Eating Our Way Through Montreal

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This guest post comes to us from Rachel Reynolds, KCRW’s Music Publicity Director.

Olive Sandwich from Olive & Gourmando in Montreal (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I had dreams of going to Paris this year. When those were dashed, and I found out my friends were getting married in Montreal early summer, I decided that would be my culinary adventure of the year. When I travel, I mostly want to eat and walk, taking it all in as I go. Montreal is an ideal place to do this.

I had my first food experience as soon as I got out of the cab from the airport. Stopping at our hotel, the driver opened his trunk and insisted on giving us sesame bagels he had just purchased from Fairmount, one of two of the city’s most famous bagel makers. It was slightly sweet and thinner than NYC style.

I had two of my best meals on my first full day, exploring the city with fellow KCRW staffer Mary Chellamy. I frequent SoCal farmer’s markets but the Jean-Talon Market (which has it’s own stop on the Metro) is on a whole other level and the smoked salmon crepe, with the creamiest goat cheese I’ve ever tasted, was out of this world.

Later that night we took the advice of Midtown Lunch-er Zach Brooks (who wrote this piece for Serious Eats) and made a late reservation (the only one we could get) at L’Express, It was a small bistro with a great vibe located in a hipster neighborhood. They brought a giant glass jar of gherkins to the table and I ordered a scallop special that was heavenly. After dinner we walked off some of the meal, venturing to a great dive bar called Snack and Blues. It’s just what it sounds like. There are various sweet and salty snacks, which the owner refilled throughout the evening and, of course, great music for a bar hang selected by a DJ in a booth made of records.

Rachel's Trout Sandwich (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

That was just day 1! On day 2 we hit Old Montreal and a relatively new bakery called Olive & Gourmando. It was packed, but don’t be scared away by the line – my smoked trout sandwich and cauliflower soup was well worth it, even though I couldn’t come close to finishing it.

The wedding reception was also in Old Montreal at a Spanish tapas restaurant called Bocata. It’s only been open a year and a half, but the cave-like walls, candles and general warm vibe fit right in to the historic part of the city, just blocks from the Notre Dame. Starting with oysters and charcuterie, and moving through a “surf and turf” of lobster and ribs as well as a grouper filet, everything was delicious.

After sampling tasty treats throughout the trip, we actually decided that our favorite sweets and croissants came from a chain – Au Pain Dore — and every time we told the local this we didn’t get chastised so I guess it’s an acceptable preference. Trust me, we tried many others.

Rachel in Montreal (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

On our last full day, we ventured to a small island where they put on a mini electronic music festival called Piknic Electronik during Sundays in summer. You can bring food and wine like the Hollywood Bowl and find your spot of grass to camp out. Our friend Julien picked up an array of cheeses and a baguette from Jean Talon and it really doesn’t get much better than that.