Montreal Lodging

June 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

If you found HG’s postings on Montreal (Its food, art, cafes, people, ambience) enticing, permit HG to make a recommendation. has a listing for an apartment described as: “Bright, Mont-Royal Metro steps away–Rue Saint Hubert.” HG/BSK stayed there with SJ, Exquisite Maiko, young Haru and baby Teru. Three bedrooms. One bath. Very clean. Excellent kitchen, bathroom, beds, TV, internet access, etc. Ample room. Perfect location. Hosts Isabella and Andreas were very kind and responsive. Easy walks to markets, cafes, bakeries and splendid restaurants. Go and enjoy. Tell them “HG” sent you.

A Piece of Paris in Montreal

June 20th, 2013 § 2 comments § permalink

As anticipated, L’Express Restaurant turned out to be a piece of Paris lodged on Montreal’s Rue St. Denis. Pleasant welcome. Friendly, professional service that exemplifies restaurant management expertise. The interior, in Paris brasserie style, features plenty of mirrors, a long and lively bar, dark woods and bright — but flattering — lighting. Lots of attractive, animated people having a very good time. The HG/BSK family hit all the food highs: Octopus and lentil salad. Soupe de poisson. Duck foie gras. Asparagus vinaigrette. Roasted marrow bones with wilted lettuce, sea salt and toast. Sea bass with exemplary haricots vert. Beef tartare (with mountains of crisp French fries). Excellent bread. A big crock of cornichons and strong mustard on the table. Two bottles of red — Languedoc andBeaujolais. Desserts included (all giant size): Ile flottante, creme brulee, vanilla ice cream, baba au rhum (exuberant amounts of rum and whipped cream). A big, happy, indulgent feast.

After dinner, SJ stopped at Fairmount Bagels to bring back a sack for friends. HG tried one (with butter) with HG’s morning coffee. Not a New York bagel. A different breed. Softer. Sweeter (the Fairmount bagels are boiled in honey water before baking in wood burning ovens). Okay, but not a culinary must for HG. So, HG and BSK leave this morning for Prince Edward Island. HG/BSK leave without tasting the Montreal/Quebec obsession—Poutine (thick brown gravy and cheese curds poured over French fries). HG/BSK share an aversion to culinary perversion.


Art and Bugs in Montreal

June 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

A very rainy last full day in Montreal. La Famille split up. SJ, EM, and the grandchildren Haru and Teru braved the downpour and were off to Montreal’s Botanical Gardens where they braved the moisture and explored some of the beautiful Asian gardens. Dried off at the Insectarium which has a very diverse collection of creepy-crawlies. Culture Vultures HG/BSK went to the Musee de Beaux Arts. On last visit, HG/BSK immersed themselves in the museum’s collection of The Group of Seven, Canadian painters (of the 1920’s-30’s) who explored modernism while retaining a passionate engagement with the Canadian landscape. Today, HG/BSK started with religious art of the the 14th and 15th centuries. Gems by Veronese, Tintoretto and Mantegna. Then off to a room of contemporaries. Stella, Olitski, Hoffman, Bacon, Soulages, Beuys, Richter,. etc. A very witty Tansey. First interesting Jim Dine HG ever saw. Rested eyes over a ham-cheese-baguette in the cafeteria. With sharpened vision, HG/BSK explored an intelligently curated display of modern design. Yes, all of the masters were on display but there were plenty of the more eccentric innovators like Bonetti, Sottsass, Arad and Starck. HG/BSK reflected: Everything at the museum is beautifully lit and displayed. The attendants are courteous and helpful. Lots of clean restrooms. Two words describe it: Museum Heaven.

Tonight is HG’s last meal in Montreal. Going to L’Express. A true French bistro, Features all the golden oldies: Bone marrow, kidneys in mustard sause, beef tartare, steak frites, pot a feau, grilled calf’s liver, etc. A report will follow.


