I just returned from a wanderjahr through the streets of Montreal. Except wanderjahr usually implies tents, backpacks and beef jerky, and we were staying in a lovely Mile End apartment and snacking on sopressata and Brie.
Montreal is a lovely city and we had a wonderful visit. Here are some of the highlights.
First, our rental apartment on Avenue du Parc! We each had our own bedroom, with a full kitchen and laundry included, and a fantastic shower. No low flow shower heads here. We were also in a wildly diverse neighborhood, with restaurants and bakeries and shops to suit a Hasidic/Muslim/hipster/student community. Those fantastic shtreimel! We tried the Montreal bagels and didn't think they were all that, but the pastries and sushi and Thai food were delicious. Plus, we were across the street from fabulous markets for fruit and cheese and wine and maple bacon potato chips.
On our first day we strolled down Rue St. Denis and just happened to stumble on some amazing shoe stores. OK, I knew there was a Fluevog store there, but I didn't know that I would buy sandals and boots at La Boutique Marcheur. The owner was quite cheerful after our visit. I bought a pair of teal lace-up Cobb Hill boots and red leather Fidelio sandals. THEN we went to the Fluevog store and tried on many things. They had the boots I want in my size but not in the lovely rusty orange I want, so I will check the Chicago store, and if they don't have them, will order them online. After this arduous experienc,e we enjoyed a plate of steak frites and walked back to our apartment. On our way, we found jewelry and funny t-shirts and souvenirs.
That evening we indulged in the tasting menu at Tocque! it is worth commemorating the seven courses. We began with two glasses of champagne to compare and contrast, and during the meal we had a friendly and extensive lesson in wines. Thanks to Heidi and Pam for generously sharing their glasses with me; I couldn't have handled the full flight, but I did enjoy a sip from each.
Scallops with blueberry water and beebalm mousse
Swordfish tartare with watermelon and daikon radish
Foie Gras, brioche, pistachio crumble and peaches (my first foie gras!)
Barbecue quail, polenta and a corn foam
Lamb, merguez sausage and petite vegetables
A fabulous cheese plate - with slivered beets and melted cheese on a slice of pickle!
Sponge cake, sorbet (maybe currant?) and vanilla cream
Tiny Maple cream candies and tomato/watermelon gems
The whole experience was cheerful, unhurried and completely satisfying. Hats off to Tocque! (hee hee). When we emerged from the restaurant on to the Place du Congress, the square was filled with dry ice fog, drifting among the trees and benches. The fountain had a ring of fire burning in it. Magical. We took the bus home, slightly stunned, talking about that amazing pickle.