My son Thomas is home from Boston University on Spring Break. He and I decided to go to Quebec to get away. I'll be honest; I'm not sure how that happened, but I'm all for it.
We drove up yesterday: stopped at Brown's Brewing in Troy (formerly the Troy Brewpub, same owners), where I enjoyed my usual -- Porter! -- and Thomas had...iced tea. Quebec's only hours away, fella! We had a beautiful run up through the Adirondacks, no worries, and scooted into Plattsburgh to view the deep blue waters of Champlain (and fill up on relatively cheap diesel before entering The Dominion of Canada). The border crossing was, for a change, uneventful, and we drove north across the plains to Montreal.
We checked into Le Cartier B-and-B, a neat little place, and got the restaurant lecture for our host, Richard. The man eats out 365 days a year, he said, so we listened. Which is how we wound up going to Au Petit Extra, and had a great meal, and a great experience for the young man. Pretty Quebecois waitresses who all looked like they could be Cathy's cousins: dark hair, light complexion, slightly elfin features. We got the prix fixe dinner, which came with 6-8 choices for the first and second courses, five dessert choices/or a cheese plate, and plentiful delicious slices of baguette. The menu was all in French -- no kiddy English version -- but we managed to figure out what we wanted between Thomas's 1.5 semesters and my smattering of eating French.
|We've had some glass-holding lessons since...|
This morning I got some work done, as did he, and then took a cab to the Brasserie McAuslan, where master brewer Dave Brophy -- one of the original five employees -- showed me an almost fanatical devotion to quality and consistency. No wonder I've never had a disappointing McAuslan Oatmeal Stout. Fascinating comment: they contract brew Moosehead for Quebec, and Dave said that they did an extensive diacetyl rest for the lager. Then he referred to the McAuslan beers -- done in open fermentation tanks with Ringwood yeast -- and said that, of course, they have a different character; i.e., diacetyl is expected there. Well, there you are.
|Thomas contemplates the menu at Saint-Bock; brewery is in the far background|
After that, we slipped down into "The Underground City." Not really an attraction, much as it sounds it. Came up and headed up St. Laurent. There are lots of hipster clothing stores there, I told Thomas (and I can get to Schwartz's, I told myself). And you know, it worked out. We walked all the way up, he got to shop, and then we went to Schwartz's and got smoked meat sammiches and Cott's black cherry soda, a weirdly wonderful combo. Then we walked over to St. Denis, stopped in a Converse/Doc Marten store, and then had a great time in a Quebec artisanal store, talking bear teeth and gypsy swing with the owner while the "annual" anti-police protest marched loudly by outside.
And...that's when I realized I'd left my debit card in the ATM that morning. So we walked down to L'amère à boire to regroup and get info to cancel the card. I had the current Projet Elephant beer, a 3.6% Tmavé dark lager, wonderfully session. Thomas had a pilsner. I got the info I needed, canceled the card...and Thomas realized he'd left a shirt he'd bought at Schwartz's. So back up St. Laurent, and whattayaknow, they had it for him! Bravo, Schwartz's!
Dinnertime. Okay, beer time. Reservoir is practically around the corner, so we went, and I got a big glass of Noire, the dry stout that I swear is the best thing they make. We also had grilled cheese: raclette and sweated onions on grilled baguette. Nummy.
We were beat. Yes, beer geekerie: no Dieu du Ciel. I've been; it's great, but it's a long way off, and to be honest, I'd rather have spent much of the day drinking the Elephant beer, or even going to Benelux. Or maybe I'm just ornery. Anyway, we split a poutine, one more Montreal thing for the boy to experience, and called it a day. And now I'm going to bed. Good night!