This Is The (Mile) End
I know its been a week or so since the last post, but to be honest, we really haven't been doing much of note. Most of our exploring has been done on foot via the Metro, and the weather has either been too hot or too rainy (or both) to get out for a few hours. Today was a little less hot, so we decided to explore another new neighborhood.
Much like our previous hometown, Montreal is made up of a lot of neighborhoods. We'd heard a lot about the Mile End area, and it's apparently known for its multitudes of great restaurants/cafes/coffee shops/etc. Since eating good food makes up at least 75% of our general interests, it sounded like a win. And what we heard was true: Mile End was pretty much a food mecca.
After a brief Metro ride, we walked a few meters (or metres, I guess) to arrive in Mile End. Like a lot of other Montreal neighborhoods, it definitely had an NYC vibe, with a lot of people out and about. It reminded me a bit of our old neighborhood in Atlanta: a mix of old and new, with a big emphasis on locally owned businesses. Marny had read about a spot called Boucherie Lawrence, and in addition to a fantastic selection of meats, they also had a small menu of sandwiches made from their own products. I chose the banh mi, while Marny went for the porchetta.
Yum. Definitely the best sandwiches we've had in awhile. Super-fresh ingredients, and while not exactly traditional, my banh mi was excellent. The market also had a small selection of local goods (honey, olive oil, mustard, cocktail mixers, etc.), and we bought a couple things to take home. From looking around at all the shops in the area, Montreal is definitely a city that cares about buying local. Between the farmer's markets, boucheries and beer shops, things that are produced locally get top billing.
After lunch, we walked a few blocks away to an ice cream shop we'd read about called Kem Coba, known for it's unusual flavors and home-made soft-serve flavor-of-the-day. Marny opted for beurre sale (salted butter) because, come on, salted butter? Who wouldn't order that? Besides me, I guess. I got the soft serve, which was dark chocolate swirled with raspberry sorbet. And despite it being a weekday afternoon, there was an endless stream of customers coming and going.
More intriguing was a little place next door selling what could only be described as "street gnocchi", called Drogheria Fine Conserve. It's basically an Italian grocery known for its homemade family recipe tomato sauce (that you can buy by the jar) and olive oil packed peppers. But, more importantly, they have a window where you can order a takeout container of gnocchi in their sauce for a measly $5 CAD so you can roam around the neighborhood while chowing down. If we hadn't been so stuffed with pork and ice cream, that would have been our next purchase. It's now on our list of what to eat next.
Just a few doors down from that was the famous Fairmount bagel shop. Montreal is known for its unique method of making bagels, and there are basically two rival bagel shops whose superiority is a source of regular debate: St. Viateur and Fairmount. We'd tried St. Viateur before, so this time we grabbed a half dozen of Fairmounts to take home so that we could have an opinion on the subject.
Overall, we really enjoyed browsing Mile End, and we'll definitely be back soon to sample more of what we missed. And since Marny isn't a beer fan (according to her, no one really is. Ask her about this sometime), I plan on returning soon to check out the many brewpubs.