archived months . june/july 2003 . august/september 2003 . fall 03 - jan 04

5 december 04

Tonight i made a new egg recipe from my new birthday cookbook (thanks for the gift from Jean-François and Laurence who shared Friday night with me, providing the alcohol because the SAQ is on strike and depanneur wine is really un-drinkable... In fact, thanks to everyone who helped celebrate my bday this week: Callum, Lise, Grant, Ian and Lisa on Tuesday, Nick and Josh on Wednesday, Donna and Ted on the 'real' day on Thursday, my lovely above-mentioned landlord and his wife on Friday, and Meema today -- who drove all the way from Ottawa, don't ya know).

OK, so tonight i made a soufflé recipe from this new cookbook, where first you make a thick cheese sauce from scratch, add egg yolks, separately beat up some egg whites in a bowl, mix it all together, and then bake it in oven in little custard dishes that are sprinkled with grated parm.

Here’s what i have to say about soufflé. It’s too soft. It’s too goo-shie. The flavour was lovely, using organic eggs and white old cheddar, but it’s missing chunks of some kind. I love this new cookbook, and it got me cooking again after a long spell of takeout and hamburgers from down the street.

But there i was at dinner, while eating my ramekins of soufflé, reading through the rest of the cookbook. Then i read the section on eggs in my Joy of Cooking, read about cooking eggs and omelettes and soufflés and stuff. And here’s what i really want: I want the fabulous flavour of the soufflé i just made -- but i'd like it with texture -- and not end up being the gelatinous mess that quiches in restaurants always are. I want pastry, perhaps, but then a nice light filling (like this soufflé) AND with bits (like bacon or ham or sausage?). i want something soft and crunchy at the same time.

Yeah, that’s it, i want chicken pot pie but with eggs and cheese. Now, how do i get that?

I think the way to get it is to try each of these recipes, one after the other, combining elements of frittata with soufflé with quiche until i come up with “the perfect thing.” It’s winter in Quebec, it’s cold today (minus 9 and very windy so feels much colder). It’s a good night to be inside drinking leftover red wine (from dinner on Friday) and making a recipe from the new cookbook. And it gets my cooking brain going on lots of other ideas for the perfect egg dish. Any thoughts? Someone got a perfect eggy-hammy-cheesey dish out there for me? Fine then. I’ll just experiment until i come up with something. I’ll keep you posted.


Another review that recently appeared on the montrealfood.com website:

Krispy Kreme, 1000 Rue Legendre Ouest, ph. 514-388-9210

his week’s review is more of a photo essay, a monologue, a little ditty about my favourite donut. The Krispy Kreme. Being a Girl From Vancouver (where there isn’t a store within a reasonable driving distance), I’d only seen the famous donut store on TV and I had never been inside one. That all changed last year, soon after my arrival to this steamy city. In fact, the first week I was here I went there two days in a row (but it’s really out of the way and I only went there because I was going to (a) Réno-Dépôt and (b) to get my car inspected for new license plates).

I went again last week and every time I walk into the pristine, cool space I’m struck by a couple of things. First off, I love how clean the place is. It’s like a little plastic dollhouse that has been dropped into the middle of the Marché Central parking lot, complete with picture windows and a green candy roof.

When you come in the door, you’re immediately faced with a long stretch of windows that allow you to see what’s going on behind the scenes. And the place smells great. They should be pumping that smell into the parking lot. Into elevators around town. Like Musak only better.

First is the “proof box” – the place where the donuts rise and get ready for cooking. The next step is the cooking. The get dumped from the proofer into the oil, and are flipped half way through. After they’re cooked, they come out onto a belt for a short time (maybe to cool down) before they go to be glazed. I’m not sure what’s best… hot donuts, or hot donuts that are glazed on both sides.


coming down the cooling belt


double-glazing

Every time I go to this store, I’m barely two feet in the door before a young girl hands me a donut with a small waxed paper sheet folded around it, saying “here, take this, it’s free” or French words to that effect. The last time I was there I ordered a lemon filled donut, and when I got to the cashier to pay for it, the clerk told me it was free. OK, I’m not questioning their marketing techniques especially since I’m the one benefiting, clearly, but two days in a row I left the store without giving them any money at all. I am telling you about it though. Perhaps that’s all the advertising they need. Right now if you buy a dozen donuts you get a dozen additional for $1. It’s shameless, really.

