Our Way to Eat at Katz’s Delicatessen in New York City

We’ve taken some fabulous trips, for which we are truly grateful.  Most recently, we spent the weekend in New York City with Bjorn’s brother Brett.  The primary reason for our January weekend get-away was to see the band Self play a show celebrating the 20 year anniversary of the release of the album Subliminal Plastic Motives.  Before the show, at my urging we stopped at Katz’s Delicatessen to eat.
Bjorn and Brett enjoying pastrami on rye ourwaytoeat

Katz’s Delicatessen opened its doors in 1888.  When you look around the place, you get the sense of its history.  Layers and layers of history are visible in all directions.  When something new was added, the old is not necessarily taken away.  There is a sense of the place’s age and at the same time, its vitality.  This is Americana:  a collection of artifacts, related to the history, geography, folklore and cultural heritage and flavors of the United States.

Soda Counter at Katz's ourwaytoeatThe “must eat” item on the menu at Katz’s is the Pastrami Sandwich on Rye, with mustard and pickles.  My husband and brother-in-law were gracious enough to order one, since I’m not into pastrami.

Pastrami on rye ourwaytoeat

This is a gorgeous sandwich.  Pastrami is piled high on perfect slices of rye bread, and finished simply with a schmear of brown mustard.  If you say “yes” it will come a side mixed side of pickles–full sour, half sour and tomato.  The piquant mixed pickles cut right through the heaviness of the meaty sandwich. Bjorn at Katz's ourwaytoeatKatz’s feeds its share of tourists, but also people who appear to be at home there.  It is the iconic deli in the movie When Harry Met Sally.

Matzo Ball Soup at Katz's ourwaytoeatI tried the Matzo Ball Soup.  As promised by my in-advance online reading, that giant Matzo Ball is actually as light as air.  A confession:  I know this is not vegetarian.  That broth glistens with schmaltz.  I make no apologies and have no regrets about tasting it.

Send a Salami at Katz's ourwaytoeatOne of Katz’s slogans is “send a salami to your boy in the army.”  This institution has endured more than one World War.  It made me think about the generations of people who have worked and eaten here who endured wars, and generations of change, abundance and loss.

Wu Tang at Katz's ourwaytoeatI took a trip to the ladies room so that I could look around.  Hey!  Wu Tang Clan has dined at Katz’s.  Many other celebrities and dignitaries photographs line the walls, but Wu Tang was the one I photographed, probably due to the fact that I was at Katz’s with my husband and brother-in-law.

Friday night at Katz's ourwaytoeatKatz’s Delicatessen is an interesting place.  On a Friday night, it is full of people. Meal Ticket at Katz's ourwaytoeat

When you walk through the door of the deli, you are handed a ticket.  You might not notice it, if it is your first time, but do not lose that ticket!  As you pick up items from the various stations at the deli counter, the person who serves you marks each selection on your ticket.  You present the ticket to the cashier on your way out the door, they add tax and you pay.  If you lose your ticket, you will pay a service charge, you will also leave with a bad taste in your mouth, I would guess.  Katz's Delicatessen

Katz’s Delicatessen gets hype, but lives up to it.  The food is timeless deli fare, and the atmosphere in itself makes it worth the trip to the Lower East Side.The Famous Katz's Pastrami on Rye ourwaytoeatIf you get a chance to go to Katz’s Delicatessen, you should order the Pastrami on Rye with Mustard.  Say “yes” to the pickles and don’t lose your ticket.  This is a meal experience in New York not to miss.


A Winnipeg Weekend

photo (6)

