I can be a creature of habit, but once in awhile I benefit greatly from a break in routine; a sweet little escape. Because of my trips to Cuba and Europe earlier this year, I couldn’t take much more time off from my full-time job – a long weekend in Montreal seemed like the perfect destination.
My last trip to Montreal was five years ago, and that was actually my first time visiting Quebec too. I went with my family and we had a beautiful road trip to Montreal, Quebec City, and a little town where nobody spoke English, and we went whale-watching and hiking. If I had to go again, I’d probably repeat that trip because the weekend I spent there this time around was NOT long enough!
I had my photographer with me, and we rented a car to make the five hour drive from Toronto. For a weekend trip, I wouldn’t recommend this. We definitely had fun along the way, but it really ate into the time we could have spent exploring Montreal. Nevertheless, the drive was beautiful. The leaves were just starting to change colour, and we had a wicked playlist. We stopped in picturesque Gananoque, and drove along the Thousand Islands Parkway. That was definitely the highlight of the drive for me! Sometimes I forget how much natural beauty we have in Canada, being stuck in the city all the time.
Another effect of growing up in the city? Barely having to drive! Which is why I look like I’m driving into DEFCON 1 whenever I get on the highway.
We arrived in Montreal in the evening and were fairly exhausted. We stayed in the gorgeous Intercontinental in Old Montreal, and were seriously considering just getting room service and calling it a night…but then I remembered, POUTINE! Poutine is a great late night snack, and I was sure we’d find something delicious 🙂 We wandered over to St Catherine street and ate at Frites Alors! the first poutine place we found. There are so many different kinds of poutine on the menu, as well as delicious milkshakes. I opted for the Smoked Meat poutine, and the strawberry shake. Delish. Get used to me talking about food, because I pretty much ate my way through this city.
The next morning we got up bright and early to go explore Old Montreal, and also have Le Brunch at Maison Christian Faure. Brunch in Montreal is the same as brunch anywhere else, except that it is Le Brunch. Which makes it fancier.
Maison Christian Faure wins every award in my books for one reason only: the almond croissants. I haven’t had almond croissants like this since I lived in France. They were PERFECT.
The true test of a good almond croissant is how “mushy”it is. My best friend Laura uses this description and I think it’s perfect. Often, at amateur cafés and pâtisseries, almond croissants will look just like normal croissants. Fluffy, beautiful crescents with the addition of a dusting of powdered sugar, and some slivered almonds sprinkled hesitantly on top. A small amount of almond “paste” on the inside. Puffy, flaky, barely an almond between bites. Oh LORD, what a tragedy.
No. A wonderful almond croissant is not beautiful. It’s not pretty. It’s flat, almost squished out of shape. There is a generous dusting of powdered sugar, and an abundance of slivered almonds, proudly protecting the top of the croissant. The inside is stuffed with sweet almondy marzipan. It is spread so thickly, that the interior becomes mushy. Yes. The crispy-lopsided covering, the sweet-mushy filling. This is what dreams are made of.
Ahem. So, le brunch. Yes, Le Brunch at Maison Christian Faure was delightful. It’s a beautiful space – part café, part patisserie, part cooking school. The service was a little slow, but it just made me feel like I was really back in France 🙂 We tried the maple brioche, madeleines, canalés, macarons, yum. Maison Christian Faure was so good we actually went back on three different occasions. Yes, I have a sweet tooth (actually, I have an everything tooth).
We used the backdrop of gorgeous Old Montreal to take a couple outfit photo shoots. I wore a different outfit for le brunch and le shopping, and le diner, so it was ideal for photographs 🙂 I loved all the cobblestoned streets in Old Montreal, and we visited a couple cathedrals. We walked and walked and walked…
Next post, our dinner at Garde Manger! The restaurant reservation I had to make a month in advance…