It has now been six months since we packed up our lives in Toronto and moved to Montreal.
Now, for all of you who aren’t so familiar with the distances, it’s about 540km,
The trip takes about 6 hours by car, if you make a couple of pit stops and the traffic is light. Might not sound too bad, but if you do this trip with a dog and cat, well … it feels like quite a bit longer!
When people think of Montreal, they think winter. Winter is absolutely a huge part of the identity of the city. We moved in mid-July, on the hottest day of the year, with temperature getting up to near 40C. My first impressions of Montreal were not of a cold, snowy place!
Just watching the movers carry furniture up those stairs in that heat … they were gonna get a good tip!
Here’s a quick little tip for surviving the heat in Montreal if you don’t have air conditioning … on every corner there is a dépanneur (corner store). Just about every one of them has a walk in beer fridge. When you get too hot, go shopping for beer. Walk around until you are cooled off. You don’t need to buy beer every time … you may want to, but if you’re going there once an hour to cool off, probably isn’t the best idea!
Just for fun, let’s look at this same street, same view on Dec 29th …
People in Montreal can talk about the weather forever, so let’s just come to the mutual understanding that the weather here can be extreme and move on to my favourite topic here, the FOOD!
Okay, it’s breakfast time, which here in Montreal can mean only on thing …
a Montreal bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon. (If you live in the west part of the island, you oddly pronounce the ‘l’ in salmon … just a thing I noticed.)
Want a big debate here? Ask someone where to get the best bagels! Myself, I go weekly to pick up piping hot bagels from Fairmount Bagel. How much do I like them compared to anyone else?
I trek out in -25C weather to get my bagels!
The other bakery you’ll hear mentioned all the time is St. Viateur Bagel, just down the street from Fairmount. Both bagels are pretty fantastic, but I have my favourite. Also, if you go to Fairmount, you can drop in to the famous Wilensky’s next door for a special.
It’s a grilled beef baloney sandwich. It can be ordered with cheese or without … that’s really the only choice you get. Get a side of pickles and a cherry coke (or my favourite, a vanilla egg creme). This is a Montreal classic!
Wait a minute … what about poutine? I hope that by now, you all know me better than to think I was going to miss poutine!
Here in Montreal, I’d classify poutine into two categories:
Classic Poutine – This is your basic fries, cheese curds and gravy. It’s best if bought at a greasy spoon (or as one native of Montreal put it, a dirty place), or off a food truck! This wonderful mess you see above is from my favourite classic poutine joint Poutine Lafleur right near us in Verdun. It’s done right, where the container is half filled with fries, then covered in gravy, then more fries, then more gravy … then cheese curds completely smother the top … and then MORE GRAVY!
Have it with a beer … it’s not like this is gonna be healthy anyway!
Fancy Poutine – This is the poutine you get where you have many, many choices of toppings. Above some classics from our favourite fancy poutine place, La Banquise! Chicken and peas, or sour cream, guacamole and tomatoes, or bacon and hot dogs … yea, the combinations are fantastic. Claire still talks about the time she got their special Christmas dinner poutine, with tourtière filling, chicken and cranberry sauce on top!
Poutine is also the go to food if you’re heading home from the bar and possibly had a few too many … point of note, if you can’t finish your poutine, you can take it home and heat it up tomorrow
Montreal post party night hangover magic … add a fried egg to your poutine you couldn’t eat last night! Hey, I’m not a proud man …
For some more quintessential Montreal, we have to go to a Habs game!
For any of you who aren’t familiar the Habs is the nickname of Montreal’s legendary NHL team, the Montreal Canadiens
A little background here. The Canadiens have the most wins, most Stanley Cup championships and are the oldest team in the NHL (dating back to 1909, well before the NHL existed). The love for them here in Montreal is unchallenged.
Okay, now you’re starting to fit in (other than your terrible French … or maybe that is actually making you fit in even more!)
Montreal is very much about enjoying the winter.
At Parc Jean Drapeau , you can attend the Fête des neiges, a winter carnival that happens for four weekends starting in mid-January
A ferris wheel? A zip line? Tube slide? Wait, is that maple taffy?!
This wonderful magic is maple taffy, created by pouring hot maple syrup into the snow and letting it cool for about 30 seconds, then you take a stick and roll up the maple taffy!
You know I’m gonna do this …
Pretty sure I could feel exactly where my pancreas was located in my body after eating one maple taffy stick … but worth it!
Now, I’ve just touched the surface of life here in Montreal
The photos above are just a preview of things to come, stories to tell
Hope you’ll join us on our journey!