Montreal was cold and beautiful and completely exceeded our expectations.
We arrived on Friday afternoon, after a seemingly endless car trip (note to others: I am absolutely terrible to travel with on long car trip - Peter, you're a champ :). We checked into our hotel, had a quick bite of poutine, and headed to the metro right underneath our hotel (fantastic since it was freezing out!). We got a three day metro pass for $16 - totally worth it.
We then headed out to Mile End for a drink at Dieu du Ciel. It was so festive and cozy inside. And it was fun to see the Brooklyn-ish part of the city - it definitely felt that way to us.
For dinner, we had a reservation at l'Express. Oh, I loved it so! The service was wonderful, they sell half bottles of wine (truly the perfect amount for two), and everything we ate was delicious. We had bone marrow and the l'Express terrine, beef tartare and frites, and a perfectly ripe piece of Camembert for dessert.
On Saturday, more snow was predicted, so we sought refuge inside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It's quite large, with three buildings connected underground. Admission is free, and it's definitely worth a visit. I liked the decorative arts and design wing, and we both enjoyed the Quebec and Canadian art section, particularly this painter's work.
Marche Jean Talon was next on our agenda. We weren't 100 percent sure if the market carried on in the winter, and we were thrilled to find that it does, in an entirely enclosed space. It was huge, filled with the most amazing meat, cheese, and vegetable vendors. We could have bought so many things, but restrained ourselves and focused on lunch. We took a baguette, two cheeses, and a slice of pate back to our hotel for a picnic, and watched the snow swirl around outside our window.
One thing I loved about Montreal is their extreme enthusiasm for fireworks - something we have in common. Every Saturday night in December through early January, they have a fireworks show over the Old Port. We went down to watch them, with a rockin' 90's music soundtrack going in the background. We were hopping around, freezing to death, and all the Canadians were still and happy, cheering along when impressive fireworks shot off. It was a lot of fun, but really cold. Only recommended for the most die-hard fans.
We couldn't help but go to Au Pied de Cochon for dinner on our last night after reading so many great things about it. And after a mix-up with our reservation was cleared up, we had a fantastic time there. We had the foie gras cromesquis, pickled beef tongue with tarragon (!!!), and a special entree for two that had pork, prosciutto, more foie gras, gnocchi, lentils, carrots, beets, and pickles. If it sounds like a heart attack, it kind of was, but in the best possible way.
I am embarrassed to even tell you this after describing our dinner from the night before, but on the way home we stopped in Waterbury, VT at Prohibition Pig (tag line: smoked meat and libations). Peter was eager to try some hard-to-find beers from Hill Farmstead Brewery, and we couldn't not get a few pork rinds and pickles to snack on. We have been on a kale binge since our return.