Friday, October 1, 2010

Mes vacances en Canada/My vacation in Canada

Your ever humble, ever sorry blogger is back!

It's been hectic these few weeks, getting back into the swing of school. I just wanted to do a writeup on my getaway in mid-August before I forget!

I spent two days in Toronto, two in Montreal, and one and a half in Quebec City, a day in St Thomas for a wedding and the rest near Ottawa, where my bf's family lives. 

I didn't take any photos in Toronto. I was too busy trying to stave off the heat and humidity which I was not used to (it was practically winter in the Bay Area this time of year) and random rainstorm.

It's a shame because I liked Toronto the most out of all the cities I visited.

There are so many things to eat and see there. The best part is the food is suuper cheap. Definitely as cheap as what I can get in the BA, if not cheaper.

Restaurants I went to:

Mystic Muffin
Soo good. And the owner was really friendly and chatty. The apple cake everyone loves was good (free b/c it was our first time there :D ). But the best thing I had was the eggplant wrap. My bf picked that and it took all the willpower I had not to steal it! I would seriously go back to Canada just for that eggplant wrap. Haha, maybe I was just hungry, but I can't stop thinking about it. I got the falafel, which was pretty good too.

Hodo Kwaja
We don't seem to have any local bakeries in BA that make these Korean walnut cakes with filling. I have to survive on the stale ones from the supermarket shipped in from LA. Bah, they aren't even the same species! The fresh ones are so good. We got one in every flavor and a brown sugar pancake. I recommend the pancake and the best cake flavors were red bean with walnut and sweet potato with almonds.

C'est What?

A brewpub that my bf (beer snob) wanted to go to and where I got a chance to enjoy the benefits of Canada's drinking age. :) The sweet potato frites was soggy-blah and I have no point of reference for the cider I got. But my bf liked the caraway rye he got and he wants to go back.

Buk Chang Dong Soon Tofu
A good restaurant that had good dolsot bibimbap, though I'm sure a lot of Korean restaurants on Bloor Street can offer that. We also ordered the seafood tofu soup, which was yummy. The purple rice was a nice surprise.

Things I learned:

-A lot of restaurants have double doors for climate control, either to keep in AC or keep out the cold, something that I, a Californian, had no concept about, lol.

-Drugstores are crazy expensive! American products are at least $1-2 more than they are here. That combined with a 1:1 exchange rate with a 13% tax is cringe-worthy. The prices at the drugstore Shoppers was especially guilty of this.

-Drugstores often have a skincare counter that offers higher end brands like Clarins, something CVS in the US is trying to accomplish with Beauty360.

Next we took a 5-hour train to Montreal.

Montreal had more of a quirky city vibe.

Cute sets of chess at a park

The gate to Chinatown

Our Eats in Montreal:

We ate here on our first night in Montreal per my suggestion. I read a lot of food bloggers' reviews of this restaurant who all seemed to love it. Unfortunately, we found it to be overpriced for the quality of food they offered. We ordered the chicken liver mousse, which was just ok, and I got the mustard chicken with greens. It was a piece of chicken breast, which was really dry. I was surprised, since it's hard to screw up something so basic in a restaurant. Definitely do not recommend it.

Restaurant Maison du Nord
This is a Northern Chinese restaurant that specializes in Northern style dumplings and noodles. We ordered the zhazhang mian (the original inspiration for Korean jajangmyeon), lamb and coriander dumplings, and pork and shrimp and chive dumplings. I also ordered a soy milk. The dumplings were pretty good, but the zhazhang mian was luke warm. The soy milk had a funky aftertaste. Maybe we went on an off day.

Jean Talon Market

This outdoor market was really lively here with lots of fresh produce, meats, and handmade crafts. It seems to be a place where people go shopping, not just a tourist trap.

Boutique Point G
It's a gelateria and macaron shop with a hip name, which means "g-spot" in French, lol. The macarons were super delicious, but a bit pricey. But macarons tend to be anyway.

The six pack we bought

(L-R) Sesame seed, Fleur de sel caramel, Apricot-black tea, Vanilla, Blueberry, Lemon. Très délicieux!

Things I learned
-Metro announcements are only in French, so be prepared for that. Listen for the stop name!
-People line up for the bus, which is pretty logical. Guy who gets there first gets on first. Awesome.
-There's a really nice college vibe in the city, because there are four universities located there.
-The French way to pronounce Montreal is to omit the "t" sound.

We took a 3 hour bus ride to Quebec City.

My bf told me it was one of the only places in North America that is really reminiscent of Europe. Though I've never been myself, it makes me think of a Euro Disney version.

We had really good food there.

Le Couchon Dingue
It's a cute little restaurant chain in Quebec, that serves Quebec style and French food. I had the pot en pot, which is like a cream chowder of potatoes and seafood (salmon, scallops, shrimp, clams) baked in a dish with puff pastry on top. It makes my mouth water thinking of it!

Cute 'lil piggy statue outside. Le couchon dingue means crazy pig!

There's a light show called the Image Mill about the history of Quebec City. It's broadcast at night on those long-ass white facade of a former factory. It was a bit long and boring, but a cool concept!

The blue building is where they broadcast the show

Some pics of Ottawa

Peace Tower, reminds me of Big Ben!

Statue of Queen Lizzy on a horse

Ottawa's architecture has a decidedly English feel and Quebec City a French one

Our Eats:

Elgin Street Diner
My bf attended college in Ottawa, so he knew all the student haunts downtown. He took me this diner for my first and only (so far) poutine. The fries were crispy yumminess. I liked the dish, but I agree with my bf that it's a dish that you can only eat once a year after drinking. Super unhealthy, lol.

Tastes muuuch better than it looks

Schawarma King

There are so many schawarma places in Ottawa. According to bf, schawarma restos are one of the few place open late and this is the best one. We got the falafel. The garlic sauce was to-die-for! :D

If you look closely, you can see the people with the late-night munchies

I was always meh about bagels. Maybe I ate too many Noah's, blech. But my bf took me to try Montreal style bagels at Kettleman's. They are freaking delicioso! Not as doughy as regular bagels and a slight chewy bite. Best of all, they are fresh and made on site there. I recommend the sesame. :)

Things I learned
-Cadbury's is a far bigger deal in Canada. Aero bars also seem to be a big deal there. I think there's just a wider variety and availability of British candy.

A candy display at drugstore Jean Coutu

-Definitely different standards when it comes to political correctness. I couldn't tell you how many times I saw chinky font on store signs. What is "chinky font"?

THIS (Image courtesy of

To be honest, it really irked me. That and "oriental" was thrown around pretty often, and I ain't talking rugs. The worst offender was in downtown Ottawa.

Uhh, yum?

I know not all of Canada is like this and that our standards of appropriateness are not the same. Eh, live and let live, though it's still a damn ugly sign.

This long-ass post actually took me a few weeks to write. Haha, I'm weak.

Overall, I think Canada is an interesting country to visit, and I'd love to go back again. Especially now that it is midterm season at my school. :P

Hope y'all had nice summers!


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