Tuesday, May 11, 2010

montreal delights

Montreal. It evokes in my mind a city of light, of culture, and most certainly of some of the best food in North America. The most common refrain of its utterly European style and lifestyle makes you feel like you are in a place where everyone is zigging in a country where people are known for zagging. Montreal is groovy. It's old and up late and may boast some of the best ethnic food in Canada. Even its high-end designer, haute cuisine establishments are serving up artistic creations topped with infused foams and strange and exciting fungi.
Montreal, not unlike Toronto in this respect, strikes me as one of the brunchiest towns I've ever had the pleasure of dining in. Very good eggs and toast places with charm and character pop up all over the place. Visiting this city with sisters as my guides, I have eaten some very yummy late-morning-breakfast-lingering-into-long-afternoon-coffee-and-walking-around meals. This time I returned to L'Anecdote on Rachel and Saint-Hubert. The inside of it is deceptively large. The front area is very retro and has big cosy red leather booths with wide windows that look out onto Saint-Hubert. Further back bigger tables are available for larger groups. In the front, dessert and chrome sparkle to greet the new customers.
An old friend from art history met me by the Sherbrook metro and we walked over together. The trouble is, we got so wound up in visiting and coffee that I sort of forgot to take a before shot. This is what was left of a very large and tasty diner breakfast. Delicious.

Then we continued strolling and ended up on a mission for beer. My friend was about to move and the occasion definitely called for a couple cold ones. We discovered a very interesting deppanneur on Duluth. Lots of locally microbrewed beers at a very good price with mix and match deals. Ultimately, we found a very pretty little spot to get ice cream on Saint Denis called Au Festin de Babette. He had orange chocolate and I had pistachio.
Later in the afternoon, I met two of my very best friends at the bus terminal, down the street from my sister's apartment where I had been staying. We wrapped our arms around each other, said a quick hello while they freshened up back at my sister's, and we were back out on Saint Denis. We stopped for a quick bite and a slice of pie at Rockaberry (mocha tiramisu, which we saved for later) and then shopped the afternoon sun away. As it set we headed to our hotel, The Queen Elizabeth, and checked it. After another quick recharge, we returned to the Plateau where my fabulous sister was waiting to join us for dinner at one of my favourite restaurants in Montreal.
Just a short walk down Saint Denis from my sister's house is Chuch, a vegan Thai restaurant with the most remarkable fake meat I've ever eaten. The textures are so real and the sauces are so flavourful that I enjoy it as much if not more so that non-vegan Thai food. The four of us went crazy. Though there was only one vegetarian among us, I would describe the lot of us as more or less flexitarian. The vegetable dumplings went so fast I didn't get a chance to take a picture of them. When the rest of the food arrived, I was sure to keep my wits about me before having at it like the lost boys in Hook.
We each chose a non-meat or a sauce that sounded scrumptious and got a few helpings of rice to round things off. My sister was incredibly helpful in recommending her favourite dishes, and I usually take my cue from experts when they know more than me in a resto. The four of us shared Chicken in red and green curries, Beef in three sauces, and duck with deliciously guilt free crispy skin.We shared two bottles of white wine - a Gewurztraminer than needed to be way more chilled than it was, but was still quite promising - and a Pinot Grigio.
At this point in the story I should probably tell you that I was in Montreal celebrating my birthday... that officially began at midnight and was rung in with mocha tiramisu pie for the birthday cake. Sorry dear readers, that I have no picture of that magical moment either. But I can tell you that when the three of us friends woke up in out big comfy beds in the Queen E the next morning, and before we checked out and left town, we said goodbye to Montreal in style, with room service.

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