Saturday, October 27, 2007

Rain Stopped, We Rose in Search of Food

What a great evening after a dreary day. Due to rain and wind, we decided to forgo participating in the Grand Masquerade Parade (more on this later) instead opting for dinner somewhere cozy. We headed out to the Notre Dame West area we explored the other afternoon. In a single block area (the 2500 block) there are 4 restaurants: Joe Beef, Liverpool (with as yet no sign...but no table either...they were booked for the who needs a sign?), Limon (a Mexican restaurant) and La Toulousaine "maison du Cassoulet" (house of the cassoulet). Joe Beef and Liverpool were booked so we opted for la Toulousain and lucked out. A cozy place that reminded us of little neighborhood bistros in Paris. Annette had the house speciality cassoulet (du Languedoc). A cassoulet is a long-cooked stew (about 10 hours) made with white beans and in this case duck, pork, garlic sausage and a sausage from the Laguedoc region. It was EXCELLENT. Annette can't wait to come back on a cold, snowy day and enjoy that dish again. Jerry had bavette du boeuf (steak that we think was pan fried/braised with a shallot/burgundy wine reduction). As Jerry said he likes a restaurant where they actually cook not just heat the meat up! After dinner we headed back to Old Montreal for some gelati from our favorite (outside of Italy) gelati store...Les Delices de L'erable (maple delicacies, it's other offering are desserts made from maple syrup and maple syrup, naturally). We were expecting more people in Costumes as the Grand Masquerade was supposed to be on...well it turned out it had been rain delayed (so a good thing we went to eat!). We walked a few blocks and found the parade
just starting.

AND we are talking a wonderfully BIZARRO parade...creepy costumes...choreographed zombies of all sorts. i think my dalmatian coat costume would have looked as dorky as this fellow in the scooby doo outfit at the end of the parade.

Most were a bit more ghoulish:

Rain, Rain, Rain

Rainy and low clouds. Sounds of cars swishing through the streets of Old Montreal. Bells of Notre Dame toll as Saturday weddings culminate with a mad dash for the limo in between rain drops. We had breakfast at one of our favorite spots, Le Cartet, at 160 Rue McGill in Old Montreal. High ceilings and old wood floors. Long narrow space with high windows at both ends. Shared tables. Great foods ranging from a "traditional" Quebec breakfast: eggs, toast, potatoes, baked beans, and saugsage AND bacon (jerry was hungry) to fruit plates, Montreal bagels (chewier than New York style) with salmon, poached eggs etc. We read the Gazette while listening to the animated conversation of 3 mid-30 Montreal women next to us (our other table mate was a shy Asian university student reading an English spy novel). Annette was fascinated by the 3 women as they conversed in a constantly fluid exchange of French and English. All seemed to be native French speakers (because their English was slightly accented). But they slipped in and out of the two languages sometimes in mid sentence. It was really interesting (at least to Annette who is linguistically fascinated with language). An example of the "new montreal" where at least 20 percent (I think that is the number) of younger citizens are considered "allophones", which means if asked which is their native language: French or English...they will say they were raised with both. We're both hoping to take French classes once we're up here for longer periods of time than just a week Bonne Journee!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Masquerade Weekend in Old Montreal

Give the Montrealers a reason to celebrate and they will! Halloween is coming up and the weekend before Halloween is Masquerade in Old Montreal. 3 days and 2 nights of festivities crossing all age barriers. Tonight was centered on Place Jacques Cartier and along the water. Fireworks (twice at 7 and 9), eerie music and drums, costumes of all sorts (lots of pirates this year). Befitting the birthplace and home of Cirque de Soleil many costumes were fantabulous. There were cauldrons bubbling, a haunted "warehouse", people selling lighted, flashing devils horns (we couldn't pass those up!!!), even a woman dressed as a Harry Potter wizard with a live snow owl (she was in a show and tell area). Wait until the report for tomorrow night when they have the grand masquerade parade (and jerry and I are going to join in)!!!

A Stroll on Rue Notre-Dame Ouest

Jerry and I started off the day browsing through the costume sale at the local Centaur Theatre (an English language theatre) that apparently raises a few funds at halloween by selling off their old theatre costumes. Jerry bought something reminiscent of a cloak for a temple priest and Annette bought a "dalmatian" coat left over from some children's theatre production of 101 Dalmations. their old theatre costumes. We plan to join the "Masquerade Parade" tomorrow night in Old Montreal.
Afterwards, Jerry and I strolled down the 2500 - 2700 blocks of Rue Notre-Dame Ouest (a short drive west of Old Montreal). The trees were shedding pumpkin colored leaves in the breeze. Store and restaurant windows were decorated for fall. This picture above is from the windows of "Joe Beef". We haven't eaten there yet but plan to soon, it's one of the new hot places (well new to us). We stopped at Itsi Bitsi, a cupcake haven, that rivals (no exceeds) the famous Magnolia Bakery in Manhattan. We started with "just one" to share...a coconut creme frosted vanilla cupcake. Then we moved onto the vanilla creme and vanilla cake cupcake. We DID stop there...but we plan to return to sample the chocolate and the cranberry ones. We FINALLY founds a yarn shop in Montreal...Mouline... run by Svetlana. Jerry was thrilled ( was Annette who was thrilled, but Jerry DID spot it for her). Annette did concede that she should finish her 3 current knitting projects before buying more yarn...but it was a hard call. She'll be back. There are also a myriad of antique stores (good quality and a little pricey) in this section of Rue Notre Dame. We ate lunch (paninis and asparagus soup) at a small cafe called Les Iles de Catherine. It was owned by a beautiful black woman from the island of Guadeloupe. As you can see: Joe Beef, Svetlana, Catherine from Guadeloupe, Montreal really is a melting pot.

