Magical Montreal Day

June 14th, 2013 § 0 comments

This is HG/BSK’s second visit to Montreal. Last one was more than 40 years ago in the midst of an April blizzard. Spent much of that time eating oysters and sole at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Not a shabby way to sit through a blizzard. Yesterday was a sunny contrast and Montrealers filled the streets, shops and cafes in all their astonishing diversity. The young sported multiple tattoos and costumes varying between grunge, hipster and post-flower child. Shopped on Rue St. Denis. BSK scored great Camper sandals (on sale, natch, the well groomed lady is constitutionally opposed to paying full price). Then off to Musee des Beaux Arts on stately, classy Rue Sherbrooke. A revelation. This is truly one of the great museums. Incomparable collection of Canadian painters and sculptors, great artists totally unknown in the United States. BSK introduced HG to The Group of Seven, Canadian landscape painters of the 20’s and 30’s. HG was overpowered by the paintings of Lawren Harris. Dramatic evocations of Canadian natural beauty. Much better than the American regionalists of that era. Once more, HG was struck by how provincial the American art world is and how that causes unjust ignorance in regards to Canada’s cultural treasures. (Though the emphasis is Canadian, the Musee has some rooms of important French impressionists plus a great later period Picasso and superb sculpture by Arp and Lipschitz). Since HG/BSK cannot live by aesthetics alone, the duo took a long early evening stroll through the low rise, tree lined streets of the Plateau District (urban living at its best) and wound up at Philinos, a Greek restaurant on Rue du Parc. Very pleasant service and a perfect warm weather meal. Superior feta cheese crumbled onto cucumbers, tomatoes and Kalamata olives. A refreshingly subtle version of Skordalia which avoided the typical garlic overdose. Warm, cheese filled phyllo pies. Room temperature grilled octopus in a lemon and oil sauce with thin slices of red onion and a shower of herbs. The tender octopus had a distinct charcoal tang which melded beautifully with the lemon’s acidic punch. Home made baklava for dessert. Drank a very good, inexpensive house Italian wine. Much better than the retsina one usually gets in modest Greek restaurants. Walking back to his rented apartment in the fading July light with a full, but not stuffed belly, HG mused how suitable Greek cuisine is for summer days.


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