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?

Friday Chronicles: It’s totes the weekend!

In the eloquent words of Rebecca Black…it’s FRIDAY!  Good job all you hard-working angel-faces and welcome to this week’s edition of The Friday Chronicles. I’ll be honest, it’s kind of been a slow week in the news. Partly because I’ve been walking around in a zombie-like state after my Montreal weekend of sleep-deprived goodtimes. And partly because the news hasn’t been that LOLZ worthy.

Nonetheless, I’ve been working hard on bringing you some Friday randomness to finish off your work week.  So kick off your shoes, pop a Valium and get ready for this week’s roundup of the world’s ridiculousness and mediocrity.

Let me  begin with a news item that highlights the failure of not finding an actual news item:

1) Karen learns about One Direction and some new slang  from her patients:

Shakespeare rolled in his grave on Wednesday when my 42-year-old patient informed me that her 16-year-old daughter “totes loves One Direction.” I puzzled over the numerous questions that came to mind when I heard that sentence. Like for example, does her daughter have a penchant for tote bags? Does she only like to drive on uni-directional streets? Would I go in the Guinness Book of Records as the first 25-year-old to display symptoms of dementia? After finding out that One Direction was an MTV spawn of pubescent fetuses making 16-year-old girls feel indie about not having Beiber fever, I realised that maybe I was going totes going cray-cray after all. Translation: I’m getting old.

Hey girl, why choose one Beiber when you can have five?

Speaking of fetuses…

2) Jennifer Lopez is reportedly dating one:

Jenny from the block in a recent interview with Vogue, told the world that her 24-year-old boyfriend Casper Smart is “a good egg” . Just how much of a bad egg was Marc Anthony? Bebe Smart, who shares his first name with everybody’s favorite ghost, indeed does share some of the same personality traits with the friendly spirit. They are both look friendly, and according to Cray-Cray Lopez, Bebe Smart is “sweet and loving” too which really just means that he’s good in bed.  Most of all, they actually look like alike. Hmm..

Casper the friendly fetus

Casper the friendly ghost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on…

 3) Gordon Ramsey sues a Montreal eatery for 3 million buckeroos:

I’ll be honest. The only reason this story made it to the Chronicles is because it involves food, drama and Montreal. Ramsey basically lost his shit when Montreal restaurant Laurier BBQ cut him out as a business partner and defamed his name. The chef, who’s famous for defaming other people, denies that he even agreed to operate the restaurant or act as a consultant. Now he’s suing  for 2 million in potential revenue loses from a restaurant he claims he never agreed to operate, $500,000.00 for defamation and the rest of it for expenses that go with being the giant divo that he is. Just goes to show, never mess with the Ramsey for revenge is a dish served with a *beeep*ing 3-million dollar lawsuit.

4) Teens worldwide take to “The Cinnamon Challenge”:

No, this is not a cute little Starbucks promotion for some new line of cinnamon infused baked goods. Perhaps something like “I challenge you to try out our new questionable vegan cinnamon onion cupcake absolutely free.” Alas! No vegan cinnamon onion cupcakes for anyone…which I guess is just as well. Instead, it is a disturbing phenomenon wherein in a display of colossal stupidity, teenagers have been swallowing a teaspoon of cinnamon. The adrenaline junkies from this bunch of pubescent Einsteins have also attempted to inhale it. Which begs the question…whatever happened to glue? Or crushed Tylenol? Or cough medicine? Or cocaine? I miss the good old days when you didn`t have to go snooping around your mother`s spice rack everytime you got bored.

More about the cinnamon challenge here.

5) New Jersey runs out of toilet paper: (Clearly by now you can see that this has indeed been a slow week for The Friday Chronicles)

Trenton residents seem to be quite literally shit out of luck. This past week apparently saw some budget cuts in New Jersey’s capital city which was serious enough to wipe out toilet paper supplies from police stations, fire stations and some municipal offices. If you read last week’s edition of the Friday Chronicles, you might recall that I ran the story of Anita Narre who suffered the shitty problem of not having a toilet. In dire situations like this, Trentoners must turn to the philosophy of WWAND -What would Anita Narre Do? Or as my best friend and New Jersey resident Bernice would say “Make friends with a Kleenex box”.

Full Story here.

6) St. Patrick’s day celebrations turns awry in London, ON:

Riots broke out in London, Ontario when some drunken fools took to the streets and started…well rioting I guess. I decided to go with this story with excited intentions of making lame jokes about the irony of how St. Patrick stood for everything opposite of rioting and breaking glass windows for no apparent reason. But then I stopped and thought, wait…what the heck did St. Patrick exactly do? Upon extensive investigation on Google, I found nothing. He did help shoo away some snakes, although that was later dismissed as a rumor spread by rambunctious leprechauns. My patients, who are mostly old Catholic Italian nonnas were interrogated in this matter as well and the verdict of the masses was unanimous. Poor St. Paddy was now essentially being seen as the patron saint for parades and beer. Sometimes Ireland and alcohol-poisoning. But mostly just parades.

Full story on the riots here.

And that my lovely friends, is my weekly round-up for you. I hope you all have a restful weekend. You totes deserve it! Until next time, be good and hide yo’ cinammon.  

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).

Friday Chronicles: My French is better than your French

You asked for it and here it is! The second installment of the Friday Chronicles back by popular demand.

If you’re reading this right now, then you’re probably one of the emotionally strong few who made it through the work week barely breathing but relatively unscathed. As your reward for achieving this feat, I have spent my time searching far and wide for some end-of-the-week LOLZ for you.

So chill out on the couch, you tired warrior. Grab a cannoli, a glass (or tank) of your favorite crunk juice and give yourself a good thump on the back for making it through yet another soul-killing work week.