From our home in Saint Paul, Minnesota there are a number of great cities that make a doable weekend road trip.  While I am huge a fan of Madison and Chicago, my personal favorite weekend road trip is “Minne to Winni”–the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota to Winnipeg, Manitoba.  The miles between these cities are the span between my current and former hometown.  photo (16)When you visit your hometown, you tend to visit your friends more than spend the weekend as a tourist.  Still, we had in mind one place we wanted to check out:  Parlour Coffee.   Our friends, Ben and Jenny are friends with the owner, Nils, and have been talking the place up.  Our friend Ben built these great birch plywood benches that sat outside Parlour in summer months.  Parlour makes great coffee.  It is ground and brewed to order.  If you are going to visit Parlour, don’t plan to hang out and use the free WIFI–they have none.  This is a place to stop for a perfect cup, a quick chat with your neighbour and be on your way.  The decor at Parlour is spare.  The walls are white, and the chandelier hanging over head stands out as a focal point in the sparsely adorned space.  I snapped a picture of the chandelier (the first photo, above) and it happened to look like the cover art on Vampire Weekend’s self-titled album.  The place is hip, and conveys the pared-down Kinfolk-sensibility; they are tuned into the beautiful simplicity of perfecting a craft.  Parlour actually fits the Kinfolk model enough to have been featured on the beautiful Kinfolk blog, for a relatively new kid on the block in the heart of wintry Canada, this is a high compliment and an indication that this is a coffee business that is very much on the right track to succeed among those who appreciate simple, well-made luxuries as a high art.photo (10)At Parlour we enjoyed a Gibraltar–a creamy, rich concoction of espresso and milk served with a flourish in a small glass tumbler.  A Gibraltar isn’t on the menu, and you can’t have it to go.  In the spectrum of espresso drinks, you’d find it somewhere between a cappuccino and a latte.  Parlour has the art of coffee down.  If you have been to Koplins in Saint Paul, it is a similar caliber of artisanal coffee experience.  Upon hearing we were in town from Saint Paul, Parlour’s owner asked if we were familiar with Koplins, acknowledging that their offerings are comparable.  In my opinion, both places serve marvelous coffee, but Parlour is friendlier and less pretentious.  For example, I didn’t get lectured about ordering off-menu and requesting that my Gibraltar be prepared half-caf at Parlour, but I was read a mini-riot act following my typically innocuous request for skim milk in my latte on my first visit to Koplins–oops.  The barista at Koplins informed me that I would probably be satisfied and choose to consume less over all if I drank real whole milk instead of skim in my latte.  While possibly true and totally forgivable, I found the little lecture served on the side of my spendy whole milk treat a teeny bit unnecessary.  You are looking to add a local food-loving yuppie to clientele, aren’t ya Koplins?  If you spend 20 minutes on the premises of Parlour enjoying a sticky bun, you will see that people here know each other, know the baristas, greet each other warmly.  They come to oogle each other’s new babies, but mostly the people come because the coffee is above average.  When compared, Koplins is Minnesota nice, Parlour is Friendly Manitoba.  I know where I feel most at home…photo (24)  Parlour is a wonderful addition to the ever-evolving Exchange district, formerly the heart of Canada’s grain trade, currently the artsy elbow between a gritty section of Winnipeg’s North Main, and the outstretched arm of Portage Avenue, which traverses downtown, and stretches west out of the city and across Canada as the Trans-Canada highway.  One more tip for Parlour:  pick up a pound of coffee and receive a complimentary espresso.  Nice!  In Winnipeg, Parlour is lovely and well worth visiting for a fine cup coffee.  You will find yourself close to several galleries worth visiting:  Urban Shaman Contemporary Aboriginal Art Gallery and Raw Gallery of Architecture & Design, to name two.photo (13)If you have a sweet tooth, Cake-ology is also just around the corner from Parlour, and is a great spot to stop to pick up a treat to go.  We all ordered cupcakes and enjoyed our treat at home later in the evening.  The frosting was luscious and not too sweet, and the cakes that were being decorated behind the counter of Cake-ology were lovely to behold.  photo (4)Winnipeg is a city with innumerable options for experiencing ethnic cuisine.  On this visit we enjoyed the buffet at India Palace at 770 Ellice Avenue, and according to a Winnipeg Free Press article, laminated and posted near the buffet line, so has Richard Gere.  We also enjoyed the mural on the wall outside.  Before hitting the road for home we stopped at Safeway on North Main to pick up a few loaves of City Bread, also known as the bread of my dreams.  City Bread, and a few other local bakeries such as KUB Bakery bake and sell wonderful rye and pumpernickel loaves in grocery stores throughout the city but nowhere else on earth, as far as I can tell.  I have found no similar substitute.  It is simply the best bread.  photo (22)We also brought home a half dozen bottles of Half Pints beer, brewed at Half Pints Brewery Co., one of Winnipeg’s first microbreweries, and certainly its finest.  A few years ago, we toured Half Pints and were treated to fresh pretzels served with spicy mustard from Lange’s Pastry Shop, at 710 Ellice Avenue.  Lange’s has become a regular stop for us while we are in the city.photo (15)Several of Winnipeg’s Safeway grocery stores still boast the iconic 1960’s wave-style architecture.photo (21)We made our way home Sunday afternoon, across the snowy, wind-blown prairie, along the border between Minnesota and North Dakota and back to Saint Paul.  We enjoyed our weekend in Winnipeg; a place where I feel at home, but always find I have much to discover.  We enjoyed our discoveries, but most of all, we enjoyed time with our friends.  To experience these pleasant spots I’ve highlighted, or discover other treasures in this  friendly, vibrant city, I encourage a Minne to Winni roadtrip, bring your passport, and perhaps your parka– and bring home bread.


