Sunday Mont-Royal Stroll

mont royal summer

Strolls on summer Sundays in Parc du Mont-Royal are really something. It seems like everyone’s there. Really, everyone. Those medieval knights you were searching for all week? Check. Those sun-bathing beauties? Check. Those large, happy extended families? Check.  Those members of the Rastafarian drum circle? Check. Those skateboarding teenagers? Check. (There actually pretty respectful and wait for walkers and joggers to pass). Those young moms jogging with strollers? Check. The adorable old couple walking hand-in-hand? Check. The circus performers and wannabes practicing their tight-rope walking (okay, sure, slack-lining)? Check.

Quite. A. Sight.

I’ll probably get another run or two in before July 1, but my strolls with the camera in tow are probably over. So I tried to document the experience one last time so you might imagine what it’s like.

No beach in sight? Doesn’t mean you can’t pretend…

mont royal summer

Prepping for the next battle/joust/God only knows:

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

Brief moments of near solitude can still be found if you’re patient.

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

Can you spot him in the next picture?

mont royal summer

May your day be beautiful and filled with smiles.

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

mont royal summer

Just your average Sunday here.

Nights Out in Montreal

montreal plateau therestoflhistoire.comWhen your days our numbered in a city, you become selective and susceptible all at the same time. If I already knew about something and it wasn’t on my list of musts, I don’t feel too tempted to schedule it in. I have absolutely no interest in going to La Ronde. Sorry, but I’m over amusement parks until my nieces and nephews start begging to go. On the other hand, if someone mentions a great new place that I hadn’t heard of (which happens, oh, I’d say, every other day), I am filled with urgency and/or regret.

As for the things I’ve already done, I’m getting to that annoying nostalgic stage. You know the one.  The stage when you want to stroll around every neighborhood and eat at all your favorite places just one, last time. It’s a little ridiculous when you become a bit sad when you realize it’s going to be your last Bocadillo arepa. And you’re going to Latin America. (Although, I don’t know how many arepas I’ll find in Argentina??)

Anyway, the last week has felt kind of calm, but has been busy at the same time. This week, my classes are slowing down (that tends to happen when they know you’re leaving, huh?), so I’m hoping to spend a couple days next week exploring. This week, we visited the Big in Japan speakeasy with some friends (super, super cool! p.s. the door isn’t red anymore), strolled the streets of the Plateau in the evening and stopped for a coffee, picked out which house in Outremont we’d prefer to live in (if one day we stop being students/nomads) and even went to a Montreal Impact game (that’s Major League Soccer, FYI). They lost, but it was fun to watch the fans and the game anyway.

There are really only three places left on my Montreal wish list: Maison Publique (going to try and twist husband’s arm), St. Joseph’s Oratory and Poutineville. But I think I’m going to eat poutine along the road trip route in lieu of filling up at Poutineville. My, my, how time is flying.


Working My Way through the Montreal Bucket List

Lord knows my Montreal Bucket List be unhealthy. But it is good.

ice cream cone les givres montrealThe majority of items on my Montreal Bucket List involve eating and drinking. I can’t help it. It’s almost always on my mind. There are also some neighborhood walking tours/strolls and cultural stops, but mostly we’ve been making a list of places that tourists eat and locals avoid. I’m still on my playing-tourist kick.  Big time. I’m getting dirty looks from the regulars when I pull out my camera, but if I have to bear the brunt of the “American” comments anyway, I might as well not be shy while pretending to be a tourist, right?

Over the last two weeks or so, here are some of the items that I’ve checked off the food section of my bucket list. I’ve done and left a couple non-food items as well, but I thought I’d still with the food theme for the moment.

Les Givrés

A student told me about rhubarb ice cream and chocolate-dipped cones. It didn’t take too long to convince the husband, who was pleased to see the campfire ice cream flavor (marshmallow made in-house!). Highly recommended 😀

A Mile-End Carb Crawl including Boulangerie Guillaume (I think I’ll return before leaving), Fairmount Bagel and St. Viateur Bagel. Yeah, we’d had the bagels before, but not purchased morning-fresh at the bakeries themselves. We preferred not to think of it as a bagel battle (we bought sesame at one and “all dressed” at the other), but as a celebration of carbohydrates.

carb crawl

st viateur bagel

st viateur bagel mascot

fairmount bagel

Schwartz’s Deli

If you follow me on Instagram you noticed that I ate a gargantuan sandwich last weekend. Schwartz’s Deli is super popular among tourists (and any good Montrealais knows that Céline Dion is the current owner). There’s usually a line out in front if it’s even close to dinner time. This is an obligatory stop that we’d been avoiding due to the wait and the stomachache. Last Friday, when we walked by, there were a few empty seats inside and no wait at all. It was fate smoked meat and years of marketing calling to us. We succumbed and entered. It tasted okay at the time (the pickle was the best part actually), but my omnivore/flexitarian stomach just wasn’t strong enough to handle it. I felt sluggish the next day and even into the night. But at least now I know.

