Part II of my Canadian Travel Series takes us to Montreal. After leaving the Eastern Townships, Lani of Mon Petit Chou Chou and I stayed at Loews Hotel Vogue (where else?!) in the downtown Montreal area. Our neighbours were the fabulous Ogilvy and Holt Renfrew department stores, the latter being our lunch time stop for wine and cheese (Cafe Holt, I salute your effort with the cheese plate) to fuel an afternoon at the Montreal Musuem of Fine Arts to view the Gaultier exhibition (worthy of its own post, I am not one to miss an opportunity to talk about corsets in fine detail, Blog Reader, watch this space.)
The following morning the lovely Quebec Ministry of Tourism set us up with a fabulous local tour guide to show us the delights of the Jean Talon Market and surrounding shops, cafes and restaurants so we could sample Montreal cuisine. At this point you may as well insert the subtitle “eating our way around Montreal” into this post.
Stop One: Schwartz’s deli
We closely followed in the footsteps of Julia Roberts – in Montreal filming her latest movie – at Schwartz’s, where we sampled their much coveted smoked meat sandwiches. A Montreal classic, the deli prepares smoked meat the old fashioned way using a secret blend of herbs and spices (no preservatives, and the smoking happens daily.) There is a queue round the block at this deli most days, but we had perfect service and the owner’s wholehearted attention at 10am – thank you Schwartz’s!
All you need to know about this is the following 1) these bagels are not like New York Bagels. Montreal bagels are smaller and sweeter, with a larger hole 2) Montreal bagels are lighter and are often eaten on their own. If you can find a Montreal bagel near you, let me know what you think.
Stop three: Jean Talon Market 11am
The public markets in Montreal are the heart of the communities. People come from all over the world to visit Jean Talon and I can see why. At Jean Talon chefs and families alike buy the best quality fresh ingredients, selecting from a myriad of farmers and vendors. We sampled local cheeses, corn on the cob and different styles of ciders. (Have a guess which of those also ended up in our luggage on the way home… I’ll give you extra points for guessing correctly who bought the sweet and who bought the dry version)
My experience at Whole Foods Union Square all of a sudden felt very poor in comparison. New York has some amazing Farmer’s Markets I still need to try. In all, it was a wonderful combination of sights, smells and tastes in Montreal during my trip – I hope that if you venture to the city, and I hope you do, that you will visit at least one of the magnificent markets there, and a stop at Schwartz’s is a must!