Thoughts on 32

My face doesn’t show up on this blog often because I’m usually the one taking the pictures. I just had a birthday so I thought I’d come out from behind the camera for a moment while I think about being 32.  Having a birthday in early July means that when you turn the corner to calling yourself a new number, you are also turning the corner on half of the calendar year’s passing.  I have always found this time of year to arrive with the same feelings as a year ends and a new one beginning–it makes me look forward and backwards at the same time.

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31 was a great year. Many of the best moments were spent enjoying time with Bjorn, with family and with friends near and far.  Some great additions to the last year of my life occurred by design.  We got to travel to see new places and friends who we don’t see as often as we’d like–this was thrilling after several years without.  I made more time for hobbies, a little reading, lots of cooking and more writing.  Some of the best times were day-to-day moments at home, in our garden, or banging pots and pans in the kitchen making dinner.  Trying new things like preparing a meal for a youth safe house in our neighbourhood, Bjorn brewing beer (more on that some other day) and striving for more simplicity have enriched our routine.  Some memorable moments were the result of surprise–in one week going up on stage to “spin the wheel” to select the set list at a Yo La Tengo concert at the 400 Bar, and not long after, having my name pulled out of a hat and winning a Minnesota Vikings-sponsored trip to Cancun.  I have a feeling that this year will bring unexpected high points–surprises borne seemingly from coincidence and others from the predictable–doing the things I love, being with the people I love.  One realization I had recently after watching the Walkmen perform at First Avenue a few Saturdays ago was that seeing a great band perform is still worth staying up late for and even made me feel like I dialed back my age a few years.  Another realization I had is that my ideal birthday is spent in the lake, floating, swimming and enjoying the day in the presence of family and good friends.  I look forward to new discoveries, both small and great.  I am grateful for 31 years rich in family, friends, fun and happiness.  I am happy to welcome this new age.  As Hamilton Leithauser of the Walkmen sang with determination and intensity a couple of weekends ago, “I know that it’s true –it’s going to be a good year!!”

Celebrating our 3rd Anniversary at Chase on the Lake

We’re celebrating our 3rd anniversary today.  It is fun to look back on our wedding day which was such a perfect, awesome and fun-filled kick-off to our married life.  We worked hard to fill the day with thought and meaning.  We were surrounded by awesome family and friends who traveled far and wide.  It turned out to be one of the greatest days–special from start to finish.  It was pretty much perfect–except for my bangs in the above picture… not sure what happened there.  What has followed has been wonderful.  Married life is a fun adventure!  Thank you Bjorn for 3 great years!  I am grateful for every day I share with you.

