Pause Caf

I’m back, but only briefly. On Friday, I’m setting off to K’s bijou residence for a weekend of wickedness (her deliciously evil chocolate martinis; seeing The Devil Wears Prada) and self-indulgence (nail art! I’m addicted now!). All these personal appearances are so exhausting. One’s public is so demanding.

Montreal was hot and humid in the manner of a swamp, but beautiful. There were flowers and tree-lined streets and lots of parks. It looks a lot like Europe, down to the charming caf?s, which they call terrasses. The friend I stayed with lives in Westmount, which I understand is the Anglo ghetto. Even the stop signs actually say Stop there (instead of Arr?t everywhere else). Thanks to Mike, Amber, Alison & Daisy for setting me straight on those pesky French accents, which I will now use with Gallic abandon. Daisy, you get extra credit for remembering my niece went to university in Wales. What a memory!

Turns out the denizens of the home of the Jazz Festival are not all that jazzed about Canada Day. There were a lot more Quebec flags flying than Canadian ones. Also, everything that could stay open did, and those who couldn’t resumed business as soon as they possibly could. Essentially, they value States’ Rights over being told what to do by the federal government. Seems the English went there and oppressed them. That was the English Empire style of the past: oppress everyone, everywhere you go, and then wonder why they get upset about it.

Anyway, it’s a lovely place, with European elegance and flair. Of course, I had to sample the local delicacies, such as croissants and bagels. The croissants were from P?tisserie de Gascogne, which was pretty much a little slice of heaven. You walk in, and there’s a case full of tiny, handmade chocolates. Next to it, a case of cakes which were works of art, including one that was shaped like a pear. In 3-D, with real leaves. I can’t begin to describe the wedding cakes, or the pastries. I probably put on five pounds just looking at things and breathing the buttery air.

Bagels were from Schwartz’s, a 78 year old institution. It’s too bad I don’t eat meat, because they are famous for their smoked meat in a city that’s famous for smoked meat. They even have a secret recipe and everything. It’s a real, old-fashioned deli. Montreal bagels look like bracelets, thinner and with a bigger hole than New York style bagels. Bread that looks like jewelry. No wonder I loved it.

A question for those in the know: what’s the deal with all those narrow iron spiral staircases outside the houses and apartments? Seems kind of crazy when it’s snow and ice for six months of the year. I wonder if the city keeps statistics on how many staircase-related injuries there are.