Let’s begin this newscast with some local happenings:

1) Toronto blogger receives the greatest WordPress accolade:

That’s right, doll faces! It’s been an exciting week for yours truly. After years of crying myself to sleep, my post “Ten Things I learnt from being a WordPress Blogger” FINALLY got Freshly Pressed on Tuesday March 13th, 2012.

Special thanks to Jill and Lill at http://www.lillandjill.wordpress.com for this awesome photo which I butchered with my excitement

Contrary to what many think, this is actually not the first time I got Freshly Pressed. My post “Karen’s Guide to Maximising Gym Workouts” was what started it all, but that was so many forevers ago that it doesn’t seem like it even happened. At the risk of sounding like a Hollywood cliché, I’m going to say that I dedicate this to all of my readers. Because let’s face it, without you guys egging me on, I would have stopped blogging long ago.

Also, you may or may not have noticed that I changed my blog name from ‘The Skinny Jeans and Starbucks Chronicles” to “The Chronicles of a Skinny Jeans Wearing Toronto girl”. I figure it was time to retire the free Starbucks endorsements. The blog website remains the same though, so this should cause no confusion with post updates if you are subscribed.

Anyway, let’s move on to some “real” news.

2) Ottawa resident deems unavailability of decent parking a human rights violation:

Patricia Howson became the patron saint of Mazda 5s when she recently lamented over the lack of parking space for her automobile. Some tears were allegedly shed before placing her tribulations over the other piles of better known human rights cases like public executions in certain Middle Eastern countries, the rape and sodomization of 8-year olds in certain African countries and obnoxiously long grocery lines in certain first world countries. Since it doesn’t look like any shit was given by The National Post, who ran this story, I wouldn’t put it past this car-wreck to call Jason Russell(the Kony 2012 fire-starter) to make her a 30 minute video.

Full story here.

Speaking of not giving a shit…

3) Indian woman leaves her marriage home in protest of not having a toilet:

Anita Narre and Patricia Howson (the Mazda 5 crazy) should clearly be on TLC’s Life Swap…if there is such a freak reality show. Mrs. Narre’s wedded bliss went down the toilet when she found that part of her wedding present was a bush in the backyard with her name on it. In an act of supreme ballsiness for a newly married Indian woman from a remote village, Narre left her marriage home and her idiotic husband and vowed not to return until she had a decent place to dump her crap. Mrs. Narre was later rewarded with an in-home toilet and Rs.$10,000 ($200.00 US) for her bravery.

Anita Narre knows a thing or two about dealing with shit with class and courage.

Full story here.

Speaking of idiotic husbands… 

4) Bachelor Ben Flajnik picks his bride after weeks of brain cell-murdering drama:

Ben: I love you hair. Courtney: No Ben, I love YOUR hair. (www.people.com)

Millions of viewers across North America watched in horror as ABC’s Bachelor Ben Flajnik went down on one knee and proposed to batshit crazy model Courtney Roberston. Ben Flajnik, whose last name sounds like something that comes out of your nose when you have a bad infection, is a wine-maker from Sonoma, California. Flajnik was under fire throughout the season for his bad haircut and bad choices when he constantly favored Robertson who has been touted as “America’s Most Hated Woman” in the history of women, America and hatred. For those of you that actually watched this train-wreck season, am I the only one who thinks Ben is a genius? The guy garnered MAJOR publicity for his wine company AND landed a hot model in the bargain. If you were tuning in for the last several weeks to see Ben find true love then you might have saved yourself a lot of time and grief by just watching a heart-warming Disney movie instead.

Speaking of heart-warming…

5) Breakthrough Cancer pill offers hope to skin cancer sufferers:

All that running, baking, striping and other questionable forms of fund-raising for cancer have finally payed off. Researchers in England have come up with a skin cancer pill that “doubles the length of time that patients with skin cancer can survive”. This is some very welcome news seeing that as many as 11,000 people are diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in England each year. This is NOT to say however, that all you cancerless beach bum orangey oompa loompas should be throwing away your fake tan spray bottles (I’m lookin at you Jersey Shore) and running for the tanning beds. Cancer is a heartless bitch. And your only weapons are a prayer and sunscreen.  

Full Story on the cancer pill here.

And finally, speaking of heartless bitches…

6) Halle Berry confirms reports that she is indeed engaged to Olivier Martinez:

Halle Berry, who has been painted in the past to be almost as crazy as Courtney Robertson, sat on Oprah’s famous couch years ago and vowed to America that she would never marry. Until sexy Frenchman Olivier Martinez came along. The Berry however, is not new to the charms of French men as she was famously linked with Montreal-born drop dead beautiful Gabriel Aubrey, and even created an unusually divine looking spawn with him. But let’s face it. The real focus here is not Halle’s impending nuptials, rather the age-old debate that has plagued the universe for decades:

Which French is better?

Warning: Staring for too long at this photo could cause you to have murderous thoughts about Halle Berry. (www.celebuzz.com)

 

Warning: Staring for too long at this picture could lead to spontaneous ovulation. (www.picasaweb.google.com)

                           

Canada`s young, irresistible Québécois French vs. France`s old school sexy nicotine-beaten French.

I leave you the pleasure and torture of deciding this one

Actually, by the time you read this I will be on my way to Montreal, Quebec for a little solo getaway weekend. While there, I fully intend on testing out some of that irresistible Québécois French candy. I can say with about 60% surety that you can expect a post on my travels and encounters with sexy French bakers trying to sell me their baguette. I say 60% just to account for my pathological laziness.

Thank you all for reading this week’s edition of the Friday Chronicles. Stay tuned next Friday for another weekly roundup. Until then, have a wonderful weekend  and remember…when shit happens, be grateful you have a toilet.