Watching the World Series in French

We watched the first night of the World Series in French because we couldn't find the channel in English. The local station gets the feed from Fox Channel and then has their own french speaking announcers. The only thing Annette could discern was the score (she knows her numbers) and the players names (said with a Quebequois accent...where they appear to swallow the "r" at the end of words). But baseball is pretty self-explanatory so it didn't matter, especially with a score of 13-1 (Go Bosox!). last night we finally found the english channel...kind of missed the Quebecer flair but not enough to change the channel and miss all of that really fascinating tidbits of info that they rattle off between pitches.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Auberge Bonaparte and Restaurant

This is one of our favorite hotels and restaurants in Montreal. It is located on St. Francois Xavier between Rue St Paul West and Rue Notre Dame West in Old Montreal. Its a small inn (auberge) with lovely wood floors (ask for one overlooking the garden of the cathedral next door). Annette's mom used to stay there when she'd come to Montreal with us and loved it. great breakfasts too. The Bonaparte Restaurant offers traditional French cuisine in a lovely setting. We've never had anything even just mediocre. Last night Annette had the dover sole and Jerry had the monk fish...both were absolutely perfect. In the past we've also enjoyed the wild boar, venison, and rack of lamb. although we didn't have one last night, they also make fabulous dessert souffles. Reservations are a good idea. They also serve an excellent lunch. Ask for a table in the "fire place" room or by a window.

La Maison Kam Fung

We ate dimsum at La Maison Kam Fung yesterday. We've eaten there a number of times, but yesterday was the best. Great food and a fun atmosphere. The restaurant is a huge room filled with primarily chinese enjoying dim sum. Yesterday we sat next to a family of older siblings with a mother and husband thrown into the mix. The woman who must have been the elder daughter had an opinion on what everyone should be eating and how much. She piled her mother's plate high with food even though the woman apparently didn't have all her teeth and ate in glacial speed. Everyone got their lecture! I'm just glad she didn't get started on us. La Maison Kam Fung is located in Chinatown at 1111 St. urbain (near the corner of Gaucheterie). It is on the 2nd floor. Go after 10 but before noon (it gets REALLY crowded by noon).

Photos from Cote-Des-Nieges and Mont Royal Cemeteries

Montreal wins Prize for Coolest Cemeteries

Yeserday was a beautiful fall day here...crisp air, blue sky with puffy clouds. Annette has long wanted to wander around the twin cemeteries of Cote-des-Neiges (Catholic) and Mont Royal (everybody else) that lies atop Mont Royal in the heart of Montreal. Opened in the mid 1850s, Cote-des Neiges is the largest cemetery in Canada with 343-acres and over 900,000 buried souls and Mont Royal covers 165 acres. It is a popular place for strolls (especially in spring and autumn). It is a hilly area full of mature oaks, maples, pines, even fruit trees. Annette was in 7th heaven pondering the history engraved on tombstones and mausoleums and loving the fall foliage. She attempted a friendship with a graveyard cat who was much more interested in the sparrow on the hedgerow. The Catholic Cote-des-Neiges was a little more "rough" around the edges this visit as it is still recovering from the "neglect" of a 4 month cemetery caretaker/gravedigger strike this past summer. They are still trying to play catchup up with the overgrown grasses and overgrown shrubs.(I guess they had to first pay attention to burying the nearly 700 corpses that had been kept in cold storage for the months of the strikes!!!).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall In Montreal

We're now in Old Montreal enjoying a rainy fall day. The leaves are turning, the pumpkins are out. We are enjoying a glass of pouilly fuisse and some goatcheese and cranberries on crackers...we may never get out for dinner. Went to the Italian Market yesterday and enjoyed lamb kebab sandwiches and then pasteries from Premiere Maison. Stocked up on bread and cheese. In the evening we went to hear the Orchestra Metropolatain of Montreal perform Beethoven, Bach, Mendselsohn (my favorite of the evening) and Wagner (not my favorite for the evening.) Afterwards, we walked the mile and a half home...a lovely surroundings...moon overhead. just lovely.

Geese in Vermont

After leaving Manhattan, Jerry and I drove up through New York and western Vermont to see the colors, which were spectacular. We headed for a place we'd heard of (Dead Creek State Park) that is known to be a stopover for migrating snow geese. We lucked out...we saw several thousand in a field about the size of a football field which started only about 30 feet from where we stood. A sea of white and grey (the grey ones are the younguhs). And what a racket...not as noisy or harsh sounding as canada geese but a racket nonetheless. Here are a couple of pictures.

Good Morning America

While in New York, Annette got up at O'dark thirty and joined Peg and Moe at the taping of Good Morning America at their Times Square Studio. Here we are with our new friends!

New York, New York

Jerry and I spent 3 days in Manhattan with Peg and Moe Cotter. We saw a preview performance of Mel Brook's new musical "Young Frankenstein" which is a MUST SEE! Especially if you liked the's very true to the movie...but even more so! We also saw a preview performance of The Farnsworth Invention with Hank Azaria. It is a serious drama about the invention of the TV by Philo Fransworth, a farm boy/whiz kid from Idaho and the birth of the radio and TV age. It is written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Sports Night, etc) and is fascinating, informative and entertaining. We saw Billy Crystal and his wife (3 rows behind Jerry) and several of the MSNBC crowd there.We had dinner one night at our old favorite Ruby Foo's...good food...try the fried calamari! another night we went to Joe Allen's and had a delightful meal (still laughing about the previous nights performance of Young Frankenstein). here's a picture of Jerry and I enjoying our dinner at Joe Allen's.