Endless Banquet in Montreal

medieval banquetAnthony J Kinik and Michelle Marek really do appreciate their life in Montreal, and they share their passion for their city’s culture and cuisine in an extraordinary ‘food lovers’ blog. Their weekly adventures in the old city are filled with details relating to hidden fruit and vegetable markets, butcher shops, seafood shops and of course restaurants and Montreal spa and posh hotels and resorts, even portable toilet rentals and off the wall ideas.

… an endless banquet is a blogspot you can actually taste, and the authors do a great job presenting their anecdotes and knowledge in very readable prose. Readers will appreciate the novel manner in which AJ inserts his appetite into his daily adventures, and I love how both he and Michelle smother their text with expert details. Food lovers will savour the ‘before and after’ pictures of the ingredients contrasting the finished dishes. The photos usually accompany detailed recipes along with tips and tricks regarding preparation and delivery.

So it should come as no surprise that Anthony J. Kinik has some training as a storyteller. endless banquetHe originated from California where he earned a PhD in film studies; states that he’s always been interested in food, and actually began taking cooking classes when he was just ten years old. I’ve read and discovered that he loves soup and ‘uses pepper in everything’. Kinik is no stranger to print media either. He’s written for Gourmet, and the Montreal Mirror.

Michelle Marek, the blog’s co-author (and Anthony’s girlfriend) originated from Vancouver where she was inspired to cook by her mother. She was a vegan for 12 years, but now “eats anything”. *Its interesting to note that she despises TVP (textured vegetable protein) and chose to avoid it as a vegan.

AJ and Michelle met in Montreal in 1999 and soon discovered they had lots of similar interests, which includes books and films, cats and of course food. Both artists consider Montreal to be “a great eating city, a city of gourmands”

In 2004, AJ and Michelle were cooking and entertaining together more often, usually after exploring the city’s markets, collecting cookbooks, and reading copious amounts of food literature. All of this cuisine art really impacted Michelle, and she quit her job as a subtitle editor for films and enrolled in pastry school; now she works as pastry chef.

Aj and Michell from Enbdless BanquetThe blog began in Nov. 2004 when, AJ relates, “we did the only sensible thing. One dreary day, we headed down to a Vietnamese restaurant in Chinatown, and over a good bowl of pho, we came up with a name–” and the name is “…meant to convey a sense of the ideal life.” And he goes on to write that, “…the Internet opened things up quite a bit and provided many new voices. In terms of food writing, it provided a forum… for food cultures that had been marginalized.”

Salad on Endless BanquetBy the summer of 2007 the blog was getting 15,000 hits per month. Today the content includes recipes (many pulled from other publications) and reviews. Anthony and Michelle have written a book, APQO, a short work dedicated to the enjoyment of four fruit: the apple, the pear, the quince, and the orange.  The authors write good pieces about visits to local Montreal restaurants, they publicité en ligne and pass judgment on the Montreal Food Guide which reviews eateries in their city. Here’s AJ’s Flickr page.

Endless Banquet gives AJ and Michelle the ability “to broadcast our dream version of Montreal. Consider this a condensed, lushly illustrated, two-dimensional version of our beloved city.”

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Midnight Poutine in Montreal

Midnight Poutine logoUnlike other domains profiled here, Midnight Poutine is not someone’s personal blog, but rather, a blog collective owned by an entrepreneur named Tim Shore. The writers get some of the revenue paid by advertisers.

Tim Shore also owns blogTO which serves Toronto, and Beyond Robson in Vancouver – all under the holding Freshdaily.ca, which as of Feb 28th 2009 is still under construction. But Tim and Fresh Daily are not the subject of this profile – this post is all about Midnight Poutine, because it’s such an absolute gem. The picture below is very indicative of the type of citizen journalism that doesn’t wait for snow removal or police barricadfes to come down before finding and reporting the truth from a Montreal pedestrian’s perspective.

Montreal bike riderWhat is Poutine?
Poutine is a dish consisting of French fries topped with fresh cheese curds, covered with brown gravy. It’s comfort food, especially in Quebec and it’s a signature dish in many Montreal eateries.

What’s in Midnight Poutine?
Midnight Poutine.ca is a perfect blog name. It correctly suggests unique content about Montreal night life, arts and culture. Readers who spot the domain name in a blog roll are instantly motivated to investigate, just to see if the destination lives up to what they imagine it should be, and it does.

About Midnight Poutine
Tim ShoreMontrealers need Midnight Poutine. It’s a personal ongoing account of the city’s happenings. It’s a delicious high-fat source of rants, raves and musings. It provides the insight you never find in newspapers and the details and tangents that would never fit in a weekly. It possesses cheese-like flexibility. It’s sometimes snarky, often unusual and always informative. Your order has arrived. Dig in.

A blog with seven authors
There are at least seven contributors in the About Us index. Some write more than others, but each maintains a presence in their genre to offer readers a smattering of local content that cannot be found in newspapers or anywhere else online. My favourite author is Jeff daSilva, I like his style the best and identify most with his local news subject matter.

Jeff daSilva
Jeff daSilvaJeff is a fashion working rock/skate type guy who loves dodgy bars, pubs, and all sorts of music. A terrific example of Jeff’s work is something he wrote after visiting a liquor store, in the province of Quebec where he postulates that BYOB will soon have  a new meaning – bring your own bag. Liqour laws are different all over Canada.

SAQ in Montreal

The portal is popular and will, in the future, help Montreal become a better city – some of their link bait content includes a rant post about the bus fares and cost of public transit . This post is one of their most popular, even though it’s entirely in French!

Midnight Poutine has a very popular Flickr photo group, with thousands of images, and has just emerged on Twitter where they have 13 followers – these are early days.

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