About Madison S
Lives in London, United Kingdom
Since Sep 2014
Hello! I'm Maddie- a native NYer whose Wanderlust has taken her abroad again and again. Having lived in six countries, and visiting others for school, work, leisure, and sport, I've adopted many localities, and am an admirer of a great many more. An avid scholar of language and culture, I hope to keep expanding my travel repertoire, and sharing great stories with the rest of the travel community. To give you some background on my travels, I spent months each year since childhood in Old Montreal, where part of my family lives. Summers were spent visiting folks in Ft. Lauderdale and L.A. My first big trip outside of the US on my own was to Australia & New Zealand at 12- I caught the bug early! I then moved to Japan where I studied for part of high school & uni. I am very familiar with Japanese cities, Sapporo and Osaka especially. Some of my favourite travel destinations include Goreme, Dubai, Marrakech, and Queenstown. (Plans for 2015 include China & Uganda!) Nice to meet you!
Flea & Street Markets
Tucked into the delightful backdrop of Montreal's Little Italy, Jean-Talon Market was first opened in 1933, marking it as a long-standing city staple. Open year-round, Jean-Talon has the distinction of being the largest public market in North America, and it shows its mettle in all weather. The warmer months see fruit and vegetable stalls set up outside the main chalet, vending fresh local produce, while in the winter, its environs still draw a bustling crowd for its meat and cheese sellers, its spices, truffles, regional delicacies and the wonderful selection of restaurants. This is also the go-to place for Charlevoix lamb - a patented food product, only produced in Quebec, that is deliciously tender and a must-try for foodies.
When you think of Montreal, bagels might not be the first thing that pops to mind. And yet! With a tradition of honey-soaked, hand-rolled dough that bakes slowly in wood-burning stoves before being slathered in toppings and served up hot, Montreal has a thriving bagel culture. Locals are passionate about their version of this breakfast treat, with a thinner, sweeter, and chewier consistency than the average bagel. There's even a friendly rivalry between Montreal's two greatest bagel havens, the Fairmount and St. Viateur. However, the Fairmount, open since 1919, has an earlier claim to fame, great hours, and a delicious final product.
When picturing the go-to food for visiting Montreal, poutine is it: a melange of thick-cut french fries, gravy, and cheese curds, and at Casse-Croute La Banquise, you can have it one of 30 different ways! While poutine can be purchased from food trucks, high-end restaurants, themed tourist traps, and everywhere in between, this shop has the distinction of being a no-frills environment with something for everyone. If you want a dish more exotic than the traditional, try it with pulled pork and cole slaw. Or if you want to edge into territory that feels healthy, the peppers and onion version is a good bet. There's even a selection microbrewery beer options to pair with them!
Quebec is the home of maple syrup. And while there are numerous ways to enjoy it — everything from the traditional sugar shack experience on the far outskirts of Montreal, to seasonal street fair vendors in the inner city — Maple Delights is an old faithful. Located near Jaques-Cartier square, it naturally draws a number of tourists. However, don't let this fact color your opinion. It's the only place where you can try 'tire sur la neige' year-round: a maple taffy made by pouring hot maple sap onto fresh snow. Visitors are even offered the option of making it themselves! And if taffy doesn't tickle your fancy, there's maple-infused ice cream, candies, teas, hand creams, and a number of treats on tap to tempt your sweet tooth. Best of all? Head downstairs for a small interactive exhibit on maple production in Quebec. Delicious and educational? Yes, please!
Chinatown in Montreal may be small compared to other North American cities, but it's neatly designed and jam-packed with exciting food destinations. Follow the herald of the large paifang gate at Rue de la Gauchetiere to find your way onto a street where dim sum, bubble tea, and bakeries rule the day. If you're looking to eat a lot on a small budget, try one of the many Chinese buffets — or else, just venture into the area for dessert, including traditional Asian tea and cake or sweetbread at one of the many pastry shops. Unique to the area is 'dragon bread candy,' which can satisfy any sweet-lover, made with spun sugar and peanuts, and produced roadside by numerous street vendors. If Chinese food isn't your thing, don't worry: the area has pho, banh mi, sushi, Vietnamese cuisine, and enough herbal remedy shops to cure a village.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, breads, cheese, wine and chocolate: there's something for everyone at the Atwater Market. Stalls and kiosks line the outer part of the building, laden with local produce and exciting specialty products. Inside, the scents wafting from the bakery and coffee shops delight and entice. Whatever you're in the mood for, you can find it fresh and regional here. Treat yourself to a a light meal surrounded by the market's Art Deco charm, or nibble on macarons outside among the flower pedlars and the odd busker. Best of all, it's open all year round!
Old Montreal is the place to find many of the city's best restaurants, and if you're in the mood for Haute Cuisine, Restaurant Toque! has you covered. Modern, edgy food highlights Montreal's best: all the cuisine is made from local, fresh ingredients from the city's farmers, and the flamboyant menu changes daily to reflect the best of the day. Gastronomy heaven!
After eating along the boulevards of this great city, why not try your hand at cooking up some of your own fare? At the La Guilde Culinaire, you can set the tone of your future dinner parties by attempting everything from traditional French Canadian cooking, to Spanish tapas, to Thai. The real highlights, however, are the pastry and fois gras classes: roast duck breast or fois gras crème brûlée, macarons and fondant. Classes are a mix of demonstration and hands-on, so roll up your sleeves and spend three hours making 'this is how I roll' jokes while you wield your mighty rolling pin. The tasting at the end makes all that hard work worthwhile.
Montreal cannot boast heavily French-influenced food without offering the wine to match. At Bocata, let the sommeliers on hand pair your oysters and farm-fresh tapas-style dishes with the perfect wine, often privately imported and carefully screened for its suitability alongside each seasonal menu. Consistently ranked among Old Montreal's best, the warm staff and atmosphere are the cherry on top of a fine wine and dine meal here.
Treat Yourself: butter and sugar, what could be better? At Maison Christian Faure, you'll be spoiled for cake and confection choice! Tartlets, macarons, and ganache-lined sponge cakes crowd the pastry counter, while their lunchtime menu offers light, creamy coffees and sandwiches with thick, crispy bread and sumptuous fillings. Best of all? It even includes a pastry school, if you just have to make those purple macarons yourself!