Home » Challenge » Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

This past week – and I mean FULL week of seven days, we have had weather to rival any Caribbean country – say, like… Cuba!  I’m talking a most disgusting average of 35°C (95°F) with that humidex factor making it feel like 45°C (115°F).  What’s a girl to do?  Continue on her search for that perfect Montreal version of the Cubano sandwich, of course.  Her partner in crime, Julie, ever the willing participant, agreed to meet me today, Friday, on my day off.  So what was today’s temp? 22°C (72°F) and it felt downright chilly!  Now for us Quebecers, who start wearing shorts when it hits 15-16°C (60°F), – sooner for some locos – this may seem silly.  But it has been hotter and muggier than the inside of Hades mouth so, this cool-down was quite the shocker.  And me, wearing a sundress…

Now I know Linds B. and Marc, over at Sorryless are done with the whole Cubano Sammy thing but they did encourage me to keep on it.  They apparently like when other peeps crash their party…

Right.

On my way to destination number two, I was struck by the sheer amount of garbage everywhere.  You see, here in Quebec, the official moving day is July 1st.  That means peeps are moving from one apartment to another and leaving shitloads of stuff behind.  I’m thinking garbage day in the area I was driving through still had not come…

Destination number two was suggested to me by a friend whose boyfriend just so happens to be Cuban.  He says other Cubans go there:  Café Cubano, still on the outskirts of Little Italy but now, on Beaubien East Street.  Traffic for Jules was horrendous, so I sat outside on a park bench in the sunshine (it was still warm, then).  Then I took a few pics in preparation.  Cute little brother and big sister skipped by.  I was amused as it seemed everyone who passed by sounded French from France.  Had me wondering what area I was in after all.  Very residential with little business like this one on the ground floor and apartments above.

Julie arrives and we pick a table.  Always a good sign when the other patrons speak the lingo.  We get the menus and I see that the Cuban Sandwich is NOT there.  And yet, when I Googled it, it was.  Hmmm…. I ask the waiter if they do do Cubanos and he says, get this:  “Not today”.  What?  “I am sorry, tomorrow you can have some.  Today we cook the pork and it takes hours. There are none today.”

Fuck.

Looked at Julie and said, “What to do now?  I am on a Cubano Sammy search.”  She agrees we need to find another place so here we are sitting in this restaurant, with our glasses of water we dare not touch, Googling for other restaurants in the vicinity.

We come upon La Bodeguita de Montréal on St. Laurent Street, a 7-minute drive away.  We decide to go with just my car – why look for two parking spots?  While I’m driving, Jules says.. “Hmmm.. their Facebook page says it’s closed.”  Dammit.  On the Google page, it says Fridays it is open from noon.  We keep going, not knowing who to trust.  We get there.  Door is locked.

Fuck.

More Googling, and by now, our stomachs are starting to auto-digest and we need us some grub.  We do NOT want to drive to downtown as that will take us a good 23-40 minutes.  Julie finds one on Park Avenue – but it’s a Mexican joint!  BUT the comments on whatever site she is looking at says you MUST try the Cuban Sandwich.

We need no further reason.  What a fabulous find!  Lemme tell you, Linds and Marc, if I decide to crash your taco party, Imma go back to this spot called Ta Chido on Park Avenue.

Colourful, joyful, smell of fresh bread cooking, kitschy as all get-out, we are charmed immediately.  Screw the Cubano, if we must.  By now it is quite cool and we choose to sit inside.  Then move to outside.  I did NOT know there exists some Mexican Heavy Metal… Thankfully it was playing pretty low (so wish I had Shazamed it 😉 )

I have to share some of the decor with you…

Okay, I’ve made you wait enough, haven’t I?  Let’s get to serious bidness.  As we were starving, we ordered a bowl of guacamole with the usual chips and chicháronnes. We stuck with water for today.

I explain to our waitress – sweetest gal ever – that I am on a Cubano mission and though I realise that this is a Mexican place, they do have what they call a Cubano… She says:  “Well that is what WE call it too.  But.. I am so sorry to tell you, we are out of jamón.”

Sigh.

Julie suggests we get two different sandwiches and share.  And frankly, that is a great idea.  So, Jules gets the “Tinga de pollo” – pulled chicken sautéed with onions and chipotle peppers, mayo, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream and feta cheese.

And I had the “Cubana” – breaded beef cutlet, pulled pork and ham (though there was none), mayo, cheese, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes and caramelized onions.

Julie found the chicken needed some oomph and was glad to pour on the jalapeño sauce that was brought to the table.  I agree.

The “Cubano” had nary a Cubano element… but was very tasty for me.

We are 0 for 2 in the authentic Cubano search.

However.  After some discussion, and poor Julie still has no idea what a real Cubano is…I give it a solid 6/10.  Why so high when there were only two elements in the sammy?

