Mount Royal Park offers a spectacular view of Montreal.

Montreal: A Winter Wonderland


In the days leading up to my trip to Montreal with my husband, I watched the weather forecast with increasing dread, bracing myself for highs less than 0 – and yet despite the cold, Montreal proved to be the perfect destination for a holiday getaway.

With an apartment near the historic Old Town as our home base, we were within walking distance of museums, restaurants, bars, and the famous park at Mount Royal. We even took a day tour to Quebec City that began and ended just a few minutes’ walk from our apartment. While French is the first language of many residents, most were also English speakers, so it was very easy to get around.

Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts was one of our first stops. The museum’s extensive permanent collection is free and does not require a ticket. One of its buildings is devoted exclusively to Quebec and Canadian art, ranging from contemporary Inuit sculpture to 18th-century painting and silverware.

Montreal’s Barbie Expo features dolls in traditional clothing from around the world, such as these dresses from Peru.

 

Around the corner, a shopping mall houses the Barbie Expo. This collection includes over 1000 dolls dressed in traditional costumes from around the world. There are also dresses by well-known designers such as Christian Dior and Vera Wang, dresses reflecting popular brands such as Coca Cola, and beloved movie characters.

The Montreal Biodome in Olympic Village showcases plants and animals, such as this puffin, from various climate zones.

 

Other museums include the Biodome, located in Olympic Village. A botanic garden and planetarium are nearby, and a combined ticket can be purchased for all three attractions or any combination of two.

We also visited the Pointe-a-Calliere museum complex, part of which is built directly on top of the foundations of a 17th-century fort. A temporary exhibit there detailed the illustrious history of the Montreal Canadiens and other local and national hockey teams.

The Notre-Dame Basilica’s breathtaking interior has a beautifully carved altar.

 

Even more impressive than the museums, the Notre Dame Basilica is an architectural gem not to be missed. Spectacular stained-glass windows, a masterfully carved altar and an organ with 7,000 pipes are just some of its crowning features.

When it comes to food, Montreal has numerous specialties – in particular, it’s known for smoked meat, bagels and poutine. The most recognizable location for smoked meat sandwiches is Schwartz’s Deli, but a local recommended skipping the line and heading to the Main Deli Steakhouse right across the street. We enjoyed a signature sandwich of tender, flavorful smoked meat piled on rye bread with mustard.

Fairmount Bagel is one of the city’s top bagel shops, and we stopped by its original location after ascending Mount Royal. From the chateau at the top, we were rewarded with an awe-inspiring view of Montreal, from McGill University almost directly below to the St. Lawrence River in the distance.

Open 24 hours a day, Fairmount Bagel has no tables – just a counter, with busy bakers visible in the background. We tried the plain, cumin, and garlic varieties. All three had a crispy exterior but a soft, delightfully doughy middle. The bakery also offers crunchy sweet bagels and a selection of toppings.

In the summer, tourists can zipline over Montmorency Falls, but even in the winter the park offers spectacular views.

 

There is plenty to do in Montreal, but Quebec City, a three-hour drive away, is worth a trip. During our brief time there, we went to the famous Montmorency Falls, nearly 300 feet high and only partially frozen. A cable car brings visitors to the top of the falls, and in the summer, it’s possible to ride a zipline across the water.

In the city, we went to the 31st floor of the Marie-Guyart Building for a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, with interactive displays describing the history of notable buildings. Before leaving, we had time to explore the charming Old Town with its variety of art galleries.

The Chateau Frontenac is Quebec City’s most recognizable building.

 

The Chateau Frontenac, Quebec’s most recognizable building, also welcomes tourists to visit its art gallery and an exhibit detailing its history. In the lobby, a variety of thematically decorated Christmas trees created a festive mood.

Montreal’s gorgeous architecture makes it an exciting city to explore on foot, and a day pass for public transportation is only $10, making it easy to travel throughout the city. Although we decided against outdoor activities, sports like cross country skiing and ice skating are just a few additional options for winter visitors.

Overall, we decided we will plan our next trip to Montreal for July or August – but it’s an incredible city that we look forward to visiting again!

 

If you go:

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

1380 Sherbrooke Street, Montreal H3G 1J5

(514)285-2000

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with extended hours on Wednesday for the Major Exhibition only

 

Barbie Expo

1455 Peel Street, Montreal H3A 1T5

Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday

 

Montreal Biodome

4777 Avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montreal H1V 1B3

(514)868-3000

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Notre-Dame Basilica

110 Notre-Dame Street West, Montreal H2Y 1T2

(514)842-2925

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Main Deli Steakhouse

3864 Boul. Saint-Laurent, Montreal H2W 1Y2

(514)843-8126

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Sunday

 

Fairmount Bagel

Multiple Locations

(514)272-0667

Evan Fox will soon have a second food truck hitting the streets to sell his plump and chewy Yeastie Boys bagels, which come in a variety of flavors. Photos from Twitter

Yeastie Boys Rolls Out Bagels With Attitude


Evan Fox, 32, grew up in Arizona, but in his early 20s spent enough time in New York to fall in love with that city’s bagels. When he moved to Los Angeles half a dozen years ago, he looked for a facsimile but was left wanting.