You’ve never had one? They’re like Tim Horton’s plain donuts but with crack cocaine in them to make them addictive. They’re warm and small and covered on both sides in glaze, and they’re actually served to you warm, that’s part of the shtick. You get to watch them go from the rising chamber along the conveyer belt to the oil and through the glazer just like “Those Little Donuts” at the PNE. It’s exactly like that. Only times 10. My sister’s ex-boyfriend apparently will drive an hour from Toronto to get one of these donuts. This is not a confirmed story. My friend Jillian, though, has confessed to driving from Toronto to Montreal for a smoked meat sandwich in her university days. This is a 5 hr trip when driving faster than the speed limit. This story has been confirmed. In Vancouver I used to go to Crescent Beach from West 11th (about 45 minutes) to buy fish and chips on the beach from a Chinese family restaurant that also sold fizz-candies in the long strips. But I digress.


They also sell coffee injected with the donut glaze...

Krispy Kreme statistics you don’t know yet: the make about 5 million donuts a day, every week they make enough to reach from New York to Los Angeles. And here are my statistics: There's a 87% chance that if you eat just one donut, you’ll be telling everyone you know about them. Then there's 90% chance that everyone you know will be asking you buy donuts for them. You'll be running a black market donut distribution centre in your neighbourhood in no time.

OK, you *can* buy them at Wal-Mart, cold, in a day-old cardboard box. I wouldn’t bother. If they aren’t hot, they’re just not worth it.


Wednesday July 28, 2004 - Here's my feeling about my 20th high school reunion in NS this past weekend: High school reunions are so odd... there were a few of the same snobby people there ... but they were so obvious it was kind of hilarious! People really don't change much. The women all looked fabulous, the men were mostly shorter than in my memory.

The funny thing was that there was only one other person from my stream there (and he's a dink), and all of the rest of the people who came to the reunion I didn't actually have classes with in high school... so i ended up socializing with people from my classes in elementary, junior high, and from orchestra/band...

I stayed 3 hours, had 3 beer, went back to my $200 hotel room in the rain in bare feet (damn those new shoes) and wished i'd been brave enough to show up in jeans and a tank top like Kelly MacDonald did...


Saturday July 17, 2004 - Aside from the cranky kitchen lady, this breakfast turned out OK:

l’Anecdote
801 Rachel @ St-Hubert . M-F 7:30 am to 10 pm; S+S 9:00 am – 10 pm
Tel.: 514.526.7967

This place has a lot of charm, located on a busy corner with a fabulous children’s used clothing place next door [that I have frequented several times in search of perfect niece clothes]. The front window of the restaurant has attractive lettering, it looks like it’s going to be retro cool laid back kind of place.

Upon entering, I’m greeted to the blue haze of the smoking section, the counter where you can watch the cute guy making lattés and oversee the kitchen staff is reserved for smokers only. So are the nice deep booths that seat four easily and allow for lots of through-the-window people watching. I go up a few stairs and into the back, where the uncool, non-smoking kids hang out. This section is empty.

While I wait for my breakfast guest to join me [she’s across the street paying for my parking], I pull out my camera and begin the longish process of getting the settings ready [yes, I prefer a real camera, a big kick-ass one, with film]. I no sooner have my camera out of its square black bag when someone comes barrelling out the kitchen to see just what exactly I’m taking pictures of. I tell her they’re for my own personal use. She is clearly completely unimpressed.

This doesn’t put me off.

Much.

[I know Nick is rolling his eyes saying, “Shelley, for god’s sake buy a digital camera, they’re so much more discrete…”]

This Girl from Vancouver is particular. She can make her camera do what she wants it to do. She doesn’t want to learn a new camera all over again. [Oh, by the way, this review is late tonight because I had to wait for the film to be developed. Ahem.]