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A few weeks ago, we found ourselves in Walker, Minnesota for a friend’s wedding.  Walker happens to be the town where our wedding reception took place at a historic resort and hotel, Chase on the Lake.  With our anniversary approaching Bjorn suggested that we have dinner at Chase to start the celebration early.  Good call Bjorn! Our meal was fabulous.  We dined on the patio overlooking Walker Bay on beautiful Leech Lake, and had one of the best restaurant meals we’ve had in while.  We started with a 2009 Pinot Noir, which has proven to be a good vintage.  Bjorn had Surf n’ Turf– a New York Strip steak bathed in herbed butter and served with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables and an impressive pile of crab legs.  Bjorn cracked into the crab legs with gusto.  We learned in Croatia, the only way to approach the shelling of shellfish is with gusto.  I had a brightly flavored pesto fettuccine with veggies and a caesar salad.  The meal was tasty!  We enjoyed being in the place where the celebration began and raising a toast to all the fun we have ahead.  Cheers!

Davanni’s Hot Hoagies to Welcome Home

We’re back!   We spent time abroad, off the grid –away from email, Facebook and our blog–with some of our best friends, seeing a fascinating new corner of the world.  We came back revived, our eyes opened, and something I am calling our “sea mind” awakened.  We had a superb vacation.

We remain fully inspired by our travels upon arriving home.  At the same time, an 18 hour travel day to get here, Bjorn’s suitcase spending the night in Paris without us and diving back into work jet-lagged has had us in “catch up” mode for a little while.  Our “welcome home” meal was a good old sub sandwich, a Hot Hoagie from Davanni’s, to be exact.  Davanni’s is a low-key pizza and hoagie joint that started in our neighbourhood in 1947.  They deliver, so we are frequent customers.  This particular evening, we dined in.  We both ordered our go-to sandwich, a Turkey Bacon Chipotle for Bjorn and a Veggie on wheat for me.  We enjoyed these tasty, simple sandwiches served on a plastic plate and washed them down with a bottle of 3.2 beer.  Travel and time with friends clears out mental fog, reminds us of who we are and want to be, renews appreciation and gratitude for friends, our house and garden, our lives, our hobbies, traveling, jobs and family time immeasurably.  I plan to share it!  To make that easier, in development are a dedicated Facebook page, a private host for the blog, and a renewed desire to enjoy life to the fullest and keep it simple.  We’re glad to be back.

A Taste of Madison, Wisconsin – Ian’s Pizza, Graze, The Tipsy Cow and the Student Union

I’ve been posting about restaurant experiences we’ve had in recent months, the series wouldn’t be complete without a road trip.  Recently, I needed to travel to Madison, Wisconsin for a work-related reason, so of course, we made a fun weekend get-away out of it. 

Ian’s Pizza 115 State Street, Madison, Wisconsin Telephone:  (608)257-9248

Our weekend in Madison began where our previous visits ended:  at Ian’s Pizza on State Street, eating a huge slice of Mac & Cheese Pizza.  Our previous visits to Madison took place when we were still students, extending our adolescence as far into our 20’s as possible.  Our good friend Jenn brought us to a Badgers homecoming Football game in 2006. Yes, we wore red, and yes we did Jump Around.  We experienced as much of the glory of a Big Ten homecoming as we could pack into a weekend; highlights included being in the crowd when the Badger’s football team won Paul Bunyan’s Axe from the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers, the sheer madness of State Street and an end to the evening that seemed totally appropriate — a slice of pizza topped with Mac & Cheese.  A year later in August we stopped for the evening in Madison en route to Milwaukee to see the Brewers play the San Francisco Giants with Bjorn’s brother and our friend Mark.  Again, our night ended with a stroll down State Street singing our best rendition of Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl by Broken Social Scene and a legendary late-night slice of Ian’s Pizza.  To be sure that we still have a finger on the pulse of what is hip in Madison, we began our recent visit to Madison by recruiting Bjorn’s cousin Patrick who is a second year student at UW to show us where to eat.  We met him at the Student Union, and sure enough, he guided us down State Street to Ian’s Pizza.  The big discovery I made this trip to Ian’s is what an amazing salad they can toss together.  The salad is made-to-order and served perfectly dressed in a bowl with your choice of fresh vegetables and salad toppings, including cheese or meat.  The thin slices of tender, milky, fresh mozzarella in my salad at Ian’s was some of the best I’ve tasted in recent memory.  Bjorn and I enjoyed a bottle of Lake Front IPA, a hoppy brew from Milwaukee with our meal.  It turns out a big slice of pizza covered in creamy white sauce, Macaroni noodles and melted cheddar cheese is still as good as it sounds, even in the early part of the evening.

