Thursday in Montreal...

We hit the road for our annual voyage d'été à Montréal on Tuesday:  first stop Rutland, Vt.  This small town south of Middlebury (with two small colleges) has always looked sweet to us so we did an easy over night at a local apple orchard motel and then prowled around downtown.  One of the encouraging realities in these small Vermont towns is their commitment to growing and sharing a locovare diet - and Table 29 did so with warmth and grace.  We spent the evening talking and reading and getting into the winding down groove.  In the morning it was off to a local yarn vendor who also shared a commitment to stocking as much local wool products as available.

We left in the rain - a gentle mist mostly - that continued on and off for two days.  On the back rounds of Vermont it was surprisingly soothing to travel surrounded by this rain as it shrouded the mountains in a mist.  Dianne had downloaded some podcasts about the music scene in Montreal - "Midnight Poutine" (a reference to a local french fry and cheese curd delicacy we have yet to experience) - so we dialed back even more and settled into a slower pace.   In Middlebury we stopped for tea when lo and behold right across the street was a... BOOKSTORE.  About an hour later we were set to go.

It was smooth sailing across the border at St. Alban's and by 4 pm we were sitting outside our Montreal flat.  It is one block from the incredible Marche Jean Talon - a lovely outdoor farmer's market that is open every day except Christmas - and situated in what was once the Little Italy of Montreal.  Today, like many older ethnic neighborhoods, new immigrants are a part of the flow, too including folk from Latin America and the Middle East.  After a brief "sommeiller" it off to explore the new "hood" and find a place for dinner.

And did we strike gold with the exquisite Syrian/Armenian ALEP Resturant - what a feast - with some truly friendly and helpful wait staff. I am a stone, cold addict when it comes to Arabic mezzas and this place did them in a way that would make any sultan proud.  And what made the whole scene so much fun is that our waiter, Matthew, spent time talking with us about how each dish was prepared and asking how we might want to combine spices and flavors. It was a truly participatory exploration.  

As expected, I had a total brain fart when trying to reply in French - things got better as the night matured - but that was fun for everyone, too.  This is a place we will  go back to when Jesse comes to town next week. (Check it out @

Today is already slow - some time later for crepes in Marche Jean Talon - and then two evening shows at the Jazz Festival:  a 6 pm gig with guitarist Bill Frissell who will be doing his take on a variety of John Lennon tunes, and, the opening public concert with Rufus Wainwright.


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