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Montreal, mozzarella, and a near miss

I was back in Montreal this weekend for more fun and relaxation and Roscoe-visits. Once again we spent some time at Lindsay’s, and some time downtown in Old Montreal.

I arrived after work on Thursday, and between being tired and Lindsay being sick we didn’t have much in us other than to order some Uniburgers (which were damned good) and drink some of the Péché Day 4-pack that she bought for me at the Metro a few weeks ago.

The next morning I got up and let Lindsay sleep while I walked to Maamm Bolduc for breakfast with Mark. We scarfed sausages & eggs & fruit & potatoes & coffee and felt we had the energy to get into the day. We walked home and I found Lindsay feeling a little better, but we still took it pretty easy on the day: we watched a bunch of Fargo and ate some snacks and had a little nap, all in service of conserving her energy for dinner. We had plans to take Sara and Mark to Maison Publique to celebrate Mark’s birthday.

The dinner was, as always, outstanding. We had Quebec sparkling, fennel salad, Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir, deer tartare, duck sausage, this outstanding ‘nduja sausage ravioli in brown butter sauce, Frogpond Cabernet Franc, pork belly, halibut, a couple of pôts de crème, and some kind of fortified barrel-aged maple syrup. It was all incredible. Our night wasn’t quite done though — we decided to have a few beers at Pub Pit Caribou. It was a later night than someone just getting over a cold should have done, but Lindsay held up like a trooper, and I was really excited to get back to Pit Caribou for a second time.

The next morning was a little rough, so we all dragged our asses down to Maamm Bolduc again, and had pretty much the same breakfast (with some Caesars). That helped. After that, Lindsay and I said our goodbyes to Sara and Mark and zipped downtown to our hotel for the night: the Auberge du Vieux Port. Our room wasn’t quite ready so we ran out to Pub Brewskey for a beer and a bite. We split the same bottle of A La Fût Flanders Red that I drank myself (!) while here last fall.

We hung out back in the room for a few hours, then walked to dinner at Les 400 Coups, a joint recommended to Lindsay a while back. It was quiet when we got there (8pm is early for dinner in Montreal, I guess) but soon picked up. The service experience was slightly uneven, but the food – New Brunswick oysters; oxtail dumplings w/ wild bay leaf, and shiitake mushrooms; red chicory salad w/ pear, maple, and sunchoke; beef tartare w/ bone marrow, crispy shallots, espelette, and wild rice; scallops w/ glazed pork belly, sweet potato, and oyster mushrooms – was excellent. The drinks were great too: we had a lovely Blanc de Noirs when we sat down, took sommelier Jonathan’s excellent recommendation (2015 Allegracore Etna Rosso Doc) to have with our meal, including some stellar cheese for first dessert. Then second dessert – a crazily rich chocolate moelleux with dulce de leche – was paired with something I’ve never seen before: a Tannat dessert wine. When remarking to the sommelier that this was a strange new find for us, he recognized that we were a worthy audience for some other treats stashed behind the bar: a prune eau de vie, some kind of beautiful tomato (!) liqueur, and a craft elderflower liqueur that makes me never ever want to see St Germain again. What a lovely experience.

Sunday morning I checked out Café Olimpico, which had good Americanos and superb croissants, and we chilled in the room for the morning before checking out. We grabbed lunch at the hotel’s restaurant, Taverne Gaspar (surprisingly good mussels and fish + chips, actually) then posted up at Olimpico to do some work and drink some cortados.

We decided to grab some early dinner at Mangiafoco before my flight. Last time I came to Montreal we stayed right across the street from it, but hadn’t noticed. Turns out it has very good pizza, and amazing cheese. (It actually bills itself as a “Mozzarella Bar,” bless its heart.) We had burrata with tomatoes and some salumi, and a sausage pizza, and a very nice bottle of Pinot Nero from Piemonte, and a nice apple-y dessert. While we were sitting there my flight got delayed, and delayed again (turns out a small airplane had broken down on the Toronto Island runway, wreaking havoc on all flights for the rest of the day) so we ended up going next door to Philemon Wine Bar for one last one: Franciacorta for Lindsay, and orange wine (again, from Piemonte) for me.

Finally I jumped into an Uber, which turned out to be an ordeal: one highway closure and this guy was utterly lost. After going in a circle and threatening to do it again I had to direct him out of downtown and to the airport, all while nearly missing a number of exits. I arrived at the airport to find out that if my flight was delayed so much as five minutes we risked being redirected to Pearson, or even Hamilton, but Porter came through and got us off the ground in record time. We landed with thirteen minutes to spare.


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