Thursday, November 29, 2007

Fairmount Park Houses, Philadelphia

Closer to home, Annette went with her Newcomers Club to tour several of the historic villas along the Schuylkill (School kill) River in Philadelphia. She saw 3 of the seven 18th and early 19th century historic houses that were originally built as rural country estates for prominent Philadelphia families. Today they sit inside the boundaries of the country's largest urban park, Fairmount Park. We visited (by trolley) Laurel Hill, Woodford, and Cedar Grove (pictured above). Cedar Grove is unique in that it was a home that stayed in the same family for 5 generations until given to the City AND it was given with all its contents. So it provides a very accurate glimpse into the home of a properous Quaker family of the time...simple but excellent quality always! For more information check out

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stash's Polish Cafe

Got an email from our nephew Andrew who recommended a restaurant in Old Montreal. Stash's Polish Cafe is on 200 Rue St Paul West. He said "It's a high end Polish restaurant. I know that may sound like a contradiction, but Melanie and I found it VERY nice. Including live music. My mom was Polish and I thought I'd had good Polish food. This was better than anything she made (minus the "made with love" element)". Thanks Andrew...we'll try it next time!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tomorrow: Home via Applebees

Tomorrow we head home via Albany to pick up the repaired Cadillac and via Applebees for lunch. I know we fill this blog with our reviews of the wonderful restaurants in Montreal offering all sorts of savory and interesting culinary treats. But when on the Interstate (be it the 87 or the 95), give us an Applebees anytime to make us happy. Annette gets the Asian Chicken Salad and Jerry gets the grilled Tilapia and we're good to go. With over 1,900 restaurants in 49 states, 1 territory and 16 countries we're never very far away from one. (They just opened an applebees in Shanghai...the first in Asia...but I guarantee not the last). Maybe we should buy stock in it? hmmm....

Matt and Nat - Annette's Weakness

On one of Annette's first trips to Montreal she found a cute handbag at Simon's made by "Matt & Nat". On sale. She bought it. She had no idea she was started a long term passion/addiction. Matt & Nat make "vegan friendly" high quality handbags made out of synthetic material (as they say cruelty free). Reasonably priced and really attractive. Fortunately (or unfortunately however you'd like to look at it) there is a great little boutique on the 1st floor of our building called Delano's. They always have new Matt & Nat offerings every time we come to visit. This time was no different than any other. Annette has a new purse...a vegan friendly, cruetly free purse to wear when she wears her sheared beaver fur. No one has ever accused her of being consistent! She just likes what she likes.

Here a Bagel, There a Bagel

Montreal is famous for it's bagels (sorry New York) and St. Viateur is one of the oldest bagelmakers (along with Fairmont Bagels just a couple of blocks away which is said to have been the "first" bagel shop in Montreal ). Montreal bagels are chewier and a little sweeter than a typical "manhattan" bagel. The bagels are "poached" in simmering honey water for about 4 minutes (hence the sweetness). The bagels are then placed on two long, wooden boards that are slid into the wood-burning oven, which reaches temperatures exceeding 700 ÂșC. After about 4 minutes, the bagels are flipped onto the oven's brick floor. Because of the oven's heat fluctuations, the bagels must be skillfully shifted by using a long, narrow wooden board with beveled edges, called a "sheeba". Mastering a "sheeba" requires years of training. The bagels are baked for approximately 20 minutes before the baker artfully tosses them into a large wooden bin. At both St. Viateur and Fairmont you can stand and watch the "sheeba master" at his work. On a cold day the smell of the baking bagels and the warmth of the ovens is seductive.

Dominoes Anyone?

We love playing dominoes...especially at dinner which often causes a bit of consternation on our waiter's part as he tries to figure out where to put the plates!. This domino game was at Le Croissanterie on the corner of Hutchinson and Fairmont in the Outremont area of Montreal. Great fish soup, good quiche, hot coffee...all to warm the soul on a cold, grey day. After a stroll window shopping and gallery hopping we stopped into Juliette et Chocolat for dessert. See our "Got (Chocolate) Milk" post.

Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Thanksgiving morning brought snow to Montreal and sleet...kind of "sneet". We went bowling in the afternoon (jason - 1; Mom - 2; Jerry - watched). We ate lunch at La Sirene de le Mer located at the corner of Soave and L'Acadie near the Marche Central (they have another location on Jean Talon). This was a "pick your fish from the tank/ice" kind of place. Jason had his first real lobster, picked fresh from the tank, and loved it. We ate so much for lunch we decided to put off our Thanksgiving dinner until Friday!!!! It snowed lightly during the night, just like fairy dust. Friday was a day of "glitter" flurries. Really cool. We walked to the newly reopened and renovated Chez Delmo on Rue Notre Dame. We had just the best dining experience. Food great. Wait staff excellent. And jason loved that the bartender knows something about making a great martini (legal drinking age here is 18). We'd highly recommend Chez Delmo. The mango sorbet is divine as is the cheese plate. Poached cod was perfect. And the shrimp risotto was savory and flavorful. Saturday we "prowled" on rue St. Paul looking in our favorite galleries. This is a picture of Jason strolling down Rue St paul (carrying mom's bag, so I could take picture...what a guy!)

Jason-san in Montreal

Jason spent the Thanksgiving long weekend with us in Montreal. We had a great time. Eating, shopping, napping, playing dominoes, eating some more. Last night we ate at Tokyo a decent sushi restaurant on Rue St Paul about 2 blocks from our apartment. We once again ordered too much...but we enjoyed every bit (including the part we took home for Jerry's breakfast this morning). Here is Jason and part of the sushi lay out.

