Toronto

Wanderlust: A Love Letter to Montreal

Dear Montreal,

It’s hard not to be captivated by your city. With each and every single visit, I find there are more and more things that I am discovering and falling in love. Your city has a frenetic yet calm, cool and collecting pace – something that as I get older and older, I’m craving more and more with each passing day. Everywhere I look and turn in Montreal, be it that cobblestone street or farmer’s market, I feel as if I find myself surrounded by more arts, more culture and more history. It makes happy in a way that cannot be described.

Fat Girl Food Squad Ama in Montreal - mushrooms

However the thing that gets me the most with each passing visit is just how fiercely passionate this city is about its food. Each neighbourhood tells a story related to its history, each chef has their own artistic interpretation of presenting Montreal to you on a plate, each night you’ll find somewhere new and something different which will give you whole different perspective and outlook on how to taste and experience Montreal, as a food city. It may be hard to believe, but Montreal is more than just St-Viateur Bagels or Poutine La Banquise or Schwartz’s Deli and while I won’t lie and say I partake in all three of those places while I was there (come on, I’m only human!) – I will say that while I was there, I discovered more and more places that just showcased why I love this city.

Fat Girl Food Squad Ama in Montreal - cheese hands

One of my very first finds was on my first evening in Montreal tucked away in a former post office and bank building called Le H4C, a new french bistro in Saint Henri. Chef Dany Bolduc has offered something that is inviting, cozy and upscale with beautiful plates that are well executed and well thought-out. For example, I am not a huge fan of dessert but their take on a S’more (marshmallow, graham cookie, wild cranberry ice cream and smoked chocolate) was seriously outstanding. I think if I’m still talking about how much I loved a dessert, it means something, because usually those things don’t stand out in my mind.

Fat Girl Food Squad Ama in Montreal - 1

If you aren’t spending days wandering and getting lost on the city streets of Montreal, then you’re really doing it wrong. One of the things you’ll need to fuel up is to hit up one of the various (and glorious) Montreal’s Public Markets. What would be considered my candy store, inside the market (located at various locations) producers and different artisans come together to sell beautiful cheeses, artisan breads, spices, freshly picked flowers and the freshest meats. You could literally gather everything you need here for the most perfect parisian meal, picnic or snack.

Fat Girl Food Squad Ama in Montreal - cheese case

Italian-Canadians are the third largest ethnic group to make up Montreal, so as you stroll into Little Italy’s neighbourhood its no wonder that you are overcome by an abundance of family-owned and operated restaurants. Take for example, celebrity chef Stefano Faita. His family’s renowned kitchen wares store, Quincaillerie Dante, opened in 1956. His family also operates the Mezza Luna Cooking School beside the store where people enjoy personalized cooking lessons from Stefano and his mother Elena. Now to date, Stefano and his family own Impasto, Gema and his third (Chez Tousignant) is just about to launch. I tucked away to a full lunch service at Impasto, where Stefano made it a point to come by and welcome all the tables in-house (impressive). The open kitchen showed fresh pasta being prepared and it made me even more excited for the pappardelle noodles with jus, rapini and ground veal I had ordered. It was simple, perfect and well executed. A dish that really showed the heart and soul of Faita’s family cooking.

Fat Girl Food Squad Ama in Montreal - 2

Sometimes the best way to discover a city is to get lost in one. As the night fell over Montreal and I explored the Golden Square Mile, commonly known as the Red Light District, formerly the hub of Montreal’s nightlight in its heyday of the Prohibition era featuring everything from burlesque artists to speakeasies. Bright red lights shine through the skyline and are a long-standing tradition in Montreal’s history. They will guide you towards other artistic (and gorgeously lit) beauties like the Place des Arts, which houses all the opera, ballet and theatre company shows. Inside they have several free art exhibits and outside a wonderful light show.

One of the most out of world experiences though happened of course of my last evening there from none other than Chef Joe Mercuri of Mercuri Montreal, a former EnRoute Magazine winner took us into and cooked us a meal that was exciting and eclectic. The showcase of the restaurant (and highlight of most of the meal) was the wood burning and charcoal oven. Many dishes, Joe cooked directly onto the embers like an ash, oyster mushroom, brown butter and ricotta ravioli or the ribs (cooked over an open flame) in a mango BBQ sauce. We watched as Joe cooked dish after dish and he looked like a kid in a candy store, with absolutely glee and excitement.

Montreal, there is something about you that I just can’t quit. You’re lovely in every single way and perfect. Please don’t ever change for a second. I’m hoping one day, I can work up the courage to someday live there. No quick, someone get me some French lessons. I guess it is handy that my partner works for a Montreal cafe, right?

Disclosure: I was a guest of Tourism Montreal and my transportation, accommodation, excursions and meals were covered. I am not being further compensated for writing about my experiences and all opinions are 100% my own. Neither Tourism Montreal nor the businesses mentioned reviewed this post before publication

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