Posts Tagged ‘Peruvian’

01Tiradito is the new restaurant ”buzz” in town. It is  a (contemporary) Peruvian bistrot bathed in an attractive contemporary interior. You basically sit at a long bar surrounding the Chef (another trend, in town,  nowadays).

Peruvian cookery is “en vogue” (to the point that a simple marinade like the “leche de tigre” is a very  trendy term) these days, thus a winning formula a bit everywhere in North America. As explained elsewhere on this  blog, I never review food that I am not familiar with or simply can’t appreciate for reasons that have nothing to do with the food itself.  For eg, you will never see any review of Romanian, Brazilian, Polish food on my blog. They are great cuisines that I do respect but my palate simply can’t appreciate them. So instead of laying down inaccuracies on paper (things like ´there was fish in my sushi’ or ´my neapolitan pizza had burnt edges, therefore it was bad’),  I always ensure to familiarize myself with the food first, then I will assess it. By familiarizing myself with the food I am assessing, I mean getting to taste how the food is cooked by those having the proper kno- how, understanding the genuine flavors of my food. So Tiradito was going to be a restaurant from which I knew what to expect.

02Tiradito de thon albacore ($12) would be the sort of dish to look for, here, as the name of the restaurant implies (tiradito is basically peruvian crudo).  This featured fine fresh tuna, and accentuated heat coming from the amarillo chilli of the leche de tigre. I appreciate the fact that the Chef opts  for the bold genuine spicy flavors of his motherland.  This came with bits of cancha corn. Fine
03Papa rellena $5  (1 papa rellena for 1 person is enough as the portion is sizeable) was properly executed – the potato flavor present, as it should, the taste of the ground meat enticing (which is a sign  of fine  quality meat and proper seasoning) the accompanying sweet sauce having its  sweetness nicely balanced.
04Empanada of blood sausage was also correctly executed, the accompanying coconut curry  went really well with the empanada  –
Bottom line: Expect dishes that are done as it should, in the spirit of a refined Peruvian bistrot, the flavors and textures properly rendered. Perhaps some nice grilled charcoal-grilled meat would have boosted my level of enthusiasm, but this place is not designed for that. So no charcoal-grilled  anticucho, at least not for now.
In the category  “Peruvian bistrot” food, I had my share of dazzling as well as pleasant food and these were pleasant bites. Not dazzling. Tiradito has  no issue with the fundamentals (seasonings are mastered –it will be spicy where it should, balanced where it needs to be),  which is a good start. It is also perfectly fine the way it is right now. I just need a little bit of wittiness ***  (though, to be fair, restaurants do sometimes have  menu items that do not feature on the standard menu  and those are generally more exciting — I did not ask for those. I think you should,  as, based on the pics that I can see on their facebook page, there seem to be  items that could be of better interest, under this roof, than what I chose ) to get this whole thing to spice up my enthusiasm (Tiradito is young, so it has plenty of time to switch from “perfectly pleasant” to “dazzling” ).
Overall food rating: 6.5/10 As ever, the clueless local food bloggers and food journalists are busy trumpeting every single restaurant that they have to market. And that loud noise is misleading. As it misled me into believing that I was heading to a magical  place (Peruvian food can be magical, indeed. It was not, here, at Tiradito). Tiradito is not the special place that the local tourism authorities and their friendly food journalists  and food bloggers are trying hard to sell to you. Right now, it has to prove itself, not just as a marketable business ( it succeeded at that, already) but also as a skilled kitchen. More is expected from a kitchen delivering Peruvian inspired food, marketed the way Tiradito is. Not just properly executed food. What’s expected here (but missing, in this instance), in order to back the surreal and exaggerated online enthusiasm, is  a work of flavors and  textures that goes above an beyond what is usually found at a Peruvian-inspired eatery in Montreal. Food is about little details: If I bake something and serve it right away to you, it will never be the same as I bake the same thing and serve it 10 mins later (the problem of the empanada, during this visit). And, flames tend to bring more enjoyment to this sort of food. Last but not least, crudo is generally fun, but it relies a lot on exceptional quality produce to make an impression. That was not the case here (The quality of the crudo was good, here, at Tiradito. But not startling). So when I talk about a lack of wittiness, at Tiradito, I am talking about the lack of that ability to bring all those little details together. That said, give it some time. It is a brand new restaurant after all.  Tiradito Drr: 1076 Rue de Bleury, Montreal, QC, Phone: (514) 866-6776 URL: https://www.facebook.com/tiraditomtl/

UPDATEDUPDATE SUMMER 2017 : Chef S’Arto Chartier-Otis IS NOT WORKING AT HVOR ANYMORE. 

