Saturday, August 18, 2007

Montreal Part 1: A Trip Down (Food) Memory Lane

Since I am so terribly tardy in blogging about Montreal, it would have taken me forever to give the entire run down in one go. So, I'm a week late, but I decided to dole it out in daily doses over the next while. I know, no work ethic!

Getting out of town
We caught the 5PM train out of Toronto last Friday with about a billion people and two chicken sandwiches from Churrasco's in St. Lawrence Market. I always get these sandwiches before getting on the train to Montreal and they are so good: Portuguese roasted chicken drenched in piri piri sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a floury bun. I was so preoccupied with it that before I knew it, we were well outside of Toronto.

We arrived at about 10PM in the sweltering heat and walked from the train station down Rene Levesque to my sister's place (she's in Romania for the week at a wedding, so we're cat/condo sitting/living beyond our means). She's living in a beautiful loft-style condo with a lovely, large terrace facing Old Montreal. Sigh.

Dim Sum at Restaurant Lotte
The next morning we went for a 3-mile run (believe it or not) and then headed straight to our favourite dim sum at Restaurant Lotte Furama (1115 rue Clark), which is just across the street in Chinatown. If you Google this restaurant, you'll find old web sites that say it is at 215 Rene Levesque Est in the Furama Hotel, but that was about 5-7 years ago. This is a fabulous spot for dim sum. I uncharacteristically forgot my camera, so I don't have pictures, but a lot of the dishes we had were the same as when we went in February: garlic spareribs, tofu with scallops (deep-fried tofu with shrimp and scallops on top), steamed taro cake (starchy taro cake with brine shrimp, Chinese sausage, and lot of five spice), shrimp dumplings, shrimp and cilantro dumplings, siu mai, and yuba rolls (pork and bamboo shoots wrapped in tofu skin). Fantastic.

Three-Decker Dream Sandwiches at Cafe Santropol
After an afternoon siesta of reading, napping, and watching movies, we headed to Cafe Santropol for dinner for some fresh food after all that cooked protein. I haven't been to this place in yonks and other than a few additions to menu, it's exactly the same as back in the day when I was a student. They seated us in the lovely back garden that has shady trees, a fish pond, and a cat who wanders through the tables like a maitre d'.

Santropol's specialty is enormous sandwiches on fresh baked brown bread with generous fillings, usually including cream cheese. I had the hardest time deciding on one thing, but I ended up order the Yelapa Moon, which is a three-decker sandwich with Hungarian cheese (creamy, spicy cheese), pickled onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and chicken. Darcy got the Number 13, which is also three-decker with bananas, cream cheese, honey, and black currant jam. Mine was delicious and everything was incredibly fresh, but I have to admit that Darcy's was better. It sounds so sweet, but the cream cheese is a little sour and the bread has rye in it, so it works. So delicious.

Our Old Stomping Grounds: The Plateau
Since we were there already, we walked around the old neighbourhood where we lived when we met back in 1996. It was so nice to have the time to take a leisurely look around and see what is still there and what has changed. Most of my favourites are still there: Amelio's, Mamma's, LaFleur, Mazurka, Schwartz's, Blue Nile, and the depanneur on Prince Arthur where we used to buy $7 wine and Durango (orange-flavoured Quebec beer). Bistro Duluth is sadly gone, but it's been 15 years since I first moved to Montreal so all things considered, my Montreal is still pretty intact, including
my last (and smallest) Montreal apartment at Jeanne Mance and Sherbrooke (less than 300 square feet!).

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