Montreal Part I: Our Arrival

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on August 6, 2012

One of the deciding factors in me leaving my 9-5 job was to enable me to build on a career that would make working from anywhere, experiencing the world, and spending more time doing the things I love, a possibility. So when Kevin was asked to come to Montreal this week for a couple of meetings, we decided that we’d extend the trip and I’d tag along for it.

It’s been ages since I’ve been out East. The humidity, good food, friendly people and gorgeous sights had me excited for the trip all week long!

We took the red-eye Sunday morning at 1am that had us in Montreal at 7:30am local time. Thank goodness for the jet lag homeopathic pills I used during my trip to India. Those things are magical. A little nap in the afternoon was all I needed to feel on top of my game all day long.

Our room wasn’t ready so we left our bags with the front desk, strapped on our cameras, and headed out for breakfast. I broke my toe a week ago so I hobble everywhere. As much as I wanted to go out and adventure yesterday, my toe really limited us. But we still got to see some pretty cool things.

Like plastic food in the window of a restaurant… mmm…

And an alleyway that reminded us of something that would be in Batman. You may think that this is just an ordinary alley, but we don’t have places like this in Calgary. I thought it was too cool!

We walked passed a bunch of Reuben’s Deli’s. Their menu looked delicious, but Kevin was in the mood for pancakes, so we kept moving.

We saw a man picking up all of the rental bicycles from the rental terminals. I’m not really sure how the program works. Again, something we don’t have in Calgary but that really intrigued me. It looks like you go up to the terminal, pay, then get your bike for a period of time. There are terminals like this all over the city.

After about 20 minutes of hobbling through the streets of downtown Montreal, we came across Ben & Florentine Diner. They had pancakes, they had fruit, so we went in!

The menu was very similar to Cora’s breakfast & lunch. Easy to read, lots of pictures, great for two hungry and partially tired travelers.

Kevin ordered the berry almond pancakes which said it had loads of fruit… as you can see, there wasn’t a lot of fruit. Lots of preserves, but very minimal fruit. There were loads of almonds though! The portion size was good, too.

I ordered a bowl of fruit and brought along some almond yogurt and fresh ground flax seed to pump up the dish.

Before:

After:

So delicious.

We headed back to the hotel afterward, found a quiet and comfy spot in the lobby, and set up a movie. Have you seen 21 Jump Street? So ridiculously hilarious. I’m sure I disturbed more than a couple of people with my roaring laugh.

Our room was ready around 11am which gave us time to shower, nap, and head out for a lunch at Crudessence – the only raw + vegan restaurant in Montreal.

Definitely planning to go back a couple additional times before we leave on Wednesday night. As you can tell from my wide smile, the food was unreal!

Okay, time to change into some shorts and a t-shirt and head to breakfast and a day of markets, Old Montreal, and a picnic in Atwater. Have a fabulous Monday, and don’t forget to check to see who won the DeLallo Foods giveaway!

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica { EricaDHouse.com }

I’ve definitely been bummed in the past when my bf had to go out of town and I couldn’t because of work! I also just watched 21 jumpstreet last weekend and surprisingly enjoyed it (although it was a tad long for my tastest). The Depp cameo made it WELL worth it!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I had no idea he had a cameo, did you? It was a really nice surprise!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks

Thanks for the trip to Montreal! Ive never been but have heard amazing things about the city and hope you guys love it and soak it all in!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Averie :)

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

Oooh sounds like such a fun day ahead!! I would love to see the markets in Montreal… I hear they’re absolutely gorgeous. Have a great time on your picnic and I can’t wait to see the market goodies that you find! Also, that fake food in the window totally cracked me up… yum yum! NOT!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I know, right? Totally wants me to check out THAT restaurant. Mmm plastic pork! I’ll be taking a billion and one pictures at the market today. I’ll be sure to post as many as possible :)

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Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat

Hehe maybe they were displaying their gluten free option!!!! :)

