Thursday, May 30, 2013

road trip: montreal

memorial day weekend weather report: cold, rainy, and windy. granted we were in montreal, where it tends to be colder, but things didn't fare much better in connecticut. where did spring go? how is it almost june, 45 degrees during the day, and constantly raining? lame, mother nature, lame. 

it turned out to be a fairly quiet weekend with some quality reading time and impromptu naps...oh, and great food of course. the dreariness of the weather didn't stop us from eating and drinking our way around the city. since we've visited montreal loads of times before, we decided to keep things low key and stick to cheap eats and good coffee. 

serious eats had put together a small list of independent coffee places in montreal which we took full advantage of on this trip. we hit up three of the five top picks and, inadvertently, one of the 'honorable mentions.' each of the places was simple in design with an affinity for quality coffee and in some cases good pastries. up until a couple months ago, i had never had a coffee with a pretty design, so i'm still sort of geeking out over it; don't mind me~

caffeine fixes and frothy art aside, new food venues were next on our list. first up was a dumpling place qing hua, featuring soup dumplings--steamed, boiled, or fried. these weren't quite the shanghai soup dumplings we're used to, but steaming hot soup dumplings and tea were actually perfect for the weather.

we ordered the pork, shrimp, and leek, pork with green onion, and lamb with green onion. only after we finished eating did i find out we could have gotten half and half per order. imagine all the fillings we could have tried! oh well, next time. 

for all the times we've been to montreal, we never had 'real' poutine--a quebecois dish of fries with gravy and cheese curds. we were due. the first place we tried was patati patatathe restaurant is very tiny with limited seating, but we lucked out with a corner spot near the window/counter. (the place also does take out, so that's always an option for your poutine fix.) we ordered a poutine plus salad to share and two sliders for sean. the poutine was absolutely delicious and surprisingly not as gut-busting and heavy as i expected. (it probably helped that we paired it with a salad.) the gravy was well-flavored and lightly coated--but did not overwhelm--the fries, and the springy cheese curds were a good balance to the meatiness of the gravy. the fries themselves were just crispy enough to hold up to the gravy and cheese without being super oily. during the rest of the weekend, we tried two other poutines (one from main deli steakhouse and one from schwartz's), but i felt they didn't compare to the one at patati patata.

we couldn't really go to montreal without getting some french breakfast pastries and smoked meat sandwiches. sean had his fill of pain au chocolat with his coffees, but my favorite was an almond croissant from olive+gourmando in vieux montreal. the croissant was light and flaky, coated with a not-overly-sweet glaze and sprinkling of slivered almonds.

as far as smoked meat sandwiches, we decided to try main deli steakhouse across the street from the famed schwartz's. no waiting in a ridiculous line in the rain for a cramped table. we both went with the special: smoked meat sandwich, fries, coleslaw, and a pickle (sean upgraded his fries to poutine). definitely good, but we couldn't help but compare it with schwartz's. they are rightfully raved about for a reason; and now with a separate deli/store next door, picking up sandwiches to go is extremely convenient. (hello, food souvenirs and road trip lunch.) so, while it was good to try a new place, i think our loyalties lie with schwartz's. (it appears that casey agrees.)

when we weren't eating and caffeinating, we spent our time wandering different parts of the city and then basically hibernating in the hotel. here are some random (non-food) snapshots from the weekend:
MONTREAL: gloomy weather? check. delicious food and coffee? double check. another great trip to montreal? triple check.

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