Yes, we went to Montreal for a few days.  Fortunate enough to have our daughter and son join us – a real treat.  So much to tell you about this beautiful city – most importantly, the culture and food.  It almost felt like we were back in Paris.  Old Montreal is absolutely beautiful.  The choice of places to eat and things to do is endless.  We hadn’t been there in over 20 years so it was a long overdue trip back.

Some of the highlights, the Marche Jean Talon.  Truly a must see if in the city.  I found these beautiful purple hot “tabasco-like” peppers in a pot, now sitting on our patio (pictured below).  The variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, garlic flowers etc. – just wonderful and if you can’t think of what to make for dinner you will find lots of inspiration here! Everyone has samples for you to try – tomatoes, peaches, plums, apples, radishes etc.  And the pies and tarts at the little bake shops – oh my goodness!

Bagels, hot just out of  the wood burning oven from the St. Viateur bagel shop – (this was our breakfast on our last day there). Baguettes are to France what these bagels are to Montreal – Canada really!  A tiny little shop with the smallest counter I’ve ever seen.  But these bagels are so different.  Their smoked salmon spread was unbelievably tasty.  A rotisserie style bbq chicken from the little Portuguese shop across from the bakery, some plump sausages (this was one of our lunches) – just awesome.  Crepes, well let’s just say it brought back memories of being in Paris.

We did find this most wonderful artisanal fromagerie – La Suisse Normande ( in St-Roch-de-l’Achigan. Fabienne and her husband are the owners. She is from Switzerland and her husband is from Normandy (so yes, they do know about cheese and hence the name of their establishment). They specialize in a few – the way it should be, types of cheese. Produced from either goat, sheep and cow’s milk – or a combination of the three, it was hard to say no once you tried the samples. We picked up some Freddo, a delightfully mild semi-soft washed rind cheese – sweet and nutty. Le Grand Manitou – a combination of goat, sheep and cow’s milk – outstanding. And if you are going to make the trip there, stop off at St-Ours ( restaurant on rue Principale (about 5 minutes from the fromagerie). Masterful genius in plating and wonderfully friendly staff. Sadly we couldn’t linger on their backyard patio long enough to soak up the atmosphere as we foolishly made a schedule of things to do each day. Delicious food, lovely atmosphere! Make the time to try this place out, only about 40 minutes north west of Montreal.

But I think that what we were most looking forward to was dining at Garde Manger – a Chuck Hughes restaurant.  We had a lovely dinner there.  There is no pretense in this place.  It’s casual (or not, there were a few gents in ties, but mostly casual), loud and very energetic, a great vibe.  The staff are incredibly friendly and very helpful with dinner selections – customized to your taste buds.  Yes I had the jerk crab legs – only spicier of course.  The stuffed zucchini blossom, with scallops, deep fried and served on sweet farm fresh tomatoes with a delicious yogurt based sauce that complemented the stuffed blossom and the tomato.  The lobster poutine was our third appetizer – an original creation of the restaurant.  Tender beef ribs and the lobster risotto finished off our meal.  The food was rich and  the portions worked well for “family style” dining.  And the drinks, well let’s just say – they know what they are doing.  Their featured cocktail – a spicy martini (you just know this is going to be made in large quantities at our next get together) and giant Caesars as spicy as you like.

The view from Mont Royal at night – a must see.  But watch out for the racoons that seem to be everywhere at the lookout point.  And driving wasn’t so bad, they drive just like I do 🙂 so it was no problem.  Oh yes, you can’t turn on a red light – I knew that, just forgot every once in a while.  The Ontario plates on my car really gave me a lot of leeway/forgiveness.  Language, no problem – make an attempt, be hospitable.  Let’s not also forget the very civilized act of being able to buy liquor not only from an SAQ (the Quebec version of our LCBO), but also a corner store.  And for a taste of authentic food from the Punjab region of India, try Darbar Restaurant on St. Laurent. Superbly hospitable owner, friendly staff – really delicious food!

Sometimes the most beautiful things are closest to home! Montreal – Je me souviens!