Les Vacances de Printemps

I’ve been gone for a bit, physically, and well, let’s just say I’ve taken a mini “pause-blog”.  It’s funny, in a curious and unexpected way, this blog starts to grate on my nerves if I don’t get a post out in a timely fashion.  I mean, really, who’s noticing?  Anyways, here’s where I’ve been (and I took Pesto Sandwiches.)

We went North for spring break. Why not?  Most people go South, in search of spring and warmer temperatures.  That’s old news for us. We had a string of 80+ days in March.  But we never really had winter (much to my utter discontent–how can one fully enjoy the arrival of spring without the depths of winter?), so we went to find it.  And find it we did.  Temps were in the 40’s, snow was still lingering in parts and the bistro food was utterly satisfying and completely worth the 11 hour drive.

Can you tell yet where we went?  What if I give you some clues?

These are some foodie hints.  But wait, there’s more.  How about some architectural hints?

Maybe a linguistic hint?

Ok, I know you got it now.  We went to Montreal.  It was an amazing few days and I must say that a little piece of me is still there, wandering the back streets of Vieux Montréal, lingering over a café au lait, maybe nibbling a bagel, definitely pondering the next table d’hôte special at yet another tempting resto

If I could, I’d rewind one week and soak up just a little more of that Euro/Francophone vibe.  But alas, the real world intervenes, as it does, and I’m left only with memories, photos and, quelle chance, a recipe or two.  I’ll be happy to share in upcoming posts my Montreal-inspired goodies…Blueberry Maple Smoothie, anyone?   How about Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Maple Balsamic dressing?  Or maybe, just maybe, Maple-Glazed Salmon on a bed of sautéed Spinach? 

For now, I offer an awfully tasty sandwich.  This one is my favorite combinations of flavors: pesto, tomatoes and goat cheese, with fresh mozzarella and grilled chicken added for bulk (though not totally needed), all inside a baguette.  Le voilà.  Simple, delicious and most importantly, portable.  We ate these outside a Tim Horton’s along the 401 in Ontario and then continued on our merry way.

 Pesto Sandwiches

Makes three to four sandwiches, depending on how long the baguette is
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 grilled chicken breast
  • 1/2 cup  pesto (homemade or store-bought)
  • 3-4 oven-dried tomatoes (or 1 large fresh tomato)
  • 1/2 ball fresh mozzarella
  • goat cheese crumbles

Method

1.  Prepare the baguette by slicing it lengthwise and tearing out most of the inside in order to make room for the filling.

2.  Spread both sides of the bread with pesto, at least 1/4 cup per side, but more if you really like pesto (which I do!)

3.  Thinly slice the grilled chicken (I made mineTuscan-style, see note) and the fresh mozzarella, until you have enough to fill your baguette.  Of course, you know how to make a sandwich!  (This is getting a little tedious, these instructions-I don’t mean to be insulting, just thorough.)

4.  Chop the oven-dried tomatoes (or store-bought sun-drieds).  If tomatoes are good, go for fresh, and slice. Next, add the crumbled goat cheese to taste.

5. Press all ingredients between the bread and wrap tightly. 

Note:  My favorite way to grill chicken is in a non-stick skillet with olive oil.  First flatten the chicken under plastic wrap with a meat tenderizer or a heavy pan.  Marinate in a dish of olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and some coarse salt and pepper.  Allow to marinate while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.  Then, grill in the skillet or a grill pan, turning once, about 5-6 minutes per side, until no longer pink inside. Cool and slice.

I made these the night before and kept them in the fridge.  The flavors melded well and the bread stayed firm because the sandwich wasn’t too moist, which makes it perfect for in-car eating.  These sandwiches, along with a gorgeous, mid-spring sunset over Ontario farms, helped the drive go a little faster.

Bon Appétit!

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About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
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6 Responses to Les Vacances de Printemps

  1. Pat Drabant says:

    I appreciatated the blog-pause because it gave you time to do wondrous stuff with your travels and camera. Not being a cook or interested in becoming one, it is your travelogues and your photos that I appreciate most. So, don’t look for food comments from me, but know I love your narratives and pics and postcards! xo

    • Liza M. says:

      Thanks Pat! I’ve been thinking of dividing the blog into two parts–travel and food. It’s just that I really don’t travel enough for regular travel posts.

  2. C’est magnifique! Merci for the great pictures. Looks like such a fun time. Tasty-looking sandwich, too!

  3. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, I only now saw this post; I recognized the St Laurent river in the background and the picture of le quartier du vieux port (which is profoundly Montrealais); it triggers so many memories as to me Montreal is the most beautiful Canadian town.

    I am unaware of whether you are aware of a Montreal-specific restaurant-eating policy that allows restaurant goers to bring their own bottle of wine. To the best of my knowledge, this is possible nowhere else in Canada. And it makes a dramatically different experience (also meaning less expensive restaurant tours compared to other tours you might have in other cosmopolitan areas). The area around St Dennis street offers quite a few good restaurants that stick with this policy. My favourite is L’Academie (featuring classic and ‘more modern’ French dishes as well as Quebec-traditional dishes), a great value for the money:

    http://www.lacademie.ca/

    I used to go there for lunch with colleagues (native Montrealers) while working on a project in Montreal, and since then this place has been a permanent part of my annual Montreal trips.

  4. Liza M. says:

    Wish I’d had this recommendation before we went but we weren’t disappointed in our choices. We ate at L’Express, Le Locale and a couple others in the old town that escape me now. It was a great trip. I hope to go back soon.

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