I am always curious to see, with any place I am discovering for the first time, how often my preconceived stereotypes ring true and how little I truly know about the facets of that culture. After a weekend in Montreal I was pleased to discover that sweet maple syrup is king as one might suspect, and that the ‘feud’ between Brooklyn bagels and those of the Québecois came upon me like an epic surprise battle I didn’t even know we were fighting in.
One of my best and oldest friends in modeling (and life) is a stunningly beautiful and intelligent woman, also called Rachel. She hails from Montreal as a true francophone who is proud of her country. I was finally able to make the trip North to visit her home and her city this past weekend and see all that it has to offer. This is when I learned about the bagels.
I was given maple syrup to go along with my cereal on my first morning in Montreal. I am told that yes, Canadians do enjoy maple on just about everything. On cereal it’s a tastier and healthier alternative to just pure sugar. I dug it.
We spent the rest of the day touring Montreal via car, stopping to get out to enjoy the views, have an orange julep (a combination of orange juice and milk, which I found delicious in the sense that it tastes like a liquid creamsicle) and pick up some of those Montreal bagels for our dinner. Over bowls of crisps, cheese curds, and fresh smoked salmon, Rachel and I discussed the difference between a New York bagel and those found here in Montreal. Slightly smaller in size with typically larger holes, the Montreal bagels are not as doughy as their NYC counterparts and are in fact dipped in a bit of honey before they are baked, giving a tinge of sweetness to every bite. i couldn’t say either way which one was better, as I tend to love all bagels the same. Either way, the rosemary bagels were absolutely divine and a treat I will remember for a long time.
While the city of Montreal has much to offer in terms of culture and activitiy, I truly appreciated the natural beauty I found here. Rachel took me through a beautiful forest just a five minute walk from her home. Living on the east side, she is right near the water. I believe in divine intervention just as much as the next person but something about the timing of our little tour of their pier in their water was certainly an act of God. Just as we hit the wooden planks, the sky lit up in the most spectacular pink sunset I have ever witnessed. That with the nearly full moon decorating the sky and the Montreal flag flying in the distance, we seemed to have the most beautiful scene in the world before us. I’m sure you remember this sunset. Instagram was ablaze with the fiery pink skies.
My final day in Montreal was spent touring Old Montreal. Here the city shows itself as the most European of North America. Beautiful old buildings with much French influence in terms of architecture decorate the town. We had some lunch in an organic cafe, Soup Soup!, toured the maple shop for my favorite maple candies to bring home, and simply walked around, soaking in culture. The day was freezing but my heart was warm. The spirit of Montreal relaxed me and made me feel at home only in the way an old European city will- with a naturalness not focused on commerce and capitalism but one focused on living full and well and with passion. Plus, those dang bagels…