It seems that I missed out on how pretty Madison is in my earlier visits, probably because I was only out on the town at night.  This trip I was amazed to see the gorgeous tulips and daffodils that were blooming all over the city.  The tulips above are planted outside of the Capitol.  Different colour combinations are planted outside of each wing.  I have to imagine that the colour-combinations have a certain meaning, but I don’t know it.  All I know is that Madison is a beautiful place to visit in the daytime.

Graze — 1 South Pinckney Street  Madison, Wisconsin Telephone:  (608) 251-2700

The next stand-out meal that we had in Madison was lunch at Graze, a farm-to-table restaurant right outside the Capitol in the heart of downtown Madison.  We also have Patrick to thank for this recommendation.  The restaurant’s name is a nod to the proprietor’s shared belief that animals should be fed grass and allowed to roam.  A map of Wisconsin by the restaurant’s entrance points to the sources of the locally grown and produced fruit, vegetables, cheese, meat, fish and poultry used throughout the menu.  The lunch menu contained a variety of salads, snacks and sandwiches.  Bjorn ordered the Perch Sandwich, described as Great Lakes panko-breaded perch with avocado, tomato, onion, lettuce and chipotle aioli on ciabatta bread served with mixed greens, SarVecchio cheese and Champagne vinaigrette.  I ordered the Beet and Walnut burger and a cup of pureed celery root soup.  Having had very little experience with celery root I expected the soup to have some bitterness, something like a turnip.  Instead, it was smooth with a pleasant, mild celery flavor.  The Beet and Walnut “burger” patty was deep a magenta hue, and was soft, and moist without being crumbly and had a pleasant beetiness.  It was topped with veggies that were tasty and noticeably fresh including cherry tomato, cucumber, red onion and arugula as well as feta cheese, lemon Greek yogurt and oregano vinaigrette, all piled generously on a pepita-topped eggy brioche bun.  The feta, Greek yogurt and vinaigrette were a bright flavor contrast to the mellow beet, and a soft counter-point to the vegetable’s crunch.  The Beet and Walnut burger was fabulous and I want another!  I would love to see a Beet and Walnut burger replace the ubiquitous, tired and unexciting Garden Burger where it stands as the stalwart vegetarian option on menus at countless restaurants.  It was simple, delicious and the options for topping it would be virtually endless.  We have some wonderful farm-to-table restaurants in the Twin Cities, I only wish more of them were as casual, affordable and accessible as Graze.

Every day in Madison we seemed to walk past and sometimes through the capitol building.  We live in Minnesota’s capital city, and the contrast between the capitol building’s place in the capital cities of Minnesota and Wisconsin is hard to ignore.  Saint Paul’s impressive capitol building faces up toward the residential Summit and Crocus Hill, and towers over downtown and the river bluff below.  While it is focal point when you are downtown it is an island, removed by several blocks from any of the action of the city.  In contrast, Wisconsin’s Capitol building is the heart of the city, and streets leading out from each wing in all directions are alive with museums, shops, businesses and hundreds of restaurants.  The capitol grounds serve as a central park.  There is constant pedestrian traffic, movement and activity at the Capitol in Madison; you feel the city’s lifeblood emanating from this central spot.  In Minnesota’s defense, Bjorn tells me the inside of our capitol is actually more impressive in its art, marble and architecture than Wisconsin’s which I thought was quite nice and adequately opulent.  I have never been inside our capitol.  (oops).  It seems that people who grow up here or in states nearby visit our capitol on a 5th Grade bus trip (even kids from Western North Dakota, like Bjorn) never again to return.  For as many times as I’ve driven by our capitol, looked at it from the end of Summit Avenue and thought that it is breathtaking to have the beautiful Cathedral and capitol building standing in stately prominence in the middle of my very own city, in the 9 years I’ve lived here I have managed not to enter it, while I entered Wisconsin’s capitol building at least twice in 3 days.  I should make a point to get inside one of these days.

