Monday, July 16, 2012

Sojourn in Montreal:)

(Jazz Festival)
Although I am from Toronto, when asked which Canadian city is my favorite, my heart always goes out to Montreal.  There are a few reasons for this, notably that I spent many of my formative, high school years in this city, met some of my dearest friends and love the french language.  Most of all though, I love the city in the summer.  It really comes alive with festivals, culture and great weather.  Of course, the fantastic food scene certainly helps:) 
Last year, I was able to frequent quite a few special restaurants, this year however, I went with less frills and enjoyed tastes of Montreal, in between outdoor festivals and other random wanderings.

Staying away from restaurants mostly, my friend could not help but to introduce me to one of her favorite vegetarian bistros.  I am no vegetarian myself, but can appreciate the work that goes into a fully vegetarian-friendly meal. Chuchai, a Thai-vegetarian restaurant on St. Denis, specializes in traditional Thai flavors and dishes without any meat or fish!
We tried their famous peanut soy Crispy Duck on a bed of wilted spinach, it both looked and tasted quite like duck, but was made with a vegetarian protein, seitan.  We also had some crunchy seaweed sprinkled with sesame and their rendition of Pad Thai. Everything was tasty and fresh, however what really blew me away was their 'Five flavor finger food', pictured above. These little bites held explosive flavors, from the bitter leaf to the citrus kick from the lime, a nutty cashew, crunch from some strange twiggy things and tang from a bright pepper.  It is difficult to describe, but it was a major kamikaze of flavor in your mouth!

People who have never been to Eastern Canada or Montreal may be surprised to hear just how hot and humid it can get in the summer. With average daily temperatures of 85 and higher, ice cream is a daily requirement. Luckily, Montreal has a fantastic ice cream selection, my favorite being Bilboquet, an artisanal ice cream purveyor with the best Mango Sorbet I have yet encountered. I also branched out and tried their 'Brou ha ha', a concoction of vanilla ice cream with brownies, praline coated nuts and caramel swirl. Another favorite is their 'Cacophonie', a rich, dark chocolate base with white chocolate chunks and cashews. I could go on reciting every one of their flavors...but I won't:)
Another tenet of Montreal's food scene are their bagels.  At various spots around the city, you can find a bagel shop that has huge, brick ovens that turn out the most delicious bagels.  I would suggest going for one of their regular, sesame bagels.  Always fresh out of the oven, these babies are crispy on the outside, and a doughy, cloud of heaven on the inside...oh and did I mention? They are open 24 hours...

Being a city with a European flair, espresso bars are in no shortage.  Another one of my friend's favorite spots is Pikolo, located on Sherbrooke and Parc Avenue. Buzzing with students from any one of the amazing schools near the downtown area, Pikolo is home to delicious coffee, robust espresso and really friendly people.

On my final visit here, it was their one year anniversary and along with half priced coffee beverages, they were serving slices of delicious dark chocolate, raspberry cake. Need I say that I had never felt more at home in a coffee shop? I should also mention that I have dubbed their latte, the 'Best in North America'. No joke!
My trip to Montreal would not have been complete without a visit to the year round, outdoor Marche Jean Talon.  The bright, colorful produce on display at the numerous markets was such a tease considering I went on my very last day in the city!
Luckily, I was able to enjoy a freshly baked Almond Croissant and a date and orange muffin from Premiere Moisson conveniently located at the Market...all was not lost:)
These are just a few tid bites of what I picked up here and there in Montreal throughout my visit. There was so much more and I could have stayed a while longer, but sometimes, you have to leave wanting more.
As I left it this time, I already cannot wait to revisit my favorite city!


  1. What a gorgeous presentation of the fruit! I look forward to meeting you this evening :)