Day 2 was more packed than I would have thought possible, as this morning’s hangovers can tell you.
The sunrise woke us up early yesterday in our free camping spot in Victoriaville, and we headed to the nearby McDonald’s to make use of their washrooms (they were really nice – this was one of those fancy play plazas – the sinks were granite), get some breakfast, and wifi.
After, we stopped by Victoriaville’s adorable public market to get some fresh food for the road and groceries. We have a cooler that plugs into our car and keeps things old as we drive. Awesome for road trips!
Before 10am we were on the road heading into Montréal, with our Radiolab podcasts to keep us company.
We arrived shortly before lunchtime at our friends’ Montréal apartment in the Verdun neighbourhood, where we were couch-surfing for the night. We then set out with him to explore the city.
Marché Jean Talon
Fresh oysters from various regions of Québec were on offer, as were Nova Scotian and PEI specimens. All were served in boxes of crushed ice with cold lemon wedges.
These are not your CostCo Oysters. They’re big, meaty, and taste like fresh ocean. If you come to Marché Jean Talon, it would be a mistake to leave without tasting some of these. Most species are around $2 each, and they shuck them right in front of you.
We are fortunate in that this friend we were staying with happens to be David Atman, co-founder of La Décapsule, a Montréal-based local beer and food blog, who is a wizard at finding good eats in this city.
From Les Cochons Tout Ronds we tried the strolghino for a classic saucisson. Of course, you won’t have our handsome Quebecois friend to slice it for you with his pocket knife, but that’s okay. I promise it will still taste great.
I bought a whole bucket of fresh peaches here for $5. Most of the merchants will also let you sample their fruits and veggies before buying. What a great experience. If you lived nearby, this is the only market you’d need to go to.
Across the street from the market is a store that sells almost exclusively duck meat. We buy some duck sausage. The guy who runs the store used to be known as ‘the sausage pimp’. Hearsay says he used to sell these delicious sausages out of the back of his trunk.
Next, knowing my passion for tea, our friend guided us to the Camellia Sinensis Maison de Thé about a 1-minute walk around the corner from Marché Jean Talon.
I’ve been consistently impressed with the higher calibre of tea houses that keep popping up across Canada as tea drinking becomes more and more aligned with mainstream culture. The host showed us an enviable menu of teas from each major tea-growing country in the world, including what they had just received from their most recent flushes (tea harvests).
He also explained correct matcha brewing technique, and was very knowledgeable on their product. They also offer classes in their tea school. Plus, look a their beautiful library of teas!
Local Craft Beers and Pitchers of Poutine
Pitchers of poutine. I know this is what you’ve all been waiting for.
Unfortunately, we had to wait to! Le Petit Medley didn’t open up 3pm, so we killed some time at another great establishment with local brews: Vices et Versa.
We hung out on their shaded back patio and ordered off their beer board seen above. They even had one of our favourites on tap, Moralité. The star of the show here was a legendary LTM Double IPA, brewed with 13 different kinds of hops, that only comes out once a year in the summer.
We headed over to Le Petit Medley and ordered a $22 Pitcher of Poutine we had been waiting for. It’s not even on the menu, but if you order it, they will make it.
Thanks to David Atman at La Décapsule for the shot above and below.
This poutine was so potent, Rob’s fork broke while he was trying to eat it. I had to go on alone for awhile. It was hard, but I’ve never been one to surrender in the face of difficult challenges.
Their house microbrew is the Simple Malt. I tried the Blonde D’Abbaye, a Belgian Ale Beer. I found it paired nicely with the poutine.
The Best Macarons in Montréal
Next, we said goodbye to our friend and went on a mission of our own: to find the best macarons in all of Montréal, in honour of our friend Chelcie’s birthday. Chelcie is a third year med student and baking ingenue back in Halifax who works her butt off, and as she was unable to travel to Montréal we wanted to do our best to try some macarons for her.
