Monday, June 29, 2009

Montreal Weekend Getaway

Me (Danielle Rose) with some ladies I befriended in Old Montreal...funny, they refused to speak or acknowledge me 
My mum and I (Danielle Rose) at the Notre-Dame Bastilica of Montreal "And Then There Was Light" show
Chuck Hughes restaurant, Garde Manger 
Chuck Hughes restaurant, Garde Manger 
My empty plate at Reubens....right after I realized I had forgotten to take a photo of my colossal Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich
Two of many sangrias
Orange and cranberry pancake stuffed with mascarpone, ricotta, and cheesecake, with berries and berry sauce from Jardin Nelson
Baked smoked salmon, goats cheese, and red onion omelette with spiced home fries from Jardin Nelson
Bloody Caesars, final drinks in Montreal

This past weekend I fled rainy, stinky (the city is still in full force with their garbage strike) Toronto to spend some time with my mum in Montreal.  I have been to Montreal twice before, and both times had a blast. The only problem was, the last two times I went, I was with my friends who were more concerned about partying and shopping in the same stores we have at home in Toronto than actually going around to see different parts of the city and experiencing the culture and, most importantly, the FOOD! 

We arrived in Montreal on Friday afternoon, and despite the weather forecast calling for thundershowers, the weather was beautiful! Warm and sunny! We took advantage of the nice weather by walking around Old Montreal, an area that I had never been to but had been told by native Montreal friends that I would love!  They were right! Old Montreal is a fabulous area! It is so nice to walk down the cobblestone streets, stopping into little shops, cafes, and classy restaurants. The atmosphere is so charming that, combined with everyone speaking french around you, you feel like you are in a whole other country!  

After walking around for several hours, we decided to walk over to the the Notre-Dame Bastilica of Montreal where we had seen a large sign advertising their show entitled "And Then There Was Light."  The show is a light and sound show that tells the story of how Montreal was built around this extraordinary cathedral.  We figured our feet needed a break, and soaking up a little history never hurt anyone.  I think that they had a very interesting concept, but didn't carry it out quite as successfully as I would have hoped.  Despite being disappointed with the production value, it was all worth it to see the exquisite reveal of the gorgeously detailed cathedral.  I would have never appreciated the beauty, history, and meaning of the cathedral as much as I had through the seeing the show.  At $10 a person, I would definitely recommend it.

That evening, we walked over to the Latin Quarter where my mum had told me about a great place to go for dinner.  l'Acadamie is a large, 3 story restaurant, located in the heart of the thriving Latin Quarter.  There are several restaurants in Montreal that allow you to bring your own bottle and, conveniently, l'Acadamie is located right next store is a small liquor store.  So before settling at our cute little open window seat with a view of the busy street, we stopped into the liquor store to pick out a bottle of red wine for our meal.  I ordered the breaded veal scallopini with prosciutto and mozzarella and my mum ordered a veal scallopini with a lemon and white wine sauce.  I was almost knocked right out of my seat when our food arrived because I could believe the size of the portions! Not only did I have a large piece of veal, smothered in browned mozzarella, I also had, what looked like, an entree size side of spaghetti! Let me tell you, for a hungry foodie who had only eaten flavourless train food all day long, I was in my glory! So much so....that....I forgot to take a photo.  I am still new to the blogging world, and I suppose I am much more dedicated to my own taste buds than I am sharing my foodie findings.  I was just so hungry and excited to see such a delicious looking plate, I dove right in and savored each and every bite!

The next morning we woke up to a light rain.  So we decided to first head over, once again, to the Latin Quarter for breakfast, as it was close to our hotel.  We stopped in at Brulerie St. Denis, a cute french cafe with an impressive selection of coffee beans, and fresh croissants. Both my mum and I ordered a croissant toasted with brie.  Just as I was delighted with the large portion size the evening before, my croissant was covered in delicious, creamy, melted brie, with a very large portion of zesty shredded carrot salad.  It was delicious and satisfying, just what I needed to start off a day of shopping on St. Catharine Street.  

