Two new cookbooks pique our appetite for travel

Two new cookbooks pique our appetite for travel

For the last couple of weeks, we've been staring at a pair of cookbooks on our living room coffee table. One is Gunpowder: Explosive Flavors from Modern India, the other Levant: New Middle Eastern Cooking from Tanoreen. But instead of inspiring us to rush to Whole Foods and stock up on ingredients, they're making us consider booking some airline tickets. We tend to read cookbooks the way some people read guidebooks. We realize that this tendency works against our long-term interests, since we actually write guidebooks and don't write recipe books. But we can't help ourselves. Food is the easiest gateway into culture, and as we read the recipes, we imagine ourselves in distant kitchens. It doesn't hurt that both books are written by expatriate...Read More
Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

Pour a cool one on Montreal Craft Beer Tour

With Heineken as one of the sponsors of the Montreal Jazz Festival, there's no shortage of beer for sale at the outdoor food and drink stalls. But if you are a hops-head looking for something more than a quick thirst quencher, you might want to set aside time for a Montreal Brewpub Experience (montrealcraftbeertours.com). On a previous visit to Montreal, we joined one of the walking and tasting tours—along with a group of extremely cheerful guys on a bachelor party getaway. Stéphane Lussier (our guide shown at right) told us that Montreal jumped on the craft beer bandwagon about 30 years ago. He also pointed out that Montreal is one of the biggest brewing cities in North America. In addition to brewing giants Labatt, Molson,...Read More
Get front-row seats at Taverne F and Brasserie T!

Get front-row seats at Taverne F and Brasserie T!

Two spectacular and chic dining venues on the Place des Festivals give some diners front-row seats for outdoor concerts during the Montreal Jazz Festival. Known simply as “F” and “T” to most Montrealers, they are the semi-casual little siblings of a couple of high-end gourmet restaurants. They're built along the side of the Place des Arts complex. As you might expect, their food offerings are far removed from the casual handheld fare offered at the kiosks inside the festival grounds. Taverne F (below, left) (1485 rue Jeanne Mance, 514-289-4558, tavernef.com/en/) is the offspring of the city's go-to fine Portuguese restaurant, Ferreira Café on rue Peel. F focuses on petiscos, small plates meant to be shared. They range from pastéis de bacalhau (cod cakes with dried...Read More
Chill at Bar Furco before the band starts playing

Chill at Bar Furco before the band starts playing

When it opened, Bar Furco (425 rue Mayor, 514-764-3588, barfurco.com) attracted a lot of attention for its industrial chic renovation of a Canadian Fur Company warehouse. It even won a 2014 prize from Design Montreal, the city agency that's charged with keeping Montreal in the forefront of creativity. We were curious about the clever use of concrete in the interior. But when we arrived and discovered that one of the tiny round marble tables on the equally tiny terrasse was vacant, we grabbed it. A Montrealer would have done the same. The city's residents pretty much live outside during their short, glorious summers. Sitting on the terrasse surrounded by window boxes full of splashy nasturtiums was just too good to resist. Bar Furco is really...Read More
Two jazzy dining options shine in Place des Arts

Two jazzy dining options shine in Place des Arts

The Place des Arts complex is at the heart of the Quartier des Spectacles and many of the Montreal Jazz Festival ticketed performances take place in its concert halls. It's also a good place for a quiet break. Within Place des Arts, the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal (185 rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, 514-847-6226, macm.org) was Canada's first museum focused entirely on contemporary art. The often intriguing exhibits make a good counterpoint to the Jazz Festival's equally intriguing music. Within the museum, the Restaurant du MAC (above, left) is open for lunch and very early dinner (11a.m. to 6 p.m.) every day except Sunday. Chefs lean toward local products but often take their cues from the art on display. Inspired by this summer's exhibition of large-scale...Read More
Accords a jazzy spot for pre- or post-show dining

