Sunday, May 29, 2016

Montreal in May Day 3

With my tummy fully recovered, I set out day 3 with the goal of walking and eating my way around Montreal. The underground metro was an efficient way of getting across town, but I felt that I was missing out on seeing the city. That's ok, because little did I know just how much walking I was going to do above ground.

Rue Peel Station

My first destination was Little Italy northeast of downtown. In my trip research, I came upon chef Chuck Hughes' recommendations on eateries around town. Following his suggestion, I stopped at Caffe San Simeon for a cappuccino. If I was impressed with the city's French and English fluency, I was even more impressed this day as I experienced different neighborhoods besides Chinatown where other native languages are spoken! People in café were throwing around Italian, French, and English like it's easy. Multilingualism is such a beautiful thing!

Cappucino at Caffe San Simeon

I can't resist exploring grocery stores in different cities or countries and was happy to find a well-stocked locally made and imported Italian food store.

Milano Grocery Store

Freshly made pasta at Milano

I spotted a juggler performing in the middle of the street as I was leaving Little Italy to find a lunch spot in the Jewish quarter.

The walk took longer than expected and forced me to go through this sparsely populated underpass area. Luckily a pair of cyclists rode by, and I sped up to get out of the area with them.

After emerging from that spotty area, I arrived at the Jewish quarter where there are cute shops, residential buildings, and enticing restaurants.

Flower shop

Montreal architectural trademark - stairway entrances

Montreal is all about smoked meats, which wasn't what I expected. I always thought it was a more NYC item, but Montreal takes smoked meat sandwiches very seriously. Apparently, the Montreal smoked meat has less sugar and is seasoned with the classic Montreal steak seasonings.

It seems that locals like it even more than the stereotypical Montreal food symbol, the poutine. There are several great spots for smoked meat sandwiches, and I picked the one that is a local favorite that doesn't have a line out the door, Lester's.

Lester's Deli

Right off the bat, one reason why Lester's doesn't have a line may be because it's so far from any metro stations! After my long trek on foot from Little Italy, I was really dreading my impending walk to the closest station. I told myself that since there's nothing I can do about it, I might as well enjoy my lunch!

Root beer and a classic Lester's smoked meat sandwich with pickles and fries hit the spot. The meat was tender yet lean. The bread was like an edible napkin. Who needs bread when you have delicious meat?

I love the vinegar spray bottle for salt and vinegar fries!

Before leaving the Jewish quarter, I bought half a dozen bagels from St. Viateur for breakfast for the rest of the week. Why eat hotel breakfast bar bagels when we can eat locally made fresh ones?

St. Viateur Bagels

After taking a deep breath of freshly baked bagel aroma, I trekked back towards the underpass, but this time, I took the stairs to get up to the highway and took in the view from above.

Walking on the highway

After Mike got out of the conference, I suggested taking his coworkers to experience classic French food at Restaurant l'Express before they return to Seattle the next day. The ambiance was spot on and the food was impeccable. Restaurant l'Express was the highlight of our trip because it introduced Mike to French cuisine and bone marrow, and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience! We also had a great time unwinding with his coworkers!

Restaurant l'Express

We all got really excited about the giant jar of house made cornichons that came with bread basket.

Just weeks ago, we watched an episode of Julia Child cooking fish soup (la soupe de poissions) with Jacques Pepin. I love starting meals with a warm bowl of soup, and chose this comforting dish as my first course.

La soupe de poisons

Mike wanted to try something new and bravely ordered the bone marrow (l'os a moelle) with sea salt. He enjoyed spreading the roasted marrow on the croutons and actually liked it more than my soup!

L'os a moelle

For our main course, I ordered roasted quail with wild rice (les cailles roties et le riz sauvage) and Mike ordered the beef, chicken, and vegetable stew (pot au feu). The quail was the best dish I tasted on our whole trip. It had a sweet-sour balsamic glaze that awakened my palate and the quail was actually quite meaty for its size. It was exquisite! Mike's pot au feu may look simple and bland, but the meats were tender and flavorful.

Les cailles roties et le riz sauvage

Pot au feu

This day more than made up for my first day of being tied to the hotel and eating bland food!

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