Un petit morceau de Montréal

Disclaimer:

Dear French people,

Please forgive the very likely possibility that all my French words/expressions are wrong and/or misplaced. Je suis sorry :(

Last weekend I took a trip to Montreal. Granted it’s already been five eight days (I started this post on Friday)since said trip so some parts of this post might be made-up hazy on the details. The last time I went to Montreal, it was one of those single girl Eat, Pray, Run from hobos weekend.

This time it was more of an Eat, Eat, slow-comatose-jog away-from-hobos type of deal. I learnt a lot about my digestive capabilities, much like how Elizabeth Gilbert learnt how to make millions writing about hers.

Regardless, I tossed a dollar into one certain hobo`s venti Starbucks cup; he was a real entertainer. He was outside the Metro, theatrically jumping up, down and around a milk crate giving a gallant French sermon in a booming voice that would make The Tenors want to tranquilize him, steal his vocal cords and leave him with a ten dollar bill, bleeding from the neck in a ditch behind a Montreal poutineri.

Many people asked me whether I was visiting friends in Montreal or whether I was taking a trip with someone. Apparently,  the idea of going alone for no conceivable reason isn’t something that crosses the minds of normal people. This is why I never update my Twitter. It’s easier to just shrug a no then it is to type ‘Solo getaway to Montreal, bitches!! #foreversingle’.

Is it really so bad  that I find sitting awkward and alone in fancy restaurants infinitely more appealing than taking long knee-busting yet dreamy romantic walks through the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal? #sarcasm

Speaking of fancy restaurants, I went to many! When I say many, I mean two.

It was Friday night when I had my first food experience. I was perusing online for places to eat when I stumbled on one very close to the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at. It was a tapas place. Tapas make me nervous. Who knows how the hell to order them?

The place I wanted to go to was called Confusion Tapas du Monde. The irony of its name was not lost on me while I spent the next 45 minutes goggling what is tapas and how to order it. The best answer was: Ask your waiter.

I called the restaurant. This was the actual conversation we had:

Tapas waiter: Bonjour!

Karen: Hello sir. Do you speak English?

TW: Yes ma’am. I actually speak very good English.  (Dollop of politeness with rich warm undertones of french sarcasm)

K: Great! I was just wondering….do I need to make reservations for one?

TW: You’re coming for dinner on a Friday night by yourself?

K: Yes.

TW: We can give you a table at the bar.

K: At the bar?! Can I not have a table?

TW: But the bar is actually quite pretty.

K: I’ll think about it.

I thought about it. As much I’d like to brag that I decided to have my Montreal adventure on my own terms, did I really want to sit alone at the bar of a restaurant where I’d be too culturally handicapped to properly place an order?

Of course not! But I went anyway. I have no Eat, Pray, Love reasoning behind embarrassing myself except that I was just very hungry.

Confusion Tapas du Monde. The bar (against the wall) WAS very pretty. Yes, those are swings. Genius.

I had three dishes.

Exaggeration alert: The broccoli soup was THE BEST I ever had. It came in a mason jar. 

The coolest and most ineffective way to eat soup

I also had escargo on a slice of zucchini and some grilled calamari. I couldn’t take pictures of everything on account me looking like a complete moron. So I drew you the closest thing.

I even ate the leaves.

Average rating of Tapas Confusion: 4 out of 5 maple syrup lollipops. An extra half eaten one for the smartass waiter.

_______________________________________________________________

The next restaurant I want to talk about is Verses. This is a restaurant that I stumbled on by accident which is why I’m so pleased with myself. I originally intended to go to another restaurant that I checked out on Trip Adviser  But when I got there, it was looked like a truck pit stop with penis drawings on its Closed sign.

N’importe quoi! (my cheap googled french way of saying whatevvverrr!)

I walked around hungry looking for alternatives but everything seemed unnecessarily expensive. Finally, in the heart of Old Montreal, I found a cheaper oasis called Verses. The interiors were fancy enough. And yet their prices were deceptively cheap(er). $22.00 for a two-course meal was acceptable to me.

I ordered the cream of cauliflower soup because I`m a toothless old woman at heart.

The best part of this soup was that I didn’t need my dentures to have it.

The entrée was where I had a similar conundrum to Confusion Tapas. There were three items I could pick from: 1) Boring salmon. 2) Interesting sounding beef tartare 3) Good ol` steak.

The beef tartare looked very intriguing. Mainly because I had no idea what the hell it was and this weekend was all about treading into the unknown. I had no google on my phone, so I texted one of my friends and asked her. No response. I decided to bite the bullet and asked my french waiter whether he recommended the beef tartare or the steak.

“Madamoiselle, beef tartare is raw beef.“

Steak it was. I`m all for treading into the unknown, but you have to draw the line when the unknown involves the possibility of explosive diarrhea.

My blackberry camera makes everything on this plate look rarer than it actually is

Average rating for Verses: 4 out of 5 maple syrup lollipops. And extra one for the waiter not judging me.

For the sake of this blog post not becoming 72 pages long, I will now only post some more very bad photos I took of my food from all the other places I ate at. This neither diminishes nor takes away from the fancy feel of everything.

Like this whole wheat crepe filled with walnuts, pesto and goat cheese at La Brioche Lyonnaise- a cute little cafe on St. Denis:

I endured three stares and a dramatic eye roll for taking this picture. You’re welcome.