Accords a jazzy spot for pre- or post-show dining

Pass La Vitrine in the daytime and you might say, “oh, what a nice modern glass building.” Encounter it at night (above) and it might take your breath away with the extraordinary red rods that illuminate the structure. Located on rue Ste-Catherine est at the corner of boulevard St-Laurent, La Vitrine (lavitrine.com) houses a number of concerns. For starters, it's the ticket headquarters for almost everything happening in Montreal, including most of the city's many festivals. Jazz included. Since it is literally steps from Club Soda and across the street from M Telus (the former Metropolis), La Vitrine is in the heart of the shows on the east edge of the Quartiers des Spectacles. That's what makes Accords Bistro (22 rue Ste-Catherine est, 514-508-2122, accords.ca;...Read More
Chinatown noodles fortify jazz buffs

Chinatown noodles fortify jazz buffs

Montreal's small but bustling Chinatown sits between the east end of downtown and Old Montreal. It's literally steps from the Place des Festivals where outdoor concerts and performances take place during the Jazz, Circus, and Comedy festivals. The neighborhood is a remnant of the days when Chinese laborers helped build the Canadian railroads, which were headquartered in Montreal. Like most Chinatowns in North America, the community has welcomed immigrants from Southeast Asia. (Montreal is a worldwide magnet for people leaving former French colonies, including Indo-China.) Nonetheless, the neighborhood still maintains a Chinese identity. Pedestrian rue de la Gauchtière is lined with all manner of gift shops, grocers, and restaurants. But at lunchtime (any day but Monday), we like to detour to Restaurant Noodle Factory, a...Read More
Indoor casual food alternative during Jazz Festival

Indoor casual food alternative during Jazz Festival

No one needs to go hungry or thirsty during the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal. Lots of festival food vendors are posted throughout the pedestrianized areas within the Quartiers des Spectacles. The kiosks scattered throughout the plazas between stages have plenty of pulled pork, pizza, poutine, giant hot dogs, beaver tails, ice cream, beer, and wine for sale. But sometimes it pays to look beyond the obvious and duck indoors to find some less predictable food. The Complex Desjardins is located on rue Ste-Catherine right in front of the Rio Tinto stage and across the street from MAC, the Musée d'Art Contemporain. The stage inside Desjardins is oriented to music for youngsters at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. College musicians perform at 5 p.m....Read More
Multiculturalism jazzes up the menu on the Plateau

Multiculturalism jazzes up the menu on the Plateau

Like many Montrealers, the new gentry of the Plateau prize authenticity. How else to explain the nostalgic appeal of old-fashioned restaurants from an earlier era? Francophone points of reference like La Binerie and Jewish touchstones like Schwartz's are treasures for the whole city, but they cannot be separated from the Plateau. Here are three spots to get historic tastes of Montreal when you're visiting for the Jazz Festival. Schwartz's Smoked Meat There's nearly always a line out front of this narrow deli that has occupied the same spot on The Main (as Anglophones used to call boulevard Saint-Laurent) since 1928. But it rarely takes more than fifteen minutes before you'll be seated family style at a long table. Then things move pretty quickly. Everyone orders...Read More
Sentimental Journey: Old neighborhood tastes of Mile End

Sentimental Journey: Old neighborhood tastes of Mile End

Sometimes we pine for the old days of Montreal tribalism. Living on Le Plateau meant you spoke French at home and ate feves au lard every Saturday night. Growing up in Mile End meant you spoke English at home (with maybe a little Yiddish) and were by birth an expert on bagels. Mind you, the two neighborhoods are so close that Montreal Tourism lumps them together. Mile End extends east from Parc Mont-Royal to boulevard Saint-Laurent, and north from boulevard Saint-Joseph to the railroad tracks. Through most of the twentieth century, it was home to aspiring immigrants, including many Central and Eastern European Jews immortalized in the novels of native son Mordecai Richler (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz). Nowadays, it's pretty cosmopolitan, filled with good...Read More