Three years ago, Fox decided he would introduce New York bagels to Los Angeles. He would make them here and create not just the product but the whole vibe. It was an audacious idea, considering Fox wasn’t a chef or restaurateur. He had waited tables and bartended, and his aunt had married the son of Reuben sandwich creator Reuben Kulakofsky, but certainly none of that made him a bagel expert.

“I’m just a fat kid that loves food,” he said.

Fox, who is Jewish, partnered with a chef friend who started toying with recipes. The objective: devising a bagel with a lot of flavor and a little bit of chewiness that also was plump. Fox secured the Yeastie Boys name — an homage to celebrated hip-hop group the Beastie Boys — and debuted his company at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2015.

“I like to be on the road. The street game is my vibe.”

— Evan Fox

Fox said preparing for Coachella was “the worst experience of my life … brutal.” He and his then-business partner and a bunch of friends gathered in a rented Hollywood kitchen and hand-rolled 10,000 bagels over the course of two weeks leading up to the festival. Despite such production challenges, the reception Yeastie Boys received at Coachella was very positive, Fox said.

About a week after the festival, the Yeastie Boys food truck hit the streets of Los Angeles for the first time, mainly doing a circuit of coffee shops downtown, in Silver Lake and in West Hollywood, where Fox lives.

Yeastie Boys (yeastieboysbagels.com) is mainly a bagel sandwich shop on wheels, with its slogan emblazoned on its truck: “Bagels — Lox — Shmear — Other S—.” You can get a plain bagel and shmear ($4), but most of its offerings are over the top and far from classic. Some might even call its menu items blasphemous. “The Game Over,” for example, features scrambled eggs, tomato, peppered bacon and cream cheese flavored with homemade beer cheese and flecked with jalapeño, all on a chewy cheddar bagel. (Some customers skip the bacon.) Another offering, with a name not fit for print, stars sliced bananas and Nutella. Specials sometimes include a matcha-green-tea cream cheese, vanilla-chai cream cheese, even red-wine-and-cherry cream cheese. Of the bagels, the one with the most photos on Instagram is the Hot Cheetos special — a fiery red looker enrobed in, you guessed it, crushed Flamin’ Hot Crunchy Cheetos.

Although Fox is very hands on — he is on the truck almost every day — there is one thing he no longer does: hand-roll the bagels. He has contracted the job of producing the bagels, but still using the Yeastie Boys signature recipes.

As for what’s next, Yeastie Boys’ reported plan for a brick-and-mortar location is being shelved, at least for the time being. Instead, Fox intends to roll out a second truck soon to meet the considerable demand.

He said he will keep doing the coffee shop circuit and big music shows and festivals where Yeastie Boys has become something of a fixture. He also will continue to do collaborations with musicians, like those he has done with two Los Angeles-area rappers. And he plans to keep pushing the boundaries of what a bagel can be.

“I like to be on the road,” Fox said. “The street game is my vibe. I like pulling up to different neighborhoods on different days.”

How to Jew: Yom Kippur


BACKGROUND

It is said that Yom Kippur, literally “Day of Atonement,” is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Yom Kippur is a time of prayer and fasting during which Jews ask God for forgiveness and think about their actions and sins of the past year. It occurs on the 10th of Tishrei, the culmination of the 10-day period of reflection known as the Days of Awe, and marks the point at which, according to tradition, the fate of each Jew is sealed in the Book of Life.

The original Day of Atonement is said to have occurred when Moses received the second set of the Ten Commandments, after the Israelites sinned by worshipping the golden calf. Later, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies — the part of the Tabernacle where God was said to dwell — just once a year, on Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur consists of five prayer services: Ma’ariv (evening, which includes the recitation of Kol Nidre, asking to be released from vows not kept in the past year and the year to come); Shacharit (morning); Musaf (additional); Minchah (afternoon, featuring a reading from the Book of Jonah); and Neilah, the concluding service. A memorial service called Yizkor is held as well. At the end of the day, a final shofar blast is sounded.

TRADITIONS

Yom Kippur is a day of fasting, meditation and introspection. Worshippers, in an effort to focus only on the spiritual, fast from sunset to sunset and traditionally do not bathe, wear leather shoes, apply lotions, creams or ointment or engage in intimate acts with spouses. They refrain from normal daily activities and work as well.

In some religious circles, the day before Yom Kippur is an occasion to perform the ritual known as kapparot. In order to symbolically transfer one’s sins to another object — often a chicken — a person swings a chicken above their head three times while praying. The chicken, or the monetary value of the chicken, is donated to those in need.

It is a custom to give extra charity on this day, and some choose to immerse in the mikveh.

SPECIAL FOOD

We eat two festive meals before the fast of Yom Kippur, which starts at candle lighting. The meal right before the fast of Yom Kippur, called Seudah HaMafsekes, the “separation meal,” typically consists of foods like challah, chicken soup and kreplach. Break-fasts often include bagels and lox or cream cheese and light bites. 

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