France, there's no such thing as yellow mustard here. I was right. Dijon. I blessed my gratin with some of it.




So I had all this for myself. See that amount of bread? This is what they give you in Montreal for a table of six.


I took my time eating and savoring. I don't know if that is considered as good but I don't give a damn. I would never eat that in a bar in Montreal. The honey duck was very sweet but very good. It was a good idea to pair it with white beer. I dipped a bit of bread in the sauce but not too much because I was already starting to feel full.


The service was, to my surprise, quite good. I think it was just that waiter that was nice to me because he must have seen I wasn't from here. He asked me where I was from so I said Montreal which, apparently, he has been to before. We both agreed on the fact that Lyon and Montreal look a lot alike. The main difference is the way people wait in line ... perfect line up in Montreal, first come first serve free for all in France. Oh and jay walking is a lot worse than it is in Montreal.

When he gave me my bill, it was 20,10€ (29,05CAD). In France tip and taxes are included. Less hassle thinking "damnit how much should I leave for the guy" but it might also explain the reason why the service is generally considered as meh. In Canada you gotta work your ass off to earn your tip.

I was quite glad I had such a nice waiter. The girl disappeared after she talked to me the first time. I guess it was the end of her shift anyways. But even if she had stayed she probably wouldn't have cared as much as he did.

The only thing I have to say against this place is the use of Comic Sans on their fronts of the building. I mean really? The funny part is so far I have the feeling Comic Sans is used a lot in Lyon.


So I guess that is it for tonight. Before I leave maybe I should mention something about the fact that I am sharing my blog url with my friends ... yes I have started blogging quite a while ago but never had the guts to tell more than a few people about it. Many of my older posts are quite crappy. But eh who cares. I find sharing stories using a blog is much more interesting than on Facebook. So go ahead, read and make fun of me :)

Friday, January 3, 2014

Holy cow I'm in Lyon

I haven't blogged in the longest of times. Okay maybe not. This end of semester and the preparations of my stay in another country have taken a lot of my time. I basically had no free time (add work on top of that) and I haven't gone to the gym for quite a while.


But, hey. I'm on vacations. And most of all I'm in mother freaking France for the next six months.


Unfortunately for me it has been raining since my arrival (yesterday at noon) so I haven't used my camera outside yet. I'm still too much of a pussy to take it out when it's raining or snowing (unlike some of my friends that hang around with theirs in the snow or at the basin with no cap on the lens like it's no big deal). This Sunday the weather should be nicer so I'll take some pictures of the surroundings. So far the views are simply amazing. Lyon is definitively my type of city.

Since I can't share with you pictures of the city yet, here is a picture of my first meal when I got here (I had breakfast at 4am on the plane and ate around 4pm).


I got all this for 10€. Obviously I am going to abuse for like ... a month at least. Good food is amazingly cheap here. Wine starts at 3€. You have some very pricey ones also but really, I am very happy with my good 3€ bottle. This sausage was 4€ but I've found some mousse de foie gras at 2,30€ for 200g. Magret de canard was like 5€ for 100g. The cheese ... varies between 2€ and 25€, depending on what you're looking for. But it's very very cheap compared to what you'd pay in Quebec.

Here, the classic close up photo.


The cheese is camembert and the sausage has whole hazelnuts in it. It's quite salty and fat. Since it's a dry sausage I find that adding hazelnuts was maybe too much ... it's like adding more crunch to something that's already sorta hard. The camembert is good and savory but not soft enough to my liking (I like mine dripping all over the place). The wine I won't say anything because I don't know anything ... haha. All I can say is it's comparable to a 13$ bottle in Quebec.

Obviously if I don't start working out I'm going to get fat. Coach won't be too happy about that. I started looking for a gym but it seems French people don't go to the gym. They dance, do martial arts, crossfit, etc., but going to the gym seems like a typical American kind of activity. I've found a very few places, gotta get my ass over there to get a look at the machines and the subscription fees.

I just realized I still don't know what my university looks like. Well, that be can done tomorrow I guess.

Well that's it for today :D I shall have the time for another blog entry tomorrow!
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