Did you know that Montreal has a rivalry with New York over bagels? Everyone here talks about it. Montreal bagels are smaller and thinner with a bigger hole and are always baked in a wood fired oven.They are boiled in honey-sweetened water before going into the fire. And to make it more interesting– the city is evenly split between those that love the ones from St Viateur and those that swear by Fairmount bagels. The shops are in the same cool Mile End neighborhood a few blocks apart—so off I set early this morning on my Bixi bike. I arrive at St Viateur and there is NOBODY there. After hearing about the usually long lines around the block I assume they are closed, but no–there with his wood-fire paddle shoveling bagels into the oven is Joe Santa Maria. I asked for whichever bagel is coming out of the oven now and it is sesame. I tear into it and it is different–really crispy on the outside and chewy inside. Delicious! Joe and I have a great chat about the karma of coming when there is no line-(he has no idea why) and how people often mistake him for Adrien Brody. As I left, the line was quickly forming. I walk a few blocks and find myself at Fairmount Bagels–only one person ahead of me. Sesame is also coming out hot and I take one and sit on a bench—hmmm–good–but no comparison to St Viateur. Or maybe it was just that Joe was so gosh darn adorable.
Now that I am on a roll I decide I’m already committed to the Mile End neighborhood, so I head to the most famous smoked meat place in town–Schwartz’s. Now there the line is down the block. But I notice that a separate door says take-out and I go in there to see wonderfully smiling Helen saying come on in and get my sandwich. She points to a lovely area in the back to eat and I think—why on earth would I wait in that line and sit in a noisy crowded elbow to elbow diner when I can get the same thing right here. I order-it is smoked brisket on rye bread with yellow mustard. You can go lean, medium or fatty and Helen says to go for the medium–great choice. So happy!
Helen tells me where the nearest Bixi bike stand is and I go get another bike and head to the Place des Arts. The symphony opens tonight and I’d love to go, but online they were sold out. I go into the beautiful arts complex and find that indeed there is one ticket available and it is an excellent seat. Out with the AMEX and the ticket is secured. Kent Nagano has been the conductor for 10 years and quite acclaimed plus the Orchestre Symphonique de Montreal is in a magnificent building. So my day has gone from bikes and bagels to little black dress and violins and that is just how Montreal rolls.
The piece tonight is Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana which I love because it combines the orchestra with a large chorus. Stay tuned!