a new favourite lunch spot – Lyla Vietnamese in Parc-Ex

As soon as I heard about Lyla, it shot to the top of my list of new restos to try.  The words “Durian” and “Smoothie” (thank you to La Petit Boule for revealing this secret!!) may have had tons to do with this.  Okay, maybe that durian smoothie was so at the forefront of my mind that I biked there with nearly no other thought but how freaking awesome it was going to be, and what could I eat alongside that to compliment the drink.  You know, instead of the other way around.

To my credit, it was a hot day.

It doesn’t surprise me then that I quickly decided on a spicy Hue-style Pho.  Perhaps not as spicy as some eaten in the actual city of Hue (awwww), but reasonably hot, and certainly delicious.  Very flavourful but still light, and the beef was just perfect – meltingly tender and cut razor thin.  The noodles gave me more trouble; fat like udons and without sproing of wheat udon or the delicacy of thinner rice noodles, they were a little hard to slurp up properly, but they DID become their owngame… a game of hide and seek!  See, they looked precisely like white bean sprouts, so it was a textural surprise with each mouthful – soft or crunchy or both?  Spooned into the giant spoon and eaten with lots of broth, it was actually hella fun.  And, altogether a crazy cheap way of getting a steambath made of star anise and cardamom, coriander, fennel and clove, fresh herbs and spicy sauce.  AND not heavy-making in the belly at all.  Perfect summer midday eats.  Or, now that I think of it, late night eats, ahah!

The durian shake was, of course, the star of the show and the light of my life.  ^_____^

It really could have been twice as big and I would have bathed in it.  I have it on good authority that they blitz-whip this stuff fresh per order (Petit Boule again), and it tasted… so light, so icy-creamy but still kinda funky melony… how do I describe the taste of durian?  Anyway, in smoothie format it’s not even slightly offensive as a flavour.  Just really, really good.  Tastes like silhouetted figures against balmy and buzzy winding rivers, glow-bugs blinking past, sounds of markets and scooters, and an ever-brighter moon…..  something like that, okay?  This is very scientific right here. :)

Lyla on Urbanspoon

a Blueberry Marshmallow Dreamtart, because summer’s still here.

Pastry ideas come to me fully formed, most times.  The ancient Greeks credit Muses for bolstering their artists, and I can only assume that I have my own spun-sugar goddess hovering somewhere around the chocolate cabinet.  At the mere mention of a blueberry-themed Sunday down at the SAT

marshmallow operations

Foodlab market (on the corner of St Laurent and René Lévesque), it took all of 5 or 6 minutes to decide on making a blueberry and marshmallow tart – a little strange, a little immature, and totally over the top!  A riff on Parisian patisserie Ladurée‘s tarte fraise à la guimauves, I swapped out the strawberries and added a thin layer of lime curd to replace their tart zing much needed in the pillowy, spun-puffy surroundings.

It became a deep dish.  I do not have a tart pan!  And this way, I got to use the entire batch of crème mousseline (that is to say, pastry cream with extra butter whipped into it once it’s cooled and set).  It also meant a bit of extra work cutting each tile of pâte sucrée to fit into a springform pan, but I think it’s pretty beautiful… and, much easier to cut clean slices later!

The lime curd gave me more trouble, as I discovered a graininess had developed after one night in the fridge.  Heating it gently in a saucepan smoothed out the grain, but alas the set was never the same, and the “curd” became more of a thick lime sauce.  I asked an experienced pastry chef her advice and she suggested treating it like a mayonnaise, restarting the emulsion from the beginning with a small amount of the original recipe, OR, just using brute force and siccing a blender on that stuff.  :D  wee.  Next time.  It behaved well enough as a thin layer on top of fresh-crushed berries, though, and once I laid a huge strata of homemade blueberry-orange blossom marshmallows over that, and finally a carpet of wild berries, painted glossy with jams, it was all complete!

Only thing to do now, is EAT IT !!!!!

nom nommmity MAMAZING om.