Montréal is a city located in the Canadian province of Québec. The majority of the population is francophone but there is also an Anglophone minority, along with a large number of other minorities of course. An interesting occurrence is that all the information given to the public such as menus and information about contents has to be in both English and French, and if I am not mistaken the French information is to be in a bigger font size than the English one. Something else that takes some time for a Swede to get used to is the fact that the tax is not included in the prices displayed. Frustrating to say the least as you can never be completely sure about what you will have to pay for your purchases.
I had the pleasure of spending ten days in Montréal in august 2008 and the city really grew on me! I might as well start my report on Montréal by confessing to be hungry while writing it as this will shine through in my report, it is not a coincidence that my most memorable things all turned out to be food or drink related.
Sweets are a reoccurring theme in my posts and this one will be no exception to that. Montréal used to be a French colony and guess what – that means you can easily find crêpes, which is always a good thing. However, no matter how much I love my nutella crêpes I did at least once manage to put that fascination a side and instead order a Canadian specialty called Queues de Castor (eng: beaver tail). This little creation can also be ordered with nutella so, to be honest, it wasn’t really that much of a sacrifice for me.
Speaking of Canadian specialties there is something else that one has to try while in Montréal: poutine. For an outsider it might not seem like anything special, it’s “just” French fries with cheese, but for Canadians poutine is close to a religious experience. Right now I can’t remember the name of the place where I had my first poutine experience but I will ask my friend about it and update this post with the information, I mean, if you’re going to have poutine you might as well get to try the best poutine that Montréal has to offer.
I have now reached the point in this gastronomic review where my mouth really waters by the memories from my visit to Juliette et Chocolate on St Denis. Imagine a menu full of chocolate related items, can it get any better?! I had a super yummie chocolate fondue with apples, pears, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, grapes and kiwi fruit. It was to die for! Had it not been for the fact that my first visit to Juliette et chocolate was at the end of my stay I would have made sure to squeeze in a second visit before returning to Sweden!
I was lucky enough to visit Montréal during two special events; one being an 18th century market at Pointe-à-Callière and the other being the Montréal World Film Festival. The first one brought me back in time to a Montréal 300 years earlier. The market stalls were timely, the sales men at the market were all dressed timely, the products sold were home made and decorated as if though they were actually sold in the 18th century and last but not least the streets were decorated with straws. During the market I got to taste home made truffles, jam, honey beer, honey wine and cheese among other things. If you are in Montréal during the time of this market, make sure you visit it! The second event was the film festival. We have a film festival in Gothenburg each year as well but I have never visited it. In Montréal, however, me and my friend just “popped” in and watched a movie completely unplanned, and what a movie! It was a Danish movie about a girl trapped between two worlds, the one of her family’s strict religious believes and the one of a regular teenage girl wanting to fit in.
Beer might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Montréal but the city does have quite a pub culture. Once again St Denis is the place to be, with bars on either side of the streets it leaves you with a Mediterranean feeling. For a memorable night of Quebec culture I also recommend a visit to the pub Les Deux Pierrots. On my visit to this bar they had a well known band from Quebec playing and the crowd sang a long to most of the songs, creating a very cosy atmosphere. Another night out that has nestled in well in my memory bank is the night at Baloo’s; not so much due to the party going on there but more due to the idea of having a popcorn machine on the premises serving the visitors with free popcorn all night long! How come more bar owners didn’t think of that!?
When in Montréal be sure to:
- Explore the underground system of shops and restaurants. It’s like a second city in the city!
- See the Sacré Coeur of Montréal, l’Oratoire St Joseph. Apparently the dome of this church is only exceeded by the St Peter’s church in Rome. However, I would say that it is enough to admire this church from the outside as the inside can be considered a bit disappointing if compared with for example Sacré Coeur. The stairs leading up the church are reserved for pilgrims climbing the hill on their knees, an amusing idea.
- Don’t miss the Mont Royal hill, with its parks and magnificent view of the city it is a great place for spending some hours!
- If you visit the city during the summer, check whether or not there is a picnic electronique on Sundays. It’s quite an experience!
- Eat Asian food. Might not make much sense to recommend this in Canada but really, it is very good here! Especially in China Town.
- Stroll around the area of the docks and check out the clock tower. If there is time, rent one of the pedal boats and enjoy a relaxed hour or so in the harbour area.
- Eat smoked meat and drink Black cherry soda at Schwartz on St Laurent. The meat was not so sensational in my opinion, but the black cherry soda was fun.