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January 3, 2010updated Feb 11, 2013

Montreal High Lights Festival Welcomes Portugal, New Orleans and the Eastern Townships

By Pardhasaradhi Gonuguntla

After last year’s 10th anniversary celebrations, the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival’s SAQ Wine and Dine Experience presented by Air France is proud to keep the festivities going with the exceptional guests of this 11th edition: Portugal as featured country, New Orleans as featured city, and the Eastern Townships as featured Quebec region. The Festival invites locals and tourists alike to join in some 280 gourmet activities, special events and memorable meals for 11 days of pure epicurean delight!

The only event of its kind in the world, in large part due to its concept of pairing Montreal’s top chefs with their international counterparts, the SAQ Wine and Dine Experience presented by Air France has affirmed its status as a must-see event. Since the year 2000, some 300 chefs, winemakers and conference speakers from five continents have taken part, and Montrealers and tourists alike have shared unforgettable dining experiences as part of the Festival’s Finest Tables, which showcases the cream of gastronomic hot spots in Montreal.

Welcome, Portugal Those who experience the beauty of the extraordinary Portuguese countryside firsthand never really recover. A country of staggering contrasts and fertile lands that yield a variety of exceptional foods and wines, Portugal conceals a wealth of treasures definitely worth boasting about. The MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival is delighted to be hosting representatives from this vibrant corner of the world.

The largest delegation ever welcomed by the Festival An illustrious master of contemporary Portuguese cuisine and a major player in Lisbon’s culinary revival, chef Fausto Airoldi, ourHonorary President of the SAQ Wine and Dine Experience presented by Air France, follows in the footsteps of previous honorees: Alain Passard (Paris, 2009), Susur Lee (Toronto, 2008), Daniel Boulud (New York, 2007), Émile Jung (Alsace, 2006), Gualtiero Marchesi (Northern Italy, 2005), Georges Blanc (Rhône-Alpes, 2004), Santi Santamaria (Catalonia, 2003), Serge Dansereau (Australia, 2002), Charlie Trotter (Chicago, 2001) and Paul Bocuse (France, 2000). Chef Airoldi heads to Montreal with a dynamic delegation of 20 chefs and 18 wine producers, united beneath the banner Portugal’s Finest Wines. These most appealing ambassadors have worked in some of the finest maisons on five continents. Lively, creative, competitive, their talents testify to the modernity and renewed vigour of Portuguese gastronomy and viticulture. These 39 Portuguese guest chefs and vintners, the largest delegation ever welcomed by the Festival, will showcase their abilities paired with some of the best chefs in Montreal at the Festival’s Finest Tables.

New Orleans, featured city The Big Easy, Louisiana’s mythical capital, is the stuff of dreams with its jazz undertones, bustling streets, the French Quarter, and aromas of coffee, bourbon and boiled crawfish. Its festive spirit and culinary treasures will be transported to the city for the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival via chefs Michael Farrell (Le Meritage), Brian Landry (Galatoire’s), Donald Link (Cochon), Duke Locicero (Cafe’ Giovanni), Ian Schnoebelen (Iris) and Thomas Wolfe (Wolfe’s in the warehouse).             Honorary President Fausto Airoldi’s Dinners Opening the Festival, Chef Fausto Airoldi of the chic Spot São Luiz, in Lisbon’s Chiado area, will take over Ferreira Café, where he will present the Honorary President’s Dinners and spotlight his immense talent and taste for pure creation. Firmly rooted in his homeland’s culinary world, the contemporary Portuguese cuisine master welcomes the collaboration of Chef Marino Tavares, leaving nothing to chance in this inspired six-course meal. Devotees of authentic flavours will delight in the finesse, enthusiastic creativity, and eye-catching presentation of his dishes as they are paired with Portugal’s Finest Wines, notably some of the famous Niepoort wines. Two evenings of gustatory pleasure in a world of delectable delights. Friday, February 19 and Saturday, February 20, starting at 6:30 p.m. Reservations: 514-848-0988 (Ferreira Café).