This tiramisu that I took to go without taking a fork.

When our minds fail us, we have hands.

And the most terrible crime of manners in the history of manners: A sneaky shot of the first course of my lovely THREE COURSE homemade breakfast that our host Nathalie made for us. This was poppy-seed bread pudding.

Each following course does get bigger in portion size

And for good measure, here’s the farmer’s market where I got the best honey and maple syrup in the world.

Beautiful fall day at the farmer’s market

I just noticed that there are grapes hanging from the ceiling.

And that was my awesome food adventure in Montreal. I hope you enjoyed these photos as much I enjoyed eating whatever is in them. I have officially decided that a spring and fall trip will be a Karen tradition from now on. Where else would I get honey for my tea?

The Montreal Chronicles: Eat, Pray, Love Run from hobos

The following photo montage is a testament to the awesome weekend I had in Montreal. Trust me, this time it might be better if you see pictures instead of reading about me ramble on about how I loooooooove Montreal. This is not to say I won’t have SOMEthing to say about it. Anyway, let’s begin with the begining.

I got to Montreal by the Greyhound. The Greyhound may not be the most humane way to travel, but it is definitely the cheapest. After an all night 8 hour bus ride, I finally got there at around 9am and checked into a little Bed and Breakfast. I had the cutest room at the BnB, HANDS DOWN. Not that I saw anyone else’s room but seriously…how cutesy is this!

You cannot tell from the picture but this room is actually on a pretty crazy slant. Tres charming!

There was no better feeling in the world than passing out on that bed after a long night of the inhumane Greyhound night bus. And what’s more, my awesome host Natalie treated me to a three-course breakfast. I didn’t know three-course breakfasts even existed.

Anyway, on with the adventure:

EAT:

Lots of unhealthy eating was definitely done.

At Nickel's which is a restaurant chain owned by Celine Dion. Not even the song "My heart will go on" in the background was going to deter me from devoring the deliciousness on this plate.

 

Montreal's finest poutine. Just a quick explaination of what that styrofoam container contains for non-Canadian readers: that delicious heart-attack over there is french fries and oodles of gravy topped with cheese curds.

 

I haven't been to all the places in the world but Montreal quite possibly has the best almond croissants in the world.

PRAY:

Solo getaways are also great for getting in touch with your spiritual side. There’s nothing like not having your friends to stay out with till 4am and dissolve your troubles in tequilla shots.

The majestically towering Notre Dame Basillica

Notre Dame Basilica. One of the most gorgeous, peaceful and soul-stirring churches I've ever been in.

St. Joseph's Oratory. The Oratory is sitting on a hill behind the statue of St. Joseph in the Montreal fog.

RUN AWAY FROM HOBOS:

If you ever go to Montreal, you may or may not notice the population divided into three categories.

1) Normal people: These are people dressed like you and me. Regular Joe’s and Josephina’s going about their daily business of being French. If you are not a normal person and live in Montreal, then chances are you belong in one of the following two categories.

2) Hipsters

3) Hobos

One of the first things that happened to me when I got there was a fellow that looked like he had been living on locusts and brambles his whole life  came chasing after me screaming “Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle!..” followed by a string a French words. He could have been asking for sex or he could have been asking me for a chapstick. Who the hell knows. He even started talking to me in English to get me to talk to him. It was clearly amusing to everyone, including my iPod which actually quite appropriately started playing the song “Howling for you” by The Black Keys.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that since the culture of Montreal seemed to be predominantly hipsters and hobos, it might be appropriate to let you in on some tricks on how to be able to tell the difference.

The main reason why you would even confuse Montreal hipsters and hobos with each other is because: 

1) They both usually have beards.

2) They both wear mismatched clothes and don’t care.

3) They’re both bilingual.

However, here are the subtle differences:

1) Hobos will talk to ANYONE including you, animals, buildings, inanimate objects and themselves. Hipsters only talk to the latest version of the iPhone.

2) It is very easy to get a hobo’s attention. Just the mere fact that you exist in Montreal means a hobo or two will find you and chase you. You wouldn’t get a hipster’s attention even if you were dressed like Lady Gaga riding a giraffe holding a giant rubber chicken.

3) Hobos smell like urine and cigarettes. Hipsters smell like Starbucks and indifference.

And if you are still unsure, I drew you a picture that you can print out and take with you if you ever go to Montreal:

Now you know the difference. You're welcome.

All jokes aside, Montreal is absolutely gorgeous. Even after being chased by hobos. Here are some of my favorite photos:

Old Montreal.

Rue St. Catherine. The shopping street where I spent the rest of my time when I wasn't eating, in a church or being chased down the street.

More of cutsey Old Montreal

Surprisingly there were no couples trying to take cheesy photos near the LOVE structure. Guess I was the only cheesy one there.

Horse-drawn carriage ride along the cobblestoned streets of Old Montreal. Pretty freaking romantic if you're unfazed by the constant overpowering smell of horse poop

                                                                                                                           FIN

And that’s my little Montreal photo album for you. The weekend was way too short for everything I wanted to see and do but the whole experience still has me on a high. I’m already planning my next getaway and what I’m going to cover. I have a feeling there will be plenty of more Montreal Chronicles in the future. Until next time, have a happy Monday (about as happy as Monday could be).