Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Snowy Wednesday in Montreal

Word yesterday was that the storm headed up through the NE of the US was possibly going to dump 5 to 7 inches of snow overnight. It rained. We woke to snow flurries and bare pavement. We had counted on being "snowed-in" being ready to bake and cook all day. 

So instead we lazed about reading until finally the snow started to fall and just simply shouted at us to get off our lazy as&es and go for a walk.  Never ones to ignore shouting snow, we bundled up and went for a walk in Old Montreal.  We poked about a few new stores, escaped a sudden gusty winds by ducking into  Marche Bonsecours, ate yummy crepes with hot chocolate at Creperie St-Paul,  and dawdled in the snow taking pics. 

Now back in front of the fire getting ready to read (the cooking and baking is going to wait until tomorrow) here are a few snowy photos from today's walk.

Place Jacques Cartier, Old Montreal on a Snowy Day

Whimsical Christmas Decoration outside the Ville de Montreal (City Hall)

All Bundled Up

On Rue St Paul in Old Montreal (Dome of Marche Bonsecour in distance)

Rue St Paul (Marche Bonsecours)

Notre Dame Bonsecours

Walking on Rue Notre Dame in front of Ville de Montreal (City Hall) in the snow

Darwin Slept Here

Darwin didn't actually sleep HERE, with me (I'm not THAT old).  Rather I READ Darwin Slept Here which proved to be a great, snowy day,couch read, shining a light on Darwin as a young man before the "book", the fame, and the white beard. It also provided glimpses into parts of Brazil, Argentina and Chile both in Darwins time and the 21st century, as the author, Eric Simons attempts to retrace Darwins journeys up and down the coast of South America.  The author has a wonderful zest for travel and discovery, a shared passion with Charles Darwin. The book is well written and well paced and paints a clear picture of both the young Darwin and the land that at times fascinated and at other times confounded him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Love Letter to a Market

Market Chronicles: Stories & Recipes from Montreal's Marche Jean Talon by Susan Semenak is an affectionate, insightful, inspiring and beautiful portrait of the largest open-air farmer's market in North America (est. 1933). 

It is a love story of the market that is near and dear to thousands upon thousands of Montrealers.  It is a story of the seasons of the market, the people who make the market and the delicious bounty of the market. And it provides delicious recipes utilizing the treasures available at Marche Jean Talon.

The photography by Albert Elbilia of farms and fields, stalls & stores, people and animals, and food prepared from the bounty is beautiful.  I especially love the portraits of those who work to bring such wonderful goodness to those of us who shop at the market.

We visit Montreal 3 to 4 times a year.  And we never quite feel at "home" until we've been to Marche Jean Talon so it is usually on our "first day" list.  Yesterday we shopped there and bought cabbage, basil & thyme, onions, strawberries, fresh apple juice, and apples.  We nibbled on sausage made from white boar (sanglier) and deer (cerf) as we walked around.  And, of course, I had a crepe with butter and sugar...I always have a crepe avec buerre et sucre. It was snowing outside and I wandered past the last of the balsam trees covered with snow while Jerry bought the hot off the grill sausages.  We will be back every 3 or 4 days while we're here in Montreal.  For fresh eggs, many turnips or parsnips next time, and more apple cider. Now with this wonderful book I have a great appreciation for and understanding of the merchants I meet and buy from.  

The book is available on Amazon, at Costco, and I'm sure at the wonderful Librairie Gourmande located, of course, at Marche Jean Talon.

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Snowy Wintry Day in Montreal

Yay!  It snowed all day today. So we will have snow on the ground for Christmas after all.  I woke early and saw the snow falling gently out the window and heard the sound of the Hotel Nelligan's empty wine bottles making their way into the bottom of their trash bin. I decided to roll over and soak in the sheets.  But pretty soon it was time to hop out of the red flannel PJs and head out to Marche Jean Talon for early lunch and fruits & veggie shopping.  We drove up St Laurent in the falling snow, ate crepes and sausage (boar and deer) at the market, bought apple juice, herbs, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbage and onions and people watched.  Oh and took some photos.  Here are a few (the complete set is at my flickr site:

Blueberries and Oranges at Marche Jean Talon

Bundled up for Marche Jean Talon

Chocolat Store in the Snow

What the heck am I doing in the snow???  Dinosaur at the Old Port Science Museum
Flowers at Marche Jean Talon

Santa? Nice Ferrari Jacket there.  Shopping at Marche Jean Talon

Stocking up for the holidays at Marche Jean Talon

Snowing on Rue St Denis

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Best Bagels EVER!

We arrived in Montreal last night in a freezing rain and under a low cloudy sky.  But our apartment was in perfect shape, warmed up quickly, and after a run to Costco for supplies we snuggled down for a long nights sleep.  We woke to sunny skies (and slightly icy sidewalks).

After an excellent chicken and irish cheddar cheese omelet prepared by Chef Jerry, we were off to the movies (i love the holidays and afternoons in the theatre).  Enjoyed Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (best of the franchise I think).

Then in close to rush hour traffic we snaked our way across Montreal making reservations as we went. Stopped at the Kitchen Gallerie ( on Jean Talon and scored 9pm reservations for tonight (the last night they are opened before their month long vacation).  Got reservations for my birthday on January 8th at Au Pied de Cochon (

Then the true treat of the day?  Fresh warm bagels from Fairmount Bagels (  Located at 74 Fairmount West, this bagel bakery is the original bagel bakery founded in 1919.  The Fairmount bagel is chewier, less puffy, and slightly sweeter than the more commonly known New York Style bagel.  People line up all day long waiting to walk off with warm bagels in brown paper bags (with plastic bags for storage later).  Most people don't even get to the curb before they are biting into one of the heavenly halos.  When I walked out with my two huge bags, there were three clusters of people on the sidewalk hovering over open brown bags taking that first bite.  Bags of bagels are also available at Costco, IGA groceries, and other selected stores.  But really, if you have a chance to savor a warm bagel fresh from the bag...oh take it!