That bread.  That bread was so bloody divine, I cared not one whit that it had never seen the inside of a press.  So good, in fact, that Imma go aaaaalllll the way there to buy some to make MY OWN Cubanos…  And for my celiac friends, they also make gluten free… though I would check out the facilities to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  I didn’t go look, to tell the truth.

The pulled pork was tasty, as was that piece of beef and caramelized onion.  Avocados are a favourite ingredient of mine and pretty much end up in all of my sandwiches.

The chicháronnes were light and crunchy and addictive.  the guacamole was delicious with just the right amount of smooth and chunk.

We felt we had made quite the discovery after all the shenanigans of finding a bloody place to eat.  Plus, Julie still wants to be my cohort for the next run.  Win-Win-Win.

As a result…

A little extra “blah-blah-blah” as our day was not done…

Traffic was gonna be crap for both of us, so we decided to go to the Marché Jean Talon to browse all the wonderful produce, get inspired for supper – right, like I was gonna eat supper – and maybe flirt with Frank from Birri Farms.  (What?  He’s gorgeous, Italian, single and such a flirt…)

On our way there, as we were approaching a stop light, I was pointing out a restaurant we had talked about when BANG!  I got hit from behind.  WTF?  Both of us were stunned.  I got out of the car and the guy behind got out of his apologising profusely.  First thing he asked was if were we hurt, then we checked our cars.  Mine had nothing, his, a cracked bumper.  I asked him if he wanted to fill out papers and he declined (I might add his car was a clunker).  Asked again if we were okay, apologised again and we were on our way.  We turned at the next street and pulled over to really check.  Nothing.  We both felt it in our necks – a light case of whiplash.  I know we are going to feel it tomorrow or the next day.

 

81 thoughts on “Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

    • Woot! So glad you are STILL willing to discover this delicious treat. And I promise you, if the next one fails, IMMA make you one! NO, scratch that, regardless of how the next one goes… I will STILL make you one!

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  1. Q,

    This was a harrowing adventure you gals went on, tell “u” what! And your passion and ingenuity shows, because you ain’t let Google one way street your dreams of a perfect Cubano into a dead end. You found a place, and even if it wasn’t THE place . . you forged ahead and you prospered.

    This search thing ain’t easy, is it? But as Linds B told me, it’s the lord’s work so we shall overcome, yanno? And you fine ladies will as well.

    Those sammies had serious spank to ’em, even if they weren’t up to the specs. You do so understand the curve that must be used in grading these things, because tasty is tasty, after all. And YES, the bread . . . I read that passage and thought mango . . I could spread me some mantequilla on that and be plenty fine.

    Love the vids, pics and naughty girls day out vibe to this Q. You’re rocking this search, and if I have to start tucking ‘u’ into my American words to prove it to you . . well . . Imma do just that. And baby that neck okay? I don’t want you waking up all stiff!

    Peace, pretty girls and overcoming Google . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • B,

      I was killing myself laughing at our (mis)adventure, thinking… well, at least the blog post should be entertaining a tad…

      The search ain’t easy at all. And our local food critic pointed out that Cubano food is a rarity in Montreal. That said, I’ll be my own judge, thank you very much.

      They had some serious spank to them. And I would be more than interested in going back to taste more of their grub, tell you what 😉
      I have no words for that bread.

      Very glad I have the King of the Search approving our little foray into your territory…
      As for the neck, I shall have no chance but to pop a couple of Advil before hitting the hay plus using one of those magic sac doohickies (good thing Mick did displays for them and I have 3-4 of ’em…)

      Peace, enjoying the ride, bumps and all…

      Liked by 1 person

      • When it comes to a search such as this one, I do believe it is best to get lost sometimes. I mean . . . Googling stuff got us in trouble as well! lol.
        And wai . . wha? I think that food critic misspoke. I think he meant to say that winning hockey is a rarity in Montreal.
        I had to . . . 😉
        King? Wow! There’s nowhere to go but down with such a title, you know that right? lol
        Get the Advil and fetch those doohickies . . thank you Mick! And be good to yourself. You’re doing great.

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        • I agree it’s great to get lost and discover unexpected places. Google ain’t all that all the time.
          She’s a very respected critic. You, on the other
          Hand are cruising for a bruising…
          I may have kow-towed a tad too much…
          Advil popped and now wondering if it should be hot or cold for my neck.. gonna Google it 😏

          Liked by 1 person

          • Google screwed us over on a search to which we traveled to Hershey only to find out the joint was closed for renovations. From there we traveled through a few towns before ending up at a place that was right around the corner from Linds B’s house! But they made a great sammy, so yes . . getting lost has its value.
            Me? What’d I say? 😉
            Take care ‘o that neck . . .

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  2. One day you and Julie will find the elusive Cubano, in my little town they’ve barely a Thai restaurant so I think my search might have to stretch further like the magic bus. Good take though, I love the quandary of who to trust more Fb or Google! Demon bedfellows!
    Good luck I’ll watch with interest, after the football of course!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We will definitely go at least once more – I’d like to introduce Julie to the REAL Cuban sandwich (not made by me 😉 )
      Hmmmm… magic bus – now that’s a thought.
      Right? Who knew you could not trust Google 😀
      Thank you, kind sir… oh, I should have finished my post with us enjoying the people on the sidewalk, gathered ’round the TV the pub graciously turned towards the street so all could watch the game!

