Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Montreal Part 5: Ville Saint Laurent, heavenly Lebanese pizza, and our friend Russell

Sorry again for the hiatus. All this training for the race has me exhausted. So, where we were we?

The next day we skipped the run, had some bagels, cream cheese, and smoked salmon at home, and then headed out for a field trip to Saint Laurent (the suburb; not the street) to visit our dearest Russell as well as go to a Lebanese bakery called Andalos that Darcy used to go to when he worked in Montreal.

Saint Laurent is quite a trek from downtown, but the subway has such great coverage that it was pretty easy to get to (10 subway stops and a 10-min bus ride). Russell was working during the day, so we went first to Andalos for some 'Lebanese pizza'.

Andalos Bakery: Delicious pita, but no pictures allowed!
Darcy was very fortunate to be introduced to Andalos by his Lebanese friend, Fadi, who has since moved to Sudan. It's an enormous bakery with tonnes of goodies, both sweet (baklava-like pastries, olive oil-based cookies) and savoury (fresh pita bread, stuffed pastries, 'pizza'). They had a counter where you could choose the kind of 'pizza' you wanted (Darcy ordered cheese for him and a Lahmbajoun for me) and they would top it as you liked with fresh ingredients (mint, lemon juice, tomatoes, onions, etc.) before rolling it up like a wrap.

While Darcy was ordering our sandwiches, I, of course, started walking around the shop taking pictures. Darcy told me that the guy making our sandwiches saw my camera and started motioning frantically to another guy to stop me. That guy did catch up with me. He wasn't terribly angry, but he was serious about it. I should have asked why, but I never do. I can't think of a reasonable explanation. Trade secrets? In any case, I won't post those pictures since they felt so strongly about it. Darcy was just glad that I didn't offend anyone enough to deny us the Lebanese pizza.

We sat outside on a picnic table in front of the shop and enjoyed our pizza. And it really was so incredibly good. This was the first time I'd ever had a freshly baked pita and it was out of this world: soft and slightly crispy on the outside. My Lahmajoun (ground beef and lamb) pizza was amazing, but I think Darcy's was better (goat-like cheese topped with fresh mint, tomatoes, and lemon juice). This place is so far from downtown, but I think that every time we come to the Montreal, we're going to have to make a special trip.

Marche Adonis: Lebanese Loblaws
We killed some time before Russell got back by browsing in Marche Adonis, a huge Lebanese supermarket pretty much right in Russell's backyard. Much like Arz in Toronto, it's a Loblaws-sized grocery store but everything is Middle Eastern. They had tonnes of fresh baked goods, homemade cheeses, produce, and meats. I didn't take any pictures though (sorry) because I was fresh from being scolded in Andalos.

Russell and his three ladies
Russell lives in a small apartment complex just beside the 15 (very busy highway). The traffic there is incessant and Russell thinks it sounds like waves crashing on a beach. It does actually. Count on him to see the bright side. After a wild ride to the grocery store to get beer (Montreal drivers are as nuts as they say), we settled in and watched 300 (never seen before; great movie) with his three cats, Data, Spock, and Worf (yes, Russell likes Star Trek). It's amazing how cats will grow into the name you give them. Worf turned out to be the most corpulent one and Data lives up to her name by seeming to have no emotions at all.

Our Matchmakers, Russell and Paula
Russell has a new job where he has to be at work for 5AM (yikes!), so it was an early night, but it was great to see him. It's actually thanks to Russ and my childhood friend, Paula, that Darcy and I met. Darcy encountered Russell back in university when they were both in the Army Reserves during the summer. It's not what you think though. Their tour of duty involved playing in the marching band (Darcy played clarinet and Russell was a percussionist). In 1994, they both moved to Montreal to join their then significant others. On the May long weekend of 1996, Paula (who also played in that same marching band) came to Montreal to visit me. The four of us spent some time together and the rest is history. They didn't try to fix us up, but it just turned out that way. Thanks Paula and Russ, you guys are the best.

The funny thing is that between 1994 and 1996, Darcy and I lived around the corner from each other in two different neighbourhoods. In the '94-'95 school year, we both lived in the McGill Ghetto and went to the same depanneur to buy beer and junk food. In '95-'96, we both moved to the Plateau and frequented the same laundromat. I like to think of us back then passing each other on the street and not knowing that in less than 10 years, we'd be married.

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