There’s little doubt that Canadians love New York. They’re our due north neighbors, they travel here by the thousands, they’ve sent so many of their native sons and daughters to make it here as entertainers, hockey players, financiers, Christmas Tree sellers, fashionistas and more. And New York loves Canada right back! Most Canadians don’t know that we NYers call them the “Upper North Side” and many New Yorkers speak fluent Canadian.
The Levys have a special place in our maple-leaf-shaped hearts for Canada; many of our best clients are Canadian (thank you Ellison, Brightspark, Comfort and Evolve) and we’ve traveled all over Canada; from Halifax & Saint John (founded by New Yorkers who were United Empire Loyalists immediately following the American Revolution) to Montreal (Mark went to BOTH Expo 67 AND the ’76 Olympics), Toronto, Exeter, Calgary, Vancouver and Whistler. Canadians are of course, justly famous for being nice, polite and respectful, no matter how rude us Americans are to them (FWIW, sorry about burning down Toronto’s City Hall.)
Although Canada is not known for its food, there are a few exceptions Mark and Matt, in our never ending search for interesting food, we headed to M. Wells Diner, in Long Island City, Queens to sample their take on inventive Quebequois-American cuisine. One of Matt’s most important titles is LUNY’s Chief Lunch Officer, and he filed this report:
M. Wells is a weird, magical Quebecois restaurant, built inside of a rehabbed turquoise & chrome 1950s diner in the middle of industrial Long Island City, Queens. There’s no parking lot. You have to cross a massive train yard to get to it. But once you arrive, the food is a marvelous surprise, befitting its setting and atmosphere. Lead chef Hugue DuFour once tended shop at the Montreal nose-to-tail restaurant Au Pied de Cochon and his inventive, amalgamated plates reflected this wild design. Mark found some dishes to be too heavy and fatty, but I enjoyed the pickled pork tongue, smoked oyster chowder, caesar salad with smoked herring dressing and homemade meatloaf on pan de tortilla “bread”. Not very Canadian, and not anywhere near American, but landing in-between. For a more complete review, please check out the recent NY Times take on M. Wells magic.
Canadians have had perhaps more of an impact on American culture than on its cuisine. Canadian contributions to Saturday Night Live alone include Dan Akroyd, Phil Hartman, Mike Myers and Martin Short Other Canadians made their names in music, comedy, drama and TV. like Pat Kiernan (on local news channel NY1,) and Canadian musicians the Arcade Fire just won the Grammy for Best Album 2011 after selling out two nights at Madison Square Gardens.
Sadly, Canada lost 24 of its sons and daughters at the World Trade Center on 9/11. Last year, a tour group from the Henshell Farm Co-op brought down 24 Red Roses displayed in a maple sap bucket to honor those countrymen and women. Canada, we will always love you!
By Mark Levy