Tagged with " Montreal"
Nov 11, 2012 -

Broken Promises of the Driving in Montreal Sort

All summer, I managed to avoid any serious driving in Montreal. Today, I made up for that in spades!

I had a lunch date with one cousin and a dinner date with another. Lunch was on the east side of town and dinner on the west side of town. The west side drive wasn’t scary; I barely consider Lasalle to be in Montreal even if it’s on the island and officially part of the city. But the east side drive was a little worrisome as I would be taking the Jacques-Cartier bridge and going into the heart of the city to the Plateau sector, an artsy and bustling part of Montreal with lots of narrow one-way streets that is one of the mostly densely populated neighbourhoods in Canada. Great place to live. Horrible place to drive and park!

Surprisingly, my GPS cooperated and took me straight to my cousin’s. Her street had cars parked on both sides. The road was so narrow that a delivery truck the width of my RV could not squeeze through and ended up having to back out. My truck had about a foot clearance on each side. I was kicking myself for not having looked for municipal parking on a busier street when I found a nice clear section of open street that looked very tempting. I tucked myself along the curb and then went to read every single parking sign on the block. They were confusing, but it looked like I was clear to park where I was till 3:00PM, which was ample time. Great! I found parking, I was early, and now I just had to find my cousin’s building. I glanced at the address in front of which I was parked to get my bearings. Oh! This was her building! I had found parking right at her door! Something had to be wrong and I reread the parking signs one more time to be sure. I was fine! Talk about good luck!

It was nice to catch up and meet my cousin’s daughters. They have a menagerie of animals and I found myself accosted by one of their friendly cats before having a ginormous bunny plopped into my lap! I had rabbits when I was really, really young, so I couldn’t remember what they were like. Basically cats with giant ears and back paws. Very cute!

Our visit done, I carefully navigated my way out of my suddenly tight parking spot as someone had parked behind me, then I almost painlessly drove out of the neighbourhood and onto the autoroute to cross town. Almost because it’s illegal to turn right on a red light on the island of Montreal and people behind me were adamant that I risk a ticket to save them a few minutes. *shakes head*

I was a little early for my dinner engagement, so I stopped at the Angrignon Walmart to pick up some cat litter and salad fixings for dinner. Lasalle is now part of Montreal, but it feels more like suburbia, so driving around there is a non-issue. Parking on her street was another matter, however, as both sides were crammed with cars. I squeezed into a gap then had a glance at yet another confusing parking sign. It looked like I was clear. Great, now find the address, which surely had to be the only one with a lit porch that just happened to be across from my truck! I must owe the parking gods a goat by now!

Dinner with this cousin and her son was another lovely catching up affair. She does something I find very interesting; hosting foreign exchange students. I wouldn’t have the personality for that if I had a settled life, but it seems like a nice fit for her and she gets to meet students from all over the world.

I thought that getting home from her place would be a cinch as she is very near the Mercier bridge and I could get to my mother’s from that bridge with my eyes closed, but I forgot about that wonderful Montreal construction. The bridge had only one lane open in each direction and there was a detour to access the open lane. I missed one of the detour signs, but in trying to inexplicably reroute me to the Champlain bridge, my GPS got me back on the detour route. It might be slightly longer in mileage to take Mercier than Champlain from that area, but it’s an easier drive and generally quicker timewise.

It’s been a rich full day. Now that I have seen just about everyone I wanted to see on this trip, it’s time to get into packing mode. The plan is to pull out with Miranda tomorrow and then park her on the street. My truck goes into the shop in the afternoon. Things are going so smoothly, but I’m not waiting for the other shoes to drop. I think I’ve earned an easy pull out…

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Canada, Nice Folks, Preparations for Departure, Quebec, Social, Travel    1 Comment
Jun 29, 2012 -

Prato Pizzeria, Montreal

When I got in from errands today, my mother asked me what I had planned for dinner because she was in the mood for thin crust pizza and there was a well-reviewed restaurant in Montreal she wanted to try out.

So off we all went to downtown Montreal to Prato Pizzeria, located on the iconic Saint-Laurent Boulevard, known as ‘La Main’ (as in the English word main, not the French word hand!). The restaurant is nestled between chic boutiques, European-style cafés, big name fast food joints, and is just a couple of doors from the world famous Schwartz Deli.

Pizzerias like Prato are a dying breed because of environmental laws forbidding charcoal ovens. All existing restaurants are grand-fathered in. This restaurant was listed as one of the top three places to eat pizza in Montreal.

We ordered a pitcher of beer since it was super hot out and we had parked several blocks from the restaurant so we were feeling rather parched! A pitcher contains six small glasses of beer, so we had two each. We started off with the arugula salad, which had cherry tomatoes, Parmesan shavings, and a nice lemon vinaigrette. Very tasty!

They shared a pizza that had olives and anchovies (shudders) while I ordered my usual for this type of pizza joint, a Margherita, with Parmesan, bocconcini, tomato sauce, and fresh basil. The pizzas are considered to be sized for one person and are served on a paper-lined baking sheet:

This was pizza perfection. The edge of the crust was crunchy, the base was flexible, the edges were charred, the tomato sauce was smooth, the cheese was stretchy, and the basil was piquant. Yuuuuuum. I wouldn’t have been able to eat the whole thing, but had no leftovers since they took one slice to try it out.

For dessert, my mother and I each had an espresso (macchiato for me) and their Skor-chocolate mousse (excellent) while my step-mother tried the tiramisu (very good). The coffee was particularly good, being extremely strong and flavourful without being bitter.

We all agreed that the next time we’re craving good pizza, we’re going back to Prato!

On the way back to the car, we stopped at a Viennese-style bakery for bread and pastries for the morning. I don’t eat sugar first thing anymore, so I opted for a plain croissant even though the chocolatines were calling my name!

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Nov 10, 2010 -

Falafel Heaven

I was out and about with my mother today. We were sitting in the horrible Montreal traffic at 6PM, heading home, and famished when she took a detour. I didn’t think anything of it until we stopped in a near-residential neighbourhood. There, she told me we were picking up falafel and baklava for dinner!

We entered a world I had nearly forgotten existed. A Lebanese bakery with racks piled high with sweets dripping with rose water and honey and a deli counter with all manner of manaeesh. The sandwiches are made to order and authentic; I can always tell that they will be good when their maker bosses me around and makes me take ‘everything’ even though I’m not crazy about the marinated turnips!

Oh, that falafel was like finding the oasis in the desert. Perfectly spiced, coated with sesame seeds, drizzled in tahini, and resting on a bed of parsley and mint then wrapped Lebanese style in a thin pita. I realised then that, for me, the concept of ‘home’ is intimately tied with food.

Everything I ate this week convinced me that the cuisine of western and northern Canada is generally bland. The teeming mass of mixed cultures in the most populated provinces, namely Quebec and Ontario, make for dishes that electrify the taste buds. I went to a restaurant on Saturday where an option was za’atar encrusted halibut. I haven’t seen za’atar on a menu in two years!

Asian dishes, like the sushi I also had this week, are the only thing I find ‘as good’ out west, and that’s because the immigrant population out there is pre-dominantly Asian. I’m not saying there aren’t any good restaurants out there, just that the savory cuisines I took for granted growing up aren’t as readily available.

My week in Montreal has come to an end (!) and it can best be summed up as a gastronomic journey. What did I do all week? I ate! 😀

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