November 18, 2002
Noshery Not Fit for the Faint of Heart

French Speaking Fun (Part II)

Montréal was awesome, and I can't thank the people who put me up enough. Special thanks go to Pekoe the cat, who kindly woke me up at 4:00am every morning by sitting on my face. Without him, I might have slept through all the fun on my vacation.

First the weather smalltalk: Montréal was surprisingly warm when I got there (+15°C) and surprisingly cold when I left (-15°C). According to the weather today there's a blizzard. I apologize to the people of that city for bringing Calgary's foul winter with me and leaving it there. If you wish to send it back, please do not hurry.

Montréal is still a nice city in winter though. It's disorienting at first to have a city that's just so dense. I mean, you can walk for blocks and blocks and still see the same type of tall-but-thin apartments and commercial streets. Everything is different enough to be interesting, but similar enough that you have no freaking clue where you are half the time. I got lost several times when I was there, and only managed to find my way back by heading into the Metro.

However, I can't say I minded getting lost. Montréal has beautiful architecture (which is nice) and truly beautiful women (which is excellent). I'm not sure which is cause and which effect, but I'm pretty sure this is inexorably tied to the amount of nifty little clothing boutiques that dot the commercial streets. I would say 80-90% of these boutiques are for women's clothing only. Anyways, two thumbs up on that front.

The other major comment I have is about the food. By my third day in la belle provence, I had to cut my food intake by half. Food there is just so rich, consisting of innumerable cheeses, creams, fancy breads and the like. My meat and potatoes stomach was just not able to keep up, and I spent a day feeling sick before I figured out a good solution. I guess you get used to it if you live there for a while, but it was pretty much the only bad thing about that city.

Other highlights included:
– A visit to Schwartz's deli for an awesome smoked meat sandwiches. Such noshery is not for the faint of heart or tiny of mouth.
– A tour of the McGill campus. Which is very very small compared to the other universities I've been to. Beautiful architecture though.
– I tried to get myself enculturated by going to the Richelieu exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art. However, I immediately felt like a poseur when I learned that Richelieu was not actually a painter, but a cardinal of the church in france several centuries ago. The exhibit was paintings done for and of him, rather than by him.
– A few of my friends and I hit a fondue place for dinner one night. The food was excellent, but the real highlight of the night was the people around us. We had a girl behind us who was either in or getting into pr0n acting. We had another table filled with cheerleaders (and some football players, but whatever). We spent the majority of the night gaping at the outfits (think J.Lo at the Oscars) and eavesdropping on the conversations. Good fun.

There's plenty more, but this entry is way too long and that's the really fun stuff. All I have left to talk about it the general stuff about Québec (the province) and I'll do that in another entry later.

Posted by savidant at November 18, 2002 11:19 AM

I wanted to go to Schwartz's deli when I was in Montreal, but alas, I hadn't time. Mmm, Montreal smoked meat.

I read Mordecai Richler novels and wish I too was born on St Urbain Street.

Posted by: evan on November 18, 2002 12:34 PM

dude, i lived on st. urbain st. for a year, two blocks down from casa del richler and right next the school he and his little posse went to.

it was miserable.

the house next door was a haitian crack den and my roomate dave grew poppies in our front yard so he could harvest opium. we'd sit on our front "porch" watching the traffic go by in the summertime, him wearing his wifebeater and freestylin' to my beats on his little casio keyboard.

we may have invented electroclash right there, actually.

hey savidant - was the fondue place fondue prince-arthur? that place is good. i love the fondue table d'hote, where you start with a cheese and bread fondue, move on to chinese fondue, and finish off with chocolate fondue.

Posted by: missjenn on November 18, 2002 12:42 PM

It was actually Fondue-Mentale (I'll direct your attention to the clever wordplay) which is located on Saint-Denis a few blocks north of des Pins.

However, we did order a Table d'Hote, which consisted of:

1) Cheese and bread. The cheese was a choice of 'Traditional Swiss' and 'Peppercorn Swiss'. Traditional was better.

2) What they at the restaurant called a Japanese fondue. Essentially Miso soup that you put in a choice of raw i) veggies, ii) filet mignon, iii) salmon, iv) shrimp and scallops. The Miso would cook the stuff. Dipping sauce finished things off.

3) Standard fruit fondue. However, we had the choice of chocolate or maple syrup. The table appeared to prefer the maple syrup, but they were both good.

So as you can tell, very similar to what you're talking about. This is also the meal that set me off rich food though - it tasted great but it was hard to handle.

Posted by: sav on November 18, 2002 01:04 PM

As I have not been to Quebec (well, a quick bus tour through Hull on the way back to Ottawa barely counts), my favourite quirky traffic signal is still in Alberta. The lanes for turning left at intersections have their own lights, with two red lights that are always synchronized (as in, you only ever use them together), one on top of the other, as if to say:

"Stop. No, really."

Posted by: warcode on November 18, 2002 01:49 PM
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