Portuguese Convivial A decade after a stellar stint at the MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival, Vítor Sobral returns, seasoned by new experiences and with as much passion as ever for Portuguese gastronomy, not to mention his favourite ingredients, starting with the indispensable olive oil. The chef invites you to an evening featuring the diverse products of sea and land from his native country. A master of reinvented classics, he calls you to discover rich, flavourful dishes. It’s an evening basking in the warm ambience so characteristic of the Portuguese hospitality. Saturday, February 20, Salle de bal in Marché Bonsecours. Tickets: 514-908‑9090 / 1-866-908-9090, ticketpro.ca.

Crossroads of Flavour For five days, our local producers and artisans will be featured in Complexe Desjardins, transformed into a huge marketplace for the occasion. From Tuesday, February 23 to Saturday, February 27, locals and visitors can explore a variety of themed spaces on site, including a bakery, the mobile dairy Lait à la bouche, a general store and a liquor store, the Cellier de chez nous, all dedicated to the gastronomy and regional produce of Quebec. Chefs will present culinary workshops on site, presented by T-Fal, and over thirty artisans will offer tastings, activities and gourmet suggestions. A special opportunity to meet our local producers and artisans and to support local economies. Tuesday, February 23 to Saturday, February 27, Complexe Desjardins. Free access. 

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Festival Lunch Menus Nine ambassadors of Montreal’s culinary diversity—Byblos Le Petit Café, Kashmir, La Khaïma, Salon Mogador, Prato Pizzeria et Café, Restaurant Douro, Rumi, Ông Câ Cân and Stromboli—welcome you to discover their tantalizing exotic dishes during the Festival Lunch Menus. The chefs and their teams are pulling out all the stops to impress with a laid-back three-course meal of all their standard fare at one prix fixe, $12.95. Monday, February 22 to Friday, February 26. Reservations: montrealhighlights.com.

The Festival of Quebec Cheeses Fans of fine cheese won’t want to miss the Festival of Quebec Cheeses, made even more delectable this year by the presence of the producers of the Portugal’s Finest Wines. This 5th edition of the event offers the public a marvellous opportunity to meet the cheesemakers of Quebec, whose diverse array of exceptional quality products never ceases to impress. Our master cheesemakers will be happy to answer your questions and discuss their creations and the regional qualities that contribute to the flavours and define the character of their cheeses. Visitors can taste the Québécois “classics” and make surprising discoveries… all the while enjoying excellent servings from Portugal’s Finest Wines. Presented by Quebec Cheeses. Wednesday, February 17 to Saturday, February 20, Complexe Desjardins. Free admission.

Presenting: Quebec Chefs and Cheeses The MONTREAL HIGH LIGHTS Festival is very happy to welcome you to the very first edition of this culinary competition of our cheeses! In what promises to be a memorable evening, four master cooks appear as our finalists, thrilling taste buds, setting hearts a-flutter and surpassing themselves by each concocting four original dishes using local cheeses—soft, with bloomy rind, with washed rind and blue-veined. Once seated, our guests become judges, with the pleasure of tasting all four courses, paired with Portugal’s Finest Wines, and choosing which of the chefs in competition will walk away with the grand prize of $5000. Presented by Quebec Cheeses. Saturday, February 27, 6:30 p.m, Grand Salon in Hyatt Regency Montreal. Tickets: ticketpro.ca.

The taste of the Eastern Townships Characterized by its mountains, glacial lakes, and rivers, and with large swathes of forest stretching along the US border, the Eastern Townships, the cradle of Quebec’s budding wine industry, is known for its exquisite products and fine restaurants. At Jean-Talon Market on February 20 and 21, food and wine producers from the area will reveal some of the treasures of this south-eastern Quebec region through demonstrations, tastings and conferences. Chefs Geneviève Filion (Le Bouchon), Alain Labrie (La Table du Chef), Danny St-Pierre (Restaurant Auguste) and François Tourigny (La Table Tourigny) will do the same, each one paired with one of the Festival’s Finest Tables. 

www.montrealhighlights.com

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