Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Family Adventures: Montreal
My Wife's birthday was last week. As such, the choice for how to spend Saturday was entirely hers. Naturally, she wanted to go to Ikea. Let it not be said that I don't love her.
I'm not sure what it is about Ikea that is so painful for me. I'm not a big fan of shopping for anything and furniture shopping is among the most tedious - plus it generally involves heavy lifting and great disruption to our living space upon our return. I shouldn't really complain. In the end, we have three new chests of drawers that were, I will admit, desperately needed. It's just the process of getting to that point that's so brutal.
Image via BRFC
For us, Ikea means a trip to Canada. There are, of course, many potential side benefits to visiting the Montreal area and My Wife did mercifully want to make a day of it beyond my own private retail hell. As I've no doubt made clear in previous posts, I adore Vermont. I've lived in many places in my life and I've never been happier living anywhere than in our current house. The Green Mountain State does, however, lack two things which I occasionally miss: big cities and sea coast. For all of its many assets, Vermont does not have the world's most diverse population. Most of the time, one would never suspect that one of North America's most cosmopolitan cities is just a short drive away.
I like Montreal a lot. It is a bilingual city full of life, offering all of the cultural attractions you could want. Our original lunch destination was Garage Beirut, a Lebanese restaurant downtown. Upon arrival, however, we discovered that they don't open until 5 on Saturdays. Disappointed but undaunted, we went for a wander on Saint Catherine Street, a lively place this weekend as it was closed to all but pedestrian traffic. Apparently we picked the right weekend to go. It's the only time they close it off all year!
Image via PHIL'S BEER BAR
We ended up at Les 3 Brasseurs (The Three Brewers) for lunch. It was a bit on the pricy side but with generous portions. I had the peppy flammekueche, a sort of creamy cheesy pepperoni pizza. My favorite aspect of the restaurant is the fact that the menu has beer pairing recommendations for most of the dishes. The blonde was recommended for mine but I went with the amber. The food was okay, the beer and the service very nice.
Next was a tour of bookstores. We visited two comic stores recommended by Mock: Carsley's and 1000000 Comix, polar opposites in terms of atmosphere. Carsley's is on the top floor of a high rise office building. The space is well-lit, clean and easy to move around. The staff is helpful and very professional. 1000000 Comix feels like it's in a basement, even though it's at ground level. It's more what you'd expect a comic shop to be: a bit grungy, stuffed to the gills with merchandise and a fanboy shopkeeper.
Image via The Montreal Buzz
We had to go a bit further afield to reach Drawn & Quarterly, an independent bookstore My Wife had found with an extensive graphic novel collection. This last shop was the find of the day. All three of us were able to find satisfying treasures.
On the way home, we stopped at Chow Bella in St. Albans, Vermont for dinner. Neither of us had been before but had heard good things from the locals we know. I had the barbecue ribs - not quite what you'd expect from a fine dining establishment but they were good. The meal was nice but again, I'd say a little overpriced. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way for it when we've got preferable options closer to home.
We won our final regular season kickball game, 3-1. More importantly, I felt we all played well - no errors in the field. I seem to have found a home in right field, where Mock put me for all five innings. I've grown to like it, my responsibilities including to cover the foul line and backup throws to first, easy enough to do since there's little point in playing a deep outfield. I did well at the plate, too, with a single. We finish the regular season 4-3-1, a winning record! Playoffs are three weeks hence.