One of my favorite things in any city, whether I'm in my backyard or abroad is shopping in markets. Montreal's Jean Talon Marche was a winner. We snagged a giant bag of carrots for $4, massive portobello mushrooms to cook for our hosts, cheap cheese and bread for a picnic lunch and the best crepes I've ever eaten in my life.
Patriot's Day is a great excuse to get away from the patriots in Boston and to our more sensible neighbor up north--Canada.
So Chris and I loaded up our day bags, a six-pack of Boston's Harpoon for our hosts and a tag-along from craigslist. Our first stop: Burlington to drop off our carpooler.
We took the opportunity to quench our thirst at, what else, a brewery. Vermont Pub & Brewery is the state's oldest craft brewery and the 2nd oldest on the East Coast at a measly twenty years. (I wonder what Germany's Hofbrau Munchen would say to that?)
Next stop was an hour long wait at the border. Given that last time I went to Canada I flashed my driver's license and sped through, this must be a product of our new security. By the time we made it to Canada, though the air had warmed, paradoxically and the sky had cleared.
Though Izzie, my GPS, doesn't allow one to put in Canadian addresses (which scared us for a moment), I was able to find our hosts' location by zooming in on the city and pointing to where I wanted to go.
Our crashing place for the weekend, found on couchsurfing.com, were perfect hosts, giving us recommendations for authentic bars and reviews of local brew-pubs before heading out to their own BBQ.
Make sure you add these places to your must-drink lists for when you visit Montreal:
Bily Kun - a dark spot, decorated with mounted ostrich heads, and staffed barely-english speaking waitresses. This was the only non-brewpub on our trip.
Vices & Versa - another spot, that looks like it would be dark, except the Canadians were playing on a massive flatscreen and causing everyone to hurl curses at the tv. They brew their own beer there and had a great selection of local brews too.
The Trois Brasseurs - A French owned chain, with locations only in Quebec and France. They're design was industrial classy, the bartender was wicked friendly and helpful and the beer was basic and mighty well-done
Brutopia - A friendly pub in the touristy section of town, we hoped to catch a bluegrass show that was listed in the paper as starting at 5pm . . . but we ended up having to leave at 6:30 before they started playing
Helm - Probably the most mind-blowing drinks of the trip. Chris and I had received our sampler of brews, and Francesca and Julien lifted their glasses to toast and we were confused. 'Shouldn't we wait until you get your drinks?' I asked, looking at their clear, still tall glasses of water. Well, it wasn't water, it was cider. Completely clear, still-looking cider. They were the confused ones when we told them that our cider is always brown. Hmmmm . . .
Dieu du Ciel - Our last bar was a nice, sunny corner spot with a long, long list of home-brewed beer. We ended up making our own sampler of lots of small glasses of stuff . We enjoyed our last few hours in the city, soaking in the sun and beer, watching the dozens of biking commuters whiz by.