It was a short night last night with the Don Henley concert, dinner after and the construction workers starting up at 6:40 am. When I’m foggy, I can’t plan, so I just pull one of my Shirley maxims out of the bag and let it guide me. The title of this post is a maxim I grab often and it has never let me down. As I open the door to Place d’Youville, this is what greets me.
Beautiful crisp fall day. Since my last post was about a rare day in Montreal that didn’t involve food, I intend this post to make amends for that. I want to start with, well… the first part of the day. As we can all agree, pastries are a very important start to any day while on a trip and I literally am smack dab between two of the best pastry shops in all of Montreal–Maison Christian Faure and Olive and Gourmando. The first is lovely, refined and quiet while the second is raucous, noisy and rustic. Both often have long lines, but the beauty of a month of Shirleyfest is I have psyched out the line timing and can usually time both just right for a fix any day I want.
The lead picture is from Olive and Gourmando, where a few days ago I had the most delicious breakfast, thanks to Benjamin getting me in and seated at the table overlooking Rue St. Paul, the oldest street in Montreal and one street from my apartment.
And on many mornings I face these choices at Maison Christian Faure.
But today, I want to try something different, so I head to the iconic Parisian style bistro L’Express. I take the metro 3 stops and walk a few blocks and am warmly greeted by Arryanne. I want to see what they do with something simple, so I pick the fruit plate and coffee. Well… this is what I get.
It is such a beautiful simple thing that I really don’t want to destroy it. So I decide to subject it to a layer by layer deconstruction which I photograph to be able to do this the next time I have house guests. I won’t include all the layers in this post, but just look at how delish this one layer is.
Fortified, I decide to stroll up Rue St Denis. The street, like many of the streets in Montreal, has little pedestrian areas every few blocks to sit and relax. Here is one I take a seat at for a while.I stop to shop at a great place that features designers from Montreal and Quebec, called La Gamine. I have a most interesting conversation with the woman running the store today and when I ask her name, she points to the street sign–Denis–just like the street. I think Denise might just want to do a Denisefest after our long talk. I buy myself a few great things and then take a bike from the Bixi rack and bike over to Mile Ex. I was getting hungry–I mean it was fruit after all. I end up at Manitoba. The space is beautiful with two long bars, a few minimalist style tables, and tables both out back on a patio and out front in a parklet area. One of the owners, Simon, is there and he is so friendly, as is my server, Blaine, and the two chefs I end up sitting in front of (open kitchen)— Frank and Cedric. The food is fresh, local, organic ingredient, driven and as close to nature as possible. I decide on a salad of two kinds of greens, housemade aioli, roasted cauliflower and shallots and topped with fresh grilled sardines. Frank and Cedric tell me that the sardines, which are perfectly cooked, are female sardines that have the “caviar” in them. Seriously…this is a restaurant that gets the fine points down while being ultra casual and cool. I end up talking to a fellow diner at the bar, Philippe, who is a photographer with his studio nearby. He confesses that this is his lunch counter several days a week. His dish looks amazing too!
I need coffee. I have made a point of trying as many locally roasted coffees as possible and the best by far is a company doing artisanal coffee called Dispatch Coffee. Their headquarters and roasting area, as it turns out, is next door to Manitoba. How convenient for me! I buy a bag of coffee and get a cup to go. I turn around to take this picture and the lovely lady who had gotten my beans gives a wave just as I snap the camera. Pretty much epitomizes why I am loving Montreal–yes the food….but most importantly the people.