Some of you may have noticed that on August 18th and 19th, both Jess and I (Justin) were absent from Fuzednotions. For those who didn’t notice: pfft thanks. Anyway, this was because we were in Montreal from the 18th to the 21st. We take the trip every year with a group of friends and it’s always a great time. So, for those that like to experience things vicariously or are looking for suggestions on what to do when you go to this amazing city – this blog is for you.
7:00 in the morning and we are out of the Sault: stuffed in my Impala and with a coffee induced state of wakefulness. All that stands between us and 2 full days in one of the greatest cities in Canada is almost 1000 km of road and about 13 hours – ok, when put that way it sounds pretty horrendous actually. However, like a beacon of light at the end of a tunnel, Burger World in North Bay provides a great halfway point between here and there while providing some amazing burgers as well. It’s also a good preparation for the absolute void that is the stretch between North Bay and Ottawa. Seriously, you see that picture? Nice right? Now look at it for 5 hours.
We get to Montreal and a quick phone call later, the guy opening the apartment shows up and gets us inside “la suite” tout suite. Greetings, chocolate covered blueberries, handshakes and we’re ready to go out on the town. Our friends (and probably the greatest Montreal tour guides ever) Ashleigh and Dave (or “French Dave” as we call him) aren’t home yet, so we’ve got to survive on our own. Mission #1: Something to eat. First place that comes to everyone’s mind: La Banquise. Out comes the phone to locate the world famous poutine place, and wouldn’t you know it, it’s just around the corner. Words cannot adequately describe the T-Rex poutine. It’s a marvel of meat, cheese, gravy, and fries. In fact, so much meat that it’s hard to even notice that there are fries beneath. What type of meat you ask? Why, every type of meat: Ground beef, bacon, hotdogs, and pepperoni; So freaking good. Sporting an newly acquired meat, cheese, and gravy ball-and-chain we head back to the apartment and pass out.
The next day I awoke refreshed and ready to start the day. This was probably due to me sleeping in a bed rather than the kitchen floor like last year’s trip. Yes, I’m sad to say that the fridge slept alone this year. Ashleigh was eager to show us the Montreal Markets in the morning so off we went. As soon as we walked in Ashleigh pointed us toward La Crêperie du Marché. Now, I’ve never had a crêpe that I’ve enjoyed – so skeptically I ordered a supper crêpe that had ham, cheese, mushrooms, and béarnaise sauce. And so my eyes were opened to what a crêpe should taste like.
At this point I’m getting used to the slight feeling of culture shock in Montreal (I guess there’s something about eating a Crêpe in a french speaking province that does it). There’s something about being in a place where everyone around you is speaking french BUT can still understand everything you’re saying in English. I noticed around me that there were still some people who hadn’t quite grasped this concept. Most comedically, two women speaking quite loudly in english about something that they probably wanted to remain fairly private – I’ll just leave that right there.
Noon rolls around and it’s time for mission #2: Tattoo. We head to Art Cyniq and talk with Badj (who we met on the trip last year). Easily one of the greatest tattoo artists I’ve ever met; this guy knows what he’s doing. He gets the stencil all drawn up and then it’s time for a 6 hour tattoo marathon. For those who’ve never had a tattoo but have thought about it, it’s not that painful: kinda like a prolonged cat scratch. Thin outline, thick outline, shading, then colour and the masterpiece is complete. Badj did an amazing job, I could not have asked for a better final product. If you’re heading to Montreal and you’ve thought about getting a tattoo. Give Badj a call at Art Cyniq. Just take my advice and eat more than just a crêpe for breakfast (hindsight: 20/20).
Delusional with hunger, we walked around the city while Ashleigh and French Dave carefully analyzed each restaurant we passed finally coming to a rest at a bring-your-own-wine Asian Cuisine Restaurant that will remain nameless because it was horrible (and because I forgot the name). After which, we all got ice cream to make up for the inedible meal and laid down in a park.
Woke up the next day (in our apartment, not the park) and ate at Frite Alors! which easily won the best meal of the trip award. I had the Hamburger Texan (beef, grilled mushrooms, bacon gruyère, and barbecue sauce) and as a dip for the fries I had the Américaine which was a mayonnaise with paprika, garlic, shallots, onions, and harissa. I cannot tell you how amazing this burger was because doing so would cause me to completely lose control of my saliva glands, and I like my keyboard too much. After lunch, I found an SAQ (quebec’s LCBO). It took a couple different SAQ’s, but this one finally had exactly what I was looking for: Crystal Head Vodka. I ran in and cleaned out their entire stock of this skull-clad vodka (5 bottles for friends and family) and was on my way.
As for the afternoon, the girls headed into old Montreal and had pie, while I headed back to Art Cyniq to watch my best friend cringe and twitch through his tattoo. After that we rendezvoused downtown and ate at L’Académie. Ashleigh and French Dave informed us that at L’Académie, all of the chef’s are students which is why the prices were so low for such a fancy restaurant. Unfortunately, the pasta con poso was a bit undercooked, but it did make for a nice picture.
Bellies full, we headed to what would be our last stop this trip: Cafe Gitana – a nice little bar that offers a place to smoke flavoured tobacco (shisha). This place is always a nice and relaxing cap to the Montreal trip. Another year down and a small step closer to getting into Au Pied De Cochon and eating it’s world famous foie gras. I may have missed out this year, but I assure you – someday… someyear I will get into that restaurant. Maybe next year I’ll spend a little less time in a tattoo parlour.