Monday, May 23, 2016

Montreal in May Day 2

After spending a day recovering, I was ready to treat myself to a leisurely lunch and prep for Mike's birthday. We started off the morning walking to Mike's conference site. He ended up walking through Dorchester Square Park every day for work.

Birthday Boy at Dorchester Square

After dropping Mike off at the conference, I walked to the metro, purchased a week-long pass, and got out at the Place d'Armes metro stop to explore Old Montreal and go to a fancy pastry shop. It's interesting exiting out of Place d'Armes because Chinatown was to the left and Old Montreal was to the right, and the architecture provided obvious visual cues.

Chinese-themed Holiday Inn to the left of Place d'Armes metro stop

Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal to the right

I really wanted to check out the interior of Notre Dame, but I figured that Mike would want to explore it together later in the week.

Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal

I continued on to the streets behind the cathedral and found a few cute shops at the ground floor of the character-filled 1800s stone buildings, but there were still many touristy souvenir stores that I avoided.

After a lot of walking, I finally reached Maison Christian Faure, a highly regarded patisserie and pastry school. I previously read about how they make some of the best croissants in Montreal and saw photos of their beautiful desserts, and I knew that I had to get Mike's birthday cake(s) here.

Macarons and cakes at Maison Christian Faure

But first, I needed to catch up on good food and taste test the goods before buying the birthday treats!

Je fais du snacking toute seule

I started off my lunch with a deliciously velvety carrot bisque followed by a lobster and crab pâte à choux. Rather than a roll or a bun, the pastry shell made the "sandwich" light, airy, and crunchy.

Velouté de carottes

Pâte à choux de homard et crabe royal

In keeping with the pâte à choux theme, I selected a yuzu cream-filled éclair for dessert. Yup, the desserts here should be good enough for Mike!

Yuzu cream éclair

After lunch, I decided that I needed to burn off the calories and keep the birthday treats cold so I walked all the way back to the hotel. It was tiring, but I got to enjoy a few cool sightings, a couple of which brought back memories of my art history education.

 Professional dog walker

 Parisian Art Nouveau metro entrance

Ju Ming's tai chi-inspired sculpture

Once Mike got off of work, we headed to Chinatown for one of his favorite Chinese dishes, dumplings! I know. Why the heck did I pick Chinese food when I could've picked French food? Well, I figured we had the whole week to try French food and that we should probably stick to what he enjoys on his birthday! Plus, Chinatown is familiar yet slightly different around the world! It's fun to do a comparison of how Chinese food and culture have adapted to different countries.

Mai Xiang Dumplings

In Montreal, the Chinese menus are in Chinese, French, and English. The only other time I experienced a French-Chinese menu was in Paris, but those menus were missing English.

Pork, shrimp, and mushroom dumplings, lamb and chives dumplings,
and curry beef pan fried dumplings

After dinner we walked around Chinatown and found some interesting juxtaposition of old Breton-style buildings and Franco-Chinese signs.

We ended the day by trying two of the four desserts that I brought back from Masion Christian Faure. Mike enjoyed the lime mousse tart filled with raspberry but was very suspicious about the pink rose-flavored tart. Yes, I got that for myself, and I'm not ashamed of it! We saved the chocolate pecan mini-cake and mango passion fruit tart for a later day and savored every morsel of the well-crafted treats!

 Joyeux anniversaire, Mike!

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