On a recent visit to Montreal, I had the very good fortune of being hosted by the Marriott Chateau Champlain and Tourisme Montreal. I was in perfect company to compile this top 10 list.
1. Poutine, any kind of poutine but if you can get your hands on duck poutine as pictured here, even better!
Upon arrival, I was invited to a welcome to the Mariott cocktail reception. We were high up in the Presidential Suite with a gorgeous view of the cityscape with Mount-Royal on the horizon. What a wonderful way to start the weekend.
That evening we headed out to the Montreal International Jazz Festival and took in a Jesse Cook concert. He and his musicians were amazing, the audience was lively and the entire evening so much fun.
The next morning I indulged in the sumptuous offerings of the Marriott Chateau Champlain’s breakfast buffet in the Restaurant Samuel de Champlain. The made to order omelet was so terrific that the next morning I had another!
2. Thirst quenching kombucha at raw food sensation Crudessence.
We were off on a scooter tour of the Montreal neighbourhoods of Plateau Mount-Royal, Mile End and Little Italy. After winding our way through the beautiful trails on Mount-Royal we had worked up a thirst. Kombucha made from fermented green tea, rose and schizandra berries was just the ticket.
3. Foraged wild mustard greens at Fou du Chef in Marche Jean Talon
We only had time for a quick stop at one of the largest fresh markets in North America: Marche Jean Talon. I could have stayed for hours meeting the multigenerational stall keepers and perusing their succulent offerings.
4. Sesame bagel from the Fairmount Bakery in Little Italy.
With another stop at this 65 year old bagel stop I learned that a Montreal bagel is distinguished by three characteristics: they are hand-rolled, they are put into a bath of honeyed water and then baked in a wood-fired oven. This resulted in a texture that was crispy and chewy. Sesame seeds have adorned the bagel since a regular customer complained that the original poppy seeds got stuck in his teeth.
5. Chocolate dipped strawberries at the Marriott Chateau Champlain.
After the scooter tour we had the opportunity to stretch out back in our beautifully appointed rooms at the Marriott Chateau Champlain. I had just closed my eyes when there was a knock on the door. When I opened it I grumpily told room service that they must have the wrong room because I hadn’t ordered anything. He politely responded “No Madame, these are courtesy of the hotel”!
6. Pasteis de nata at Cantinho de Lisboa
The next morning we were off on a walking/tasting tour of Old Montreal stopping first at this gorgeous Portuguese “Canteen” where we tasted a version of cappuccino using Brazilian coffee beans and these traditional tarts that tasted to me like a luxurious crème brulee.
7. Macaroons (or any of the exquisite pastries) from Maison Christian Faure.
The highest compliment that I can pay to Chef Faure, who was visiting with friends at a nearby table in the Maison was that his macaroons surpassed my memories of those eaten at the legendary Laduree on the Champs-Elysees in Paris!
8. Award winning Quebec artisan cheese at Bourlingueur Bistro.
I am well aware that Quebec cheese makers are amongst the greatest in North America and certainly the best in Canada. I understand that it is because their ancestors brought their cheese-making skills with them from Europe. The Bourlingueur presented them perfectly with a simple torn baguette so as not to camouflage any of the taste.
9. Maple syrup from Haut Bois Normand.
This is the maple syrup brand that friends from Quebec bring me as gifts. I love the vintage look of the cans. The purity and clarity of their product is unsurpassed, in my humble opinion. We visited with one of the handsome family members at his shop in Marche Bonsecours.
10. Montreal Imperial Cookies!
Our family loves the Imperial cookies (we also call them dream cookies) that are made by Manitoba bakeries, but (dare I say it?), I liked these even better. They follow the protocol of raspberry jam between two sugar cookies but they are dusted with icing sugar instead of being covered with a white glaze and the former is my preference. I saw them often from downtown coffee shops to the airport. Of course the heart shaped cut out, captured mine. This sighting at the airport made me feel loved by Montreal. I love you too and cannot wait to return in a couple of months.
Kath’s quote: “Montreal, however diminished, is still to my mind the most agreeable city in Canada. And this is because the two cultures not only confront but also continue to enrich each other. Looking beyond to-day’s quarrels, it remains a life-enhancing mix”.-Mordecai Richler
Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.
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