Category French

French Affair: Cluny Bistro

My husband and I splurged on a romantic dinner at Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie, a glamorous French restaurant in Toronto’s Historic Distillery District. Cluny’s luxuriously detailed, expansive interior will sweep you off your feet. I should have taken photos but my man was my focus that night.

While the menu includes classic, casual French bistro dishes, it is more adventurous than our beloved Montreal bistro, L’Express. Like L’Express, Cluny is the kind of place you could show up at any time and enjoy something from the menu (though L’Express is open far later, until 3:00 am). Cluny’s boulangerie opens at 8:00 am. The dining room serves lunch, weekend brunch, and dinner. The menu offers a fantastic selection of small plates to snack on or to add to a meal: from Beef Bourguignon Poutine to various tartines, to Baked Sauvagine for Two (baked cheese stuffed with truffle paste and sautéed wild mushrooms – a favourite of our waitress).

This is definitely the place to indulge. Freshly baked baguette (from Cluny’s in-house boulangerie) and cultured organic Quebec butter, for starters. Take a cue from Mireille Guiliano’s passion for oysters and champagne (French Women Don’t Get Fat): a glass of bubbly Crémant d’Alsace and Kusshi oysters is the way to a girl’s heart!

Crisp Sesame Baked Asparagus Frites were phenomenal finger food; the spicy yogurt dipping sauce wasn’t even required. Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad with fine herbs and pomegranate vinaigrette was healthy and refreshing.


On a previous visit, a friend and I shared the Tuna Tartare Niçoise (with egg, French beans, Niçoise olives, roe, and a decadent aioli).

Grilled Chicken & Marrakesh Carrot Salad is a luscious, Moroccan-inspired mélange of carrots, chickpeas, dates, cilantro, pistachios, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds, and lime.

My husband is a big fan of steak frites – specifically the French-style, flavour-packed cut of meat called “bavette”. Fibrous and chewy, it is hard to prepare properly. Cluny’s version (hanger steak) was possibly the best he has ever tasted: tender and flavourful. And the frites were perfect: thin, crisp, and lightly spiced.

Our Quebec-City-raised waitress was attentive, informed, and very patient with my French (which improved with the flow of the wine). I can’t wait for spring time in Paris…I’d love to go back for brunch on their outdoor terrace!

Cluny Bistro & Boulangerie
35 Tank House Lane
The Historic Distillery District
55 Mill Street. Toronto

Telephone: 416.203.2632

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Sweet Bliss: Le Delice Pastry Shop

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Lorne Park, Mississauga is a darling, French-inspired bakery: Le Délice Pastry Shop. It’s been there for 27 years. How did I not know about this?! Actually, my friend has been raving about it for quite some time. It is her neighborhood’s tried-and-trusted, go-to spot for desserts with wow factor; the Raspberry Clafouti is renowned at dinners in her neck of the woods.

She took me there for the first time yesterday. What took me so long?! I nibbled on samples of Pumpkin Cheesecake and Pecan Shortbread – sweet bliss! I came back with some photos to share with you and some pies and croissants for my family. So worth the trip.

Husband and wife team, LeRoy (pastry chef) and Lisa MacDonald, pour a lot of love into their business. And only the best ingredients: fresh whole eggs, sweet butter, 35% whipping cream, and the very best Belgian chocolate. Everything is handmade and beautiful. Thank goodness they seem so young and energetic. Let’s hope they continue for another 27 years.

Yesterday was the last day for pre-ordering from their Christmas menu. From now to Christmas choose from what is available behind their counter. They are trying hard to keep the selection plentiful but get there on the sooner side of now! Oh, it’s going to be a very Merry Christmas chez nous! Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2016.

Open Monday December 21st
Tuesday to Friday: 8 am to 6 pm
Saturday: 8 am to 5 pm

Le Délice Pastry Shop
(in the Centennial Plaza)
1150 Lorne Park Road
Mississauga, Ontario
L5H 3A5

For more details, please visit their website or my instagram.

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My #GuiltyPleasure: Duck Leg Confit from Di Liso’s Fine Meats

Di Liso’s Fine Meats has the best legs in town – duck leg confit, that is! Tender, moist, meaty duck legs are rich and flavourful; the crispy skin my #guiltypleasure. Chef-prepared for this butcher. Priced in range with other duck leg confit available in the burbs but Di Liso’s quality makes the drive to St. Lawrence Market absolutely worth the trip. Definitely my go-to-guys for duck leg confit in our region. Can’t wait to try their duck sous-vide, chocolate and caramel pork tenderloin, and Mennonite-prepared stuffed boneless chicken legs.


