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
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
Butter tart: the apogee of Canadian pastry

Butter tart: the apogee of Canadian pastry

We're just back from a few days of boating on the Rideau Canal in Ontario aboard one of the new cruisers offered by Le Boat (www.leboat.com). Stops on the waterway are at villages where the men and women of Parks Canada operate the mostly hand-cranked 19th century locks so boats can pass. We spent a couple of days docked next to the locks at Merrickville, a town that couldn't have been cuter if Disney had invented it (and wouldn't be so historic if Disney had). Several people had told us that we really shouldn't miss the butter tarts at Nana B's (318 Main Street West, Merrickville, ON; 613-454-1380; www.nanabbakery.ca). When we walked up to the bakery from the village center on a Sunday afternoon, Nana...Read More
Getting a handle on premium Chilean wines

Getting a handle on premium Chilean wines

My understanding of Chilean wine has been minimal. Exposed largely to inexpensive Cabernets and Sauvignon Blanc, I've long associated Chile with good bargains. Oh, the occasional eye-opening bottle of Carignan found its way to our table—and we rejoiced when one did and marveled at both the price—roughly six times the cost of a bargain Chilean red—and the great quality even at that price. If the Wines of Chile marketing consortium has its way, we'll all be having more of those aha! moments over glasses of Chilean wine. The group just barnstormed through Boston, Chicago, and D.C. with 15 wineries in tow for trade tastings of what they call “site specific artisan wines.” More important, they brought along one of the most genial and knowledgeable interpreters...Read More
Luce wines turn toward the future

Luce wines turn toward the future

As one of the first super Tuscan wines, Luce was the joint vision of the Marchesi de' Frescobaldi and the late Robert Mondavi. Blending the Montalcino clone of Sangiovese with Merlot, they created a red with supple vigor and friendly tannins that was immediately met with popular and critical success. More than two decades have passed, and Luce remains a powerful alternative to the best Brunello di Montalcino. In recent years, however, the Tenuta Luce delle Vite estate has branched out with a more approachable and affordable second level wine called Lucente. They are also changing the way they age their Brunello. When Luce's technical director, Stefano Ruini, passed through Boston recently, we sat down to taste the latest releases and discuss changes at the...Read More
Tipperary’s first releases hint of great things to come

Tipperary’s first releases hint of great things to come

With clear spirits grabbing most of the attention these days, it's great to see that whiskey, too, is having its moment. Kentucky's big distilling companies are spawning specialty offspring almost daily, it seems. New Scotch whiskies are proliferating at such a rate that we wonder if the turf-cutters can keep up. And now we have an intriguing offering from an Irish boutique distillery that launched in March 2016. Tipperary Boutique Distillery (Newtownadam, Cahir, County Tipperary; tipperarydistillery.ie) is a joint project of three talents. Jennifer Nickerson, who grew up in the Scotch whisky industry, manages the company. Stuart Nickerson, a 35-year veteran of Irish and Scottish distilleries, advises on the technical issues. Liam Ahearn, Jennifer's fiance, grows the barley on his family's Ballindoney Farm outside Clonmel....Read More