My breakfast guest arrives and we order just as the fresh herb man is delivering the flats of live basil plants to the kitchen lady who doesn’t like cameras. My decaf Americano is divine, D’s coffee is refilled often.

l’Anecdote is apparently known for its hamburgers but I’m happy with my favourite (La Paryse) so I don’t even venture down that road. No, for a while I’ve been on a breakfast crusade. It’s a long story that goes something like this: On the best (er) west coast, breakfast is eaten early in the morning by Birkenstock types, available with decaf organic coffee and golden-yolk free range eggs. Breakfast in Montreal, from what I can tell, is ready whenever people roll out of bed (11 or 12) and consists of large quantities of tepid coffee, crêpes or omelettes, most meals have cheese, a lot have a weird dollop of brown beans on the side.

This Girl from Vancouver continues to search for the quintessential Vancouver breakfast. Here’s how she likes it: free range eggs scrambled, but not dry, homemade hash browns, nitrate free bacon [I’ve yet to see this anywhere on a menu in Montréal]. I also like Squirrley bread (very whole wheat with birdseed on top], and homemade raspberry preserves that are runny, not like jam, more like syrup. Bring on all the organic decaf coffee I can take. Cream in a little metal pitcher.

OK. So that sounds like a tall order. The first time I came to l’Anecdote I ordered the 2 eggs scrambled with toast and bacon. It was underwhelming.

Then I decided that I had to leave the west coast behind me and more fully embrace the local cuisine. I return yet again, this time with a friend [so I can eat what’s on her plate as well], and I strive to order something more “Quebec”.


Crêpes with apple and emmental cheese and maple syrup


Three Cheese Omelette

I have crêpes aux pommes with real maple syrup and emmental cheese ($7.85) and D has an omelettes aux trois fromages with a really great side salad and a citrusy dressing ($8.95). My meal was good, not quite hot enough, but full of real apple (not canned pie filling) and the cheese is a hit. I like the maple syrup and whipped cream combination, but who doesn’t? It’s not really “breakfast” by my definition and is creeping into dessert territory as far as I’m concerned. D on the other hand has a great breakfast, I’m completely jealous, and while I would never order an omelette in a restaurant (I really don’t need 3 eggs ever – do they make 2 egg omelettes?) I realize that this is the breakfast I’ve been searching for. It’s eggs not overcooked with a few brown potatoes and a really great salad.

The skies split open and a huge rain storm pours down towards the end of our meal. We sit and drink more coffee. No other customers ever join us up in the non-smoking section, we are alone there the entire time.

On my way out, feeling a bit guilty, I tell the cashier that in fact I was taking the pictures for a restaurant review. She isn’t the least bit surprised. She puts a pad of paper in front of me and asks me to write out the name of the site and asks me for my business card (where is that card that Nick made up for me that says my profession is prestidigitator?). I scribble the website address on her bit of paper and D and I retreat, across the street, under an overhang, waiting for the rain to stop, watching the hunky men build the new Toyota station two doors down.


Friday July 9th, 2004 - Here's my latest review for the montrealfood.com website ...

Marathon Souvlaki
Four locations: 2 in Laval, 1 in DDO, 1 at Décaire & Jean-Talon)
Restaurant visited: 5365 des Jockeys (at Décarie & Jean-Talon)
Tel.: (514) 731-6455

always feel good when someone brings me bread right away. And a glass of water. Don’t wait for me to ask for it, just bring it. The bread in this case is toasted white with a bit of garlic hiding somewhere. No matter, wonderful. Hungry.

I read the laminated menu, choose the chicken pita plate, could have had a double skewer of chicken for $11.75, served with salad, fries or rice (who orders rice?). There’s also calamari ($13.75) if you’re into that sort of thing, as well as spanakopita and artichoke appetizers (around $3.50 each).

The place is pretty busy for a Saturday afternoon, considering the unfortunate location in a strip mall in such proximity to a Wal-Mart. Hard to believe that anyone comes to this mall for any reason whatsoever. When you think “I need to go to Pier 1,” do you hop in your car and head up Décarie? I try to avoid that throughway at all costs… unless I get a craving for a salty, garlicky, crispy on the outside chicken pita … then Marathon is my first choice.

