When Jen lets me sleep late without chatting me up first thing in the morning I know she's showing me a great deal of mercy. Today I had one of those starts. I lounged in bed until 9:00AM and was able to sleep away some of the horror of yesterday's Montreal traffic.
Nana provided a tremendous breakfast of fruit salad, homemade square muffins, cereals, granola, coffee, tea and a number of other accompaniments. The square muffins were a nice touch. Nana has convinced us that square muffins are the only way to go. I'm sure we'll be purchasing some any day now -- I'll buy hexagonal muffin tins and stand on my head if it means Jen will make more muffins.
The line at Schwartz's Deli was scary enough that we toyed with the idea of not having lunch there. However, imagining the reaction from Jen's dad if we passed up Schwartz's smoked meat sandwiches was enough to scare us into staying.
After waiting for about five minutes a gentleman came out, ran down the line, and plucked us out to sit at a table for two. It was worth enduring the long walk past tourists giving us the stink eye to be able to get out of the rain and sit down at a table.
The sandwiches were great and at $5.50 Canadian ($4.66 US), they were approximately 25% the cost of the exact same sandwich at Katz's Deli in New York. They both had the same hype level surrounding them; however, instead of sitting in a deli that had been visited by Meg Ryan we got to sit in a deli frequented by Raymond Bourque. So, basically, Schwartz's was superior in every way to its sister deli in New York.
After leaving the deli we drove towards a market that Jen's Nana recommended. The people in Montreal appear to all drive like 95-year-olds with vision in one eye and a crippling case of hodophobia. At one point, a cab tried to cut me off and I stood my ground and won! I've never defeated a cab trying to cut me off before. I suspect that even the cab drivers in Montreal are bundles of nerves and the fact that I wasn't going to allow this driver into my lane may have caused him to wet himself.
The rain picked up tremendously after lunch and we had to dart into the Atwood market to escape it. Luckily, we were able to park on the street directly in front of the main entrance to the market. In New York, I'm used to parking 25 blocks away and paying $20 and hour. Again, Montreal destroys New York City. Montreal leads 2-0.
In the market we got this strange little fellow at Première Moisson. I wanted it because it looked like a hedgehog. It had a chocolate ganache on the outside, sprinkled with cocoa powder. On the inside was what seemed to be chocolate ice cream. It was cold like ice cream yet it came out of a refrigerated case and did not melt on the place. Digging in deeper there was a caramel center, chocolate chips, and a chocolate cake-like bottom. It was exceptionally strange but probably more delicious than eating a hedgehog.
We picked up this miche de campagne at Première Moisson as well. The only reason I was interested in it was because of its enormous size. While we were only expecting a maximum of nine dinner guests I felt that it would be a crime to pass up a loaf of bread so enormous. All for only $5.60 Canadian! That's only $4.75 American which is about how much a normal-sized loaf of bread costs back home. My only regret is not buying a second loaf and bronzing it. You haven't felt true power until you've wielded a loaf of this girth.
My dinner mission tonight was no different than my normal mission at home: clean out the fridge, and try to do it in one pan. Nana had already thawed out a chicken and brined it. Jen seasoned it up and I cut it up spatchcock style and seared it in the roasting pan. I also seared some duck and port sausages I'd gotten at the market and put them aside. Then I browned a medley of vegetables from Nana's fridge including: yellow onions, red onions, red potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, carrots, fennel, zucchini, mushrooms, and garlic. Then I put the spatchcock chicken and sausages on top and finished in the oven.
Nana had prepared a vegetable tian yesterday so I threw that in the oven with a little shredded cheddar on top.
For dessert Nana prepared an old family favorite which was either called Napoleon or mille feuille depending on which cousin you asked. Nana seemed fine with either name but leaned slightly towards Napoleon. I would have called it Nate Is A Big Giant Jerk if it allowed me to get my hands on it again, seeing as it was delicious.
One of many reasons that Nana is the best is that after this we had another dessert course, this time an apple pie with ice cream. She is also one of the only people I know that can keep pace with me when it comes to drinking tea. Sadly for me, that is about the only thing I can keep pace with her at. She goes to bed three hours later than me, wakes up three hours earlier, and seems to be able to move furniture around for an indefinite period of time. Maybe when I'm her age I'll be able to match her pace.
But I'm pretty sure that isn't how it works.