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Caroline

Montreal is such an amazing city! (That’s why I live there!) Take some time to go to the Jean-Talon market – better than Atwater in my opinion :) Make sure you stop at Havre-aux-glaces in the market for an incredible sorbet. For a really good vegan restaurant, try Aux Vivres or La Panthère Verte. For a delicious breakfast, my heart goes to Byblos le petit café, an iranian restaurant on Laurier St., or Engaufrez-vous, a tiny, hole-in-the-wall delicious waffle place. If you need more ideas, let me know! I can show you around.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Caroline – thank you for your suggestions. We went to Atwater market today and were a bit disappointed. I have the next couple of days to venture off on my own, so think I’ll try Jean-Talon tomorrow or Wednesday morning. We went to Aux Vivres today, great food. Was planning on La Panthère Verte but wasn’t sure it was gluten-free friendly. Worth stopping by to check it out anyways. I needed an idea for a good breakfast place as we’ve been to basic diners the last couple of days. Thanks again :)

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tzena

I was in Montreal for most of July. I recommend eating at Aux Vivre (not that far from Crudessence) and Lola Rosa (of du Parc on Milton), two delicious vegetarian restaurants. If you want a quick meal to satisfy different people’s tastes try Commensal, it is a vegetarian buffet, just pile it on your plate and pay by weight. If you like farmer’s markets go to Atwater Marche near the Lionel-Groulx metro stop for beautiful produce and little shops. Enjoy!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

We went to Aux Vivre and Atwater market today! Aux Vivre was so delicious. Definitely a great place. Thanks for the suggestion! I saw commensal on the map as well, will have to try it. Thanks again for your recommendations.

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Lysa

I am from montreal and crudessence is really the best raw food restaurant around !! I hope you will enjoy your stay :) !!!

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Andrea

Awww about your toe! Haha! How’d you break it?! Have a great day.. sounds like it’s going to be a good one :)

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I stubbed my toe like no other! My brother in law was over with my sister last weekend and he moved one of the large rocks that we use as a door jam in our home. I was running (in the dark) later that night and ran right into the rock… fail. haha

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Andrea

Haha sounds like something I would do ;) Hope it heals up soon!

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Alex@Spoonful of Sugar Free

Looks like a lot of fun!!!

And, haha, that plastic food totally fooled me for a second! I was like, “wait, why isn’t that soup totally spilling all over the counter?” too funny…

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

It fooled me too the first time I saw it! You’re not alone on that one :)

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Kris

I love to accompany Jason on his business trips – we have done this a few times and I love it – I get to explore a city alone while he works, then we extend the trip to include a vacation afterwards!

I have a broken toe right now too – and have been hobbling around ;)

enjoy your week!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

It is very great. I can’t wait to do it again! He heads to work tomorrow so I’ll have 2 days to venture out on my own. It’ll be great!

How did you break your toe? haha it’s so frustrating!

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Lindsay

Those bixi bikes are awesome! They were my main method of transport around Montreal when I went last summer. I wish they had them in Calgary! I was charged more than I expected, so make sure you sign up for the right package. I loved that I could pick up a bike from anywhere and drop it off anywhere (since there are so many kiosks). It was awesome to use the bikes to go to several Farmers’ Markets: Marché Atwater and Marché Jean-Talon. Marché Jean-Talon was my favorite of the two. More info is here: http://www.marche-jean-talon.com/

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks for your recommendation, Lindsay. I’ll definitely be going to Jean-Talon tomorrow. I was a bit disappointed with Atwater, honestly! Hoping my broken toe will allow me to bike ride tomorrow, too. Would love to get there via bike, although the metro isn’t too bad either.

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Lindsay

No problem! I found the cheapest maple syrup at the back of the Jean-Talon market. I believe it was right beside a cheese shop.

