If you’re headed to Montreal to take in this year's Montreal Jazz Festival, you might be overwhelmed at all the spectacular things that are happening around you all day and night. But as much fun as the festival is, there are a few things that I want to take a minute to tell you about – my favourite things to do in Montreal.
1. Eat meat. Montreal is famous for meat and not just Montreal smoked meat. The rub that is used to make Montreal smoked meat is also the steak spice that you might have in your pantry at home, known as Montreal steak spice. It’s a combination of black pepper, garlic, coriander, dill,, red pepper flakes and salt. Eat steak at Moishes. Eat rotisserie chicken at Laurier. Eat pork via a sandwich called “The Cubain” at Olive + Gourmando. Meat = Montreal, so “carni-voyeurs” rejoice!
2. Talk to a bartender during downtime. Talking to a bartender in any city is an exercise in city pride, but in Montreal bartenders have a certain sizzle. My experience is that they are either rude to you or nice as pie. Your mission is to flip the rude bartenders to the “nice side.” Ask them what they love about Montreal and you’ll get an ear full.
3. See some jazz at Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill. This is the place to see and hear great international and Quebec jazz. As you might imagine, Montreal takes its jazz seriously, and Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill is where it happens 365 days of the year. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see the “Upstairs” sign. It’s upside down.
4. Give a busker a $20 tip. There are plenty of buskers. Reward the best. You’re going to see the most bizarre and entertaining buskers of your life during any festival in Montreal. If you’re up for it, put a $20 bill in their hat but, before dropping it in, hold the $20 high and let the crowd know how much you enjoyed the show. A movie, popcorn and drink will cost you about $30 and you have to pay before you see the movie. Buskers will give you 30 minutes of blood, sweat and tears and you can pay after. Give a $20. It will make their day and yours.
5. Order at McDonald's in French. Give it a try. You'll be glad you did. Why? Because French is an official language in Canada. I’ve read enough cereal boxes in my time to know enough French to order McDonald's in French. The words are right up there on the order board. Give it a try and see if your server gives you kudos or the hairy eyeball. Better yet, after you’ve ordered ask your server to explain in English what you just said. You might both be in for a laugh.
Jazz on wheels
Canada's Phil Nimmons still rollin' at 88
Charlie Parker's hocked horn hit's auction block
on Jun 27, 2012