June 28, 2008. Posted by Amy Niles.
What is the one word that comes to mind when I think of Montreal? It’s love. True confessions: the first time I came here, it was to flee tortured love. But now, every time I am here, I find new love. Love for this eclectic city, love of music, love of food, love for life.
My day started yesterday over café au lait with two women who are charged by profession with promoting Montreal- Emmanuelle and Julie from Tourisme Montreal. They are actually paid to wax poetic about what makes Montreal so special. They let me in on a few hidden treasures and turned me loose to the streets.
We have pastrami and corned beef in New York, but Montreal has the smoked meat of Schwartz’s. But I was in the mood for a steak. Again, not something that I can’t get in New York, but Schwartz’s serves it with a twist- when was the last time that you were served a pickle, cole slaw, French fries and a hot dog with yours? And the experience started with a piece of grilled liver. Maybe not the best I’ve ever had (and I passed on the liver and hot dog!), but they do something right if the line halfway down the block is any indication of popularity. And it was before noon!
New York and Montreal share many features- unfortunately humidity is one of them. But that didn’t stop me from walking on St Laurent and peeking into smart looking furniture shops- hmm, maybe it is time for a pied a terre in Montreal!
I can’t come to Montreal without my ritual beauty stop. I swear I get a better facial here than anywhere else in the world (and trust me when I say that I have tried my share!).. My haunt is Lise Watier’s institut on Laurier. She is Montreal’s beloved grande dame of cosmetics. You can’t go to a makeup counter anywhere in this city without seeing her products.
Emmanuelle and Julie were insistent that I try Bilboquet for gelato and sorbet. So, glowing skin and more walking past lovely houses surrounded by lush shade gardens brought me to St Bernard and this popular place. I can get lemon sorbet anywhere, but I had to try the apricot and pear. Perfect. And even on a Friday afternoon- packed.
Now I was craving what I came here for- the music. And this is where the love really came in. I picked just one event for today- and while my choice was not mainstream jazz, it reflected one of the special opportunities this festival affords- to hear artists who may not be on my radar screen. Yael Naim was exactly that. But I definitely was in the minority because I seemed to be the only person who was new to her. I am a fan. This women, her talented band and her music are infectious. How many times have I gone to a concert and commanded the artist to “show me”? Yael made the audience a player and said thank you to them. You may recognize one of her songs from the Apple Airbook commercials and undoubtedly many people in the audience knew her from that. They left knowing her spirit. And certainly her love of all she does.
Check her out:
© 2008 WBGO