We did not fail.
Point G has a selection of 22 Macaron Flavours, plus one special ‘mystery’ flavour (this time around, it was the mojito one I eat in the video above).
Guys, it turns out: I like macarons.
Seriously, before I had only had bad ones, and sort of passed them off as stale meringue wafers that never tasted any good.
That was before I had these ones:
These are the macarons of the gods. I tried: Mojito, S’More, Lime Basil, Roasted Pistachio, Apricot-Black Tea, Poppy Flower, Blackcurrant, Lavender-Blueberry, Caramel Fleur de Sel, and Madagascar Vanilla.
St. Viateur Bagels
On our way to Mount Royal Park, we came upon a St. Viateur’s. While not that hungry, I couldn’t help grabbing a bagel to safe for later. For .89c I got a fresh rosemary and sea salt bagel. I’m eating it for breakfast right now as I type this, and it’s delicious.
Also, while buying my bagel, I was talking to the cashier. Did you know St. Viateur makes upwards of 6,000 bagels per day? And that’s just the location I was at, on Rue Mont Royal. Their flagship location on 263 Rue Saint Viateur O is open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Mount Royal Park
We sat down at the base of Mount Royal Park, found a tree to sit under and ate all those macarons I was talking about. Then we had a lazy nap while watching an amateur ballgame that was going on, and people watched for awhile. This is such a great city. I had daydreams of what it would have been like if I went to McGill here. I would hope to have lots of lazy, sunny Sundays in the park like that.
After resting and taking a few photos, we walked up to make our way to the drum circle that happens every Sunday at Mont Royal.
There was a huge crush of people here enjoying and vibing with the beat. For about a half a kilometre southeast from the epicentre of the music, spread out all over the ground with picnic blankets, and the ephemera of picnics were hundreds of people, mostly in small groups of friends, enjoying the afternoon.
On our way home, we also caught a free concert happening at Place des Arts for the Land InSights aboriginal festival that was going on. There’s always something happening here.
We had excellent hosts! David and Laurie made sure we always had coffee or a drink, and prepared us a supper of homemade burgers, smoked salmon potato salad, and sausage infused with the traditional Québec cheese curds.
Then, they sampled us some of their fine liquors, including this Kriek Porter, which tasted like a Black Forest Cake – dark chocolate and cherries.
And these curiousities: maple vodka, vanilla vodka and bacon vodka, mixed together you can make maple bacon shots, maple vanilla shots, or vanilla bacon shots, or (dare I say it) bacon maple vanilla shots.
To end our day of feasting and frivolity, we had some friends from Bishop’s University who were in Montréal for the day come out to meet us in Verdun around 11:30pm, and we all headed out to the bar once more.
Thank goodness its Quebec, and even in this mostly residential area there was a Benelux bar nearby – one that served creamsicle beer carbonated with nitrogen for a smoother taste.
Word on the street is this brewer has been teased by other brasseurs for making such a ‘girly’ beer, but it’s so popular he can’t stop making it.
Even though I was practically falling asleep in my beer, and probably not making much sense by the end of it, catching up with friends is always worth taking time for. We got home sometime after 1am. And that’s s wrap for Day 2, folks.
Day 2 Costs:
- McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, Hashbrown, Tea in Victoriaville: $8.37
- Groceries at the Marché Public in Victoriaville: $32.00
- Antifreeze: $11.49
- Peaches: $5.00
- Duck Sausages: $4.50
- 2 Matcha Lattés at Camellia Sinensis Maison du Thé: $7
- Pitcher of Poutine and 3 Beer at Le Petit Medley: $39.25
- 10 Macarons from Point G, 2 bottles of water: $18.00
- Bagel from St. Viateur: $0.89
- Postcard: $2.50
- 1 Beer, 5-Beer Sampler at Benelux: $27
Distance Travelled: 1,442.5.5km/10,500km = Approx. 13.73% of Driving Complete!