Back to our Montreal trip on the blog today -
Our first meal out in the city was at Schwartz’s Deli, a Montreal institution and the oldest deli in Canada. World Famous Original Smoked Meat, it boasts!
We skipped the sit-down restaurant side with its huge line and went straight to the deli counter to order sandwiches to go. It was a gorgeous day and lunch in a nearby park sounded perfect. Everyone opted for the original smoked meat sandwich, although turkey, salami, and chicken are options too!
I opted for the special of the day: smoked meat poutine! I can never (NEVER) turn down poutine. Fries covered in gravy and cheese curds with meat on top? Yes please.
We got our food and hurried off to the park to have a little picnic and enjoy the nice weather. We gobbled up the food in minutes. The verdict? Delicious!
With full bellies, we piled back into the car and headed off to explore the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden).
Signs in French – I love it!
Youppi, the Montreal Canadiens (hockey) mascot, was outside lamenting the team’s loss to the Rangers. Poor guy!
Happy and hungry! Look at all the meat on that sandwich!
My poutine… om nom!
The crew was pleased with their lunch!
Gorgeous park statues, complete with two goobers sitting on the lions. ;)
9 days FLEW by and our time with Ma and Pa was over in San Francisco. But our visit with them wasn’t over yet — we were all headed to Montreal for Anish’s sister Diya’s college graduation!
It was my first time in Canada if you can believe that, and I was ecstatic. Not to mention, we were headed to the French speaking province Quebec. I was pleased to find it resembled Europe and it was exactly the trip I’d been craving for a while. (Although I still can’t stop thinking about getting back to England soon…)
Our trip began with a reunion — it’d been months since we’d last seen Diya and Sebastien! Diya had the sweetest gift bags for us filled with a history of Montreal, our detailed trip itinerary, a Canadian bottle opener that looks like an antler, and a mini bottle of Canadian maple syrup! We piled into the car from the airport and got the basic overview of Montreal as we drove in to their neighborhood.
That’s when the real fun began. The food! I swear we ate SO MUCH cheese and bread and more cheese while we were in Montreal. It’s famous for its markets (which I unfortunately didn’t make it to), and Diya and Seb had scoured them for the best cheeses, breads, and croissants. Our first evening there, we enjoyed an age-old meal of tea, cheese, meats, and bread around the table. Laughing and talking. Catching up.
You know something? I love where I live. I love the life that Anish and I have made so far and the adventures that we’ve experienced. I love the uncertain future and knowing that we will probably go and travel and live in other places.
But there are still moments when I’m surrounded by family, sipping tea together and reminiscing about a funny moment last Christmas, when I wonder, is it all worth it if you’re so far from family? It’s a constant unanswered question.
For now, I’ll leave it unanswered, savor the time we have together, and secretly plot to move some of them wherever we end up.
Diya’s gorgeous tea set.
The spread of meat, cheese, and bread. The Gouda (the red one) was my favorite. Couldn’t stop eating that one.
Happiest when traveling!
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. We attended a French mass there on Sunday. It was gorgeous!
“But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
No number of trips to Muir Woods will ever change the way those humongous, ancient trees make me feel. Awed. Reverent.
Once you make it past all the tourists with their backpacks, strollers, loud talking, and contraband food and drinks, that’s when the magic happens. The old forest is all around you. Hardly a sound, except for the chatter of tourists down the boardwalk behind you.
Once I make it to Cathedral Grove and stand underneath the trunks of the gentle, oldest giants, in the footsteps of the first United Nations and hundreds of visitors before me, that’s when the peaceful feeling starts.
We made it to Muir Woods after our Tomales Bay adventure before the sun set. Most of the tourists had gone for the day, although the park was still open for an hour or two more. We snagged a parking spot right near the entrance and headed in; entrance was free after a certain time. It was an accidental discovery — that Muir Woods is best seen in the early or late hours of the day. When it’s quieter, softer, and twilight is falling in the valley.
We took our time. Said hello to all the old trees. Took photos. Walked a short trail off the main path. Climbed into the hollowed areas of the trees. Laughed at Pa taking videos of everything.
It felt like ours… that forest. Just for a few moments. My soul felt a little lighter, more connected, and freer after our visit to Muir Woods.
It’s worth the visit, and I hope you get more than you thought you would when you go.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir
The third day of Mama and Papa’s time in San Francisco was a Sunday and since we’d had so much fun the day before at Long Meadow Ranch and Farmstead in St. Helena, we figured we might as well enjoy another day out of the city. Sunday, it seems, is the perfect day to go to Tomales Bay for lunch and then visit Muir Woods in the afternoon.
