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porcupine

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  1. Pat, thank you for the detailed report! I don't get into DC often anymore but I'll make a point of trying some of these places. A note for jondagle; I'd prefer that we don't put Illy shops on the map, since the concept changed from 'independent' coffee shops to 'really good', and I hate Illy coffee. If for some reason you think one should be included, PLEASE add to the notes that they serve Illy so that I won't waste my time going there.
  2. Canada is again open to US travellers. @Steve R., think you'll be coming to Montréal? General advice: do some research before trying to cross the border. Current requirements are vaccination, negative COVID test result within preceding 72 hours. Upload info in advance to the ArriveCAN app and have all your paperwork ready as you approach the border (and have actual paperwork in addition to your devices). If you have a NEXUS card, getting across the border will be a snap. Québéc will be requiring vaccination passports starting September 1st. Most of my favorite restaurants survived the pandemic, and (surprisingly) new ones have opened. During the summer, at least, people here love to dine outside, and many place already had terrasse dining areas. The city has closed some streets to motor vehicles, so there's even more outdoor dining options, and they're more pleasant. The few restos where we've eaten indoors are spacing tables further apart, have removed half the bar chairs, etc. Les masques sont obligatoires, bien sûr, and every store has a bottle of hand sanitizer at the entrance, and the staff watch people entering to be sure it's used. Small stores limit the number of customers entering. Overall mask discipline is better here than in the greater DC area, but social distancing is not. (To be fair, MTL is a very crowded city.) If anyone is planning on travelling to MTL soon and wants specific advice, tag me in a reply and I'll be happy to help.
  3. Years (ok, decades) ago recipes I followed for alcohol-containing ice creams used a cooked candy syrup added to firm up the texture. IIRC the syrup was boiled to the soft-ball stage. Try investigating this and see if it helps.
  4. More random thoughts. Montréal is full of festivals in the summer - music, theater, film, etc. I have no idea if any are happening in May but google around and if you find something, try it. I haven't been to the art museums in years so I can't point to anything in particular, but if you like art museums, they're worth your time. So is the Biodome. Save these for a rainy day. The so-called "underground city" is just a network of passageways connecting some of the large shopping/business complexes in the downtown core. Really nice option when the weather sucks, however I always lose my bearings and end up at some obscure exit with a bunch of pot smokers hanging around [exaggerating]. I find it difficult to navigate. But again, if you have a rainy day, check it out. Pot smoke is everywhere. Get used to it. So is tobacco smoke. And Montréal is, frankly, a dirty city. In terms of civic appearance it's the opposite of Vancouver. But it's so full of joie de vie... For a month-long stay buy an Opus card and choose the monthly option. Unlimited rides on buses and subways for the whole month, for something like 76 CAD. You'll save a ton vs. buying individual trips. I am no fan of large complexes or large businesses, but Hudson's Bay ("la Baie") is f'in impressive, kind of like Takashimaya was in NYC, but not as nice. Building is 7 floors occupying half a city block. I went to buy some housewares but found it overwhelming. If you explore downtown you'll find some nice contemporary art galleries, and many of the same brand stores you'll find in many North American and European cities. Sadly the galleries are somewhat spread out. I rely on my iPhone to navigate but both google maps and apple maps can't handle the tall buildings downtown and frequently mis-locate me. Study a map and learn the layout before you head out. Speaking of directions, Montréalers have an unusual sense of cardinal direction. You'll see. "Chinatown" is a bust. Head there if you like bubble tea and associated drinks, and Asian pastries [reluctant to use that term]. You can find decent stuff (egg tarts, buns, mochi) at Coco. Presotea makes the best bubble tea and their mango slushies are made with fresh mango whenever they can get it. The old town area is worth a stroll for the architecture. Sadly, those neat old buildings house too many cheap tourist souvenir places. But again, explore; there are some galleries (overpriced), and other nice small shops selling housewares and such. The food scene there is mostly pitiful. The reason why Olive et Gourmando is always mobbed is that it's the only good food in that part of town. Pro tip: google and around for cruise ship schedules and if you find any arriving, STAY THE HELL AWAY from old town. It's horrible when a few thousand extra day-trippers are mobbing the narrow streets. I know from experience. Sadly you won't be around for the "competition weekend" - the Formula 1 race, which I think is always the first or second weekend in June. The city goes nuts for F1. It's one big party. Even if you don't care for auto racing, it's fun to experience the atmosphere. If you can extend your stay into June give it a try. need to get on with my day. Next up, ethnic neighborhoods, Mont Royal, and so on.
  5. A few really random thoughts: Looks like you're close to two orange line stops, so that will make it easy to get around. Last July I walked an average of over 8 miles each day. Partly because dog, but also because the Metro doesn't go everywhere, and some of the bus lines run very infrequently. I'm much more familiar with le Plateau than with the area you're staying in. Looks like you are close to Griffintown, which is supposed to be happening but I haven't explored there yet. Atwater market is really nice. Jean Talon is much the same but with many more produce vendors, who all seem to buy from the same produce auction places, so big deal. But the produce is usually excellent quality. Actually, I heard a rumor about internal politics leading to big changes at marché Jean Talon that will result in fewer vendors next summer. We'll see. At Jean Talon look for Marché Des Saveurs Du Québec, which features foods from Quebec. Quebec is cheese-lovers' heaven; there are so many small producers of excellent cheeses. You could spend your whole month eating nothing but Quebec cheese and still not taste it all. We took two weekend trips to visit fromageries in the countryside, with mixed results. It was a lot of driving around with some disappointments but beautiful scenery. Great hiking at the national parks in Quebec, but we didn't do much because of serious limitations on where we could take the dog. Like ice cream? Stay away from Coaticook, the local grocery store brand. We went to their main place in the town of Coaticook. Bleh. For ice cream, try Cremerie Meu Meu, Kem CoBa, BoBec, and le Bilboquet (in that order). Best coffee: Cafe Noble, Pourquoi Pas, Cafe 8oz. Fantastic boucerie called La Queue De Cochon (near the best dumplings in town). Fantastic bread and pastries at Boulangerie le Toledo on ave. Mont Royal. Fantastic bread at le Fromentier on ave. Laurier. Put together a picnic and spend an evening chilling out in one of the gorgeous neighborhood parks (ours is Parc Wilfrid Laurier). You'll see people playing games, having cookouts on portable hibachis, random small groups of musicians practicing. Well, I'm not sure if it will be warm enough in May for all that, but keep eyes open. Parc Jean Mance has free symphony concerts in the summer, not sure if that will be happening in May, though. Spend time roaming in le Plateau, especially east of rue St. Denis. There's a store that specializes in buttons. Another for antique Japanese textiles. A cooperative handmade pottery shop. The second best chocolates in the world at le Chocolats de Chloe (first place goes to Artisan Confections in NoVa). Little shops on little streets, so fun to discover. Like architecture? Pay attention to the exterior stairways in le Plateau. So much variety. More later, I need to get on with my day.
  6. I have a ton of information to share but not hours in which to do it. Tell me what neoghborhood you're staying in and what types of things you like to do, and I can get more specific. Also, do you have a dog? Montréal is not dog-friendly; good luck finding a place with a terrasse where you can dine with your dog. For restaurants, take my suggestions with a grain of salt. I don't drink except a beer or glass of wine once or twice a month, and I don't care for formal dining. I do like original, innovative, creative food in almost any setting. In DC I prefer Tail Up Goat to Metier, to give you a metric. Favorite restaurants Le Chien Fumant Hélicoptère Damas La Maison de Mademoiselle Dumpling and if you must go more formal, Bouillon Bilk I sent you a link to my google map which has more than 60 food-related places marked. If you want more detail about anything, just ask. ps just noticed from Quebec thread that you're interested in wine bars. Check out Alma in Outremont.
  7. I've been spending a lot of time in Montreal recently (including right now). About two months total since last July. Ate at more than 30 different restaurants. Also know where to find the best coffee, patisserie, etc. in le Plateau. And markets, if you're going to be cooking. I could send you a link to the google map I've made of, well, everything. Getting ready to head to the airport soon. Will try to write more once I've settled in there and have time to kill. If I forget, don't hesitate to ping me.
  8. porcupine

