I have to confess something fairly shameful for a foodnik - I'm not all that excited about restaurants. Of course, I like a nice meal out, particularly the sort of meal that takes a lot of work at home. If I'm going to eat out, I want multiple courses, wine, dessert, coffee. I want to spend a couple hours eating things that need last-minute preparations while I sit lazily on my duff and let someone else do the dishes. And, let's face it, I can't touch the best food in a really good restaurant.
But generally, I can't afford that sort of meal out. And middle-of-the-road restaurants are a much more hit-or-miss affair. Sometimes I get lucky and find a dish that I might remember for years. But more often, I just think about how much it would have costs to make the stuff at home - or, if I'm in a different mood, think how glad I am that I don't have to cooks and damn the money. But overall I'm a home cook, and I'm more interested in home cooking than restaurant cooking - how people do it, what they eat, and so on. I'm more likely to buy books for home cooks from 1910 than I am to buy a restaurant cookbook.
So when I travel, what I really want are ingredients. I want to find out that there's some sort of local dried bean or locally grown and ground flour or what have you. I want markets and smokehouses and farm stands, even bakeries, but not necessarily restaurants (although of course I want those, too, just not as lustfully). But I find this information much harder to come by. If you want to find a high-end restaurant or the best dive in town, there are websites for that, but it's very hard to find out about food shopping (except for the high-end chocolates places that always seem to get a mention in shopping guides). Anyway, off to Montreal this weekend. There at least I know to head to Jean Talon, and we'll see where else I end up. Probably in a pub by a fireplace and nowhere else - it's supposed to be -20.