Updated on January 16, 2016
So much to learn in Montréal!
The HB and I needed a mid-week vacation, so we took off a few days and headed across the border to Montreal. Most say, “Why go to Montreal when it’s cold??” Well, we are warm-blooded creatures who love chilly spots. The warmest vacation we’ve taken so far was 65 degrees F in Amsterdam!
We headed up the first night to catch a concert from one of Brian’s favorite bands, Sigur Rós. Shhh….No pictures allowed. Their music is very ambient but can get a bit heavy. They preformed two nights before in NYC at Madison Square Gardens, but it was actually cheaper for us to leave the city, drive and stay 6 hours away and see them in Canada. Plus the venue was smaller, so we got way better seats. They put on a wonderful show – there was video and lights all around them that represented all different natural elements, ie, clouds, fire, stone, trees, wind, etc.
The rest of our trip was lovely. We stayed at the Gingerbread Manor, a bed and breakfast, that seemed to be located in walking distance from many different neighborhoods. Brian had requested some homemade macarons. They were THE BEST I’ve ever had! Tiramisu, wasabi and vanilla, coffee, sambuca! Great way to start the trip. The owner also makes his own jellies and cooks breakfast every morning.
Brian was very interested in the architecture, so we checked out neighborhoods, museums and the Notre-Dame Basilica. We found weird shaped buildings, lots of stairs and colorful churches.
Then there was the architecture I was interested in…yarn shops!
Our first stop was Effiloché. This was mostly your typical boutique yarn store. They had great selection and lots of fun choices. But it was all the brands that I was familiar with and could get back home. So, if you are on the hunt for something you already know, it’s a great yarn shop for that.
However, they also sell fabric. And let me tell you, their fabric selection is to die for! Every yard…or meter…made me want to break out my machine and sew. For this trip I opted to grab a couple of swatches of fabric instead of yarn…Don’t worry Grandma, it was just a small bit to remember the shop by, you’re still my number one source for fun fabric!
La Bobineuse de Laine (The Wool Winder)
We headed to a second yarn shop. The pictures my HB found online made me think this store was going to be more like a bulk discounted shop, where as the other store we visited was more of a yarn and craft boutique. When I got there, I was so confused. I had never seen a yarn shop like this!
I walked around for several minutes just trying to understand what I was looking at. There were cones of thread in every color and fiber you could think of. Finally, I asked what this shop was. The man running the shop had previously purchased it with his wife about 20 some years ago. She has recently passed but he decided to keep the shop doors open. I said, “I’m sure she appreciates your hard work.” and he said with a warm smile, “Well, she better!”
He told me this is the only shop of its kind in canada. You can wind your own custom yarn. BUT, the yarn doesn’t actually twist. There is a huge group of machines in the back that run together like a large sewing machine and pull the yarn from different cones into one skein.
So intriguing… I went through all the bins with the intent to make my own yarn. But I was stumped. It’s a surprisingly tough process. I first had to make up a project in my head, and not get discouraged by the idea of the other 300 skeins of yarn sitting in our apartment at the moment…
I love picking colors and fibers, but as I was perusing all in the bins, I found a bin of yarns that he had recently made. I fell in love with two of them. I didn’t design them myself, but it saved me from buying the necessary amount to create a yarn from scratch.
I highly recommend checking out this gem if you ever visit Montreal. It was a lot of fun. I knit up a quick cowl on the way home!
Quick Chunky Cowl
Super Super Chunky Yarn
US 15 10 mm Needles
Join in the round.
Row 1: KNIT
ROW 2: PURL
Repeat Row 1-2 10 times
Bind Off loosely.
We made it to the top of the city’s namesake Mont-Royal, but it was covered with youth. Must have been the party spot. It was also packed with snow. There was a sign in French and I’m guessing it didn’t say to jump the fence to climb the mountain….but luckily we don’t read French!
We headed to the Jean-Talon Market. We had juicy grapefruits, almond croissants and smelly vanilla beans.
They had so many types of vanilla. One type, Nouvelle-Calédonie, had so much sugar in it, that the crystals couldn’t be contained inside the bean, so they formed on the outside making it look like it was rubbed in glitter!
Here’s a fun tip I picked up at the Market. Never buy vanilla extract again!
Homemade Vanilla Extract
10 Vanilla Beans
about 1 1/2 c Vodka
Glass bottle, tall enough to hold the beans under liquid.
Add beans to the bottle, fill bottle with your booze choice. I went with vodka, because the P.N.G. vanilla beans I bought had a great flavor on their own and I wanted to keep it neutral. Some beans have more of a raisin flavor that may go better with rum and some cloves.
Let it sit for 4 months without using. Then use as you please! Every time you use some extract, add more booze. Every time you use a bean, just add another.
If you just buy vanilla beans, they dry out rather quickly. Keeping them submerged in the booze will keep them preserved and fresh. The side effect is Vanilla Extract! The woman at the market said this will keep replenishing itself for about 10 years. So the initial investment is well worth it.
Now we’re back home…back to work…back to the normal grind. But I will keep a sweet piece of Montréal near mon coeur (my heart)!
(**This image has been modified to better represent our trip to Canada, so the “other” coffee label has been removed and replaced by a more appropriate one.)