Name: Montreal Food Divas, we affectionately call ourselves Diva #1 and Diva #2
Blog name and URL: Montreal Food Divas: http://www.montrealfooddivas.com/
Where were you born? Montreal, but Diva #1 is of Greek descent and Diva #2 is of Italian descent
Where are you living now? Montreal
Why did you start your blog? Starting in November 2011 we kept going out after work on Thursdays. After a while everyone kept asking us for restaurant recommendations and we always had such great stories. It seemed natural that we would start blogging about those restaurants and our experiences, some of them a little crazier than others.
How did you decide on your blog name? Diva #2’s brother kept bugging us to start a blog and he kept calling us divas (or snobs) because we love duck, tartare and French cuisine. He always called us the Divas of Doom but we sounded like trained assassins so he re-christened us the Food Divas.
What do you blog about? Montreal’s trendy restaurants, they are not all expensive or necessarily high-end, but they are what’s “in” and what everyone is raving about or will be raving about. These restaurants range from French bistros, Italian cuisine, raw bars, charcuteries, Mediterranean fusion, etc. Most are located in the Downtown / Plateau / Old Montreal areas but come on, we are Divas looking for a great night out, therefore atmosphere and location are important to us.
What post are you most proud of and why? Our post on Maison Publique is definitely the post that we are the most proud of; we had an amazing Seinfeld-like night. The food was amazing, the atmosphere splendid and we were tipsy and crazy, but the patrons didn’t care. We asked the chef, Derek Dammann, to feed a homeless man outside, and he did, on the house. And oh what a house! We spent most of the night coming and going freely between our amazing food inside, and a group of strangers that we had gotten to know on the street outside. The Divas and our friends befriended a homeless man, a handsome man from Belgium who lived next door to Maison Publique and who had come out to see what the commotion was about, and an Englishman who was biking by. We continually incorporated other strangers into our nighttime inebriated stroll. We must have woken up half of the Plateau, but everyone who showed up angrily yelling at us to pipe down ended up joining our group of misfits outside of Maison Publique. It was not a night that we will soon forget and writing about it was lots of fun. Chef Dammann even emailed us, how wonderful!
Which post do you wish received more love and why? We wish that our post on Le Pois Penché received more love. Reviewers seem to be displeased with this restaurant; even its Urbanspoon rating is low. We have been there a few times and have reviewed it twice, and we always discover new items on the menu. Our post’s pictures are so vibrant, just looking at them makes us want to return. One diva already planned her groom-less wedding in their private room! Aside from the great food, it looks like an authentic 1940s Parisian brasserie, where is the love?
Which post’s success surprised you and why? Our post on Verses received a few comments on the blog and our friends just seemed interested in why we rated it as “Average” because we kept saying how amazing the food was. It was nice to get some comments from people who disagreed with us because it stimulated discussion. We just could not get over how low the music was and how we were whispering at our table and still felt like everyone could hear our conversation. Imagine if we had been our usual rowdy selves! The food was amazing but something was missing, although we are willing to go back in the summer and try out their rooftop terrace that everyone is talking about.
What is one (non-kitchen) gadget you can’t live without? We are 21st century female bloggers … it has to be the iPhone. We use it to take pictures, edit the pictures with fun apps, take notes, check in to the restaurants on Facebook, constantly update our Facebook page, read our blog’s comments, etc. More importantly, we use it to gossip, plan our next restaurant visit, make reservations and, of course, plot.
What is one kitchen gadget you can’t live without? We love cooking and this question is almost impossible to answer. But the one thing that the Divas need every day (okay twice a day) is a coffee. We will not settle for percolated caffeine but either a lovely cappuccino, or better yet, a frappé. A frappé is a foam-covered iced Greek coffee that can only be perfected with the help of an old fashioned milkshake blender. We had to order one from the US because we could not find one in Montreal. Everyone at work is used to the whirring sound in the afternoon as the Divas make their specialty cold Greek coffee.
Favourite food, care to share a recipe? We will let you in on a little secret; we eventually plan on adding a recipes section to our blog. Diva #1 loves cooking and has tons of pictures of her dishes; originally she had considered starting a cooking blog. Diva #2 enjoys cooking as well but admits that eating is her real passion.
Diva #1’s Mac n’ Cheese always gets a standing ovation when she makes it at parties. Her brother swears that it is better than any Mac n’ Cheese that he has had at restaurants, and he has always been her toughest critic.
- 5 cups elbow macaroni
- 5 cups milk
- 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 6 garlic cloves (3 whole and 3 smashed)
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour (maybe more)
- 7 cups grated white cheddar, yellow cheddar and Monteray Jack cheeses
- 1 ½ large white onions, diced
- Pack of bacon, diced
- Bajan mustard based hot sauce (I prefer the brand “Delish” which is a Bajan Hot Pepper Sauce)
- Salt and pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente.
- Preheat oven to 400° F
- Heat a sauté pan, cook bacon and render the fat until crispy. Add white onion, smashed garlic and the leaves from 2 sprigs of thyme. Season with pepper and put on the side.
- Warm milk with 4 thyme sprig and 3 whole cloves of garlic in a saucepan
- Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat and whisk in flour, more than 3 tbl may be needed, make a paste like roux and cook for 1 minute
- Strain the solids out of the milk and add it to the roux, whisking vigorously until smooth and slightly thickened
- Stir in 5 cups of cheese and continue to cook and watch thicken. Add salt, pepper, paprika and Bajan hot sauce
- Add macaroni and stir until fully coated
- Pour in the entire bacon / onion / garlic mixture and stir
- Pour the contents of the large pot into a casserole dish (size of a large lasagna pan) and sprinkled the leftover cheese on top until fully covered
- Cook for 20 minutes until golden, let cool for 15 minutes before serving
Preparation: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 6-8 hungry people
What else should we know about you that may or not be in your “About Me” page? Hard to answer! We are trying to be anonymous so we did not give too much information other than our culinary bios. The Divas met at work and a love of food brought us together. Diva #1′s father is a chef/restaurateur, and is an avid cook herself, having taken pastry classes at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa. Diva #2 used to edit “Chuck’s Day Off” with Montreal’s own Chuck Hughes.
In some (most) circles, we are known for causing trouble, therefore, our Thursday nights are reserved for plotting (bitching), drinking (getting tipsy) and eating great food (glutinous indulgence) with great company (an unholy alliance). We just love food and want to share our Montreal dining experiences.
What makes your blog unique? Our insanity, we are trying to do more than review these restaurants, we are telling a story. All of our friend’s names have been changed to nicknames and we want our readers to follow our blog to both read our restaurant reviews and see what is going on with Bellatrix, Zeus, Sweet Pea, Calvin, etc. For some, our blog is simply to read about the trendy restaurants, for others, it is to catch up on what the Divas are up to and their plots. Everyone wants to know the face behind the nicknames (and some of our friends are characters)…but we aren’t telling
Facebook URL – Montreal Food Divas
Twitter URL – N/A
But we have Pinterest: Mtl Food Divas