Schwartz’s VS Katz’s And The Verdict Is…

June 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Schwartz’s is better. Yes, HG loves New York and loves all the old time treats…but. For dinner HG slathered rye bread with yellow mustard and piled on lots of Schwartz’s smoked meat from Montreal’s famed “Delicatessen Hebraique.” Heartburn heaven. Yes, better than Katz’s pastrami. Tough to describe. Schwartz’s smoked meat is a brined, smoked and cured brisket seemingly existing at the cross roads between pastrami and corned beef while retaining the virtues of both. SJ ordered it “fatty” and “medium fatty” and brought it back to the rented Montreal apartment to dine at home. Once again Schwartz’s meat proves that the flavor is in the fat. The Schwartz’s meat slicers, seasoned carnivore surgeons, hand carve slices that are much thicker than Katz’s pastrami so no juice and smokey flavor is lost. The Schwartz’s rye bread, however, lacks the slightly sour grandeur of traditional New York Jewish rye. Also, the texture is a tad soft. Didn’t try Schwartz’s pickles. Discerning SJ, a pickle maven, looked at the Schwartz’s product and said they looked tired. So, in terms of New York’s Jewish deli mystique, all is not lost.


Can’t Eat The Scenery

June 17th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Went to Le Cristal, much touted restaurant in Montreal’s Chinatown, for a dim sum brunch. Beautiful, contemporary decor. Crisp white table cloths and white slipcovered seating. The food did not live up to the decor. Once again the famous adage, in regards to Chinese restaurants, proves true: the worst the decor the better the food. Le Cristal’s food was just so-so. Reasonable Hakka noodles, sticky rice and scallops with transparent noodles. Everything else was sub-par and perhaps below even that: over-steamed shrimp dumplings with gummy wrappers, greasy scallion pancakes, tasteless pork spare ribs in black bean sauce.HG vows that HG will never again subject BSK to dim sum (except at New York’s Dim Sum a Go Go, which has a large variety of vegetarian dim sum.) BSK is allergic to shrimp and most good dim sum contains shrimp in one form or another. No matter how hard HG tries to source shrimpless dumplings, BSK always winds up staring (with disdain) at a trio of big, beef meatballs.

Sunny day and perfect for a visit to the waterfront. HG took in the delicious sun while SJ took the grandkids to the Montreal science museum. Surrounding the museum was a city-sponsored and quite lively science fair. As well, Chinese stilt walkers paraded down the esplanade swaying in the wind with their colorful costumes while drummers banged away on drums fashioned from recycled trash containers. Kids loved it. On the way home, HG had a joyous time watching and listening to a rockabilly duo outside the Mont Royal metro station. Thirsty HG drank a very large, very good sangria on the terrace of a nearby cafe. SJ is off to Schwartz’s to get some super famous smoked meat for dinner. Canadians, rarely boastful, say it tops Katz’s New York product. Hmmm…..We will see.


Portuguese Exuberance

June 17th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Lunch at a pleasant pizzeria, Tomato, that served some crisp pizzas adorned with quality mozzarella and anchovies. While La Famille went walking and shopping, HG settled snugly into a terrace chair at La Folies cafe. Attractive young people. Pleasant music. HG read the Gazette, Montreal’s English-language newspaper, and sipped a Cafe Moka. Much of the news concerned corrupt city officials who accepted bribes to ease the way for real estate developers and contractors. So, what else is new?

In the eve, went to St. Laurent Boulevard. Boiling with people. Appetizing smells of grilling sausages, street-side paella and much else. All part of a Greek festival but the cuisine seemed multi- national — reflecting the melting pot of the neighborhood. The HG/BSK family dined at Restaurant Jano, a Portuguese restaurant specializing in wood-grilled delicacies. Sure enough, ensconced in the front window of the restaurant, a prematurely grizzled chef expertly manned a flaming grill laden with meat and fish. This master delivered up spectacular whole sardines and charred, tender calamari to start before progressing to a Frango spicy grilled chicken with crackly skin and moist meat, fragrant chorizo and perfectly pink lamb chops criss-crossed with grill marks. Vinegar peppers, greasy fried potatoes and a piquant hot sauce accompanied the meal. Pitcher of not too sweet sangria and a beer for SJ. An exuberant meal.