A previous visit, with Chef Nick on a dark day in winter, led eventually to a kitchen tour which included a view of the walk-in fridge, a story about tomatoes (how this box of tomatoes just wasn’t adequate, so it was going back to the supplier). The manager took a lot of time to explain the basics of prep, fridges, suppliers, and the actual cooking stations in the kitchen where each discrete bit happens in perfect concert with the next bit. Nick was quite amazed. I have worked in restaurants before, so for once I wasn’t standing around with that “fish-out-of-water look” I’m so famous for. Instead I asked intelligent questions while Nick snapped pictures, all the while trying to hide his montrealfood.com t-shirt.

This is not a fancy place. They have plastic vines in little planters hanging on the walls. The menu is laminated. But I can’t help but love it here. It’s as fancy as it needs to be. The walls look like they’ve just been washed, or painted, or both.

You come for the food anyway, don’t you? Marathon has won a bunch of “Best Of” awards – particularly with readers of the Montreal Mirror and the Gazette. It’s not hard to see why: the chicken pita arrives very hot (and this seems to be a novelty in restaurants – when the food actually arrives steamy and fresh). The tzatziki is thick, smooth, not pasty, and has quite a good garlic punch, but no so overpowering that your breath will later scare away small children. There’s a hefty pita, red tomato (one that is approved by the manager), and just the right amount of chopped onion. There’s a lot of chicken, with the signature hole in the middle. It really was cooked on a skewer. Some poor slob has grilled this for me, on a hot summer afternoon, it’s the real deal and not some marinated steam-table spoonful of processed chicken product. This is hot and crispy and well cooked and darn near perfect. And cheap. If you just want the chicken pita cone by itself it's $3.50.


Thursday July 1st, 2004 – It’s the one year anniversary check-in. Lemme tell you, it’s a whole lot nicer being here after a year than it was arriving on day 1. I can’t believe how much i have changed, how i’ve adapted to the city, how the city has changed for me. Starting with the weather – June has been a full month of 20 degree temperatures, cold by montreal standards, fine by me. Last year it was over 40 with the humidex starting July 1st and lasting for the entire first week, which cast a surreal darkness over the whole week. Last year when i arrived, july 1st, all of the grocery stores were closed (which i didn’t predict) and i had had to buy my dinner of strawberries, crêton (pâté made primarily with lard) and pita bread at a fruiterie on Mont Royal. This year, today, I get up early, go for a run after the thunderstorm stops, have my favourite breakfast of yogurt, half an orange cut up, topped with homemade granola (made with dried apples, raisins, rice krispies, and maple syrup - i could give you the recipe...). Tonight it’s the jazz festival, i’m going over to Carrefour GM at 6:30 pm to listen to free jazz guitar from till 11 pm. I’m bringing champagne to celebrate my anniversary here (i'll probably put it in a mason jar, with a screw-top lid). This time last year we were waiting for the Vancouver Olympics to be announced (july 2nd). This time last year i was trying to figure out where i’d do my laundry. I was worried that my fridge ran continuously. I couldn't understand why people chose to live in a place where it was so freaking hot.

Nowadays, i’m working 8 hour days -- 6 hrs for Vancouver clients, and 2-4 hrs on special projects in the mornings (for the montreal client, now for a Vancouver manufacturing company - i'm doing an intranet for them).

But the sabbatical groove isn’t over. I started a painting class last weekend (acrylic) at a little store on Mont Royal, the lessons are in French, and i’m managing quite well; i understand 80% of what’s said and i can figure out the rest. This year i’ve bought an air conditioner. There’ll be no complaining about +40 (so long as i never leave the house, that is). This year i know where the English library is, i know that the produce at Jean Talon market is cheaper but that Atwater has a nicer atmosphere. I know that the sales clerks at the Italian meat store in Jean Talon are young and dim and talk to their friends on the phone the whole time they’re serving you, but their fuzzy white cheese and peppercorn pâté and marinated artichokes are the best and the cheapest i’ve found so i just put up with the crappy service. I know that at Marche Atwater, there’s often a chick sitting on a folding wooden stool playing the accordion that lends such a bizarre mood to the place, that i often wonder where i am (like, am i in Canada?)

