Archive for November, 2006

Montreal’s Fifth Gift to the World – Part 2

Montreal’s Restaurants and Foodie Culture: Representing every flavor of the World’

As for dining out, Montreal captivates the taste buds of both its citizens and visitors with some of the best restaurants and bars this side of any international border. With a mind-blowing assortment of establishments, Montreak will flip your enchilada, toast your chestnut puree and scramble your chorizos and then send you home, full-bellied, licking your chops and satiated.

Shall we take a trip through Montreal’s Food Guide (according to me)? *** Please feel free to submit your take on what you consider the “best of” Montreal Eats… This list is not meant to be exhaustive so Gourmet magazine– eat your heart out!!

Polish- Stash Cafe / Mazurka (tied)
Portugese – Ferreira Cafe Trattoria
Russian – Troika
Italian – Pizzeria Napolitana
French- Au Pied du Cochon
Thai- Chao Pharya
Sushi- Kaizen
Egyptian- Cafe Ramses
Mauritius- Les Delices de l’ile Maurice
Ethiopian- Blue Nile
Indian- Ganges/Pushaps (tied)
Steak- Moishe’s/ Gibby’s / Queue de Cheval
Carribbean- Ma’s Place
Tibet- Om/ Shambhala (tied)
Mexico- La Chilentia
Greek- Hermes
Iran- Byblos
Turkey- Au Vieil Istanbul
Brazal- Senzala

If you are looking for some informative guides to Montreal’s resto-culture, check out the trinity of local food guides:

Barry Lazar’s Taste of Montreal
Lesley Chesterman’s Flavourville http://www.ecwpress.com/books/flavourville.htm
Sarah Musgrave’s Resto A Go-Go

Check out the compiled list from all metroblogging cities.

Montreal’s Fifth Gift to the World – Part 1

Bagels, Poutine and everything in between

Montreal, with its French heritage and current day multicultural mix, is a food lover’s delight. With that in mind, Montreal’s gift to the world today is food. More specifically: Montreal bagels, smoked meat, and the unique gastronomical delicacy known as poutine.

bagel.gif

Montreal bagels, a contribution from our Jewish immigrants, are unbelievably good. So good that we claim them to be the best in the world. So good, that I’ve heard of ex-Montrealers who will go as far as to have them flown in on special order wherever they are. You have to taste one to appreciate how good they are. A combination of just the right texture of chewiness with the generous aroma and taste of wood-fire oven-baked sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Unlike the bagels of other locales which may be uniformly circular cakey or spongey concoctions with or without a hole in the middle, Montreal bagels are hearty and truly satisfying in smell, taste, and appearance. Standing in line at the bagel store is a quintessential Montreal experience and it’s not just for tourists. You start to salivate as you smell the bagels being brought out from the oven and tossed into a pile. As you inch up the line, you watch the bakers expertly roll out the bagel dough under their palms to form each and every unique irregularly-shaped bagel. When you get to your turn and purchase your bagels (I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to buy just one), it would take nerves of steel to not greedily bite into one and experience a hot piece of heaven.

Montrealers generally fall into two distinct camps when it comes to who exactly makes the best Montreal bagel and the leading two contenders are St. Viateur Bagel and Fairmount Bagel. This can lead to many a lively discussion but the fact remains that we love our bagels!
St. Viateur Bagel
Fairmount Bagel

smokedmeat.jpg

Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, another contribution from our Jewish immigrants, is a meat lover’s mistress. You know you shouldn’t have one but you want one – badly. The possibility of heart congestion following ingestion of this meaty miracle is no deterrent. Montreal smoked meat is not pastrami. It is unique. The meat is delectably tender and juicy and smokey-flavored. Sandwiched between two pieces of rye bread with mustard, it is the stuff that people will literally wait an hour in line for – in Montreal winter weather conditions no less. The place to get smoked meat in Montreal is Schwartz’s delicatessen on St. Laurent. And here’s a tip: order the sandwich “medium” fat, and you’ll get slices with just the right amount of fatty goodness.