Rue Mont-Royal

June 15th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Rue Mont-Royal is the lively shopping and dining street around the corner from HG and BSK’s Montreal rental apartment. As evening approaches it draws hundreds of young Montrealers to its outdoor cafes. Very reminiscent of the scene along Rue des Abbesses in Paris’s Montmartre. HG has been exploring the food scene (of course) on Rue Mont Royal. Two stars are Boulangerie Kouign-Amann and Trip de Bouffe. The bakery seems straight out of Brittany and features sensational croissants, quiches and the flaky, buttery Breton pastry which has given the boulangerie its name. Trip de Bouffe is Lebanese. Scores of tasty Lebanese salads to take out (or eat at a few tables) plus sandwiches of pita liberally coated with zaatar, the wonderful middle eastern spice mixture. Dinner was at Tazah, a new Syrian restaurant on Mont-Royal. Sensational mezze — grilled Syrian cheese, stuffed vine leaves sprinkled with pomengranate seeds, labenah (a creamy, condensed yogurt infused with garlic). HG/BSK shared a main of grilled Syrian kefte (ground lamb mixed with pistachios and a medley of spices). SJ, EM and their children arrive today so much fun feasting ahead!


Cathedral Glories in Montreal

June 15th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Though a confirmed disbeliever in organized religion (of all kinds, varieties, etc.), HG loves churches, chapels and cathedrals. Not so knocked out by synagogues. Hasn’t seen enough mosques to make judgments. So, after a modest (Greek salad for BSK and a Greek omelette/fritatta for HG at Ouzeri on Rue St.Denis), HG/BSK were off to Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal off Place des Armes. Built between 1824-1829, the cathedral has a dazzling interior with plentiful and rather naive stained glass windows, a soaring altar, woodwork full of color (much created by New Yorker Angelo Pienovi). Indifferent paintings. It is a happy, majesric interior full of color and light. Somehow, it reflects New World optimism. A jewel is the cathedral’s chapel, Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacre Coeur. Destroyed by fire, the Chapelle was rebuilt and reopened in 1982. The altar is a striking work of modernism (seemingly influenced by the best bas-reliefs of the 20’s and 30’s) by sculptor Charles Daudelin. It is much in demand for weddings (about 150 a year). If HG could renew his vows with BSK (in a secular manner, of course), the Chapelle would be HG’s choice venue.


Magical Montreal Day

June 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

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.


Great Montreal Cuisine at 3 Petits Bouchons

June 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

HG and BSK are in Montreal for a brief stay before heading to their Prince Edward Island sea paradise. Big change from hot, arid and forest fire-plagued New Mexico. Rain and cool breezes. Felt good. HG/BSK are staying in the Plateau neighborhood, Very reminiscent of Greenwich Village of yesteryear. Lots of bars, cafes and ethnic restaurants. Young people. Funky low rise buildings. Hungry HG/BSK head to 3 Petits Bouchons. A bistro and cave a vins, this is a warm toned, stone walled, intimate place. Superb wines. Great cuisine. Some of the highlights were grilled octopus served with a unique sauce and grilled potatoes; cod with fiddlehead ferns and asparagus (sauce grenobloise), Duck confit (served on an imaginative Waldorf salad). Cheese plate with crisp nut breads and jams. Drank a Regnie from the Beaujolais region and a Sylvaner from the Loire. Both wonderful. Deft service. A warning: Not cheap. Canadian import taxes make the wines, while delicious, boost the bill into the stratosphere.


Where Am I?

You are currently browsing entries tagged with Montreal at HUNGRY GERALD.