Montreal – We ate everything! This is the salad that saved me.
Last year Evan and I spent a quick three day weekend in Montreal at the tail end of a massive ice storm. The ice prevented us from traveling too far from our hotel. It was also during the seasonal closing time for many of the restaurants we wanted to visit. We were still able to have a lot of fun, but we didn’t get see and eat everything we wanted. This year we had our revenge trip of sorts. We brought friends for a four-night stay planned entirely around the places where we wanted to eat. We were going to eat poutine! Bagels! Smoked meat sandwiches! Visit all of the restaurants we missed! Healthy digestion be damned!
We hit all of the must eat places. We had bagels at St Viateur and smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz’s. We ordered all of the appetizers at Joe Beef and Garde Manger and had amazing Lanzhou noodles at a place in Chinatown. We stuffed ourselves with Syrian and Armenian mazza at Alep and had breakfast on the veranda at Maison Boulud in the Ritz. Because, why not? We were on vacation, our reason for much eating. I highly recommend visiting all of these places if you happen to be in Montreal. The food and the service were outstanding. And with the current exchange rate, you can’t go wrong.
In between meals we shopped, visited the Pompeii exhibit at the Montreal Museum of Art and hit a spa. We took advantage of the mid-week deal at the Scandinave Spa in Old Montreal. Honestly, I can not wait to go back. We spent hours in their spa circuit, melting in their eucalyptus steam room, cedar sauna, hot pool and refreshing ourselves in the ice cold rain shower. We all ended our spa visit with the best massages we had ever had. I could have gone back each day of our vacation.
Our only folly was not having any breakfast before the spa. Four blissed out, starving adults are useless in deciding a lunch destination in an unfamiliar city. Luckily we started walking in a direction Evan, and I recognised as the way to the restaurant and bakery Olive et Gourmando. We were saved!
I ordered the rice noodle salad that was on the specials menu that day and a glass of their Green Tea Elixir. My lunch was the ideal antidote to the large amounts of lobster poutine and pouding chômeur we had consumed the night before. The perfect meal after a spa visit. The salad’s flavors were light, fresh and clean with loads of fresh mint, basil, cilantro and thin slices of carrot and cucumber. The whole thing was lightly dressed with lime juice and maple syrup. The ginger and lemon in the iced green tea were super refreshing. I felt revived and virtuous. I felt saved. Apparently, I felt good enough after that salad to order a giant chocolate filled cookie on my way out. Life is all about balance.
This recipe is my rendition of that salad from Olive et Gourmando and the perfect meal for the warmer spring weather we have been having. I took a quick trip to my local Asian market for the rice noodles and Thai basil. Most grocery stores stock some style of rice noodle these days, and if you can’t find Thai basil, regular fresh basil is a fine substitute.
- 8 oz rice noodles
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 Persian cukes
- 3 scallions - sliced thin
- 2 T fresh Thai basil - chopped
- 2 T fresh cilantro - chopped
- 2 T fresh mint - chopped
- 2 serrano or jalapeno peppers
- 2 T lime juice
- 3 T maple syrup
- 2 T soy sauce or tamari
- ½ t fish sauce
- ½ t sesame oil
- 4 T water
- *Optional garnish
- black sesame seeds
- extra mint, cilantro, and basil leaves
- Boil 6 quarts of unsalted water in a large pot.
- At the boil remove pot from the heat and add the noodles. Stir.
- Let the noodles “cook” in the water off of the heat until they reach desired tenderness. Mine took 9 minutes
- Drain noodles in a colander and cool under lots of cold water. Set noodles aside to drain completely.
- Peel and slice carrots as thin as you can. A mandolin slicer is helpful here.
- Slice the cucumbers and chili peppers as thin as possible (again the mandolin is helpful).
- In a small bowl whisk the lime juice, maple syrup, soy or tamari, fish sauce and sesame oil. Then whisk in the water.
- In a large bowl toss the
cooled,drained noodles with the vegetables herbs and dressing.
- Serve immediately sprinkled with black sesame seeds and fresh whole herb leaves or store for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.
- Toss well before serving to redistribute the dressing.