The Tipsy Cow — 102 King Steet, Madison, Wisconsin Telephone:  (608) 287-1455

One of my favorite things about Wisconsin is its enthusiasm for beer and cheese.  A cab driver recommended the Tipsy Cow for a mid-afternoon snack so we decided to check it out.  We must have blended into the wall for at least ten minutes after being seated before anyone acknowledged us.  We probably managed to catch the servers during the time that usually represents the afternoon lull.  We shared cheese curds and sampled Hopalicious APA by Ale Asylum which was an easy-drinking hoppy beer that seemed to be the hottest tap in town.  To be honest, the curds at the Tipsy Cow were only okay, certainly not the best that Wisconsin has to offer.

We saw a lot of Madison on foot.  Here are some scenes from State Street.  With UW and the crowds of students who are unmistakably present in Madison, we spent a lot of time reminiscing about our college days.  I don’t think either of us would change a thing about our undergraduate experiences at state schools in smaller cities, but we could definitely see the appeal of being an undergraduate student here where the university dominates the town.

The next surprising discovery we made in Madison was what a cool place the UW Student Union is to visit.  It is a hang out for students and the entire community.  You can sign up for a guest pass and gain the privilege of buying a pitcher Hopalicious beer to enjoy while seated on the waterfront.  How has no one told me about this before?  Every University of Wisconsin alum I know is fairly convinced of the superiority and awesomeness of their university experience, and I’m starting to understand why.  Sitting on the lake in a crowd of people who are all out to relax and enjoy the spring sunshine was one of the highlights of our long weekend in Madtown.  As much as Minnesota and Wisconsin have their rivalries, there is no denying that Madison is a vibrant city with a lot to offer a visitor or a college student.  I highly recommend a road trip.

Un Morceau de Montreal – A Morsel of Montreal

A few weeks ago, we spent a long weekend in Montréal, Québec visiting a dear friend I grew up with.  We stay close despite the many miles between the places we live.  We enjoyed our little get-away immensely.  We balanced our time between catching up with my friend and her husband and getting to spend time with their two darling, sweet, smart and loveable little boys, and seeing some sights around a vibrant French city in my home country.  The best meals we ate over the long weekend were in my friend’s home.  My friend is an omnivore, and her husband is vegetarian, and they are conscious of eating healthfully.  We dine well together.  I was so busy being entertained by the two little guys at the table that I didn’t remember to whip out my camera during those meals, so, a fabulous Quinoa and Beet Salad, Roasted Pork Tenderloin and the best Indian food we’ve ever eaten will have to live on in our memories. We happened upon a few tasty bites when we went out exploring, and so I will share a little peek at what we saw and ate around the city.

This is my second visit to Montréal, and Bjorn’s first.  The first afternoon of our visit we set off wandering from the campus of McGill University and headed toward the Old Town of Montréal.  It turns out this colourful building, which could be a museum of modern art, is in fact a convention center known as Palais des congrès de Montréal.  It also contains shops, restaurants and a metro stop.  What a surprising structure to house a convention center.  It serves a vital purpose in the city, and the higher cause of being public art.

We didn’t have to wander long before we became thirsty and peckish.  I had a short mental list of things to show Bjorn and for him to try in Montreal.  Trois Brasseurs in Old Montréal, or Vieux-Montréal, if you are local, was a good place to check Poutine off the list.  

Poutine, which consists of French fries, topped with cheese curds melted by gravy goes very well with an afternoon beer. 

We wandered our way through Vieux-Montréal, and stopped to buy a print from a gentleman with a temporary stand set up at the corner of Rue Saint-Vincent and Rue Saint-Paul.  We live in Saint Paul, so we thought a picture of this street corner was a perfect souvenir.  We will add it to a little framed collection of art that we have purchased from similar street-corner stands in Czech Republic and Italy on display in our house.  I have learned to buy the souvenir I want right away when I see it. When I put off buying it, I never come across what I want again.  

