Designed to lift February doldrums, the 17th annual Montréal en lumière food-and-wine festival opens Thursday for a 17-day run. China is the honoured country, Boston honoured city and dinners run as high as $300. But this year, 15 participating restaurants are offering low-priced brunches and lunches as well as dinners. The lunches range from $25 at Quartier Général to $49 at La Chronique, and the brunches from $25 at Le Local to $40 at Lili. Co. (plus wine, taxes and service).
The annual free two-day cook and taste exposition at Jean Talon Market will take place Feb. 20 and 21. Laval is the region in the spotlight this year. You can sample your way around the 10 exhibitor stalls or learn how to cook these products at classes with Laval chefs, directed by veteran chef-teacher Jean-Paul Grappe. Tastings and recipes will be offered at each of the nine classes. Hours: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cheese, cider and maple
Quebec cheese will be in the limelight as usual. You can attend the annual cheese recipe contest dinner with four chefs Saturday, Feb. 20, at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth ($118.43 including wines, service and taxes). Or taste cheese for free at the annual exposition and sale of cheese — more than 70 this year — at Complexe Desjardins Thursday, Feb. 18, to Saturday, Feb. 20, from 11.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. with the cheesemakers in attendance.
Cider and maple products will vie for attention, cider at Le Mondial des Cidres Feb. 25 to Feb. 27, when more than 20 Quebec cider makers will offer their products, and some cider cocktails and tapas each afternoon and evening at Complexe Desjardins. Admission of $20 includes 10 tasting coupons and a festival glass.
Maple syrup — how it’s produced, environmental aspects and tastings — will be a conference topic Feb. 25 at the Agora Hydro-Québec space at UQAM, 175 President Kennedy Ave., beginning at 6 p.m. Price: $25 (students and seniors $15); reserve at coeurdessciences.uqam.ca
Four culinary tours of the city are planned Saturdays and Sundays for $59 each, including taxes. Choose from Asian Montreal with tastings in two shops; the food truck scene with three proprietors offering tastings; Little Italy and Jean Talon Market with tastings in four shops; Old Montreal and its food history with tastings in four shops. Information and reservations: 514-288-9955 or 855-864-3737.
Cocktails, duck and pork
How to make cocktails will be taught by Ateliers & Saveurs mixologist Fanny Gauthier at two sessions at 444 St-François-Xavier St. at $39 each, three cocktails and three tapas included. Feb. 25, she’ll use spices; Feb. 26, maple producer Nathalie Decaigny of Domaine Acer will include maple syrup in recipes.
Bistro SAQ on the Place des festivals will offer six duck specialties paired with wines Feb. 25, beginning at 6 p.m. and five pork recipes, also matched to wines, on March 3. Each event costs $77.72 (wines, service and taxes included).
Bring the children
For the first time, 16 restaurants will cut prices for children 16 and under to their ages during their winter break Feb. 29 to March 5. For example, a six-year-old pays $6, a 10-year-old $10. The program lists the participating restaurants.
Information: montrealenlumiere.com; 514-288-9955.
St-Denis winter festival
Bundle up this weekend and visit St-Denis St. for hot drinks and cool snacks, an exposition of ice sculpture, and afternoon walks with entertainers telling the story Sur les traces de la Princesse Perdue (In the steps of the lost princess) by Jérôme Bérubé. The 5th annual Fête des Glaces will be centred between Roy and Gilford Sts. A total of 11 restaurants will welcome the public and a total of 246 blocks of ice will be provided for sculptors to create their art.
Sculptures and refreshments will be on tap, beginning Friday afternoon. The ice sculpting will go on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and, by wind-up, visitors can expect to see 33 sculptures, four of them interactive.
Refreshments planned include hot sake and cold tartare at Sa-Fran bistro and sushi bar, hot chocolate at Marius et Fanny and at Festin de Babette, and tea at Kushi Tea and David’s Tea.
For details, visit ruesaintdenis.ca
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