    Visiting Los Angeles

    Happened upon a low airfare so took advantage. Will be spending four days in LA in February. I don't know the first thing about the place so I'm not sure where even to book a hotel. Is Santa Monica a good area to stay in? How about West Hollywood? To make it even more confusing, we don't even know what we're going to be doing with our time, with one exception: we're going to head to Joshua Tree National Park for one day. Thanks for any tips.
  9. Sad news: Filter Coffeehouse & Espresso (Dupont location) is closing. Last day is May 19.
  10. Bethesda Co-Op is on Seven Locks Road almost at the intersection with MacArthur Blvd. in Cabin John.
  11. Bethesda Co-Op has unsweetened dried sour cherries (as of yesterday).
  12. This has driven me nuts for years; they're stupidly hard to find. Recently the Bethesda Co-Op had them but I can't say if they still do. Do mail order from Chukar Cherries. They're excellent.
  13. We've had a great relationship with Tomato Electric for many years now. They've done a lot of work for us, small jobs, large jobs, and rather odd jobs.
  14. I don't care for Compass coffee at all. The roast is just not good. I'd downgrade. ps I visited Timgad, which is on the watchlist. They use Compass Coffee. I'll be taking it off the watchlist. If I worked in that area I'd be glad to have Timgad to go to, but a real coffee hound need not bother.
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