Schwartz’s Deli

Poutine.JPG

Last but not least and perhaps most cherished by Montrealers as uniquely our own, is our national pride – poutine! Poutine is a heart attack in a bowl. But at least you will die happy. It is a combination of French fries and cheese curds all lovingly drenched in hot gravy. The mixture of melted cheese and soggy French fries is a treat that you will see young and old enjoying. But be warned, shoddy substitutions made with mozzarella cheese or any other kind of cheese other than the requisite beloved squeaky melting cheese curds will pale in comparison! Poutine may not be glamorous, it may not even be classy, but it is comfort food and has that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that you can’t find anywhere else but here in la belle province. One bite and you will be won over!

Check out the Compiled list from all metroblogging cities.

Dec 1. The Greatest Day of the Year

Tomorrow is December 1st, which for anyone stuck with a car in Le Plateau and any other borough with street cleaning, is the day we no longer have to move our cars from one side of the street to the other to allow the street cleaners to come by.

I own a car but I never drive it. It’s 4yrs old and has barely 40,000km on it. The vast majority of those KM’s are from driving to bike races. So, as a result, the car sits in front of my apartment and everyday after work I have to rush out and move the car before all the spots on the side of the street where parking will be allowed for the next day, are taken.

But tomorrow that all ends. Tomorrow, is a magical day. Little fairies dance in the streets and little men in green suits sing songs and us pathetic city residents with cars can live a little more stress free..

Well, that is until the first snowstorm.. then the parking hell starts all over again. According to some forecasts, the first storm of the year is tomorrow.

And another thing!

I’m none too happy about the announced increases in public transportation fares either. Seems that this current administration is sucking the joy out of living in Montreal these days. As a dedicated user of bus and metro, I don’t see where the increased fares are going as far as making my ride a more pleasant one. Most mornings on my way to work, I am smashed up and squished in between people on the bus. I am so irritated by having to hold onto a heavy bag while squeezing my hand into any crack of space available in order to hang onto a poll for my lurching ride, that when I get off the bus, I practically have steam coming out of my ears. Not a great way to start the day. I don’t want the extra money used to redesign metros with soothing colors. All I want are buses that transport a humane number of passengers, reasonable wait times, and NO transit strikes. Is that too much to ask for?

Habs week in review

Habs this week find themselves in 4th place in the East and second in their division. All in all a good week.

What has become apparant is Cristobal Huet is Montreal’s number one goalie. He leads the entire NHL with a GAA 1.94. He has yet to be picked for the All Stars match. Not only is Huet keeping the team in the game, the players in front of him play better when Huet is in net as opposed to Aebischer.

Habs head coach Carbo, also leads the league as first year coaches with the most amount of wins.

The second line of the Habs is still not producing up to par. This is the Russian line. Thankfully, the first and 3rd lines have been doing their part.

As Christmas fast approaches, the question is which name to put on your Habs jersey? At first, it was a no contest: Latendresse.. simply because he’s a home boy. But after watching Huet, night after night, I think the Frenchman will be adorning my back.

Habs play the Hurricanes Saturday in Carolina.

L’avenue du Parc pour toujours!

I was deeply disappointed to hear that city councillors did not come through in supporting Montrealers’ wishes to stop the motion of renaming avenue du Parc. Je suis profondément deçue avec la décision prise par le Comité Exécutif de Montréal. Tenez compte que je me souviendrai de ce geste au cours des prochaines éléctions municipales.

Je dois avouer que comme la plupart des citoyens, les éléctions municipales m’a jamais suscité d’intérêt, but if apathy means voting in people to power who will make changes without regard to the will of the people, this is a wake-up call. J’ai jamais eu de confiance envers le maire Tremblay mais les événements de ces dernières semaines ont vraiement fait preuve de son caractère.

Comme les milliers d’autres Montréalais, je suis une Montréalaise avec une histoire qui s’attache autour de la montagne et l’avenue du Parc. Cette décision a été comme un affront personnel. My hope now is that the Commission de Toponymie will study the motion and determine that Parc Avenue should be recognized as a historical street and not to be renamed at the whimsy of any mayor and his political puppetheads.