Another place you may like is Cafe Santropol. They are known for their sandwiches, but you could see if they have gluten free bread, or just have them put the sandwich contents on lettuce. Here is their menu: http://www.santropol.com/pages/rmenu.html

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Thanks Lindsay! So many awesome places to check out, not enough time! I’ll keep my eyes peeled from that maple syrup. We go through it like crazy at home :)

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Michelle

I would love to visit Canada again – Last time I was there, I was in Toronto with my grandparents visiting my grandma’s cousin. Would have been around 1988-89… I was 15 at the time and these guys stopped us to ask for directions to a nearby music venue then invited me with them! My grandpa got all huffed up and informed them that I was his underaged granddaughter! So. Embarrassing! (I’m 5’10″ and looked older than my years – I’m sure the guys were just as embarrassed for mistaking my age!) But I enjoyed the visit and would love to visit Montreal, Quebec – My great-grandmother and her 20-odd sibilings hailed from there. :D

Hope the rest of your visit is wonderful – sounds like just the right way to start off your chained-to-the-office life!!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Ha too funny. With my height (also 5’10″ at 15 years old) that is something that would have happened to me, too. I would have been just as embarrassed!

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Michelle

Hahahaha – I meant UNCHAINED-from-the-office life! Wow… Just flubbed that one altogether.

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I knew exactly what you meant ;) No chains for this girl!!!

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Marisa@DishingNatural

Looks like you are having a great time! My husband and I went to Montreal last year and I LOVED Crudessence. Amazing food! Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!!!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

I loved it so much I’m planning to go there again for lunch. It was just too good not to go a second time!

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Marisa@DishingNatural

I agree! I think we went there 3 or 4 times during our stay! and did you try The Green Panther yet? I think it was right next door and I remember it being really healthy and delicious!

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Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one that has no issue going back to a restaurant every day during a trip. Kevin keeps telling me to try new things while we’re here… but I just love it so much! I did see The Green Panther, but wasn’t sure if they did gluten-free. I’ll stop by there today to check it out. Have a great day, Marisa :)

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Sonia The Healthy Foodie

OMG, are you like in Montreal NOW??? I can’t believe you would be so close to me! How long are you staying for?

Can you believe I’ve never been to Crudessence before. I definitely have to give them a try eventually, especially now that I’ve seen the smile on your face after you gave them a try… Not sure what it is that you ate, but il looks delish.

Good thing you didn’t go to Reuben’s. Not that it’s not good, it’s just not the right “fit” for you… unless maybe breakfasts are a tad different… Somehow, I just can’t picture you eating a greasy smoked meat with a side of fries, coleslaw and pickle… ;)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

I sure am! Until tomorrow, then we make our way back home. You need to go to Crudessence, it’s so fabulous. I went again today and was even more pleased with my meal. If I could, I’d line up at Schwartz’s for hours just to dig my teeth into a large smoked meat sandwich, pickle and all. Maybe one day they’ll serve up their sandwiches with gluten-free bread, too? I’d had a Schwartz sandwich when I was 13 years old and still remember it today. Epic lunch, indeed!

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Sonia The Healthy Foodie

I’m shocked! YOU, eating a greasy smocked meat! PICKLE AND ALL!
Mind you, Shwartz’s is quite the bomb, I have to admit! ;)

Still, I guess I won’t feel nearly as bad now next time I indulge in a giant piece of creamy cheesecake or a king size bowl of Cold Stone Creamery ice cream… looks like we all have our little “splurges” ;)

Oh, and I definitely will be giving crudessence a go. If it has Leanne’s seal of approval, then it’s a definite must try! :)

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Life is all about balance! I choose one meal a week to totally splurge on. Sometimes it’s a big greasy sandwich, a generous helping of New York Fries, or a bag of candy. Can’t be on top of my game every darn meal, I think I’d go mental if I did!

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kari

If you want a fun unusual dining experience try Noir! It’s completely black you experience it blind, totally unique experience!

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Wow, that’s so neat! That’s on Saint Catherine street, right? I think we walked by it tonight and I wondered why it was dark! Very cool

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natlee

Leanne what hotel did you stay in? My husband and I are going to Montreal in March and would like a recommendation….

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Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit)

Hi Natlee – we stayed at the Sheraton during our visit. The one downtown. Kevin was in the city for work, otherwise we totally would have stayed at the hostel!

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