Oh, speaking of which, yes, i did vote Bloc. I know, i know, but he was the lesser of 3 weevils (as Joanne likes to say; Joanne also said that if the Bloc was running a candidate in Nova Scotia she would have voted for them, too, because with Gilles Duceppe you can at least believe him when he speaks even if you don't agree with him. the other 3 goons are just a bunch of liars. i’m paraphrasing her slightly).


Saturday June 26, 2004 . New restaurant review, soon to be posted on the montrealfood.com website ...

Spirite Lounge . 1205 East Ontario . ph. (514) 522-5353

I’ve got to tell you, this is without a doubt, hands down, the absolute strangest restaurant I’ve even been in. Even from the street, it requires a suspension of disbelief to even open the door and enter. In the winter, the windows are painted black so I can’t see in (or out). I’m standing on the street faced with a door that says “enter at the next door.” In the summertime they strip the windows so you can see inside which makes it a little easier to commit to entering. I open the grey door on the street and tumble into a rabbit hole so unlike any other space that I hardly know where to begin.

My waitress tells me that they’ve just redone the interior, and I get the feeling that they do this all the time, so the restaurant I will describe will probably have morphed into something else by the time you go there. Here’s what I see: blue leopard print padded benches, white tasselled pillows on the seats, red alligator print on the table cloth. Can you imagine the blue leopard with the red alligator? OK, throw in some tinfoil. I probably should have started my description with the tinfoil. Plastered up there on the walls, spread out, sometimes crinkly. I just stare at it, trying to figure out how I’m going to make anyone believe this. Is it tastefully done? Not really. But it’s hilarious in a non-offensive way. Hilarious and seriously unusual.

The restaurant space is a jumble of rooms off of rooms, long glitter streamers hanging in the doorways like a 60s bamboo curtains, only these are made of tinsel. I’m taken into the back room, past the open kitchen which is two residential stoves, side by each, with a young guy cooking away in a happy kind of stoned way. The teenager who seats me sells me the special drink of the evening which is a daiquiri with raspberries (unremarkable) and later I have house red wine with dinner (also un-noteworthy).

I review the wine list which is written in glitter pen right on the blue cloudy walls. The room is lit with fig trees encircled with Christmas lights, a beaded lamp on each table. Mismatched silverware. There’s quirky lounge music playing overhead, French and English both. I’d honestly be afraid to bring most guests here – I’d first have to assess if they were open-minded enough. Those fussy guests (“no green pepper please,” “no weird spices please”) should be left at home. My mother would just sit here with her mouth open like That Girl from Kansas. No, my mother wouldn’t have entered based solely on the exterior.

This restaurant is a place with many rules and it’s hard to it works as a concept. They serve one vegetarian/organic meal each night for dinner. I can order small, medium or large portions but I must finish all of the food on my plate. (You can perhaps understand why I suggest that the “I always pick the green peppers of out my food” people should stay away.) The waitress tells me that wasting food is a crime against humanity and if I don’t finish my meal I will have to donate $2 to charity and I forfeit the right to order dessert. If I order dessert and don’t finish it, I’m banished from ordering dessert again (or is it banished from the restaurant, I can’t remember). I order the small size because I’m not taking any chances. No prices are discussed but I later learn it’s a set price of about $14 regardless of the portion size.

My appetizer is corn chowder with coconut milk, potatoes, cilantro. I have one ladle-full in a huge bowl served with odd dry herb/tomato bread. The portion size is very small and the food is predictable, not special. There’s quite a long delay between the soup and the main course, just enough time for me to drain my wine, maybe that’s the intention. I’m served a tall jar of pickles and olives to go with my appetizer. The gherkins are fine, the olives taste terrible, the black ones especially, but I really don’t like olives so you should try them yourself.

My dinner tonight is a crêpe with beans and chick peas, heavy on the cilantro, with homemade fries and a ball of frozen sorbet served right on the dinner plate with all the rest of the food. I’m told to stir the cold sorbet into the sauce and to eat the hot and cold together. Who am I to refuse? I’m That Girl From Vancouver, I just do what I’m told.