Got (Chocolate) Milk?

Discovered the best chocolate "pub". Hot chocolates of various types, THE BEST brownies (we had the raspberry/balsamic brownie), crepes (not just dessert crepes) , truffles. It's called Juliette et Chocolat and the one we went to is on Rue Laurier in the Outremont section of Montreal. (There is also one on Rue St. Denis). Check out this review from a food blog I found: Here's Jerry enjoying the last of MY "chocolat chaud".

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Route 9W North to Quebec

Last Sunday morning refreshed from the great bed at Hampton Inn (they really do have great mattresses and bed linens) we drove up to Montreal. Having enjoyed parts of Route 9W at 35 mph the day before, we decided to see how we liked Route 9 at the posted speed limit! Just as lovely. The day was clear, blue, mild, and autumn colors abounded. We drove along the shores of Lake George and Lake Champlain. Everything was being put to bed for winter. Resorts were shuttered, miniature golf course were closed with all the statues and decorations wrapped in tarps and duct tape, umbrellas were down, signs were covered up, the smell of wood fires filled the air. It was really peaceful. Lot's of signs said "See you next May" or "Thanks for a Great Season". Our favorite? "Closed for the Season. Reason?....Freezin'!!"
Big red barns all had their hay conveyor belts leaning out of the second story windows as farmers got in the last hay of the season. We drove by fields of dried corn stalks, rotting pumpkins, potato fields freshly turned for the season, Brussels sprouts still on the stalk, and apple and pomegranate orchards. The "snowmobile crossings" signs were up and a few late season squadrons of snow geese flew south overhead. They knew what we did not...that 3 days later the fields would be covered by snow.

We stopped for a quick walk in the VERY chill air to look at a part of Ausable Chasm. Apparently, it is the "oldest outdoor natural scenic attraction" in the US. 133 years old. Of course they aren't referring to it's geological age...but apparently from when people first came to "experience" it. What little we saw of it was spectacular and we hope to return to take the 3 mile trail (river, waterfalls, etc) and the rafting trip. Check out for more information.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From Kingston to Albany at 35 MPH

Our normal 9 hour trip from home to Montreal took us two days due to car trouble and fabulous autumn weather (that caused us to turn down every other byway to see something new). The car trouble turned out to be "just" a loose panel under the car but it sounded like the whole front end of the car would jetison into space every time we exceeded 35 mph. And we discovered that life is slower paced in the Hudson River Valley as the nearest open car rental agency on a Saturday afternoon was in Albany (about 47 miles away from where we limped to in Kingston). and there were no cadillac dealerships with open service centers in the state. So we drove at 35 mph on state route 9 from Kingston to Albany, where we "night-dropped" the Cadillac for service on Monday and rented a car at the Albany airport. And then collapsed in a local Hampton Inn for the night.

Our drive prior to car troubles was much less eventful and more bucolic. We picked a route that took us through the Poconos and along the Delaware Water Gap (the northern portion of the Delaware River north of Stroudsburg up to Port Jervis, NY). The drive took us through rolling hills and river valleys full of red barns, fields of crows, signs saying "buy goats" and "antiques ahead". Passing by towns called Kunkeltown, Effort, Kregesville: evidence of the early German settlers that farmed the area. We drove through the Delaware Water Gap national Recreation Area where the Delaware River cuts through a portion of the Appalachian mountains. A quiet time of year: just a few hardy fishermen.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Weehawken - Who Knew?

Weehawken (neighbor of Hoboken and Secaucus) New Jersey is what we normally drive through on the way to the Lincoln Tunnel. The only things I knew about it was that the "last exit before toll" would land you in Weehawken and that, according to a banner displayed across the highway, Weekawken is the Embroidery Capital of the US ofA. To me it was just part of that incredibly densely populated and slightly down on its luck area of Jersey across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Well, the view across that river is SPECTACULAR. And it's luck is definitely changing. I drove to Weekawken to meet my friend Peg at Arthur's Landing, a restaurant we had heard about with great views of Manhattan. Peg took the 7 minute ferry ride from the 39th Street pier in Manhattan and I drove in to meet her at the Ferry Terminal. Down on the waterfront there are new luxury townhomes, plans for condos, a new beautiful ferry terminal with plenty of parking and Arthur's Landing which indeed DOES have wonderful, wonderful views of the city...we watched dusk settle and the lights of night illuminate the skyline. We had a very good dinner and toasted our good fortune to be friends on another adventure! If you ever want to make a day trip to the city and don't want to drive in and hassle with having to park...try getting off at the "last exit before toll" and make your way to Pershing Road and the Waterfront. Take the ferry and enjoy the view! - Annette

Traveling Close to Home - Baldwin's Book Barn

Although today's skies were a bit dreary after overnight rains, the colors of fall beckoned. So Jerry and I declared today a Play Day. We drove through much of Chester County (west of Philadelphia) discovering "new" old byways and highways in the Brandywine Valley. As we headed towards West Chester on Highway 52 we came upon Baldwin's Book Barn. What a find! Baldwin's Book Barn was established in 1934. Over 300,000 used books, manuscripts and maps are housed in a converted 1822 five-story rustic dairy barn. It is warm and cozy (complete with wood-burning stove and 3 cats). How we have lived here over 7 years and never discovered this gem before today is a mystery to us. Check our their website at for directions and their online stores. And next time to head out to the Brandywine don't forget to stop for a browse.