smoked meat schwartz's deli montreal


schwartz window

Beauty’s Diner

Beauty’s is a quality breakfast diner. Which is great, really. Jordan and I live a stone’s throw away from this place (literally) and are pretty serious about our breakfasts. It’s got a prime location, celebrity endorsements (Anthony Bourdain anyone?) and there’s always a lineup, even during the long Quebec winters. That said, as far as diner prices go, Beauty’s seems a little higher than necessary. But again, we knew we’d better try it before leaving, so stopped in early on a weekday morning. Certainly a good start to the day, even if my grandfather would cringe at the price of over-easy eggs.




I’m still plugging away at the list, but there’s finally an end in sight. I’ve checked off more things than remain. It’s fun going through the list, but it’s putting into paper what I already knew but avoided saying: my time in Montreal is seriously running out. I’ve got 18 days left in the city and 28 in the province. Holy guacomole! Speaking of guacamole, I’ve still got to get to Le Petit Coin du Mexique

Spring is back. Montreal is back.

It’s really here!

tree buds

Look at this beautiful shade of green! I did say I was checking this tree every single day. I didn’t exaggerate. For the longest time (and by the longest time I mean since March 20, i.e. Spring Equinox), I have been waiting for our tree beer on balconyto suddenly explode into green. Other trees in the park or on the block are probably one week ahead of ours. I was green with envy (pretty please pardon the pun once again).

But now that things are finally starting to come around, I quite like seeing the itty bitty day-to-day changes. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still prefer having large leaves camouflaging our balcony breakfasts from the passersby on the street. Still, the buds on the trees do remind me how ephemeral the actual season of spring is. It helps me live in the present. Cheesy? Maybe. But still true.

I’ve only got a month and a half left in Montreal. And it’s finally nice. We’re going to milk the balcony for all it’s worth. Yep, we’ve been having Pit Caribous over chips and salsa (made with our lovely Lufa Farm tomatoes, by the way). Oh, yeah, and making pitchers of panakam with our meals. There may be meal on balconysome creeping on our senior citizens neighbors across the way involved. And often, I find myself doing some reading of paper books. Those iPads are pretty horrible in the sun, huh?

This spring frenzy extends far beyond Jordan and I. When 60 degrees finally rolls around, this city starts to go crazy. The terrasses are filled, the buses are empty, the bike lanes are wheel-to-wheel. Picnickers are scattered along the hillside. The sand volleyball courts are even put to use by pale-bodied, bikini-clad women.

People often talk about how Montreal is a completely different city between the winter and the rest of the year. You know, we hear all of that “There’s no where else I’d rather be than Montreal in the summer” stuff. You hear it so much that you start to feel blasé about it. Especially when you hear it in the thick of the awful month of March here.  But, you know, gol-ly, now that spring is here, it does feel like a different city. I almost forgot between last year and this year.

balcony meal

Ahhh, the skirts are back. Sandals are [almost] back. Green is back. Spring is back. The city is back.

Happy actual spring!

tree buds

Le Dizzy et Le Week-end | Rounding Out My Persian Week

Hey everyone, how were your weekends? I’m hoping yours were a bit sunnier than ours in Montreal. The whole weekend has been rain or threat of rain. At the moment, the rain doesn’t seem worth it, as the trees are nowhere near the green we’re all longing for at this point. The weekend was drearier than I hoped, but still many good things came out of it. I almost finished an editing project I’ve been working on, started a new writing project (or rather, starting researching for it), and got a run in.

le dizzy

More importantly, though, the husband returned this weekend! He got in around 1 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning. Wait, did I mention he was gone? Jordan was in D.C. for a week giving a workshop on some of his geo-stuff. He slept in late Saturday morning, had a cup of coffee, and then filled me in on some details with a good amount of enthusiasm. It’s safe to say he enjoyed his time at the workshop.

And finally, we joined some friends for a Sunday evening meal. In the words of my friend, “You’ve had a really Persian week this week!” It’s true, really. I met my friend earlier in the week for a tea at a cafe with a Persian twist, have been reading a book about life in Tehran, watched a movie based on an amazing book by a Persian author (I adored the book!), bought a Persian cookbook, and finally capped the week off by going out with our friends, Mahsa and Benham, to Byblos, a Persian cafe on the Plateau.le dizzy food

In particular, we went for Le Dizzy (or the Dizi, or Abgoosht) on the recommendation of our friends. Continuing with my week-long theme, we ordered a Shiraz to go along with our meal.

