Vendredi Cinq (Friday Five) From Montreal

I hope you all had as much fun as I did with the Where in the World Am I? contest. Thanks for posting your guesses! I was so excited to see where you thought I was, and now I’ve added a few destinations to my bucket list! By the end of the week, many of you had guessed correctly – I was in Montreal!

A big thanks to Serena Kovalosky over at The Artful Vagabond and Caitlin Kelly at Broadside, both of whom have a special fondness for Montreal and offered wonderful suggestions to help us see the city like locals. Well, not completely like locals. The only French I know comes from risqué songs, so I was a little nervous after reading Le Clown’s post. But after I butchered the pronunciation of nearly every word (Bon-gewer!) Montrealers kindly switched to English. Let’s just dig right in, shall we?

1. The Bagels.

For those of you who think those tasteless disks you find in your grocer’s freezer are bagels, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out! Now, I live in a city where bagels are as ubiquitous as snarky comments. If I were a betting woman, I’d say there are dozens of bagel shops in my neighborhood alone. In short, I know bagels. Good bagels. So I was a bit skeptical. I mean, look at the difference. (What’s up with the giant hole?)

But I need not have worried. Montrealers take their bagels seriously. Some folks will have their bagels shipped from St. Viateur or Fairmont, two venerable Montreal institutions. Heck, Montreal bagels have even made it into space. What makes them different? They are baked in wood-fired ovens with a bit of honey, whereas New York bagels are boiled.

A bagel at Beauty's.

A bagel at Beauty’s.

I had my bagel at another must-eat, Beauty’s Luncheonette and served by this sassy, charming woman. Beauty’s has been in business since 1942, opened by Hymie and Frieda Sckolnick. While we were there, Hymie (now 91 years old!) made a brief appearance. Beauty was Hymie’s bowling nickname.

Beauty's

Beauty’s

2. The Poutine.

The what? The poutine.

Montreal Poutine

Montreal Poutine

What’s not to like about poutine? French fries (good). Cheese curds (good). Brown gravy (good). It seems to me that poutine is to Montrealers what Krispy Kreme doughnuts were to those of us who went to college in the South.  In other words, it may have certain restorative powers, though I can’t lay claim to that as we found ourselves at a local poutine joint, La Banquise in the Plateau neighborhood, at dinner time. French fries for dinner? Why, yes. And we weren’t the only ones. There wasn’t one table open while we were there. By my count, La Banquise had 25 different kinds of poutine, though we decided to go with the classic.

I'll be needing a fork, thanks.

I’ll be needing a fork, thanks.

3. The hockey. Go to Montreal and not catch a hockey game? Why, that would be like going to Paris and not visiting the Louvre, going to China and not walking along the Great Wall, going to New York and not running into Maury Povich. You get the idea.

On this day, the Canadiens (a.k.a. the Habs, can anyone confirm why they refer to the team as the Habs?) took on the Philadelphia Flyers.

Go Habs Go!

Go Habs Go!

The Canadiens lost 7-3 and this photo might give a clue as to why. Notice all of the Canadiens’ players (in red) looking in different directions? That seemed to be the theme of the evening. But it was fun to hear the fans call to the players in French whilst drinking our $11 American beers (not a typo).

Montreal Canadiens

Which way did the puck go?

A few of the flags representing the 24 Stanley Cups the Montreal Canadiens have won.

A few of the flags representing the 24 Stanley Cups the Montreal Canadiens have won, more than any other team.

4. The church. Our first day in Montreal went something like this:

Snow in Montreal

So we decided it was an indoor day and went to Notre Dame Basilica. I don’t think the photos do it justice, but here goes.

Notre Dame

Completed in 1829, the nave is covered in 24kt. gold. This is with the altar lights on.

This is with the altar lights off.

This is with the altar lights off. The ceiling is a dusky blue covered with gold stars that is stunning. I don’t think I’ve seen that before.

We couldn't get a great shot of the outside, with the snow and all, so this is from Wikimedia Commons.  Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. View from Place d'Armes.

We couldn’t get a great shot of the outside, with the snow and all, so this is from Wikimedia Commons.
Notre-Dame Basilica, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. View from Place d’Armes.

5. The winner. Thanks to everyone for participating in the Where in the World Am I? contest, where each day I posted a clue to my location. The first person to guess correctly got to choose the charity for the donation. Well, I won’t keep you in suspense  any longer! The lovely Ema guessed Montreal on day two! She lived in Montreal for three years, so I think she had an inkling. She loves the ocean, so she’s chosen to have the donation go to Oceana, an organization that focuses on conservation worldwide. There were 36 total comments, and 9 of you did guess Montreal correctly, so I’d like to add those to the total amount of the donation. I’m making a donation of $45 in Ema’s name to Oceana. Thanks again, everyone!

Have a great weekend everyone! On Monday, I’ll have more on our visit to the Cabane a Sucre (Sugar Shack). 

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14 comments

      1. maybe they yelled while I was there since they were setting up for a wedding. But they weren’t happy with any of the visitors. We couldn’t explore and could only peek inside.

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  1. I’d probably say more about how AMAZING the basilica looks… if it weren’t for the fact my stomach has taken control of the show! I’ve never tried poutine, but I think I’d like some. Right now! And by ‘some’ I mean a metric ton. Or two. 🙂

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    1. The basilica was incredible. I think my jaw dropped when we first entered. The ceiling is the most beautiful blue with tiny 24k gold stars.
      And the poutine! Absolutely addictive. How will I ever be able to eat regular french fries again?

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    1. It was a great time from beginning to end. I’d absolutely love to do a comparison taste test of Minnesota cheese curds to Montreal cheese curds. (I’d thought Wisconsin had the market cornered on cheese curds!) 🙂

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  2. I’m sorry I missed your “Where in the world am I” contest… But how wonderfully creative, and generous, and … well, wonderful. I enjoyed your photos above and confess to a watering mouth as I read. Suddenly I want … to eat a bagel while watching hockey!

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    1. Food bloggers in Montreal must be quite a busy bunch. Every meal we had was delicious. And I don’t think there’s anything unusual about eating a bagel while watching hockey, or eating French fries for dinner. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Melissa!

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