I’m not afraid to tell you that I can be quite ignorant and uncultured. Sometimes I just don’t know what is going on and make assumptions about one’s culture that I assume are fact (probably to make myself feel better) and it tends to effect my choices in life. It’s kind of the natural order of things given Western politics nowadays, but we don’t need to get into that. When I was first told that I was going to work Montreal Comic Con, I immediately thought that it was going to be in a barn with people canoeing around eating Tim Horton’s and apologizing (I’m an Ignorant Swine, I know).
Show’s how much I know, because Montreal was a great city that I wish I could’ve stayed at longer. Montreal Comic Con was being held at “Palais De Congres” downtown, a convention center that also has shops open to the public with one of the coolest building fronts that I’ve seen.
Montreal is one of the areas in Canada that speaks both French & English, a lot of people greet you twice when engaging in conversation (I heard “bonjour, hello!” a lot). Most menus and signs seemed “French dominant” but English translations were not far away. For the record, I did try Tim Horton’s (for the sake of research) and it wasn’t anything different from what I’ve had before (donut or otherwise), although their ham sandwich did have an nice sauce on it.
I was lucky enough to be there during “Festival International de Jazz de Montreal” (or the Montreal JazzFest) and spent many of my nights listening to live music on the closed of streets of Quartier des spectacles. With headlining names such as Lauryn Hill, Brian Wilson, and Rufus Wainwright among other musicians performing the 11 day festival there was always something amazing to experience.
The first food that I ate in Montreal? Poutine of course. It’s been gaining popularity here in the states, I mean, it’s fries with gravy and cheese, how could it not?
Combined with the live band playing it was one of the best ways to start my short time in Montreal. Completely unpretentious and satisfying street food is what makes the world go round in my opinion (and love or whatever).
Green Trateur & Cafe
One of my favorite breakfast spots in Montreal (and one of the only places that was open nearby) was “Green Trateur & Cafe.” It’s clean interior and moderate selection is a good way to start your mornings, with a variety of omelets & coffee drinks to choose from.
I went with a simple croissant sandwich, called “sandwich matinal” for $5.45 CAD
I’m not a big breakfast food guy, but eggs, ham, cheese, and produce inside of a hot pressed croissant is an GREAT way to start your day and it’s not super expensive to have a decent breakfast.
Il Focolaio is a pizza restaurant that is well loved by the people of Montreal (at least to the people I talked to). The thing I love about pizza is that it’s usually a simple and good meal (how do you not like bread,sauce, and cheese?), the downside? it’s simplicity is often underestimated resulting in either very generic flavors or forgettable texture.
Il Focolaio covered all the basics when it comes to a pizza restaurant, but what made it’s special was it’s ingredients and crust.With a small work station and a pizza oven right in the dining room, I found myself really enjoying the atmosphere and food here. It was packed to capacity the whole time I was there, and with good reason.
I had the “Capo Franco” (it was $15CAD)
Sauce, capicollo, mozzarella, aubergines, ail, fromage bleu
you can pretty much figure the ingredients out, but “ail” is garlic and “aubergines” is eggplant. The portion was more than enough for a single diner and the food came out fast despite how busy it was.
When it comes to Thai food I am completely ignorant, So I’m not a very good gauge of what one would consider “good” or “authentic” Thai Cuisine. So when my colleagues suggested Thai food for dinner, I was completely out of my element.
As I fumbled with the menu and sweated profusely from my insecurity the server suggested that I get an order of pork dumplings and lemon grass chicken. It was good that he did, because I would’ve undoubtedly cracked under the pressure:
With it’s upscale casual atmosphere and modern French influenced cuisine, Bouillon Bilk was the nicest restaurant that I went to whilst in Montreal. It’s a bit more expensive than other restaurants in the area, but it is an excellent place to sit and enjoy a nice evening out.
We started with lamb tartare with grilled & pickled zucchini & eggplant finished with local peaches, tempura flowers, and a Berber spiced sauce.
This was the first time that I’ve had raw lamb before and it took some getting used to. The sweetness of stone fruit mixed with the brine of the pickled squash was an excellent counter balance to the gaminess of the lamb. The tempura’s salt and crispy texture elevated the dish to an extraordinary appetizer.
My main course was cornish game hen, with sauteed livers, cashew,walnut ,morel mushroom, asparagus, apples, and a mustard jus.
The sauce was lighter than I expected, but it was complimented with the buttery texture of the liver. Really what made this dish great was the skin of the hen, which was salted to remove the moisture and then seared till crispy.
Desserts in Montreal
How could I go to French Canada and not have a crepe? it was my duty as a citizen of the world to order one with nutella, strawberry, and banana. Not much to say about this one either, if you’ve had Nutella before, you already understand.
Chocolat Favoris is a local confectionery that has some of the best chocolate that I’ve ever had. With a dipping bar for your fresh desserts you could get paralyzed by the options of what your treat can be covered in.
What did I go with? an ice cream sandwich of course, dipped in hot hazel nut chocolate.
The hot chocolate dripped all over my fingers while I ate the cold ice cream sandwich, it was glorious and so ridiculously decadent that I almost began to cry.
Montreal was an excellent introduction into Canada, I only wish I could stay longer. With it’s heavy European influence and cosmopolitan charm there I found myself excited to be walking the streets of the city. It’s truly its own slice of Euro culture in North America that I’m excited to visit again.
P.S. The bagels in Canada are Really good and not like the bagels you get in the states. Try those too.