The City of Montréal holds a parade in honour of Saint Patrick’s Day, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day.  Our city, Saint Paul, Minnesota is a very Irish and Catholic city, so I am used to a pretty big celebration of this day.  Montréal does it big too.  The parade goes on for hours, and is a massive party, to say the least.  We spent a few hours at the parade with my friend, her parents, and her almost three year old who loves marching bands.  We were all satisfied after twenty-or-so marching bands and a few hundred floats went by and so my friend and her parents headed home for nap time and Bjorn and I headed out for lunch.  We ended up at a bistro.

I had a “Caprese” sandwich on a baguette with salad made of a tomato, cucumber and red onion.  The unique twist on the caprese was that it contained brie instead of fresh mozzarella.  So very French.  

Bjorn had a roast beef panini and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.  No, it doesn’t look terribly exciting, but it was a totally solid, satisfying lunch.

When we are travelling and have no idea where we are going and we end up with a lunch of baguettes and paninis with brie, we’re doing alright.

Lunch revived us.  We headed toward le Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.  Montréal seems to have art on every street corner for the enjoyment of the public.  Just above is Coeur Jumeax, a sculpture by Jim Dine.  

After taking in the Musée des beaux-arts, we were thirsty, and so we stopped in to a little shop to buy something to drink.  What a place!  I could not believe the variety of all manner of prepared foods, produce, dry goods and wines that lined the shelves in this tiny, urban grocery store.  The coolers and shelves were positively packed with salads, sliced vegetables, plates of fruit, Babybel cheese, marble cheese, greek yogurt, cups of sliced fruit, and cantaloupe sliced in half, and wrapped in saran wrap with plastic spoon all ready to be grabbed and eaten on the go.  The place was packed with people, so I had to move fast which is why the pictures are a bit blurry.

Behind a deli counter, there were colourful bowls containing a marvelous variety of salads: top left, salads de Thon (Tuna), front left, Salade Greque (Greek), and front right, Legumes Grille (Grilled Vegetables).  

Also behind the deli counter, there were bowls of hard-boiled eggs, sausages, Salad D’Orizo Epicée (Spicy Orzo Salad), and baguettes and bagels prepared with dinde et fromage (ham and cheese) and saumon fumé (smoked salmon) all of which were selling like hotcakes to the masses of people recovering from Saint Patrick’s Day parade revelry.  Clearly, this store exists to meet a need in this neighborhood.  It appears that real, ready-to-eat food is a go-to meal of choice for Montréal’s many University students and bankers who are natural regulars in this neighbourhood.  I sometimes daydream about being a proprietor of a general store with a lunch counter.  There may not be enough foot traffic to support a store like this in my neighbourhood, but it is fun to see a city that depends on independent neighbourhood grocery stores.  Montréal feels European.  

Every day in Montréal we managed to find some high place to climb.  One day it was Mont Real, the next was up the shaky elevator shaft in Stade Olympique, or Olympic Stadium, constructed for the 1976 Olympics.  It felt like we stepped into an anachronism visiting Olympic Stadium, which sits seemingly untouched, unused and un-updated since the late ’70s.  

The final high point of the trip elevation-wise was up the steps to visit the impressive Saint Joseph Oratory, or Oratoire-Saint-Joseph du Mont Real and its grounds.  As you can see here, Bjorn was determined to get a head start.  
We thought the insignia on the facade of Oratoire-Saint-Joseph above the entrance also seemed anachronistic being so modern in the context of an immense old building.  Perhaps it was added closer to the building’s completion in 1967, not in 1924 when construction began.  
Another must-try food item on our list was a pastry.  Along with neighbourhood grocery stores, it seems like there is a quaint boulangerie on every block.  We enjoyed some delicious pain au chocolat and almond pastries with a latte at Au Pain Doré, a really nice boulangerie near my friend’s house.  
Also on the Montréal food “To Do” list was bagels.  We grabbed some sesame seed bagels with cream cheese just before we boarded the plane to go home.  We didn’t make it to one of the “must visit” bagel shops, but the bagel we found was still way better than average*.  Our visit to Montréal was so nice.  It was a refreshing little get-away.  We struck the perfect balance of friend-time, and seeing new streets.  I highly recommend a visit in conjunction with a trip to Quebec City as a great two-stop tour of French Canada.
*And that is saying something.  I didn’t even eat mine until lunch time at work the next day.