Sunday, December 4, 2011

Montreal - Day 1

I forgot how beautiful Montreal can be at times. This is my second trip back to Canada, specifically Montreal, Quebec with my boyfriend. We know we wanted to revisit since the last time we went. This time around, we made a list of things we must do and see.

Let the fun begin

We woke up pretty early and got driven to the airport quite early also. This actually seems like deja vu since we had the same experience with Cancun last year. Going through airport security went smoothly and we were on the plane in no time. The airplane this time was a lot smaller since it was just an one hour flight, plus my carry-on got to go on a valet ride.

When we go to Montreal, the airport was literally empty. Going through customs was a piece of cake also. We thought something was wrong since there was barely no one, I thought it would be crowded from past experiences. So much for thinking that people would travel on the holidays. We went looking for a cab to take us to the hotel. The ride cost a flat rate of $39.

The hotel was amazing. We chose it because it had a built in mini kitchen which was so convenient. The room was clean and tidy. They provided free wifi and complimentary continental breakfast. Sometimes, I have to give it to my boyfriend for finding such great places. So, after dropping off our baggage we headed straight back out to get some food. I was excited since I thought we would get poutine, poutine being Quebec's staple comfort food. It consist of fries, cheese curds and gravy. Just as simple as that.

Our first stop was Frite Alors. I don't remember how I landed on this place but it was definitely the burgers that caught my eyes. I mean, c'mon caribou burger... rudolph burger as I quote from J. We started with beer, I'm not a huge beer drinker but hey... Montreal's beer isn't so bad.

Caribou Burger. This burger was insanely good. First bite of Montreal and it totally wowed me. The melted cheese with pickles and caramelized onions, it's a great combo. The meat was tender and soft, surprisingly good caribou meat. I was sold.

We also ordered pork links with garlic and white wine. This dish made me feel extremely healthy. It certainly doesn't look healthy but the taste of it was truly healthy. Their sausage wasn't as heavy and fatty as ours in the states are. The pork sausage was light with a hint of flavor, to J and me, it lacked a bit of spices. One thing we both agreed on was their fries. They are definitely heavenly, by far the best fries we ever had... EVER. I was sure we were at least half an hour into our meal and the fries remained light and crispy. The darker ones, where some people calls it the burnt fries, were solid with a hint of smokiness to it. Frite Alors has definitely master the fries department. Screw McDonalds and Burger King, Frite Alors FTW.

After such a satisfying meal, J took me to see the underground city. I admit, we were lost and didn't know how to get there but somehow our little feet lead the way. The underground city had everything you need. Unlimited shopping areas and even a food court so you don't even have to go above ground. The best part is if it's too cold outside, you can literally just camp out here since the metro is connected also.

J and I decided that we should hit up Chinatown in Montreal. We reminisce the Dragon Beard Candy so we were determine to get there.

Montreal is actually quite pretty if you capture the right moments. The day was dreary and cloudy and not much sun at all. J and I captured the moving clouds as it slowly gobbles up the sun that was there for a split second.

I was intrigued by the colors that this building incorporated. And the next thing we knew, we were in Chinatown.

One of the gates that harbors Chinatown. The last time I was here, I thought there were more to Chinatown so wanted to explore more this time around. But Montreal's Chinatown is extremely small, their streets shaped like the letter T and had very few stores. We walked through the entire Chinatown in less than an hour, or was that half an hour?

One of the main reason we visited Montreal again. We were hoping the old guy was there since he was the one that made fresh candy for us last time.

It was fresh, nor was it the old guy that served us. The taste was a bit off this time, it wasn't fluffy or soft. To say the truth, we were disappointed this time. We only ate two and just took the rest back to our hotel.

We also happened to stop by a bakery. I was in the mood for some bubble tea but the place just failed to please me so I didn't even bother taking a picture of it. If you're thinking, was it that bad - yes it was! J saw these egg custard tart and it looked awfully tasty and fresh. Two for $1 isn't a bad deal, then again it was when you factor in the tax they added. Not only that, but the egg custard tart was bland. First off, it's suppose to be sweet! I'm thinking how Montrealers are eating such bland food. Maybe that's why they aren't obese like Americans.

After a quick walk around Chinatown, we decided to head back to the hotel. Yet again, we walked back and it wasn't a crazy long walk but the slopes of the road were insane. Like, literally steep and inclined... we were huffing and puffing when we finally reached the "top." So relieved to be back at the hotel and just crash into the comfortable soft sofa chairs.

After hours of deliberation, we knew what we were having for dinner.

Schwartz's. If you ever been to Katz's Deli in NYC then that is what Schwartz's is in Montreal. The rave about this place is over the top. Everyone that ever been here has said nothing but great things about them. They usually have lines out the door and you couldn't even get a table within an hour. J and I already had the feeling that we'll most likely have to wait but we were crazy hungry so it was a great night to be waiting on line for a quick bite. Lucky us, we only waited 10 minutes and a table was ready for us. 

Nothing better than a coke with a sandwich. Although the coke is J's, I had a sprite. I don't know why I always opt for Sprite rather than coke, maybe cause it's sweeter?

Schwartz's has three different type of cuts for you to choose from - fatty, medium, or lean. I'm definitely staying away from the lean since that means no fat and just dry pieces of smoked meat. I chose the medium, which I thought was fair since I was afraid that fatty would clog my arteries and make me pass out. This sandwich was superb and the mustard just worked with every bite. For less than $10 a sandwich, I would go here every week if I can. The price was a lot more reasonable than Katz's and the service was friendly. We had a quick chat with the waiter for a couple of minutes if ya know what I mean.

J's fatty sandwich. I'm totally not surprised that he chose this. I know my boyfriend and he loves his fatty meat. And of course, he always seems to choose the best. I was talking to J about how the fatty, medium and lean part works. Medium cuts are literally just combinations of fatty and lean. As I was talking to J about this, one of the waiters came by and asked if I was displeased with my sandwich. He saw me talking seriously and with hand motions in the air, so I told him I was actually very pleased with their sandwich. It's delicious and I have nothing against it, I was just "discussing" the different cuts of the meat with my boyfriend. I could've sworn I heard a sigh of relief from him.

As we left Schwartz's, the line got insanely long. I consider us lucky cause if we stalled a bit longer at the hotel then we would've been on that long line.

Day 1, not bad at all. Got a couple of things done on our list. Back at our hotel, we checked out our balcony. If it wasn't that cold in Montreal, I would say that the balcony is a great addition to the room but in our case, we'll just have to lock the door and pull the curtains. Day 2 of our adventure coming soon.

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