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Liverpool House in Montréal

Had a wonderful meal last night at Liverpool House in St-Hénri. I've already been at Joe Beef two times and thought it would be interesting to try their other restaurant. We're staying in St-Henri, a neighborhood I love, and these two restaurants are strangely convenient.

David McMillan was an incredibly gracious host and the meal was delicious. I haven't had succulent steamers (from Prince Edward Island) in so many years and drinking a Gras Mouton 2008 from Marc Ollivier with the steamers was a great treat.

This was a sentimental match for me. I have been friends with Marc Ollivier for twenty years and seeing his wines in Montréal is very gratifying. My father Sam, who died 3 1/2 years ago, used to love eating Steamers and we would often go to Paddy's Clam House on 34th Street in the Garment Center to eat. Another lost New York institution.

I haven't thought about eating steamers at Paddys with my father in over 20 years. But isn't that what great food and wine is all about? Being transported elsewhere, bringing back memories and feeling blessed and spoiled. That's when I know food and wine are working, when they make me dream, hope and feel lost in time.

I'm trying to be reasonable so I had John Doré as my main course in a beurre blanc, with the asparagus (in high season) and with delicious morrels swimming in the sauce.

Liverpool House, along with Joe Beef next door, have great wine lists and I thought I should ignore all the French wines I love and drink Canada. We drank a Norman Hardie County Pinot Noir 2008 from Prince Edward County (home of my good friend Jeff Connell). The wine was very pretty to my taste, at 11.5% Alcohol (!!!) and went great with the John Dory.

I had some smoked cheddar at the end of the meal. Joe Beef and Liverpool House have their own smoker and smoke their meats and other dishes. Lovely cheese.

David gave us a tour of the herb and vegetable gardens he has around Joe Beef and the Liverpool House. This is really taking local farming to the next extreme -- growing your own in an urban setting and serving from your own garden.

I only wish there were more places like this in New York! It is just so expensive to run a restaurant in that town and difficult to do everything with a chef's vision. Too often you need a PR Firm's vision to make it work and pay the bills. Things are changing in Brooklyn and slowly in Manhattan -- it doesn't take much -- great fish, meat, vegetables and natural wines!

Thanks again to David for a great evening.

David grew up in St-Henri and talked to us about how it was astonishing for him to return to where he was a kid and open three restaurants along with his partner Frédéric Morin. He remembers running around the alleys behind the restaurants as a 7-year-old making trouble for all his neighbors. St-Henri was always a tough neighborhood and still keeps some of its edge. Everyone always talks about gentrification here, but it is going very, very slowly. The neighborhood keeps its character.

Tonight, we're off to Les Trois Petits Bouchons with Québecs great wine importer Jean-Phillippe Lefebvre and the mysterious Genevieve Boucher.

I'm supposed to do a wine tasting in 40 minutes at the Georges Vanier Metro stop but may cancel it until tomorrow. I'm still not dressed.

Please tell Jean-Philippe and Genevieve Hello for me! They are nice people!

little zaggy

who is taking care of poor little zaggy?
I used to eat steamers with my father too. They were one of his favorites. He taught me how to eat them at an old Chicago seafood institution called Ireland's, that sadly, went out of fashion in the 80's, and finally closed. I hadn't thought of that place and memories of going there with my father in years, so thanks.

Joe Dressner - Captain Tumor Man!

Hi, I'm Joe Dressner the famous wine importer and I have brain cancer!

I already have a wine blog and frankly wine is such a luxury business that I hate to mix my cancer problems with my wine observations. I think it would be a general downer for the lifestyle crowd out there.

Furthermore, we in the wine trade always claim there are tremendous health benefits to drinking wine. I've already had cardiovascular bypass surgery over eight years ago and now I got a tumor aggressively rattling in my brain. My colleagues in the glamorous wine industry want me to keep it quiet.

So, I've started this wonderful new blog to discuss wine, brain tumors, my life and to give you hot tips on handling the cancer stricken around you. There will also be practical wine/radiation pairings when I start radiation therapy and chemotherapy next week.

Having brain cancer means I might both physically and intellectually decline. So, I will be using this blog as a venue to pursue petty vendettas against relatives, acquaintances and people in the wine trade.

I might also lose touch with reality and say things that are not true or are only half true. The important thing is to have fun and enjoy this rare and precious time in my life.

One of my pet vendettas is my cousin Dr. Barbara Hirsch. Dr. Barbara Hirsch is a very important Great Neck Endocrinologist, who was raised and nurtured by my parents. Dr. Hirsch waited until my father was near death and my mother was suffering from a rare neuromuscular disorder, to write them a seven page letter denouncing them for being horrible to her for the entirety of her life! Despite my concerns, Dr. Hirsch still refuses to apologize.

Last night, I drank a beautiful bottle of Bourgueil Clos Sénéchal 2005 from Pierre Breton. It was sublime and reminded me that I used to be healthy. Not only that, the vineyard used to be there before I existed. It exists independently of my having cancer and will continue to exist. You ought to buy some.

August 2009 Postscript: Not only does it exist independently of my cancer, it also exists independently of Louis/Dressner Selections. After 18 years, they have dumped us for Kermit Lynch. Oh well. At least I'm alive!