It's been a while. I missed you. We have a lot to talk about.
I spent about a week and a half in New York and Montreal, and the entire trip was a dream. In New York, I witnessed (and sang at!) the Central Park wedding of two old friends, discovered the magic of Inwood (aka upper upper upper Manhattan), walked mile upon glorious mile every day, shared an afternoon cocktail with the delightful director of the Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network, spent lots of time with friends, and ate terribly well.
In Montreal, homebase was an apartment in Mile-end, an area once old and modern, neighborhoody and super hip. The area felt so comfortable to me that I found myself thinking I could live there. (Then I remembered the merciless weather nine months out of the year. Yeah, no.) There's so much I could say about this trip: I watched as people breakdanced to French hip-hop in front of the Contemporary Art Museum downtown; I saw amazing street art everywhere; I trekked through green at gorgeous Parc du Mont-Royal, I had an ice cider tasting with local cheeses; I marveled at the sheer density of inviting cafes, and walked, walked, and walked some more. Here are some more highlights:
I should start out by mentioning Fitz & Folwell, the awesomest bike shop in the land. They offer a culinary walking tour (we like those here) of Mile End and Little Italy, and many of the stops below are from the tour. It's a fun way to spend a few hours, eat some good food, and walk lots. Our guide, Danny, was a doll, and they offer various bike tours in Montreal as well.
Juliette et Chocolat. Just ridiculous. So decadent, so delicious, and open until the wee hours of the night when absolutely no one needs to stuff more food into their body. But, my God, that fondant au chocolat, topped with both chocolate sauce and fleur de sel caramel sauce, and served with ice cream, was from another planet.
Travel for me always leads to lessons. My last day in Montreal was a Sunday, and I spent it walking through the streets of Mile-End. It was truly a glorious day: the sun was shining, maybe for the very first time this year, and the streets were luminous. Everyone was out: walking dogs, making impromptu banners for Mother's Day, crowding into café terrasses on every street corner for brunch. Beautiful young hipsters feigned nonchalance as gaggles of Orthodox Jewish moms pushed strollers and chatted in Yiddish. This scene felt so familiar, and so dear to me, that as I walked through, I was bubbling with happiness. With slight differences in flavor, this could have been Williamsburg, or San Francisco, or more to the point, my own neighborhood of Los Feliz. I felt it then, and I've tried to bring it home with me: I am exactly where I should be. I just need to soak in it a little more: More walking always. More cafe time. Fewer items per day. Montreal couldn't be more charming. What's better than a trip that reminds you how good you have it at home?