OK. Here’s what I have to say, and it indicates a general bias: I find vegetarian food uninteresting, and the meal at Spirite doesn’t disappoint – imagine a grand list of ingredients thrown in a blender, tossed with tomato sauce and white wine. It’s all the same. Same vegetarian meal, different day. But imagine that the flavours don’t meld and you can taste the cilantro, the wine, and the chick peas individually.

Based on the conversations I overhear with my waitress and other tables, she asks if you’ve been here before (hoping to save herself the long explanation of how things work). To the best of my knowledge, everyone in the restaurant is here for the first time, each listening to their own “food-crime-humanity” speech. There are no repeat eaters. The Spirite Lounge has a shtick and it must be working, the restaurant has existed for a long time. I wonder if it’s more of a spectacle rather than actually a place to eat. Perhaps it’s a statement. I just don’t know of what.


Sunday May 23, 2004 . It's funny because on my street, when it's a long weekend, there's all kinds of parking spots available … because everyone has up and left and gone somewhere. Even last summer, in the heat of things, on most weekends the street would just empty out as people fled the steamy city for the Townships or the Laurentians. Not this chick. She's a city chick, this one. I've spent the weekend thus far cleaning house, having donna and ted for dinner (celebrating spring, new oven, drinking the lovely wine that Ted always picks out). They also brought tools and took one of my closet doors off the hinges and shaved off a chunk from the bottom so it'll stop hitting the floor on humid days. Imagine, a heat-swelling door. It's more than the imagination can bear.

Today, up at 12:45 pm for the day (did i mention a bit of wine consumed last night?) and it was the most peaceful, sunny, quiet day. There's no one around on my street at all. In fact, for breakfast (or would you call it lunch when it happens at 1:15 pm…) i put a plastic balcony chair outside on the pavement leading to my front door, and I sat on the chair eating fruit salad and drinking a latte, reading a french cooking magazine (Ricardo) with a french/english dictionary. It was about 18 degrees, so it was ideal sitting-around weather.

It's a good thing that the weather has generally improved here, and that spring has come finally, at last. It's a good thing, i say, because my transition to return to Montreal after two sunny beautiful happy weeks in Vancouver was a bit tough. Leaving the weather aside, let's just focus on the basics: in Vancouver i know where i'm going, when driving i can navigate myself from east Burnaby (to see alan and laurlee) to then go to the chiropractors at 33rd and Fraser, then head out to UBC to pick up dishes for lobster chowder from Nancy at the SUB. I can do these things in an afternoon, without aid of MapQuest, without getting lost. When 10th Avenue was closed at MacDonald for some unknown police-car reason (for several days), i knew how to easily go around, go up to 16th or down to Broadway – and while on bway i could see where they want to put in the new Home Depot where my beloved liquor store/IGA combo now rest.

And driving in Vancouver is like driving for the visually impaired… all of the lights, the street signs aplenty, the cats eyes on the pavement, the pavement itself smooth + even, for the most part, with lines actually painted on the street to keep you in your lanes. Compare this with Montreal – crazy drivers (with a capital K), no lines on the street, potholes like you can't imagine, lots of one-way streets, no street lights that hang over intersections – the only street lights at are on the corners of the streets – not hanging from a rope across the crosswalks. Therefore, while driving, you have to continuously scan left and right, to check the corners for Red Lights and Stop Signs, be on the lookout for wading pedestrians, for potholes the size of manhole covers (if they're the small variety).

But. The beer in Quebec is something else, lots of variety, lots of small micro breweries, and not-s0-small but still pretty distinct beer. I found some of it in Vancouver and took it to Alan/Lauralee and we drank it without any problems… (it's called Blanche de Chambly, silver foil around the neck, pretty great). And Quebec is the land of cheese, lots of fresh cheese, local, soft, hard, medium, smelly, whatever you want. Beth and i adventured into one with white fuzz growing on the outside (you eat the fuzz) and it that takes quite a leap of faith to bite into, but then wowie it's pretty great :).