      Like

      • The magic bus refers to Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, If you haven’t heard of them google it, theres an excellent documentary about it and Tom Wolfe, RIP, wrote an amazing book called the electric kool aid acid test, which is brilliant; tails off slightly towards the end, but for any one interested in western counter culture its a must. Ken Kesey wrote One flew over the Cuckoos nest too. I’m sure this isn’t news to you but i revisited the book only last year after a 20 year gap, it still rocks!
        I wonder if someone can make me a real cuban sandwich in Worcester.

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        • Will check it out (figures it had nothing to do with the kids’ show 😉)
          A book I never did read but a movie I saw and can no longer watch past the party…
          I can give you the recipe and you can try to make it yourself…

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            • Alrighty, here goes!
              Ideally you have a sandwich press. If you don’t, no worries, heat two frying pans and press the sandwich between, once made and pans are hot. Try to put a weight, like a big can of something and press down…
              You need: cooked and sliced pork (tenderloin, loin, roast, whatever!, cooked and sliced ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, English mustard and, of course, nice bread – not a baguette as it’s too hard, a nice soft hoagie roll (well, you see the bread in my pics 😉 )
              Simple. Butter both sides with mustard and layer the meats, cheese and pickles. Press and enjoy! Don’t be stingy on any of the items…
              Lemme know how it goes!
              Somehow I now feel the urge to make some…

              Like

  3. Following your adventures with “interest”. Love your choice of music. Yes, even the Mixteco (which I notice YouTube groups together with Pagan Rock, which of late has been my thing.) But I am finding an unwanted appetite develops while I read. And at 9:30 am, I don’t really want that. But, hey, good to know the weather cooled. Ours did not.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Quite! At least it’s fodder for a post 😉
      It was such a great accident to find, I must admit.
      Neck is stiff, but basically ok.
      Chicharrónes are basically fried pork belly or pork rinds… so not good for you. So delicious once in a while… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Now that was quite the adventure worthy of numerous F-bombs. First of all, love Yo Yo Ma’s Libertango! Also enjoy the version by Bond. I couldn’t find their video of the song, but found this good one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61wTJhg7N5o

    Julie seems like a good sport. Cheers to that. Guess I’ll have to add “having lunch with two Quebecer ladies” to my bucket list.

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  5. Whew……….geesh the way this story was going, I thought the end would be two chicks going to a seedy tattoo parlor for shoulder ink ‘WTF’.

    What do good stories and good Cabana sandwiches have in common?

    It’s not the filling that so important. No. But rather the bun where the filling goes. If you can’t bake a good bun the filling will always be lunch bag let down. Always.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. oh, and this too……notes from an intrepid dream…….one should never find what they’re looking for….it’s the journey, it’s the journey….me thinks

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great almost shaggy dog story. I know you can’t make them up. This one hits the spot even if you didn’t find your Cubano sandwich. I’ve been to Cuba and didn’t even hear of one there in 2012.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Dale,

    Oh goody. You posted some great pictures for me to …um…er…borrow. 😉 Sorry you didn’t find your sammy but it still sounds like a delicious outing. (except for the whiplash, of course.)
    I’m a personal fan of avocados and cilantro on sandwiches. Yum. Now I’m making myself hungry. When I have an hour I’ll go back and peruse the rest of your comments. 😉
    Love following your journeys in life. You make me wish we could physically share them. One day you’ll have to come to Kansas City to check out our magnificent BBQ. Of course we have our favourite hole in the wall.
    Now onto other things. BTW The Yo Yo Mah video won’t play in my country. Sheesh.
    Ciao for Niao, my friend.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle,

      Oh, did I? Glad to be of service, always…
      We maybe didn’t find THE Cubano but we sure found a fabulous place, so, still a win.
      So glad you are enjoying my journeys and you can bet your bippy I’m gonna make Kansas City a trip in the future.
      Hah! Do you know how many times I can’t see a video? I’m frankly surprised… was really good, too.

      Lotsa love,

      Dale

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  9. Having been married to a man that was part Cuban, I feel your pain:). So many “Cuban” restaurants here that are really just Americanized and watered down. Funny story–when we were dating, he took me to a Cuban diner. And I ordered (or tried to order) a diet soda with my meal. The waitress laughed and informed me this was a CUBAN restaurant. “No diet anywhere.” Full sugar and calories everywhere:). Glad you found at least a reasonable facsimile of your Cubano!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been quite the adventure, I must admit. We do not have that large a Latino sector in Montreal – bigger than I thought, but still. I love that she laughed it off!

      Stay tuned… the search ain’t over!

      Liked by 1 person

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