Saturday, February 09, 2008

The Taste of Comfort, Winter 2008

With things looking something like this around Montreal at the moment,

birch, mount royal cemetery fig. a: birch tree, Mount Royal

we need our simple pleasures, our sources of comfort.

Mahrousé's sweets fig. b: pistachio pastries, Pâtisserie Mahrousé

1. Michelle and I have long been fascinated with Montreal's largely overlooked Petite Belgique neighborhood, a tiny sliver of the north end of the city tucked between Boul. de l'Acadie and Rue St-Hubert that includes Avenue d'Anvers, Rue de Liège, and, yes, even the miniscule Avenue des Belges. Predictably, a lot of our interest in this neighborhood stems from the fact that it's a treasure trove for those who appreciate good food, and one of la Petite Belgique's greatest gems is Pâtisserie Mahrousé, a humble Rue de Liège storefront that just happens to produce some of the city's finest, freshest, and most subtle Middle Eastern pastries. We're especially fond of their wide variety of pistachio pastries, like the beauties you see pictured above.

Pâtisserie Mahrousé, 1010 Rue de Liège W., 276-1629

cream earl grey fig. c: Cream Earl Grey, Un Amour des Thés

2. Montreal, "the Paris of the North," is a city that, like Paris, is much more closely associated with coffee than it is with tea. In fact, Montreal might actually be more coffee-centric than Paris, which, after all, is home to Mariages Frères, Betjeman and Barton, La Maison des Trois Thés, and several other top-flight salons de thés. Montreal is no Paris, of course, but that doesn't mean its tea lovers are completely without options. Camellia Sinensis is the city's most accomplished tea house and tea shop, and the only absolute "must" for tea aficianados visiting from out of town, but there are a number of neighborhood tea merchants that also hold their own. Un Amour des Thés is probably Outremont's best tea shop, and we've recently fallen in love with their Cream Earl Grey blend. It's so smooth that it requires neither any cream, nor any sweetener, but that hasn't stopped us from giving it a little shot of each to make it even smoother, even more comforting. After years of favoring the feminine charms of "the Lady," Lady Grey, this blend has made us believers in "the Earl" again.

Un Amour des Thés, 1224 avenue Bernard, 279-2999


ps--TY, S.B.!


Sami said...

Mahrouse's family has been in the business for over two centuries in the city of Aleppo, Syria, their local store there has been one of the very best for decades. Nazem Mahrouse is arguably the best middle eastern pastry artisan in North America.

Their assorted baklava is downright perfect, but you should also try those items, a few of which are unique to the city of Aleppo, which has a good standing in the culinary traditions of the middle east:

-the karabij, semoulina and butter cookies stuffed with whole pistachios; smooth on the outside and without sugar glazing (unlike the ma'mools, which are more Lebanese) and which come with a delicious white marshmallow-like topping called natef (very photogenic!), made with a special root plant.

-the sh'ebyaat, triangular phillo dough treats stuffed with thick clotted cream, lightly soaked in rose water syrup. It is usually only available early, as it actually is an Aleppine breakfast treat.

-the knafeh with cheese; golden baked thick semoulina crust over sweet mozarella-like cheese, often served stuffed in special sesame bread (ka'k, ask for it) or just eaten with it. Enjoy it warm, with the cheese melted, and a fairly liberal amount of syrup. This is not typically from Aleppo, more from Lebanon (Bohsali, the other stalwart middle eastern patisserie in town, across from Adonis, makes an excellent knafeh). This is also a breakfast treat, you'll have to go before noon at either Bohsali or Mahrouseh (which only makes it on weekend, while Bohsali makes it daily IIRC.)

Thanks for your lovely blog!

aj kinik said...

Hi Sami,
Thanks for the background information.

You can taste the artistry in Mahrousé's pastries. We'll try all the pastries you recommended--it's nice to know the names...

Thanks for reading.

jafi said...


I'm looking for info on buying Betjeman and Barton tea in Montreal.

The B&B website lists
Fouvrac - Maison des Thés
1400 rue Fleury Est
Montreal Quebec
as where to buy -
but google returns several hits listing:
5131 rue Sherbrooke ouest

I can't buy the Pouchkine in the US any longer and want to find a less $$$$ than shipping it from B&B in France.

So are both addresses correct? Does anyone know if either of these would ship tea to the US?

Thanks for any info.

Stephane Lemay said...

Thank you for referring to Un Amour des Thés. With 3 shops in the Montreal and Laval areas, we are now the tea company with the most presence in this area. You may find us on