The Jazz Festival starts June 30th. Chez Shelley bed and breakfast starts June 5th or so, as the visitors begin … i was hoping for every second weekend … but really when you average it out over the entire year, there are entire 4-month segments when no one comes to visit me because they can't face the minus 30 temperatures … so I'm not complaining (not today, anyway). I'm happy it's 18-20 and sunny and it's jeans and t-shirt weather, sandals without socks, no air conditioner required. I can still cook a chicken in the oven and not die from heat. I can make grape cake for Ted and Donna just like the ones i made for Lobster and we can sit outside on the new balcony and marvel at the red brick/green tree/purple building combination that is the view from my back window.

Pictures from vacation and other anecdotes “soon come”.


Thursday March 25, 2004 - Let me tell you a few things: it’s still winter here, despite rumours to the contrary. It’s not biting cold, or minus a million, but there’s still snow falling. If i get one more phone call from a well intentioned west coaster telling me that there are pink trees and magnolia bushes in bloom (that the crocuses are in fact over) i’ll hang up. I feel instead like spring has missed quebec, when of course it’s just that it hasn’t arrived yet. but when i know it’s going on elsewhere, in a place that i can imagine, it’s all the more difficult to hear :).

Oh look, it’s raining. That at least seems a bit Vancouver-y.

Since i last wrote, i’ve done a whole bunch of very interesting things, adventures, new things to try all the time. I went snowboarding for the first time on Feb 29th, upstate new york right across into the border of massachusetts. Didn’t realize that cell phone coverage would be so bad or that when i did get coverage there’d be a huge roaming charge, but that’s another story… Went to a resort in Hancock, Mass. with Lise and family, in a timeshare, had my own apartment even.


Went snowboarding means that i fell down for 1.5 hours, had lunch, then fell down for another 40 minutes. Which was fine, it was sunny, i felt very proud of myself going on the chairlift and speeding down the bunny hill… but the next day, i was so sore, it took two hands to shift gears in the car, i couldn’t put my arms over my head and 2 advil every 2 hours didn’t touch it. i drove back to montreal, stopped in Target to buy clothes (isn’t target really just Zellers in disguise?) and within 3 days i was back to normal. No kidding, the recovery from an introductory day of snowboarding took longer than running a marathon with a kidney infection.

I’d do it again in a minute, i liked the sunny quietness of the place, the families doing things together, the snow and the blue sky combined. it was also nearly 15 degrees C one afternoon when we sat outside eating hamburgers on the chalet patio. that was as near to spring as i would get for another 2 months…

Now, second semester of french is complete, level 5 spoken is done, i don’t know if i passed yet and there’s a good chance that i won’t. there are no summer school classes at mcgill so would have to wait and start again in September…

For the summer, in fact, i’ve found a little art store on avenue Mont Royal where I can take painting classes (in french no less). there are very few classes you can take here in the summer with the community centres all closed … it’s a city of heat and festivals in the summer, so i guess no one wants to study anything. No photography classes, no french classes, no running clinics. From june to august the place just goes into heat hibernation. this must be a European thing.

I’ve bought my plane ticket to come to Vancouver for a visit in april/may and i’m excited and a bit nervous – will i melt into a Vancouver puddle swearing off soft cheese and smoky restaurants forever? will one bite of breakfast at Capers in West Van have me packing my bags to return? Can’t tell yet. I feel like i’m not finished here, that there are still things i want to do, get done, experiences i want to have. Yet the rainy coast is calling me, especially when it’s freezing here. And when it calls me, it calls me with food. BBQ jack daniels chicken burger at the Cactus Club on broadway near fir st. rick’s tuna melt from the pendulum. sushi from taka on 4th avenue with morag. Let me tell you the sushi here is crummy at best. The soft cheese, pâté, chicken wings and beer are divine. the seafood is a bit lacking, but hey, montreal isn’t exactly on the ocean. I have had truly tremendous fresh produce in the summer here that i never really had in Vancouver, but the Gala apples here are from Washington and they’re JUST NOT THE SAME (i know this for a fact because in February, for some unknown reason, the washington galas weren’t available and they had BC galas and they were FABULOUS! I asked if the store could carry them all the time, they said no. something about trade routes being north-south and not east-west. I was having the conversation in french so i obviously missed something in the translation).