Thursday, August 9, 2007


On Monday morning, we left for Montreal. An extra day off from the restaurant as all the staff (meaning the two young women who are working with us for the summer) were on family vacation. Cool and rainy when we left, the skies cleared and the sun heated the farther north we drove. We were late for lunch arriving to the city, but snuck into Boris Bistro, an old stand-by, in the old city. Since we were dining after the lunch crowd, we had the restaurant to ourselves, a modern industrial space most noted for it's large outdoor terrace with a faux half-constructed facade. We ate salads with beets, blue cheese and walnuts, lightly seasoned and seared tuna, steak tartar, and a coconut and saffron curry with shrimp, all with a minerally white from the Loire. We shared a decadent chocolate dessert reminiscent of the interior of a high grade Three Musketeers bar.

On this trip we stayed for a deal at the Ritz-Carlton, the first Ritz ever. On the street down in the old town, we met the manager of one of our favorite auberge, The Bonaparte. When we told him we were staying at the Ritz because he was full, he mimed a yawn, and then told us not to die there. And while he is right that the Ritz is rather staid and reminiscent of very proper and well-off grandmothers, it is still a pleasant place to spend a night or two, enjoy breakfast in the garden, or a an old-fashioned cocktail at the bar. It is two doors down from the museum, and all the shopping you could ever want. The movie theater is a few blocks, so it's easy to catch a film, then trundle off for a late night supper at one of the many bar a vins cropping up all over the city. This is exactly what we did: shopped, went to the movies, then found our way to the Mile End, a slowly gentrifying section of city past what is known as the Plateau. We ate and drank well at Bu, the french past participle for "to drink". We knew about this little wine bar because the owner had stopped at our own restaurant about two weeks before and left a card even though we were unable to seat him that night, and from a loyal Montreal couple who comes every August on their way back from Maine. They always supply us with a list of their new favorite spots in the city.

At Bu, one sommelier and one chef manned the house on a Monday night and they had all the business they could handle even after ten o'clock. We did flights of wine from various places: the Loire, the Piedmont, and Sicily. We also tried a white from the Friuli, a blend of Ribolla Gialla and Tocai, as well as a stinky, vegetal white from the Jura. The menu consisted of only antipasti and we partook of cured meats, an assortment of cheeses, a classic caprese, a carpaccio of beef. We finished with a local speciality, a style of ice wine made with apples, which was silky and cidery and very fine and rather poetic, our response I'm sure influenced somewhat by it's very French name: The Face Hidden in the Snow. We deconstructed its making with the sommelier and thought of trying our hand this fall, then we took a quick tour of the cellar and tasting room, a space that will by used for a play in the round starting next week. A cab driver drove us back to the hotel, and even though it was early for us by our restaurant hour standards, we fell asleep with books in our hands and our lights on.

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