After a highly satisfying visit at Hvor, one that propulsed it in my top 3 in YUL, I went back, curious to see what they had to offer now that autumn is approaching.  I was a bit reluctant, though , after the non enthusiastic review of my preffered local food journalist, Marie Claude Lortie, who used terms such as “unaccomplished” to convey her experience at Hvor

hvor01My second  journey at Hvor did boot with a home made prosciutto of local quebec lamb that was not a pale copy of what the finest charcuteries of Europe has to offer. Superb dry-cured charcuterie, indeed, though not surprising given that Quebec has some of the finest lambs your palate will ever have a taste of.  Still, there is some serious technique to master, if you want to deliver serious charcuterie,  and that technique they nailed it. Superb!
Then a  mini, minimini miniature (as to convey how mini that was)  veggie tartlet.  The Chef purposely not overwhelming his minimini mini miniature tart with seasoning as to allow your palate to enjoy every single ingredient  at its peak (as fresh as you’d have handpicked them from the garden just moments ago). Nice touch, but I am not a fan of miniature food (which was fine, here, as it was the only miniature item of the tasting menu and it was part of some amuses….I know some restaurants that would serve it to you as the sole amuse!). Still, I considered that miniature veggie tartlet  as a perfectly well executed clin d’oeil to Alain Passard’s  tartlets. In the medias, only Marie Claude Lortie did mention that the Chef had, once, trained at Alain Passard’s L’Arpege. Passard’s touch could truely be felt in that miniature tart of veggies which intent was to mimmick a pizza. Mission accomplished as it tasted of the better aspects  of a pizza.
hvor02Choux bruxelles, fourees au foie gras torchon, reduction vin rouge, crumble cacao. this was amusing: only couple of brussel sprouts were stuffed with their home made foie gras au torchon, but what a foie gras au torchon that was! A benchmark of its kind (I am talking about the foie gras au torchon)   9/10
hvor03Then foie gras de lotte (burbot fish’s foie gras),  Yuzukoshō  – first rate  burbot fish’s foie gras. The Yuzukoshō  condiment showcasing outstanding skills (the effect of its heat  entincingly complex) as it was as genuine as your reproduction of  the Yuzukoshō   will feel and taste out of Japan.  8/10
Then another first rate item, a tartare of duck that did benefit from Japanese accents (mixed with rice, seasoned with Japanese seasonings).  Then a dazzling piece of  kinmedai  fish elevated by superb seasoning  and condiments.
hvor04Grilled guinea fowl  (pictured)  was also excellent, and, clearly ahead of what most would do with their guinea fowl in town (meaning, dazzling taste,  accompaniments that were packed with superb textures) .
To wrap up the meal, some excellent desserts (sorbet au pommes, brioche a la canelle, Etc)
Bottom line: So, still in my top 3 in  Mtl? Absolutely. Enticing Franco-Japanese flavors (Despite the scandinavian-inspired name,  the Chef  is inspired by Franco-Japanese cuisine) on this particular evening. Just keep in mind that the way I assess the skills of a kitchen is by “micro analyzing ” some very specific aspects of what I am fed with. Here are examples  of just that: (1)the miniature pizza. Some may say ” ah, it was way too mini, so not much to talk about”, but I say “when it is miniature, but done with such skills, then why not? as long as you do not feed me with just that, which is a mistake that they did avoid at Hvor”. (2)the brussels sprouts of which some may say “hey, why that display of plenty of brussels sprouts, but only a few of them are filled with the foie gras” … to which my answer would be “it is one of those amusing tricks of the nowadays contemporary cuisine, found at plenty of contemporary restaurants around the globe, but what I do care about  was that foie gras au torchon and how well it went with the red wine reduction, that particularly great quality of brussels sprouts, a bit of cacao crumble… it is a lot of risks to accompany brussels sprouts… cuz they can be bitter..with cacao…another ingredient known to be bitter, obviously..to  foie gras  au torchon. But they nailed it where many would inevitably get either the cacao crumble or the brussels sprouts to overwhelm the foie gras. That (fabulous skills that allows my food to taste great, especially after NOT taking the easy road, which they do at Hvor) is all I need to know about the skills of a kitchen. I grew up considering great cooking as that ability to make what’s tough to get right (condiments, sauces) sublime, which, to my palate, is what Hvor delivered. This is a kitchen that has the potential to elevate franco-quebecois-japanese combinations of food ideas to another level. I can imagine some witty stuff with, say, a tartiflette, a six pattes, etc…but with Japanese accents. The ball is in their yard. All I know is that the skills are there. URL: http://hvor.ca/en HVOR 1414 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal, QC  (514) 937-2001 Subjective personal overall assessment for the food: 8/10, Service: 10/10, Ambience: 10/10
01Tiradito is the new kid in town. It is  a (contemporary) Peruvian bistrot bathed in an attractive contemporary interior. You basically sit at a long bar surrounding the Chef (another trend, in town,  nowadays).