Montreal’s Fourth Gift To The World

Montreal is known for its rich, cultural life and not surprisingly it has nurtured a galaxy of Famous Montrealers. Just think of some of the names that are known world-wide: Louise Arbour, Conrad Black, Leonard Cohen, Ernest Cormier, Patsy Gallant, Irving Layton, Oscar Peterson, Mordecai Richler, Lili St. Cyr, Pierre Trudeau, Jacques Villeneuve. If one of them rings only a vague bell, then Wikipedia can certainly remind you who they are. These are just some of the great Montrealers who are having or have had their impact on the world

There are two Montrealer names you won’t have a problem with. Who hasn’t heard of Céline Dion? Her many admirers are delighted that she has now become a fixture in the heady world of Las Vegas. Those less overwhelmed by her talents are hoping that the old saying is true: “Whatever happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.”

The other world-famous Montrealer is possibly known in an even bigger universe. He has spent a good deal of his time as Captain Kirk in Star Trek. Who doesn’t know the name of William Shatner? Perhaps his singing is less appealing than Céline’s but he makes up for that in so many other ways.

Check out the full list of all the gifts from around the world. It’s very impressive.

Montreal’s Third Gift to the World

If you’re in Montreal in the summer, you need never find yourself bored and wondering what to do to pass the hours. Summer in Montreal is one amazing festival after another. One of the best-known festivals is the International Jazz Fest. Contrary to its name, you don’t need to be a jazz fan to enjoy attending; there is a wide variety of music, some falling under paid concerts but most being free outdoor shows. It spans two weeks in the dead of summer and it’s almost a rite of passage to wander the streets around Place-des-Arts listening to music, drinking beer, and people watching. I may even admit to occasionally dancing in the streets to some of the Latin American bands.

Just as eagerly anticipated is Les Francofolies, a two week festival celbrating French song artists from around the world. It features a wonderful mix of established artists and emerging talents. Like the Jazz Fest, you’ll find some indoor shows which require an admission fee, but there are many awesome outdoor shows to help you pass your hot summer nights.

What else can you do besides listen to a few tunes, you ask? Well if you’re feeling funny, check out stand-up comedians at the Just For Laughs festival where you can roll in the aisles laughing to well-known or just starting out comics. Feel like taking in a bit of theatre? Drop in to catch a show or two at the Fringe Fest where you can support actors and playwrights alike. If you’re a fan of martial arts, campy horror, or anime, don’t miss one of my favorites, Fantasia; I practically lived there the summer they showed nearly every Jet Li movie ever made.

If that’s not enough for you, don’t forget the annual Divers/Cite gay pride celebrations, Montreal World Film Festival, International Fireworks competitions (which run every week throughout the summer), the Montreal Reggae Festival, Carifiesta Parade, and so much more. Check out the list of festivals and parades in Montreal at Wikipedia and plan your days and nights accordingly!

In the meantime, check out what other world cities are offering up as their gifts!

AIDS in Focus

Using the suggest a story link in the sidebar a reader has told us about a nice event that will be happening in Montreal soon… Thanks Myan Marcen-Gaudaur!

December 1 to 3 you can attend AIDS in Focus, which “is an intimate and moving collection of local and international documentaries on some of the most pressing issues around HIV/AIDS today.” It takes place at the ONF cinema and the complete schedule is available here.

Montreal’s Second Gift to the World

Continuing on the countdown of Montreal’s 7 gifts to the world, here’s number 2!

Download/open up this musical sample and read along!

Montreal is known for its vibrant music scene. Bands and singers from our city have made it big, and others have the potential to do so eventually! We can think of the obvious Celine Dion or Leonard Cohen, but in the more recent years there has been the emergence of a lot of musical groups! For example: The Arcade Fire (Grammy nominee), Malajube, Sam Roberts, The Dears, Pony Up!, We Are Wolves, Bell Orchestre, Simple Plan, and the list goes on and on. So that’s our gift to the world, musicians that are dedicated to their art, with new ideas and ready to take on the world!

Compiled list of other cities’ gifts for today!

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