An upsidedown “W” is an “M” and if you put W and M together, what have you got? ….
G and I flew to Montreal (way too) early on Thursday morning for a long weekend away filled with champagne-drinking and good French/Quebecois food exploration.
And while the adventure started poorly, when, at 5:00am, the car broke down right at the entrance of the Park ‘n Fly lot with the gate up and me, disbelieving and pissed, holding the ticket in hand – we did manage to push the car to a parking spot and catch our flight. Due thanks to CAA for their quick response.
This was a foodie’s escape suggested by Cousin Ora, who unfortunately wasn’t able to make the trek to Montreal at the last minute, leaving our fivesome a foursome (moi, G, Blee and Cousin Richard). We stayed Thurs-Sat nights at W Montreal and LOVED every second in their uber-funky suites, lounge and “livingroom” (aka lobby). As G and I arrived first, we checked into Blee’s room to ensure everything was perfect for her arrival before heading to our dropdead gorgeous suite overlooking Square Victoria.
3) G framed alla the famous OCAD photo; this time in Montreal
With Blee’s arrival around noon, we headed to Ste-Catherine Street to shop and eat, choosing Rueben’s for some famous Montreal smoked meet sandwiches and smoked meet poutine!
15) smoked meal miracle poutine; 16) the classic smoked meat sandwich (bib optional)
Friday we were up late and headed out to the Atwater Market to wander the stalls and shop for some classic French food: cheese! pate! bread! After an obligatory stop at our favourite bakery, Premiere Moison for coffee, bread and omg pain au chocolat, we headed back to W for an in-room lunch. Premiere Moison coins itself l’art de boulanger and they’ve pegged it perfectly. With nods to Celestin and Jewels here in Toronto, you’ll find no better pastries and bread in North America than at this chain in Quebec.
Our cheese selection was hit and miss, despite the guidance of the staff at Fromagerie Atwater. A standout melt in the mouth winner was Delice de Bourgone Triple Creme; a so-so Munster Fischer, and an absolutely to be avoided at all costs, Cousin Maison Schmichauscer, which smelled like a teenage boy’s rancid socks and tasted of same. We combined these with a pheasant pate which was delicious and some locally brewed Quebec cider and beer.
As Blee had to attend to a conference call on Friday afternoon, G and I headed out to the Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal in the late afternoon. Self-billed as Canada’s greatest museum of contemporary art, we wandered through three galleries (the fourth was closed) and saw works by Émile Borduas, Alfred Pellan, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Guido Molinari. I am not convinced by any stretch of the imagination that this is Canada’s gem of modernity and still think both the AGO and National Gallery have it beat. One quite wonderful piece, however, a box you stepped inside, closed the door and suddenly found yourself transported to Versailles. It was great fun and made art accessible, which is something more artists ought to do.
FYI: the best museum of contemporary art remains, for me, the Musee d’art moderne et d’art contemporain in Nice, France.
Friday night we headed up on the wildly more efficient Metro to Sherbrooke dinner at the wonderfully crazy restaurant, Au Pied de Cochon. This is not a place for vegetarians and is famous for two things: foie gras poutine (aka heart attack on a plate) and duck in a can. You can see these wonderfully tasty creations below. The poutine is served – like all things served in Quebec with foie gras – with a hunking large medallion of foie gras. The duck in a can, which I ordered, is brought to your table by the waiter, opened before your eyes and plopped with little fanfare on a bed of celery puree and bread. It is a once in a lifetime sort of meal (more than once would kill you, I’m sure). To highlight what comes in that can, see the ingredients below:
- 1/2 magret (duck);
- 100g de foie gras;
- 60ml de glace de viande au balsamique;
- 2 thyme branches
Leaving Holder’s the evening quickly got very fun as Montreal was celebrating Le festival Montreal en Lumiere. We headed with thousands of other Montrealers to the Old City to watch fireworks and party at City Hall before returning to W and spending far too much time in Bartini in the careful hands of hostess, Dani, and (far too) many glasses of champagne. Our error here, I’m sure, was the mini break we took from Bartini to go be supermodels and take photos of ourselves throughout the hotel and in our room while drinking Blue Lagoons. Unfazed we then returned to Bartini around 2:30am for yet more glasses of champagne and a little dancing in Wunderbar before calling it a night.
55 & 56) inside City Hall what did we find but disco dancers … of course!
57 & 58) en route back to W we stop to have fun at the Palais des congres de Montreal
59) G approaches the underground entrance to W
60 & 61) G goes UP
62) our favourite spot, the wee bar at W called “Bartini”
63) Blee and G pose as supermodels in W; 64) moi and Cousin Richard do likewise
65) … then we all get into the act
66) bathtub fun!
67) Cousin Richard feels the warm of the Blue Lagoon; 68) while I end up with a soaker
69 & 70) the W weekend ends in Wunderbar