Left photo credit: Angela Mondou

Confit is a traditional French method of preparing duck: legs are covered in duck fat and cooked slowly at low temperatures to tenderize while retaining flavour and moisture.  All you have to do is warm up the prepared duck confit under the broiler until skin is crispy and meat is hot. Here is how I served it for my girlfriends on our fabulous weekend getaway: on a bed of greens, with fresh fig, tiny dabs of fig goat cheese, and fig vinegar (all available at the market). High in fat but during an active weekend of night snowshoeing, dancing until 2:00 am, and yoga in the morning I figured we girls deserved a treat! Such a satisfying indulgence and so easy and special for entertaining.

To avoid the crowds at the market, get there very early on a Saturday morning or just after morning traffic on a Friday. If you look for it, you can find public parking dirt cheap within two blocks of the market – if I tell you where I’d have to kill you after. 😉

Di Liso’s Fine Meats
91 Front Street East
Toronto, ON
M5E 1C4
(St. Lawrence Market)

Contact info, map, website, and hours here:

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Small Plates: Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle


A few snapshots of a wonderful fall weekend I spent with friends,

Front Porch

on a beautiful farm near Lake Erie, Ontario.


And a recipe for an easy nibble, perfect for sharing with your own treasured friends this winter.


My contribution to the evening was my take on tartine: little open-faced French sandwiches that I layered with fruit and cheese, sprinkled with nuts and thyme, and drizzled with honey.

Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

Photo thanks to Eleonora Gattesco Roberts

We arrived at the farmhouse late so I threw the tartines together too quickly and sloppily as you can see in the photo. But they tasted delicious – feel free to be as sloppy or as artful as time permits. Serve with a salad for lunch or as a substantial snack to share with a glass of wine.

A few tips:

  • Ask your bakery to slice your baguette for you (the slices will be uniform thickness).
  • Prep all your ingredients ahead (except for the fruit) and store separately in airtight containers.
  • For larger crowds, double the recipe and make a variety, using all cheese and fruit listed. Stick with one type of fruit and cheese per tartine.
  • Because I knew I would be short on prep time when arriving at the farm, I used some pre-sliced cheese: Les Tranches Cremeuses des Pays de Loire (Coeur de Lion, France) as brie/camembert.

Fall Fruit & Cheese Tartine with Honey Drizzle

Serves 4


1 recipe of Toasted Baguette Crisps (recipe below)
170 g to 200 g of your choice of thinly sliced, good quality cheddar, brie, camembert, or soft ripened goat cheese
2 pears or 2 apples or one of each
¼ cup shelled and roughly chopped, raw walnuts or pistachios or a combination of both
¼ cup fresh thyme leaves (removed from their stems) plus extra thyme sprigs for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Your best honey for drizzling


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange baguette crisps in a single layer on baking sheet.
  2. Quarter, core, and thinly slice fruit.
  3. Top each baguette crisp with cheese and fruit of choice, in alternating, peek-a-boo layers (from two to four layers total, depending on your quantity of slices). Sprinkle with nuts, thyme leaves, and black pepper.
  4. Bake for a couple of minutes, just until cheese melts. Remove from oven, transfer carefully to serving platter.
  5. Drizzle with honey. Garnish platter with extra thyme sprigs. Serve warm. Gather your friends around, tuck in, and enjoy.

Toasted Baguette Crisps


1 baguette, sliced into thin rounds (about 1 cm thick)
Olive oil for brushing
Sea salt for sprinkling


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush each slice lightly with olive oil. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  2. Toast about 3 minutes, just until slices are beginning to become golden at the edges.
  3. Sprinkle very lightly with fine sea salt. Cool. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.
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Postcards from Montreal: Restaurant L’Express

Fêting the holidays at Montreal’s iconic L’Express. Bustling, Parisian-style bistro. Elbow-to-elbow with casual French chic. Service attentive and gracious.


Thoughtful gestures like extra virgin olive oil, dijon, and big jars of petits cornichons on every table. You’d be a fool not to indulge in the baguette.


Classic French bistro food done beautifully, with a wine list to match. Raw oysters. Chèvre chaud – warm goat cheese with mixed greens and endive.


Ile flottante au caramel – an island of soft meringue in a hard caramel shell, floating in a pool of crème anglaise. Garnished with an almond biscuit. Ooh là là.


As vibrant today as it has been since it opened in 1980 and ushered in the revival of rue St. Denis. Still my favourite Montreal hangout.

Restaurant L’Express
3927 rue Saint-Denis
Montréal, QC

Telephone: 514-845-5333


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