Sunday, January 9, 2011

The New Year in Montreal

Jerry, Jason and I flew up to Montreal on the 30th of December for 12 days.  Our friends Jimmy & Cricket followed on the 31st to spend New Year's Eve and a few days more with us.

 Jimmy, Cricket, Annette & Jerry

We've had a wonderfully lazy time.  I think we've felt more like hibernating bears than anything else. The weather has been quite nice: a little snow, a little cold, a little sun, a little wind.  We've done a bit of exploring, showed off Montreal to Jimmy & Cricket, and eaten a lot...tried old places and new.  Haven't done as much walking as we normally do, something to do with that hibernating urge.  Naps have just seemed more appealing. 

 Rue St Sulpice on a Snowy Winter Evening (view from our apartment)


Holiday Decorations on Rue St Paul

As always we've made sure to get in at least one trip to Marche Jean Talon, one visit to Gandhi's in old Montreal for Indian food, several trips to Fairmont Bagels and one trip to Rue St Bernard (along w/ Drawn & Quarterly).  We cooked at home and made a new version of Hungarian Goulash with sweet paprika bought from Gourmet Laurier.  Jason experimented with emulating Gandhi's Chicken Korma with spices bought at Olive et Olivse in Marche Jean Talon. We bought baguettes and croissants at Pain Dore on Laurier (as Olive et Gourmande was closed, we're hoping just for the holidays). We celebrated my birthday at Moishe's on Rue St Laurent.  An old time steak house celebrating 75 yrs this year and which has according to my husband: the BEST Romanian dill pickles ever (and his Romanian mother made great pickles)

A Merry Assortment of Apples at Marche Jean Talon

On New Year's Eve we cooked at home with Jimmy and Cricket, and then wandered around the Old Port with other happy revelers and watched the midnight fireworks from our apartment windows.

The Magical Tree on Place Royale: My Favorite This Year

Happy New Year Eve Skaters in the Old Port

We discovered a new find (for us, not for Montreal, since its been in business since 1942) Beauty's on Mont Royal.  A wonderful diner serving great food for a reasonable price with good service, big windows, and Beauty himself sitting on a stool near the entrance to greet you and direct you to a table.  And of course, I can't forget, we made the pilgrimage to Juliette et Chocolate on Rue Laurier. As always I had my chocolate raspberry brownie balsamico and tried yet another hot chocolate flavor...this time Ghana...which so far is my favorite.  Is my favorite always the last one I tried?  There is a long list to come. 

My favorite, raspberry chocolate brownie balsamico and Ghana Hot Chocolate

Jimmy enjoying his Chocolate Chaud at Juliette et Chocolate

On Saturday we had the pleasure to meet up with Kelly and Tom at La Croissanterie Figaro on Fairmont in Outremont.  I met Kelly through Twitter (@misskitteh9).  Jerry and I had previously met her at a art/craft market last summer.  On Saturday we all met up at Figaro's and ate and talked for 2 1/2 hours in the back corner.  It was really nice to meet her husband Tom and to have the leisure to get to know them better. It was a delightful time. 

We ate at Laloux  (on des Pins) for the first time and had a delightful dinner with excellent service.  Jason had the Bream which he LOVED.  I had a very good butternut squash gnocchi.  Jerry had the steak on polenta.  Appetizers were excellent, the salads being the best.  Desserts were creative and delicious.  Our server made excellent recommendations regarding wines by the glass to go with our meals.

The only slight misstep of the visit was our meal at Serafim in Old Montreal (on the corner of Rue St Denis and Rue St Paul).  We went for Sunday brunch when we found Le Cartet closed for the holidays.  The owner chef seemed cranky and well...rude.  They sat us at a table far too small and too close to adjoining tables for a group of 5 adults.  When we asked to move to a different table, the server said yes (which given that the restaurant wasn't even 1/3rd full seemed the right answer.) We heard her get growled at by the owner and she attempted to find out if we were "just staying for coffee". Needless to say we didn't move.  One of the attractions of the place (besides it being open was that it billed itself as "organic" foods).  But organic doesn't mean uninspired or cardboard-like or just flat over cooked.  I mean, really, how can you make a pancake taste like overcooked cardboard? The vegie burger was entirely too dry.  The omelet with bacon was actually an omelet with bacon slices just plopped on top of it...not an omelete cooked with bacon in it...and although that may have been a translation issue, we asked specifically for cheese.  We were told that cheese came IN the omelet.  There was no cheese, in  (or on) either of the two omelets. Then when I went to pay for the bill which is at a register in front of the open kitchen, I got the dubious pleasure of listening to the owner/chef yell and harangue his waitstaff.  Whether they deserved the harangue was none of my business, but I shouldn't have to listen to it. Needless to say, we will not return to the Serafim anytime soon.

 Here we are, all bundled up for a New Year's Eve Stroll