Montreal

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
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
Festivals and food make summer sizzle in Montreal

Festivals and food make summer sizzle in Montreal

Montreal is one of our favorite cities around the globe. Not only is it a great place to kick back and have fun—it's a fabulous place to eat. Montrealers find reasons to party all year long, but summer is especially packed with festivals. We'll be heading up for the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (montrealjazzfest.com). The 39th annual edition takes over the central city from June 28-July 7. (The photos above—upper left of Jethro Tull, lower right of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band—are courtesy of the festival staff.) The music sometimes stretches the definition of “jazz.” But it's all amazing and a lot of it takes place in free outdoor performances. The photo at upper right is from the Montreal Cirque Festival (montrealcompletementcirque.com). It...Read More

Montreal Poutinefest moves to August on 375th

This summer is a big birthday season in Canada. The country is marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation, and the city of Montreal is marking the 375th anniversary of its founding. As you can imagine, the period between the Quebec National Day (June 24) and Canada Day (July 1) is more hectic than usual in Montreal. So the Monteal Poutinefest, on which we reported last June, is making way for other celebrations on the Quai de l'Horloge in the Old Port. But it's expected to be back—bigger and better than ever—in August. So start making plans now. The Poutinefest is scheduled for August 15-20. Admission will again be free, but you might want to reserve a room in Montreal now. Don't say we didn't warn...Read More

Healthy poutine is not an oxymoron

“Eating vegetarian is a culture that grows every day,” acknowledges Gérôme Paquette, chef at L'Gros Luxe (www.lgrosluxe.com), a small chain of restaurants committed to a healthy lifestyle. “People are more cautious about what they are eating.” But that doesn't mean that diners want to give up flavor—or comfort food favorites such poutine. And Paquette (above left) is happy to oblige. “Creating a vegetarian version of poutine is not that complicated,” he says. He points out that it's all about balancing flavors and textures of the sauce and topping ingredients. In place of the typically rich meat gravy, Paquette creates a vegetable stock that he seasons as if it were a meat stock. For his Poutine Thai, he ladles the thickened veggie stock over the frites...Read More

Caribbean flavors explode in jerk chicken poutine

Montreal's multiculturalism is one key to the city's enduring appeal and its ability to constantly reinvent itself. Chef Jae Anthony is a case in point. His parents came from Barbados and Trinidad, and while Jae has roots in both Caribbean nations, he's a Montrealer through and through. He operates the Seasoned Dreams restaurant in the Côte Saint-Paul neighborhood, just over the Lachine Canal bridge near the Ambroise-McAuslan brewery. You can get his cooking all year long at 5205 rue Angers, Montreal (514-769-2222; seasoneddreams.com). Seasoned Dreams specializes in Caribbean fusion cooking, He also A portable version of the restaurant travels around to festivals. Finding Seasoned Dreams was a breeze at the Montreal Poutinefest. You could literally follow your nose. Chef Jae and his partner Julien Chemtof...Read More

Poutine plays nicely with lobster and bacon

Poutine's simplicity seems to spur cooks to increasingly baroque inventions. Think of a preschooler fantasizing about crossing a T. Rex with a firetruck, or wondering what superpowers the offspring of Superman and Wonder Woman might possess. Fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy have a salty, starchy goodness all their own. So what happens when you cross poutine with, say, a cheeseburger? Or lobster? Or lobster and bacon? It's the kind of thinking that led to a number of the ice cream mashup flavors at Ben & Jerry, but it suits the spirit of a poutine food truck festival. Especially in Montreal. What if...? One of the more successful forays into hybridizing fast foods turns out to be the bacon cheeseburger poutine. Think about it. It...Read More