St. Catharine street is a strip of popular stores in the heart of downtown Montreal.  After shopping for several hours, we figured we needed a break from the rain, so we saw a movie, and then time for lunch!  Ok, now for a little confession.  I love Montreal.  I love the atmosphere, the people, the favourite part of Montreal is actually...Reuben's Deli!!!!!!  A trip to Montreal is not complete without stopping at Reuben's for one of their famous enormous Montreal smoked meat sandwiches.  You simply cannot compare it to any other deli on earth! It is simply the best!  The first time I came to Montreal, my friends and I were there for 2 nights and 3 days, and we went to Reuben's twice, and contemplated going a third time! It's just that good!  I ordered their Euro sandwich.  It is packed with their original Montreal smoked meat, but instead of rye, it is served on a fresh poppyseed kaiser bun with swiss cheese. I prefer this to the original rye because the bread is able to hold up to the massive amounts of meat, instead of disintegrating in your hands.  Also, a little cheese just makes the sandwich even more delicious.  The sandwich comes with a large portion of thin cut fries, their homemade zesty coleslaw, and a pickle.  Once again, I had forgotten to take a photo.  I was so excited to see my favourite sandwich, that wolfed that baby down the moment it arrived at the table!  It was just as I pushed my plate away from me that I realized I had forgotten all about it, but I still managed to get a lovely photo of my empty plate! 

We were so full after Reuben's, we couldn't even think about eating again that night.  The rain had finally cleared up to reveal a beautiful warm evening, so we went back to the Latin Quarter and decided to hit up as many bars as we could manage to try each ones sangria.  It was a lot of fun trying out each bar, their sangria, and finding new places to people watch.  We slept well that night, needless to say.

The next morning was our last day.  Our train was leaving at 3:40 so we decided to have a big brunch that would keep us satisfied till our in-train meal.  We had remembered seeing a really cute restaurant called Jardin Nelson in Old Montreal and decided to check it out to see if they were open for breakfast.  They indeed were.  From 10:00 am their breakfast begins with a live jazz band playing on their very large outdoor space, adding to the beautiful, flower filled atmosphere.  When we arrived we were able to get a table right away and the restaurant was still pretty quiet.  But just 20 minutes later, the place was packed! Looks like we found the Sunday morning brunch hot spot!  Everything on the menu sounded so delicious and unique that my mum and I decided to each order something and split them, so that we would at least try two of the many delicious things from Jardin Nelson's menu.  We settled on ordering something sweet and something savoury.  We ordered the baked smoked salmon, goats cheese, and red onion omelette with spiced home fries and the orange and cranberry pancake stuffed with mascarpone, ricotta, and cheesecake, with berries and berry sauce.  They were both beautifully presented, once again fitting right in with the charming atmosphere, and tasted just as they looked.  My mum and I savored each and every bite! I would definitely recommend coming to Jardin Nelson on your next visit to Montreal.  I can't imagine coming to Montreal and not coming back to Jardin Nelson to eat again.

We ended our trip in Montreal with bloody caesars on the outdoor patio of another restaurant in Old Montreal, with a perfect view of the entertaining street performers.  It was a lovely way to end an incredible weekend away.  I am already planning my next trip back to Montreal for this summer! Stay tuned! 


Hilary said...

I love L'Academie! Might not be the best food in the city but it's such a fun place for a big group and so reasonably priced (at least it used to be).

Anonymous said...

Great post, Haven't been in Montreal in years but it sounds like the food is still great. I enjoyed your visit.

OceanDreams said...

Looks like you had a great time and such lovely dishes! I bet that inspired you to cook when you returned, huh?!

Ricardo said...

I can see you and your mum have great moments together I I am happy you share them with all of us, you know what is precious in live, enjoy every moment with her lovely. cheers . excellent photography :) xxx

Kristin said...

Wow, your incredible pics totally make me want to visit! Come check out our giveaway today!

Robert Petril said...

Awesome awesome! I love Montreal!

brian said...

It sounds like you've really had a wonderful weekend out there. Like some of them, I haven't been also in Montreal, yet, it seems like I would want to visit the place too. Great thanks to you. Keep safe.

fun weekend getaways

Martine said...

If you were after awesome sangria, you missed out by not having the Jardin Nelson's version! It's sublime! My girlfriend and I go there for brunch once every summer and have a very decadent meal with a pitcher of sangria (sun's over the yardarm somewhere in the world, right?!) finished off with their "Death by Chocolate" dessert. My friend, who is a hopeless and lifelong chocoholic, has yet to be able to finish the entire rich dessert. Glad to hear you love this wonderful city!