Montreal: A feast of sights, sounds and edible delights
For many Americans, a trip to Europe is a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Luckily for us, a much shorter trip to Montreal, in Quebec, affords us a European feel and plenty of French-influenced cuisine. During the summer in Montreal, everyone is crazy about being outdoors. After all, they only have about 2 months of this glorious short-sleeve weather. Restaurants keep their doors open and even bring in temporary patios to enjoy the limited summer weather. Fun fact: Restaurants bring in pre-built “patios” of sorts that are set in front of the restaurant where two parking spots would be. They pay the city the fees they would have made from parking.
Eat: Montreal is an city full of incredible restaurants
At Accords take advantage of the resident mixologist, Julien, and definitely get this outstanding duck entrée. No matter where you sit at Les Enfants Terribles, you’ll have a beautiful view of the city. Although you may be tempted, don’t fill up on the delicious poutine or fish and chips. You need to save room for the pouding chômeur, a traditional French-Canadian sweet. Funny enough, it was originally made for the poor using leftover bread. This rich dessert is best balanced with a cappuccino.
Da Emma in Old Montreal is a fantastic way to either kick off or end your Montreal visit on a high note. The building was once a women’s prison but has been transformed into a cozy Italian restaurant. Be on the lookout; this place is a hotbed for celebrities such as George Clooney. Its swordfish and lamb dishes are to die for. If you’re lucky, you may even get to sneak into the kitchen and meet chef Emma, a gregarious and lovely host.
Smoked meats are a big deal in Montreal. They aren’t called charcuterie or pastrami, like we would call them in the United States, but simply smoked meats. Schwartz’s Deli is an institution and has been serving them up for decades. Get them on regular sandwich bread, or do like the Canadians do and eat them on a toasted bagel.
Know before you go: Americans may take Sunday brunch very seriously, but the streets of Montreal remain rather empty on Sunday morning. While you may be ready for a delicious brunch feast, you may find it difficult to find an open restaurant. After some walking, we were lucky enough to come upon Dunn’s, famous for its bagels. Montreal bagels are different from New York bagels in that they are thinner and slightly sweetened by honey. They are also baked in a wood-fire oven. Don’t leave Montreal without sampling one!
A short subway ride away from Montreal’s city center is the Marché Jean-Talon in Little Italy. It is a lovely Italian market that you should get lost in. You’ll be able to sample pastas, fresh seafood, ice wine, waffles, and some of the freshest fruits available. Pick up some strawberries as these are some of the sweetest, juiciest you’ll ever have. Also, keep an eye out for maple syrup foods like wine, chocolate and slushies.
You can’t walk very far in Montreal without coming across a bakery. How do the people of Montreal stay so svelte? The smell of fresh baked goods is intoxicating the moment you enter. Simple items like croissants and Nutella filled doughnuts are delicious themselves, but items like egg tarts, French Macarons or the extravagant cakes are a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.
Arts & Music in Montreal
Summer season isn’t long in Montreal so they make the most of it. We ran into a semi pop up Cirque du Soleil like performance that took place in a beer garden. The performance, one of many, during the summer is free for anyone to attend (if you can find a spot). So, in celebration of Montreal’s 375th birthday, they’ll most definitely have more pop up art performances just like this.
But the highlight of summer is the Montreal Jazz Festival. Even if you think you don’t like jazz, the energy of this festival is incredible. And some amazing music that I can only describe as rock-infused jazz that I’ve never heard before was astounding. Plus, there are so many different stages, even if you don’t like one, head over and peep another one.
Where to stay in Montreal:
This gorgeous hotel is in the city center. It overlooks beautiful gardens and is close to many attractions and is in walking distance to many restaurants. You can’t beat the Marriott Cheateau Champlain in Montreal for its comfort and proximity to be close to so many attractions. Plus, rooms are spacious and the light bites we enjoyed at the bar were excellent.
If you can’t tell from the pictures, I had a fabulous time visiting Montreal last year! It was my first of many visits I hope. If you have the chance to visit Montreal for their 375th anniversary, I know you’ll be wowed by all there is to see and do in Montreal.