This dish actually contains two dishes in one–your soup and your sandwich. It’s served in the clay pot above, along with an empty bowl. The broth/soup is poured into the bowl, while the lamb, chickpeas, and beans (plus any other solids) are held in the pot. The server demonstrated the pouring technique for the newbies at the table, using my dish. I was relieved, since it seemed a bit tricky and I can be a bit clumsy now and again.

le dizzy

le dizzy food

le dizzy food

The soup itself is tasty and eaten with crunchy pita, but the real fun starts after the soup is finished. You get to take out all your built-up aggression on your meal by grinding the remainder of the food in your dizi pot into a purée. This is also the best part of the meal. The purée is then used to make sandwiches or be eaten with bread, a type of relish, and fresh herbs. All ingredients were good separately, but when you put the combination together, it’s really complex and interesting. I vote for the mint combo!

dizzy food

And don’t forget to finish the meal with tea and dates. Jordan tried to head out before the tea because he had to meet a friend, but our server told him he had to stay persuaded him to stay for a quick tea. I had to giggle at this. Wish he listened to my pleas so easily!

For those in Montreal, I definitely recommend the dish and cafe for the food and ambiance. The service, well…thankfully it wasn’t the reason we went. For those of you outside of Montreal, if you have the opportunity to try the dish, I highly recommend it.


Did anyone do anything fun this weekend? Or do you have any plans for this fine week? We’ve got one more day of rain, but then a forecast of sun and 60s for three days in a row. Come on, leaves, grow!

Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Que tengan un buen día 🙂


Playing Tourist | Poutine at La Banquise

la rachel poutine

Welp, we finally went.

woman with poutine

Now that we’ve officially decided on our plans for the summer, I’m getting serious about playing tourist and ticking a few things of my Montreal To-Do List. I had two poutine places in my sights, and last weekend, we checked La Banquise off the list. La Banquise is the most well-known poutine shop in Montreal. It’s open 24 hours a day and offers around thirty varieties of poutine. There are other things on the menu, but if you’re not going to order poutine, you should probably just choose another restaurant. Really.

We arrived around 8:30 and only had to wait in line for about ten or fifteen minutes. This was not the case when we left. But at least you can watch the people working in the kitchen dance and sing while they prepare the poutines.

la banquise from outside

la banquise kitchen

I ordered La Rachel (green peppers, onions, and mushrooms), and Jordan ordered La Kamikaze. We both went with the regular-sized portions. I thought it went without saying that we were going with the regular (not large) portions and gave our waiter a look of shock/horror/amazement when he asked what size each of us had wanted. What you see pictured here are the regular portions. We are not eating machines.

la rachel poutine

There were certainly a good number of actual tourists in the restaurant with us, making me feel better about snapping our photos as we ate. And really, shouldn’t we all play tourist where we live from time to time anyway?

A Visit to Lufa Farms’ Open House (and dinner at a friend’s place)

Lufa Farms has been on our radar for quite some time, and we’ve casually talked about it in the past. But then all within a month, I met a former employee, two of my ESL learners brought it up in class (and were very satisfied), and Lufa Farms offered an open house. I guess it takes a lot to convince us to jump on board sometimes.

lufa farms

Lufa Farms is a Montreal-based, commercial, hydroponic, rooftop farm. That’s a mouthful, but it tells you much of what you needs to know. It on a roof (and although claims to be urban, feels suburban after living in the downtown area), uses hydroponic techniques (meaning no soil to grow plants), and it is for profit.

Lufa offered two days of tours, one in English and one in French. The theme was an urban sugar shack, but this was really beside the point. Still,  it was nice to be greeted by someone in front of the building. And I took part in what could possibly be my last tire sur la neige (maple taffy) experience for quite some time.

lufa farms

maple taffy

(Yep, it was windy)

The tour itself consisted of two main sections. It started with the greenhouse tour, which was informative and casual. We learned about the biological pest controls used (all hail the ladybug!), the automated shading and lighting systems, and the in-house bees used for pollination. The farm tries to reuse as much water as possible and also collects rainwater for use.

lufa farms


lufa farms

lufa farms

The second part of the tour concluded with an explanation of how the basket program works. It’s similar to a traditional CSA, except that you’re able to customize your basket on a weekly basis should you desire to do so. On top of that, they partner with many other local producers in the area, so that you’re able to buy everything from St. Viateur bagels to local dairy products.  Ultimately, we were convinced to sign up, albeit not on-site, and are looking forward to picking up our first basket next week. It’s probably safe to bet that I’ll be mentioning them again soon.

After the tour, we wandered around the Villeray neighborhood for a bit before heading over to visit Courtney and Momo. You might remember them from the Sugar Shack/Cabane à Sucre visit to Ferme le Crépuscule.

We were treated to an authentic and delicious couscous. Did you know there is special pot for making couscous called a couscousiere? Naturally, I want one now.


meal with friends

The couscous was followed up with some baklava and other delicious pastries and tea.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend, full of produce and good company. Sorry about the snow that you received in the Midwest. If it makes you feel better, I still see snow on the hill outside our window, too. But let’s ignore that! Happy Monday!