Sunday, July 25, 2010
Sunday afternoon stroll... encore
(This area is stained glass central! Click to enlarge photos.)
Another Sunday Meander though the areas around Outremont, again across Avenue du Parc to Toi, Moi et Cafe for dejeuner and what is probably the best cafe au laid by far in the entire city of Montreal. The owner is a torrefacteur, which I think means coffee bean buyer/ roaster/ connoisseur. And he/she certainly knows their beans. They sell something like 50 varieties of beans and roasts, and, if you read French, the placemat will give you a real education on which beans one consumes at what time of day, how best to grind them and brew them for that particular bean and time of day, and anything else your little heart desires to learn about the subject of coffee. And not a hint of snobbery about it either. They just really like their coffee. So I came home with three types of beans, one for breakfast (made just for cafe au laid their way, dark roast made in an espresso pot), one for lunch (coarser grind in a bodum plonger maker) and one for after dinner (taken straight out of the espresso pot it's brewed in).
After my yummy brunch of eggs Mont Moisson (or something), composed of the most perfect little balls (how DO they do that??) of perfectly poached egg atop lightly sauteed thin ham on well toasted (not soggy) English Muffs, then sparingly napped with a lovely light hollandaise, some fresh fruit, including a smattering of blueberries (cute), some sweet baked beans, and leetle home fries, fresh OJ, and cafe au Laid (there IS none better I've ever had anywhere here), I waddled over to Patisserie Le Gascogne (something of a mecca for me now – I go there to pray on Sunday) across the street and stocked up on my little Sunday "fromage" (the dacquoise/butter creme miracle that looks like a round of cheese, but isn't), a nice little breakfast pastry with raspberry inside that looks like a miniature coffee cake, some imported french ham for my dinner crepe (eating a LOT of ham here, it's all so good!), and some teeny tomato and boccerincini al pesto to add to my salad.
Happy, happy, joy, joy... Nothing makes me feel more optimistic about life than just knowing this stuff is there for me to enjoy. All I have to do is pick something out, open my wallet, and march on home smiling for all I'm worth.
Life IS good...
I saw a show on TV here about a pizza place in Little Italy (La Bottega) only blocks from here about making pizza (the real de Napoli kind, super thin, all homemade ingredients, incl. sauce) with semolina flour to give the crust crunch. Want to check that out this, my last, week. I got tired of spending 8 bucks for a crepe so made a batch yesterday, fish crepe for dinner (darling little filets of sole – fresh sole? when's the last time I saw that for sale? and for two bucks?) with creme fraiche and braised celery. What could be simpler? and so good!
Carrying on, I decided to head up Parc, the long way home to see what's on this unexplored section of the street and lo! A used book store! Si charmante! A table with books I like outside, in English no less! Hmmmm...... must go inside!
third story stairway to heaven...
A multitude of goodies at Le Gascogne. It's like an art museum for food! I bought that
french ham! Covet those petits fours...
And who should I meet but Gilles La Croix and Jean Marc Ste. Marie, the proprietors of Le Septieme Sablier –the seventh hourglass. And this is why I love the French language: sable is the word for sand, ergo a sablier is not a 'sander' but something that uses/sifts sand? (Like sands though the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Who said that?) What poetry!! Located at 5372 Avenue du Parc, H2VIG4, Montreal. A fabulous and utterly charming English/ French used bookshop, very reasonable prices, in an impeccably kept, extremely well organized and full of light basement space on Rue du Parc between Fairmount and St. Viateur. These are two of the most jovial, adventurous, kind, positive energy and complimentary fellas I've met in years. I would move here just to have coffee with them regularly. I bought some Steinbeck, some Robertson Davies, and Jean Marc gave me (the price of it was more than both other books combined!) a rare english translation of a famous Quebecois playwright whose name escapes me. Two people excited about life, generous to a fault, and just the most delightful fellas, these two were the last stop on my Sunday meander today. When you're through reading what you buy they insist you bring it back and trade for something else if you like.
Jean Marc insisted I throw caution to the wind, take whatever resources I have, and live in France "for as long as it takes", "you must be the American in Paris, of course!" This is true for many an artist, I'm sure he'd agree. He insisted my full name (he pronounced it right!) would be all any literary agent needed to sell the novel. You gotta love folks who are still full of that much life at the age of 55 plus. He complimented the humor in my eyes (insisted he also saw the "tears", nice); he seemed to like the cut of my jib and of my politics (I said little but he caught on quickly, a well informed man), and told me Montreal likes opinionated women. "We do not tie our women down!" or something to that effect. He said my french had a "soft spoken quality" to it that was nice. HA! I wanted to kiss him! I told him no one had ever before referred to anything about me as soft spoken. He said I lived in the wrong place, then; that people did not understand me. That both France and Montreal would be glad to have a woman like me. He said the women in France all have a little of that "Simone de Beauvoir thing" going. Nice! Sure made me feel less like a freak, that's for sure. I have certainly felt the freak at times around "friends" who, while admiring my smarts, whisper little entre nous, like "Yeah, but you can't take her anywhere" and think it's funny... that somehow such pointy little pinpricks won't wend their way back to my ears, and sting mightily when they do.
I felt happy and quite blessed when I left the shop with the books under my arm. they are right, life is for living, not trying to make plans all of which will, in the end, land you in some variation of one nursing home or another. What's it matter which one you're in if you can't remember who the hell you are anyway? I instantly loved the both of them and spent nearly an hour talking American writers and French politics. (They had TWO copies of Kaye Gibbons' Charms for an Easy Life! One of my all time fave books, and often not easy to find. I told them "this is a gem!" and they loved that. Heaven there really....Need more of this kind of what my college pal Herbie used to call "Positive Assistance Vibrations" on a daily basis. I plan to find it too.
Jean Marc et Gilles! Je vous adore! Je me souviens...
A plus tard..