Archive for March, 2009

Return

Hello everyone.  After a two year hiatus I’ve decided to return as a writer for the Montreal Metblog.  One of the reasons for leaving was the demands of a young family.  But the now older family is the same reason that I have decided to come back.  Seeing as how fellow Metblog authors, Zura & S, offer interesting tidbits of life in the city for everyone, I thought I would be able to offer interesting tidbits for parents.  Over the past year we’ve been exploring many of the cultural establishments of the city in order to expand the minds of our kids.  So after almost six years of living here, we are still discovering new and interesting places that I figure would be of interest to other parents and likely everyone. Montreal is a amazing city which continues to offer fascinating places to see and things to do.

It’s good to be back and I hope that what I have to offer will be of interest to you.

Little City Gems: 4

Suite à my last post, not to worry, the beauty of our good little city is when one thing closes, usually something else interesting will eventually spring up in its place. I came across a place over a year ago called Volver: Café Culturel. Situated in a demi sous-sol on the west side of Parc between St. Viateur and Bernard streets, this rather expansive cafe of Argentinian bent is not only home to local musical events, book launches, cultural and linguistic workshops and art vernissages, they also have a great little menu at surprisingly affordable prices. Served by one of the friendly owners I had a plate of fresh and substantial empanadas (definitely under $10 and they were good portions) and a glass of decent Argentianian red ($6-$7 for a vintage that’s usually $10 elsewhere). I had likely just seen Almodovar’s “Volver” and was thusly attracted to the passionately red sign of the cafe and anything remotely spanish-ish. Well it worked. :)

Volver Café Culturel
5604 avenue du Parc
Tel: 514.272.4419

Little City Gems 3: Ode to Bygones

A few of my favourite little shops in town (all on St. Denis street, actually) have sadly closed their doors in recent years and months and this is my ode to them.

A Japanese-style tea-house that closed a couple of years ago was O-Chai which had one location on St. Denis just above Mont-Royal and later on just below Laurier. They had a cute and cozy décor and served wonderful teas (including my favourite green matcha latté) and delicious little snacks that came in the form of samosas, sushi, noodles, scones and personal dimsum in bamboo containers, all for bargain prices. It was a perfect place to relax on a quiet Sunday afternoon, and read a good book. (Their sub-Laurier location has since been taken over by Les 3 Petits Bouchons, which is a thankfully yummy resto I would definitely recommend.)

It’s been at least a year, but I’m still getting over the closing of the Japanesey home decor, gift, paper and tea shop Carton which came to an end when the owners decided not to renew their lease and that twenty-five years was a good enough run. They were done and it was time to move onto the next part of their life adventures, whatever they were.

Madras, on the west side of St. Denis street near Duluth sold great items of clothing, run by a French man who always sported a casual and unimpressed ennui. It used to be a mix of frippe and local and NYC designer clothing shop, and gradually the fripperie section became smaller and the local designer section grew larger. They had sales often enough and I always found such neat little pieces most every time I went, all of which I still wear.

Feu Vert, to my dismay, also on St. Denis but on the east side just above Marie-Anne greeted me recently with papered up windows when I was hunting for a new year’s eve dress this past season. Deceptively kitschy looking, this tiny shop packed full of sequined, scarfy, beaded things, and dresses, tops and bottoms and accessories of all colours and textures was run by an even tinier tough-as-nails Argentinian woman. She would look down at you (somehow, from her height of under 5′) over her glasses on a chain and let her irritation flare when you chose the “wrong” style of clothing for yourself. She would never let you try on anything that was not exactly right for you and had no qualms about making realistic comments about your weight or shape. Thick skins were necessary in her shop, but boy did you ever walk out with a fantastic properly accessorized outfit at a well-bargained price.

I will miss them all dearly.

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