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In Montreal now, with the cousins and their new kitty, Moon Pie. I love how little R reached out for the hubster’s hand in the family photo, her heart full of love (and mischief), her brother’s, too. They are good and smart and fun and funny, testament to the goodness of their Papa, too. We had our Montreal poutine (the best of this trip) together at Lester’s, an old school deli that smokes its own meat. We walked, ran, jumped, walked some more, spun, and ate and drank enough to fill hollow legs, yet never saw the kiddos tire nor lose their sense of curiosity and wonder. It was great to be together.

We stayed in the same place as our last trip to Montreal, and though the neighborhood has changed, with construction and new restaurants and shops to explore, we were delighted that we remembered our way around. We made a near daily pilgrimage to the Atwater Market and enjoyed a feast for our eyes and bellies, breakfast pastries and decadent treats from Premiere Moisson, every bite as good as our memory, before walking along the Canal Lachine and circling back home.

We were stunned to find a segment of the Berlin Wall (a gift in celebration of Montreal’s 350th birthday), all nonchalant in a shopping gallery.

Wanderings downtown and in the Old City. The Canadoan Coat of Arms – From Sea to Sea. The Giant dome and enormous cast iron pillars of Marche Bonsecours, full of shops featuring local goods. I doubt you’llĀ  be surprised to learn that I bought soap.

More good food! There is no shortage of it in Montreal. Tacos Victor is a postage stamp of a place, mostly standing room, but their tacos are well worth it. In a rather surprising Pittsburgh twist, they are topped with really good French fries. And finally, the Montreal Bagel! I’m not much of a bagel person. I’ll take a pumpernickel or a peppercorn potato, with a heavy schmear of cream cheese, maybe a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a couple times a year. Then I met the Montreal on our last trip and started to dream about them. Baked in a wood-fired oven, with a dense crumb, the bagel is chewy and made a tad sweet by the addition of honey, covered in either poppy seeds (black) or sesame seeds (white). I am a bigot bagel eater because I only like mine white.


Trans-Canada Highway 20 between Quebec City and Montreal, three hours of sweeping plains dressed nature’s autumnal quilt, signs for moose and deer (but no sign of them), fog and pouring rain, a soup stop at Tim Horton’s, granite monoliths dotted in neon. A great day to be on the road.



Quebec City is a lovely place for wandering, narrow and meandering streets aglow in stately autumn robes, shop after shop, whimsical decorations around quiet corners, pleasant surprises, every last one. As is our usual and marvelous good luck, the skies were clear and bright, and though the wind laced its icy fingers around the city, the rain only came when we tucked in for the evening. We walked ourselves silly, along ramparts and the river, up and down steep city staircases, and in leafy parks. We did not suffer, however, fortified with great food (crepes, raclette, confit of duck!), many a stop for a stunning view, locally made moccasins, steaming coffees, cocoas topped with towers of whipped cream, a pile of gifts, and most decadent of all, hot ciders spiked with brandy.

I most definitely think we’ll be back, but in winter next time, when everything is aglitter with snow.


Quebec City! We arrived at sunset, after a long day of travel. The skies were crystal in their clarity and the air bracing, but I was sweating, nervous over the fact that we got stuck in traffic and our phones don’t work in Canada. Surprise! Oof. Many thanks to the kindness of strangers, we made a call at a local restaurant to connect, just five minutes late, with our weekend landlord. The world is good, and so were our lodgings.

It was a short walk to cobbled streets and every manner of wonder, a sculpture or two or a dozen, and a fabulous public market. These are our breakfast provisions for the duration of our stay in Quebec City, black pepper smoked mackerel, tart crisp apples, a wild mushroom quiche, and ground cherries. Do you know them? They taste like an apple kissed a cherry, with the the look and texture of an orange tomato under that lovely husk. Delicious! Not wanting to leave any local stone unturned, we also bought nougat, more hard cider than we ought, and maple butter, velvety sweet goodness.

It is a marvelous place, a time capsule from the late 1600’s opened anew each day. When I began studying French in seventh grade, my text book had a photo of the Chateau Frontenac on the cover, and young me had many a fantasy about what it would be like when I saw it in person for the first time. Friends, none of them was as joyous as rounding that corner and having my thirteen year old self gasping from my fourty-four year old lungs before squealing at the hubster, “There it is!” Of course I got teary at the silly sentimentality of it all. Dreams come true.

A delectable lunch at Cochon Dingue, poutine for the hubster, and a seafood gratin in the cutest cast iron pan for me. Don’t my arms look long?

Shazama-bama diggity-pop! I love my life!


A final look at our most awesome New York City adventures, made special by the fact that darlin’ Maren got to join us for a spell! We met for brunch at the Beehive Oven in Brooklyn, a postage stamp of a place with snazzy food and equally good service. I noshed on the picnic platter and had no complaints – pimento cheese, pickles, deviled eggs, ham and biscuits. Yes, ma’am. A friend of mine once asked if I hailed from the South, my devotion to biscuits, grits, Tabasco, and pimento cheese more than a passing fancy. The truth is simple, I am a Westerner, through and through, but if the food is delicious, I want it in my mouth.

We took the subway to Brighton Beach and walked to Coney Island, which tickled me in ultimate tourist fashion, I suppose. I mean, seriously, how many places can a person DO that? Cool. Cool. Cool. It was fun and silly, and straight out of the movies, with the hubster and I dipping our toes into the Atlantic for the first time! The skies were threatening and the wind fierce, but that water was WARM!

We took the subway back into town, thinking we’d spend a couple of hours at the Guggenheim, but with a line of people numbering in the h u n d r e d s, we changed our plan right-quick and spent the better part of our evening at an Upper East Side deli eavesdropping on the cutest bunch of elderly ladies and pondering relativity. They were what we would consider rich, each with a driver and a penchant for expensive delivered flowers and yogurt parfaits from Dean & Deluca, but when the conversation drifted to a couple they knew who bought an apartment just to store their winter clothes, and we all gasped, “Can you imagine?!”, the next upper echelon was revealed.

And finally, the A R T ! Bushwick has more murals in super-close proximity than any neighborhood I’ve ever visited. They are of every size and subject and painted by highly skilled hands. Every corner brought a new delight!


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