I recently did a mini road trip in Quebec, driving up from Boston with a stop in Vermont for good measure. It's beautiful countryside if you ever get the chance to visit the area (well apart from the flat, straight, monotonous drive between Quebec City and Montreal). I've wanted to visit Canada for ages. I'm not sure why, but I tend to think Aussies and Canadians are quite similar. Maybe it's just our shared British colonial past. Anyway, we spent four days in Montreal and another two in QC, sampling lots of local food. Like any large city, central Montreal has an amazing variety on offer. I ate classic French (better than most bistros in Paris), superb Japanese, somewhat average Vietnamese, smoked meat sandwiches, bagels, burgers and, of course, the inimitable poutine. But the best meal I had was at Au Pied de Cochon, the Montreal institution and temple to foie gras and all things meaty.
I guess like most of us, I love watching cooking shows on TV. I just can't bare, however, to watch ones with a competitive element. OK, Come Dine With Me was good to begin with but quickly went off the rails, and I can spend some time with the Great British Bake Off. But Masterchef, for example, irks me beyond belief. Throw in a celebrity element and you've completely lost me. I'm much happier watching Nigel Slater wax lyrical about a fig, or better yet, repeats of The Two Fat Ladies with their brilliant theme tune, smothering each other in lard. As a result, I completely missed the Great British Menu, which combines both celebrity and competition. Simon Rogan was in the latest season (apparently) and if I'd watched the show I probably would have understood his oeuvre earlier, as I had his London restaurant Roganic figured all wrong. I mistakenly thought I was in for Hestonish culinary trickery. Instead, what I got was interesting food combinations sure, but also one of the most balanced and harmonious meals I've had the pleasure to enjoy.