Montreal is a city that is bursting at the seams with restaurants. I read recently that we have the most restaurants per capita in North America. I don’t know if that’s true but based on the number of restaurants I want to try, it certainly feels possible. To keep track of all the places we need to try Janice and I have a List. The List is hard to track; it’s maintained in email strings that are hundreds of emails long. The only way to find it is to search our mail for “restaurant list”, then sort through random chit chat. We might we need a better system.
One of the restaurants that has been on the list since we started it over a year ago is Joe Beef. We finally made it there a couple of weeks ago and had an incredible meal. I’m really not sure why we waited so long to go. I chose not to bring my camera to dinner because I wanted to focus on the meal, but as soon as we stepped out onto the terrace in the back and saw the incredible garden I regretted it. The patio is surrounded by a vegetable and flower garden that would make any home gardener quite jealous.
After quite a bit of deliberation, we finally chose our meal. For appetizers we shared shrimp with aioli and stuffed squash blossoms as well as scallop ceviche and cucumber salad. Both were excellent, but the highlight for me was the squash blossom. It was the first time I had ever had one, and I loved it. I honestly don’t know how to describe it other than delicate and deep fried.
For mains I had the cod and onion and Janice had the ribs. The fish was perfect served with onions cooked three ways (including a really awesome onion ring). Towards the end of our meal, Dave (one of the owners) came by to see how we were doing. Through the magic of twitter he knew who I was, which is fun. He told us about the hydroponic garden the have the restaurants basement, and the constant inspections they go through because of unusual electricity usage. It’s pretty safe to say that most people in Montreal with hydroponic equipment are not growing tomatoes. Some review boards have complaints about Dave’s attitude, but I found him to be warm and inviting; our conversation with him added to the ambiance of the evening.
For dessert Janice had the financiers and I had the bavarian cream with rhubarb compote. Having a dessert in a restaurant made from food grown in the backyard garden is pretty incredible. The bavarian cream was really light and airy, and the rhubarb had just the right amount of sweetness. That dessert inspired the recipe I’m sharing with you now.
I decided to use Quebec strawberries instead of rhubarb, and added a layer of strawberry gelée at the bottom. For the gelée I followed this recipe from the LA Times. My bavarian cream wasn’t quite as airy as what I had at Joe Beef, but it was very good. It was thick and creamy, not too gelatin-ey. It’s a perfect dessert for hot summer days. This dessert does take time to put together as there are several “setting” periods.
Bavarian Cream with Strawberry Gelée
For the Gelée
- 1 pint strawberries, hulled
- Juice of one lime
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 package gelatine
- Fill a medium pot halfway with water then bring to a boil. In a metal bowl that will fit over the pot, mix the strawberries lime juice and sugar together. Cover with plastic wrap then place over the boiling water (like a doulble boiler). Lower the heat and let the water simmer for an hour.
- Using a mesh strainer lined with a paper coffee filter, strain the strawberries into another bowl. Gently press down on the strawberries to extract all the juice, reserve the strawberry pulp for another use (great on pancakes)
- Mix the gelatin with 1/4 cup warm water to dissolve, then add it to the strawberry juice. Pour into serving dishes and let cool in the refrigerator until set, about 2 hours.
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons gelatin
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
- Dissolve the gelatin in the water. Set aside.
- In a metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
- In a medium saucepan heat the milk and vanilla until small bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Do not let it come to a full boil.
- Whisk a small amount of the milk into the egg yolks to temper them. Slowly pour the remaining milk into the eggs whisking constantly.
- Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. The mixture should start to thicken.
- Pour back into a bowl and stir in the gelatin. Place the bowl in an ice bat to cool.
- While the custard is cooling, whip the cream to soft peak. Once the custard has cooled completely but before it starts to set, fold the whipped cream in. Pour into serving dishes and let set in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
- 1/2 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- mint, sliced
- Toss all the ingredients together and let sit for about 30 minutes until the strawberries start to release their juice.
- Pour over set bavarian cream and serve.