Main Steak House Deli

We’d been to Schwartz’s before, and the line and the crush and the noise just wasn’t worth it. Across the road is the Main Steak House Deli, which was supposed to be as good, and way less crowded. So we went in …

Whoa! Tender peppery meat, killer poutine, crispy pickles and cold beer. We ordered in hesitating French, then the server yelled the order in English to the kitchen.

Looks like not everyone’s billing workflow understands accents:

Outside, we saw meat resting in the window, bejewelled with peppercorns:

We’ll be back the next time we’re in Montreal.

i love this city

I’m sad to leave Montréal. Not just was it one of the most productive work weeks I’ve ever had (thanks to the fine folks at Hélimax), but the city is great. I’ve had some spectacular meals here – the two little bistros within walking distance of the office are fantastic; way better than the 40+ mediocre fast-food outlets near my office. One evening we went to Pintxo – nummy Basque food.

I think I’d probably eat less here, because the food is worth savouring. There’s care and love in the food here, not boil-in-the-bag slop.

music of 2005

It’s getting towards the end of the year, so I’m thinking about what albums I enjoyed most. These are the 2005 albums I have in my collection:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw — Darkness At Noon
  • Aimee Mann — The Forgotten Arm
  • Animal Collective — Feels
  • Beck — Guero
  • Bettye Lavette — I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise
  • Bright Eyes — Digital Ash In a Digital Urn
  • Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • Calexico / Iron & Wine — In the Reins
  • Caribou — Marino Audio
  • Dan Jones — Get Sounds Now
  • The Decemberists — Picaresque
  • Deerhoof — The Runners Four
  • Devendra Banhart — Cripple Crow
  • Dressy Bessy — Electrified
  • The Duhks — The Duhks
  • Eels — Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
  • Fiona Apple — Extraordinary Machine
  • Gorillaz — Demon Days
  • Grandaddy — Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla
  • Jennifer Gentle — Valende
  • John Parish — Once Upon a Little Time
  • Kate Bush — Aerial
  • Kate Rusby — The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly
  • Kimberley Rew — Essex Hideaway
  • Lazerlove5 — Flicker Mask
  • Lemon Jelly — ‘64–‘95
  • The Lollipop People — We Need a New F-Word
  • Malcolm Middleton — Into The Woods
  • Marbles — Expo
  • The Mountain Goats — The Sunset Tree
  • My Morning Jacket — Z
  • Of Montreal — The Sunlandic Twins
  • Sigur Rós — Takk …
  • Sleater-Kinney — The Woods
  • Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
  • The Vanity Project
  • Wolf Parade — Apologies to the Queen Mary

I know there are some that won’t make my list (Aerial, for one) but the rest of them all have their moments.

no cheers for VIA Rail

The train journey back from Montreal last night should have taken about four hours, but it took nearer eight. Seems there was a derailment near Belleville, so we were sat on the train for three hours (just metres from Belleville station; had we known, we would have got out and walked somewhere). Then a bus came, and we got into Toronto about 1am.

I suspect, given that the speed the bus went (187km in under two hours), he’d been told by VIA to get us in before 1:15, the cut-off time that would have given us an 100% refund. As is, I suspect we’ll only get 50%, as that’s the refund for up to four hours. Grr.

clicking like the trilobite

clicks in my H120 recording
Darn it, but my iRiver, with this recent firmware upgrade, now records a click about every minute it records. See the regular peaks? It hasn’t completely ruined my recording of Of Montreal, but it hasn’t helped.

(and apologies for the relatively huge file size of the image; I’m just learning my mac-fu.)

and I thought that it’d hosed the recording of the encore by killing the wav file header. But some digging with sox parameters fixed it:

sox -V -t .raw -s -w -c 2 -r44100  broken.wav fixed.wav

in, but not of, Montréal

Schwartz's deli
(photo above links to gallery images)

We’re just back, and we had the best time. We basically lived out of a copy of Fodor’s that Caroline lent us.

I was immediately taken by Montréal’s subway system. Not merely do they run on rubber tyres (fast acceleration!) and have cool station names (c’mon, wouldn’t you rather travel from Côte-Vertu to Henri-Bourassa than from Kipling to Kennedy?), but the power electronics in the trains “play” the first three notes of Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s version of Fanfare for the Common Man. Which, if my memory’s mot completely gone, had something to do with the Montréal 1976 Olympic stadium.

We stayed at the Lord Berri Hotel, which is pretty much downtown. We were most taken with the food. Schwartz’s Deli does the best smoked meat ever (it’s worth the wait), while St-Viateur Bagel really does whup the oversized, overrated New York bagel.

(St-Viateur was the only problem we had with Fodor’s. They said that the St-Viateur Bagel & Café was at 1127, avenue du Mont-Royal Ouest, while in reality it’s at 1127, avenue du Mont-Royal Est. Our STM 3 day tourist passes, and a passing Mont Royal bus, saved the day.)

The city reminded me of Edinburgh, minus the unpleasant smell. We’ll definitely be back many times.