We’d been to Tomales Bay before with Jesse and Brad in March and we’d been itching to go back and get our hands on some oysters. This time, though, our road trip was a little more eventful.
3/4 of the way, I realized our gas was getting pretty low and we needed to stop somewhere. The thing is, once you get off the highway and take the back roads over to Tomales, there’s pretty much nothing. Anish, techie that he is, said “I’ll map us to a gas station!” Trusty Google Maps came out and off we went, taking a detour, heading to a gas station. Upon arrival at the rusty old SHUT DOWN station, I started to panic. Tempers were flaring a bit (ahem, mine…), the gas light had been on for 10ish minutes, and Tomales was still 20+ miles away.
Before things got too dicey, Anish suggested we stop at a random cafe for directions. The advice we got? “Well it’s too far to get to Fairfax or any other place if you’re that low, but you can go over to the fire station and ask the firefighters for a gallon to get you there.” WHAT? I was skeptical, Pa was laughing, and Anish was adamant that we go try our luck with the local firefighters.
Luckily, despite the fact that I was mortified and refused to get out of the car, the firefighters were incredibly sweet and no-questions-asked gave us a quick gallon before sending us off with real directions to a gas station. Thank you, Marin County firefighters, for the gas. And a big thanks to Anish for always finding solutions when I may or may not be too stubborn to ask for help.
An hour later, we made it to Tomales Bay and by that time, we didn’t want to do all the oyster shucking work ourselves, so we decided to Yelp it and find a local place to eat some oysters pre-shucked and fixed up just right. And that’s how we found: The Marshall Store.
It’s a small shop (shack?) right on the side of the bay. You order your food, grab your drinks and clam chowder, and then choose a seat either at the small oyster bar on the porch, on the deck by the water, or outside at the long wooden table right on the water. You’re surrounded by locals and folks who are lucky enough to know about the place.
It’s the sweetest spot on Tomales Bay and everything we ate was delicious, fresh, and perfectly prepared. One Coca-Cola for me, a few beers, and several oysters later, we were all feeling happy as clams (or oysters?).
Thoroughly stuffed, we headed back down the road to hit the 1 and take the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Muir Woods.
Oyster bar and smokehouse – yes please!
I love these people. :)
The view from our seats – not too shabby!
I’m lucky that this guy puts up with me.
BBQ Oysters with Garlic Butter and House Sauce! Garlic Bread to dip into the juices…
Smoked Fish Plate, side 1: Smoked salmon and cream cheese.
Smoked Fish Plate, side 2: Smoked oysters over cream cheese with a special sauce. These were INCREDIBLE.
Headed south on the PCH – on the Stinson Beach lookout. This view never gets old.
After a few hours of wine and sun that morning in St. Helena at Long Meadow Ranch, we arrived back at the tasting room and
ran headed straight to the restaurant, Farmstead, for lunch. We were feeling nice and happy after the wine tasting, but we were starving. I’d made reservations, so we slipped right in to a table.
I’d heard amazing things about the place, and it certainly lived up to the hype. Remember all the grass-fed beef, olive oil, and organic farm stuff I talked about? The restaurants uses all of that stuff directly from the farm. During the summer, the majority of the food (over 80%!) served in the restaurant comes from Long Meadow’s Rutherford Estate organic farm. I love that kind of thing!
Here’s what we ordered:
- For the table Cheddar biscuits with honey butter: to die for, melt-in-your-mouth heavenly things!
- Potato salad with bacon and whole grain mustard: the BEST potato salad I’ve EVER had. Put all Southern potato salad to shame. We were surprised at how much we loved this.
- (2) Long Meadow Ranch cheeseburgers on a potato bun with cheddar, arugula, and crispy potatoes: Pa added an egg to his. Both were delicious and juicy and the meat… ya couldn’t beat it.
- Heritage St. Louis ribs with green apple coleslaw: ribs never, ever disappoint.
- Salmon over seasonal vegetables: this isn’t on the menu anymore, but Mama got it and it was heaven! Haven’t tasted salmon that good outside of Elephant Sushi.
- Side of Crispy potatoes with spicy mayo: Spicy mayo wins all the contests for dipping sauces. Couldn’t stop eating these things.
- For dessert Strawberry shortcake made with sugar biscuits, local strawberries, and fresh whipped cream: You guys, I can’t even explain how good this was. It tasted like the best parts of summer in one dessert.
We ate and we ate and we ate some more until we reluctantly let the server pack up the rest of the food. Afterwards, we lounged in the Adirondacks outside in the sun, listening to the clinking of glasses as more wine tastings were being poured nearby.
It was the perfect ending to a day in wine country.