Peruvian cookery is “en vogue” (to the point that a simple marinade like the “leche de tigre” is a very  trendy term) these days, thus a winning formula a bit everywhere in North America. As explained elsewhere on this  blog, I never review food that I am not familiar with or simply can’t appreciate for reasons that have nothing to do with the food itself.  For eg, you will never see any review of Romanian, Brazilian, Polish food on my blog. They are great cuisines that I do respect but my palate simply can’t appreciate them. So instead of laying down inaccuracies on paper (things like ´there was fish in my sushi’ or ´my neapolitan pizza had burnt edges, therefore it was bad’),  I always ensure to familiarize myself with the food first, then I will assess it. By familiarizing myself with the food I am assessing, I mean getting to taste how the food is cooked by those having the proper kno- how, understanding the genuine flavors of my food. So Tiradito was going to be a restaurant from which I knew what to expect.

02Tiradito de thon albacore ($12) would be the sort of dish to look for, here, as the name of the restaurant implies (tiradito is basically peruvian crudo).  This featured fine fresh tuna, and accentuated heat coming from the amarillo chilli of the leche de tigre. I appreciate the fact that the Chef opts  for the bold genuine spicy flavors of his motherland.  This came with bits of cancha corn. Fine
03Papa rellena $5  (1 papa rellena for 1 person is enough as the portion is sizeable) was properly executed – the potato flavor present, as it should, the taste of the ground meat enticing (which is a sign  of fine  quality meat and proper seasoning) the accompanying sweet sauce having its  sweetness nicely balanced.
04Empanada of blood sausage was also correctly executed, the accompanying coconut curry  went really well with the empanada  –
Bottom line: Expect dishes that are done as it should, in the spirit of a refined Peruvian bistrot, the flavors and textures properly rendered. Perhaps some nice grilled charcoal-grilled meat would have boosted my level of enthusiasm, but this place is not designed for that. So no charcoal-grilled  anticucho, at least not for now. In the category  “Peruvian bistrot” food, I had my share of dazzling as well as pleasant food and these were pleasant bites. Tiradito has  no issue with the fundamentals (seasonings are mastered –it will be spicy where it should, balanced where it needs to be),  which is a good start. It is also perfectly fine the way it is right now. I just need a little bit of wittiness ***  (though, to be fair, restaurants do sometimes have  menu items that do not feature on the standard menu  and those are generally more exciting — I did not ask for those. I think you should,  as, based on the pics that I can see on their facebook page, there seem to be  items that could be of better interest, under this roof, than what I chose ) to get this whole thing to spice up my enthusiasm (Tiradito is young, so it has plenty of time to switch from “perfectly pleasant” to “dazzling” ).  Overall food rating: 6.5/10 Tiradito 1076 Rue de Bleury, Montreal, QC, Phone: (514) 866-6776 URL: https://www.facebook.com/tiraditomtl/
***People oftently ask me “Hey, what do you mean by wittiness?”. I’ll answer, as truth  be told, we tend to “lay down” words but do not take time to explain what we truely mean. Everytime you see me using the word wittiness, I mean any of these : a work of flavors and or textures that went above an beyond what is usually found for the kind of food that I am assessing. Furthermore, food is about little details: If I bake something and serve it right away to you, it will never be the same as I bake the same thing and serve it 10 mins later. Flames tend to bring more enjoyment than by other methods of cooking. Crudo is generally fun, but it relies a lot on exceptional quality produce (which of course is costly, sadly) to make an impression. So when I talk about wittiness, it is the ability to bring all those little details together.

 

 

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Restaurant Mochica
Cusine: Peruvian
Dinner on tuesday July 15th 2014 18:00
Address: 3863 Rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, QC H2W 2M1
Phone:(514) 284-4448
http://restaurantmochica.com/

***Recent restaurant reviews:  Restaurant Mercuri, Bar Mercuri, Le Serpent, La Chronique, Jun IL’Européa, Sushi Yasu, Kyo, Peter Luger, Kam Fung, FiregrillPatrice Patissier, Raku, Au cinquième péché, Au Pied de Cochon, Callao , Shinji, Mochica.

It’s  my first visit at Mochica. The place is  simply, but prettily decorated. They have a terrace too, which is where I sat. The location is  on Saint Denis, in the Le Plateau area. The cooking here is Peruvian.

