“Come to Montreal with me!” Suzanne Vinnik suddenly possessed the effervescence of the Champagne we were drinking.
“What!? I can’t, I mean… what?” I had barely gotten back to NYC after months away in New Mexico, I couldn’t go to Canada- or could I?
“Jacob, I have to sing for a conductor early Monday morning. I’m driving up tonight, the hotel is already taken care of…”
“Well…” I looked at Sakura who gave me her best “don’t ask me” face.
“Come on, I haven’t seen you in like 9 months, road trip with me and Julie!”
Before I knew it, Suzanne Vinnik and photographer Julie DeMarre had whisked me away on I-87 to yet another adventure. “Perfect” I thought to myself, I had only been back in NYC for 3 days and my first weekend back was going to be out of the country.
We arrived at the Hyatt in downtown Montreal late in the evening and decided to explore the next day.
After a nearly thirty minute failed attempt at finding a place to eat directly on Rue Sainte Catherine, Suzanne, Julie and I took a detour on Rue De La Montagne and found Ye Olde Orchard. Finally! A Place everyone could agree on (and poutine for me). I would like to say for the record that I am not a very picky eater, and while I do have palatable preferences, as long as I’m fed, I’m a happy camper. What I loved most about this little gem of a quebecois pub chain, wasn’t necessarily my poutine (Smoke’s Poutinerie still takes the cake, or should I say the curd… ;-), the agreeable menu, or the ambience, but rather the restrooms.
After some more wandering up and down Rue Sainte Catherine, we decided to take a trek on down to Old Montreal and happened upon Canadian Maple Delights , where Suzanne was able to purchase some of her favorite maple cookies, Julie tasted an assortment of Maple syrups and I had a Maple taffy macaron and a surprisingly wonderful Maple latte.
Upon stuffing our faces with the multi-facets of maple, we signed up for a tour at Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Bonsecours. This little architectural jewel is 350 years old and dubbed “The Sailor’s Church” because of wooden ship models that hang from it’s ceiling. Even more interesting was that the church was originally designed my Marguerite Bougeoys. If you aren’t sure who that is, don’t worry, until this tour and even later research, neither was I.
Marguerite Bougeoys was not only one of Montreal’s first teachers, but along with Jeanne Mance, introduced “Les Filles du Roi” (The King’s Daughters) to New France. Les Filles du Roi were approximately 800 or so young women recruited by the French government to move to New France to help boost marriage and population in Canada. WOW! Apparently Canada’s history is mighty interesting!
After exploring the church’s archeological site, Suzanne began talking about a “gloriously messy store” she had previously been to with “a giant mess.” Though Julie and I were obviously no help in finding such a mess, it didn’t take long until natives seemed to know exactly what she was talking about.
Eva B. is a unique cafe-boutique. Located on 2013 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, this wonderful store is a mix of, well… everything. From vintage clothes to Suzanne’s mess (a giant $1 clothing pit which has grown to become an attraction all it’s own) to some of the best samosas and lemonade I’ve ever had (they sell the latter by the gallon!), Eva B. was like a grown-up fun house of clothes and food.
While Suzanne and Julie braved the clothing pit, I stayed and met a man named Charles who apparently did computer programming for Dragon speech recognition software and was terribly excited to be producing his first Fringe Festival play “The Little Prince: As Told By Machiavelli.” When I finished my second samosa and third lemonade (they were really small cups), I set out to find the girls. After about thirty minutes of searching the endless labyrinth of clothing, roller skates and fair trade food items, I gave up and headed back to see if the girls had in fact gone back to the hotel room.
When I returned to our room at the Hyatt I found no one. I made the firm decision not to worry and started to write a note when Suzanne and Julie came in the door.
“Where were you?” asked Julie.
“I just left the mess place!”
“We just left the mess place! We were looking for you” laughed Suzanne.
We finally realized that while I had been searching downstairs with one of the employees, the girls had gone upstairs, and we had completely separate TEAMS of employees helping us look for each other. Now, Eva B. is not a big store, but it is very much like an M. C. Escher lithograph realized in the form of a hippie consignment shop.
The only thing I’m going to say about our third and final day in Montreal is that for some reason, I really, really love Canadian chain restaurants. In the two times I’ve been to Canada, I’ve been to an assortment of awesome places that totally Trump Chili’s and the like. With that being said, Eggspectation Montreal is kind of awesome, and provided me with a most wonderful crepe to remember, complete with surprisingly light textured, yet full-flavored Hollandaise sauce. Oh and if you’re in Virginia or Maryland, I am completely and totally jealous of you, because there are several locations in your neck of the woods.