Thursday, August 2, 2012

J'adore Montreal

Thunderstorms cancelled my flight to Montreal in the morning and I ended up stuck at La Guardia Airport for a few hours longer than I was hoping.  La Guardia Airport has no Chili’s.  Not even a Chili’s Too.  What sort of airport has no Chili’s?  I digress.  After several hours, I was called from the stand-by list for a flight that put me into Montreal just in time for dinner.  I checked into my cozy little B&B in the heart of town and ventured out to experience Montreal – and more importantly – Montreal’s food!

Dinner the first night was a Montreal specialty:  Poutine!

Poutine is dish consisting of French fries with cheese curds and gravy.  Simple.  Greasy.  Fattening.  And utterly delicious.  Right up my alley.  Woohoo!

The next morning, my bed & breakfast proved it could do the latter with an amazing morning meal:  French toast with fruit, a peach smoothie, coffee, and a delicious yogurt dish.

Soooo much better than the continental breakfasts you get in hotels.

The previous evening, I had befriended a solo traveller at the poutine restaurant:  John from Atlanta.  Sitting by himself looking at a tourist guide, I thought I might as well say hi and join him.  The next morning, we met up to see the sights – and eat more food.  I was most excited about Montreal bagels.

I had never heard of Montreal bagels until a few weeks ago, but apparently they are famous.  Brought to Montreal by Jewish immigrants from Poland, the bagels reflect the way that those locals prepared them back in their part of Eastern Europe.  They aren’t big and fluffy like New York bagels, but rather smaller and denser.  They are made sans salt and boiled in honey-infused water before baking.  Also, the hole in the middle is substantially bigger.  Apparently they are the sluts of the bagel world.

My friends Vicky & Nick back in Sydney first told me about Montreal bagels, and Jason in New York confirmed their existence and informed me of their sheer delight. The two main bagel chains are St. Viateur Bagels and Fairmount Bagels – both named after the streets they are on.  Apparently people get very loyal to either one or the other so I had to set out to find these places and judge for myself which one is better.  After spotting a bunch of Orthodox Jews, I knew we had wandered into the right neighbourhood.

First stop:  St. Viateur Bagels!

I thoroughly enjoyed my sesame bagel and then we moved on to Fairmount Bagels!

I got another sesame bagel here to have a direct comparison between the two, and I also opted for a chocolate chip bagel for dessert.  Because, you know, why not?

One day with me and John’s already as excited about bagels as if he were part of the tribe!

So, survey says…

Fairmount Bagels for the win!

Not that St. Viateur was bad at all – it was delightful – but I think Fairmount just edged them out.  But really, I’d take either any day of the week over the crap we have in Australia.

Maple was everywhere – as this is Canada – and I surprisingly passed up a whole bunch of maple treats, including maple fudge, maple ice cream, and even maple cider.  But as it was a rather hot day out, I decided that I couldn’t pass up the maple lemonade from this little stand in the old city.

Not too sweet.  Just right.

For dinner we opted for a cute little Italian place where meals cost $9.95 including a beer or glass of wine.  Just like in New York, I had to ask what planet I was on.  It was a nice place with white table cloths and cute gay waiters.  And it was sooo cheap!  How is this possible?

And after dinner, we wandered around the two main drags in our part of town to find a drinking hole to have a cheeky glass or two before retiring to our respective hotels.  Instead, we wandered into this hookah bar and accidentally ended up with a pitcher of sangria.

Montreal, j’adore!

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