MOCHICA, MONTREAL - PEGASUS FISH CEVICHEStarted with a Pegasus fish ceviche ($12)  The fish, on this instance,  was of ok quality. Its leche de tigre (the marinade) was nice, having expressive fresh lime fragrance and a nice piquant to it,  done as it should (it got close, indeed, to what the  Grandmas of my Peruvian friends at whom I have enjoyed ceviche,  in the recent years, have offered to me). Sweet potato was not as  impressive as those I am accustomed to, certainly less enjoyable than the one I had last time I ate at  Las Tres Conchitas, another Peruvian restaurant of Montreal. Fried corn was Ok, but I had better corn of this sort at other Peruvian restaurants. All in all a 5/10 ceviche, for me, as I found the fish not as exciting as I am accustomed to  at some  various Peruvian eateries I ate at in Montreal, its marine robustness less evident.

MOCHICA, MONTREAL - ARROZ DE MARISCOSArroz de Mariscos ($21) was akin to a paella of seafood, the rice properly cooked in fish stock, turmeric and saffron were present but did not lift the dish with the usual aromatic dimension that I came to expect from most examples of this dish that I enjoyed at plenty of Peruvian eateries here and abroad. They were too discrete in terms of flavor. Not bad, not great. 5/10 for my taste.

MOCHICA, MONTREAL - LOMO SALTADOLomo saltado ($25) is a Peruvian beef stir fry dish. This dish is one of my favourite Peruvian dishes as it is one of those dishes that lures you into believing that it is easy to cook, and in a way it is (stir fry beef), but in reality it relies heavily on the quality of the meat as well as the touch of the cook (for eg, in this instance, how far he can push the seasoning to make it taste genuinely Peruvian). The meat (angus beef) was unfortunately dry, not tender, and its seasoning not as distinctively Peruvian as I am accustomed to with the fine lomo saltados I had in Montreal within the past recent years. There was also red and green onions, garlic rice (ok), huancaina salsa (mixed with parmesan and goat cheese in this instance — this, for my taste, was unappetizing / the mix of parmesan and goat cheese stood as way too pungent to match the french fries that came with this dish. The salsa deserves its own paragraph – see below***) 4/10 for my taste.

***The huancaina salsa – The one I was having, on this specific evening, boasted some aspects that do defeat the point of the huancaina salsa. The point of this kind of salsa is to balance mild lactic flavors (usually queso fresco featuring mild goat cheese, or a   midly flavored blend of goat/cow cheese + fresh milk) with peruvian peppers.Plenty of Peruvians I know do sometimes mix the salsa with some baking soda biscuit for texture, but you’ll never see them overwhelming the salsa the way it was on this evening. Such balance is the one by which the huancaina salsa lives or dies. So you have no other choice but to stick to that simple principle: fresh mild lactic flavors against Peruvian  peppers. What was done on this evening was unreal: the mild lactic flavors were not only overwhelmed by the pungent goat cheese…but as if that pungency was not enough, the cook added Parmesan cheese to it.. … inevitably leading to flavors that make no sense for a palate.

Overall food score: 4/10, for me, by the finest Peruvian cooking that I am accustomed to in Montreal. As ever, I am not expecting an exact replica of what is done in Peru, and to be accurate, that will not make sense. But we have an important community of Peruvians in Montreal, therefore getting close to a sense of Peruvian mom-and-pops genuine flavors is certainly something we, Montrealers, are not that unfamiliar with. My meal, on this evening, did not leave such impression. I certainly had better Peruvian food in Montreal.

Conclusion:  It’s a restaurant that I wanted to like as the decor pleases me a lot and the service was nice, Peruvian food is a cuisine that I like a lot (there’s just the Jalea that’s not my cup of tea) especially because they deal extensively with my lifetime sacred ingredient which is seafood, their sauces are great, the way they season their food right up my alley, but my first rendez vous with Mochica was unfortunately unsuccessful. It will take me some time to understand how a huacaina salsa can go wrong: simply follow the basic recipe and you will understand how simple it is to make it right (blend peruvian peppers/a bit of fresh milk/a bit of oil/queso fresco, garlic/onion/a bit of salt…and tell me if you really need to overcomplicate that? It’s so delicious in its simplicity. Perhaps just an off day, so I’ll give it another chance. Hopefully my next visit will fare better, but for now, on the back of this sole meal, I personally found Las Tres Conchitas and Solymar (equally Peruvian) to have the edge.

What I think days later: I just hope it was just an off day as food this simple has no other choice but to dazzle with exciting flavors which is  the point of most latin american cuisines.If a shrimp is to boast the taste of any ordinary shrimp, if rice is not going to be any different from any average rice dish, then one may as well enjoy those things at home.