Sunday, June 5, 2011

A calm afternoon on Bernard

Mile End is one of my favourite parts of Montreal, and Bernard is the heart of it. Running through Mile End and Outremont, it is a mix of student-friendly and family-friendly, affordable and chic and such a joy to wander through without a destination. There are innumerable gems to discover.

We studied on the back patio of Lumière du Mile End (214 Bernard O). The cappuccino was great and although we did not eat there, the sandwiches looked and smelled amazing. Our next stop next door, Café Dépanneur (206 Bernard O). The atmosphere here was amazing - they have independent artists that sign up to perform for 1 hour slots all day, every day. The schedule is displayed on a chalk board at the front of the café. They have a wide variety of omelettes, sandwiches, grilled cheese, deserts and coffees. My vegetarian omelette was not very good, but the deserts, coffee and live music were extraordinary. They also have a back room that is much more quiet and a great spot for studying (just like walking into a living room), as well as a patio.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mamie Clafoutis - Oh Mon Dieu...

This mouth-watering bakery sits on St-Denis right near Cherrier. I was drawn in by the irresistible smell of fresh breads and pastries that wafts into the street.

Oh, Mon Dieu!

This delicious pastry is filled with and covered in thick chocolate. It is to die for.

Chocolatines and croisssants

This bakery sells an assortment of chocolatines and croissants - plain as well as pistachio or almond. DELISH.

Pain au noix et fromage bleu

This bread is yummy - filled with blue cheese and walnuts. It is quite heavy but tastes amazing!

They also have cookies, muffins, sandwiches, macarons and much much more!

Best part

They have a nice area upstairs where you can sit, study, read, drink coffee or chat with friends. It is a perfect place to spend an afternoon working or chatting and likens a living room.

(3660 St-Denis)

Little Italy: Patisseries, gelato and espresso

A few weeks ago, my roommate and I went on a mission to find Italian bread for a recipe that she learned when she was living in Florence (see my Cuisine section for more on this).

On bixi, we cycled down St-Laurent stopping at every bakery and pastry shop we saw along the way. None of them had what she was looking for. We stopped at Pile ou Glace (7084 St-Laurent), a small café, to grab some espresso and gelato. Their nocciolo was amazing - just like in Italy.

We continued our adventure with clues that locals gave us. The owner of Pile ou Glace suggested Dante street. At the corner of Dante and Henri-Julien, we found Alati Casenta, a great pastry shop. We grabbed some pastries - cannolis and cassetina siciliana - and continued to Motta (corner Henri-Julien and Mozart E.) where we finally found the special Italian bread - and an assortment of other Italian delicacies - cheeses, sauces, breads, pizzas, coffees and more.

Bixi-ing to the Old Port

Old Montreal - where it all began. It is one of the most stunning and charming parts of the city. While it is awash with tourists (and pricey), it has a laid back feel with endless gorgeous terrasses, street entertainment galore and Montmartre-esque portrait artists.

Getting there in style

I bixi-ed from downtown to the Old Port. Bixi is one of my favourite ways to get around Montreal - it is quick, convenient and fun. There is a bike path that follows the waterfront which is really a pleasure to bike on.

Jardin Nelson

While Place Jacques-Cartier has a tremendous number of terrasses - my favourite is the Jardin Nelson. It has a massive patio in the back and live music in the evenings - last night was a mix of classical cello, base, saxophone and keyboard. It's not cheap - but the food is pretty good, whether you are just getting an appetizer and a drink, or whether you're committing to dinner. I had a crêpe Du Jardin - with vegetables, basil and three cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar and goat cheese. The service is quick - possibly too quick. I have been told the Mango Sangria is great too!

Quick Espresso

We stopped to listen to a duo performing some fun songs on guitar and drum in Place Jacques-Cartier, and continued on in the hopes of coming across a cute café to grab an espresso. We came across Café du Vieux. With several small tables set up along Boul. St. Laurent, it was a quaint place to grab a shot of caffeine. The allongé and macchiato were great ($2.50) and service was impeccable.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mile-end walking tour

Mile-end, the artsy northern part of the Plateau Mt-Royal, is an eclectic mix of residential living, Anglophones and Francophones, art galleries, cafés and bakeries. For more info on Mile-end, Wikipedia can always help.

First stop on the tour: ST-VIATEUR BAGELS (263 St-Viateur West)

This famous bagel shop, located on rue St-Viateur ouest, offers a variety of mouth-watering bagels at wallet-friendly prices. This is a staple stop on many late nights in Montreal as it is open 24 hours. The all-dressed bagel is full of flavour, but the sesame seed bagel has to be my favourite.

Second stop: CHESKIES BAKERY (359 Bernard West)

Ok, so Cheskies is technically in Outremont, but it was a just a little derive from our Mile-end tour. On rue Bernard, just West of avenue du Parc, this kosher pastry shop is to die for. One word: Babka.

Moving on to stop no. 3: CROISSANTERIE FIGARO (5200 Hutchison Street)

It is like walking off the street in Montreal (located on Hutchison near Fairmount) into a Parisian café. With an extensive menu of coffees, hot chocolates, teas, wines, fresh juices and pastries, this is a nice place to sit down and spend a quiet Sunday afternoon with friends, although a little pricey.

A special thanks to Allison, the local Mile-end guru.

Oot and Aboot AT HOME: Montréal in the summer

This Canadian globe-trotter and couchsurfer has been back home in the city of Montreal for nearly a year now. A student in the city, she has only seldom ventured beyond the campus environment into the city itself. This summer, for the first time in several years, she has decided to enjoy her native city and discover the excitement of a Montreal summer. Instead of hopping from couch to couch in foreign lands, she will settled down and host some surfers of her own, attend local festivals, discover local eats, bars, and local hidden secrets. From the cafés of Mile-end, to the fruit stands of Jean-Talon, and the countless parks, she will share her experiences here.

Follow throughout the summer to discover what Montreal has to offer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Favourite... Mint tea in Paris

La Grande Mosquée de Paris - in Paris 5e, a 2-minute walk from my apartment.

The Grande Mosquée is a mosque, but also has a restaurant that serves Moroccan pastries and meals and mint tea for 2.50 euro. You can get a meal for under 15 euros. Don't forget to try an amazing pastry before you leave.