Our top 10 list from Montreal, Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont! In the fall, we paid another visit to the East Coast. Although it was cold and we missed the fall color, we definitely enjoyed the visit. Here’s a short list of our favorite spots and activities.
10. Le Comptoir (comptoircharcuteriesetvins.ca)
9. Nosh (noshkitchenbar.com)
This was our second trip to Portland, Maine and we definitely needed to make a repeat visit to Nosh. It’s a restaurant with a twist on the traditional New York deli eats. I am a french fry connoisseur, so I must first talk about the french fries here. Delicious. I opted for the sea salt and pepper whereas Jason is tied to the bacon dusted version. Yes, they are as good as you can imagine. Crisp outside and fluffy inside – perfect. For the vegetarians, I’d recommend the crispy avocado, which is avocado, lettuce, tomato (I pass on the onion) with citrus crema and queso fresco rolled up in naan. And for those who are willing to brave the stuffed stomach, there is the apocalypse now burger – a patty with American cheese topped with crispy pork belly, bacon and foie gras – all delicately balanced on a brioche bun.
Along the beautiful and trendy Rue Saint Denis, you’ll find an ice cream shop filled with the most delightful sweets such as banana splits, sundaes, macarons, profiteroles, pastries, and hand made marshmallows. There was so much to choose from. The young gentleman behind the counter named Julien let me taste almost all the flavors of ice cream in the case. He spoke so eloquently and deeply about the sweet creations in his shop. I ended up with a chocolate-banana scoop atop a fresh made sugar cone. I was in heaven. If you are in Montreal on a Thursday night, don’t forget to check out their special tasting menu – it changes weekly, so there’s a reason to stop by every week.
Tucked away in the foothills of the White Mountains is a country store and deli that brings out the best flavors of New Hampshire. While cruising towards Mount Washington along the White Mountain highway, we found ourselves stopping for a snack. The scents of the country store had us leaving with more than we anticipated. A bag of crisp, fresh picked apples, both warm and cold cider, and warm spice donuts filled our car after the visit. I did not think I would enjoy the donuts as much as I did, but they were the right sweetness and softness.
6. Cafe Laval
Jason loves croissants. Everywhere we travel, he is in search for the best ones in town. So naturally, we had to leave Montreal with a favorite – perfectly crisp on the outside with soft chewy goodness inside. Just minutes away from Mount Royal is a small cafe owned by a Japanese couple who care deeply about the food and drinks they create. In addition to having a croissant on day one, day two was blessed by an organic blueberry muffin. Yes, we were repeat visitors. I think even three times over the three days we were in Montreal.
252 Rue Rachel Est
Montréal, QC H2W 1E5
5. Spa Le Finlandais (spalefinlandais.com)
After a few days of the busy city of Montreal, we needed a break. So we found a spa in Laval, just about 20 minutes away from the heart of Montreal. Once though the gates, one would have thought that you had stepped into the quiet countryside. Unbelievably, we spent a whole day at the spa enjoying massages, the sauna, soothing nap rooms and of course, the Finish spa with a variety of pools of water from hot to cold, calming to invigorating. The cafe also had very healthy choices for meals and snacks. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of hanging out in the water was that it was hot while the 25 degree air kept things crisp and breathtaking.
4. Mount Royal (montreal.com/parks/mtroyal)
Overlooking the city of Montreal, Mount Royal is a serene 200 hectare park filled with running/walking trails and a lookout that will give anyone the best view of the city. Filled with squirrels that are not afraid of climbing humans, a beautiful structure that mirrors an enormous royal ballroom and old structures filled with history, this park has something for everyone.
3. The Alchemist (alchemistbeer.com)
Tucked down the hill from the Ben & Jerry’s factory lies a 15 barrel, small production brewery that specializes in fresh, unfiltered IPAs. Through a serendipitous review of a beer tour map, we stumbled upon the Alchemist. There are currently only two 100 point IPAs in the United States as rated by Beer Advocate. One hails from the west coast (Pliny The Elder from Russian River Brewery) and the other from the east coast (Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery). Although we are very proud of our west coast roots, I think Jason is partial to the Heady Topper. Unfortunately, you can’t get this beer outside of the 20-mile radius around Waterbury. It sells out within a day or two of availability each week. So the next time we visit Vermont, we’ll have to ship lots of it back!
2. Au Pied de Cochon (restaurantaupieddecochon.ca)
1. Cousin Dave’s graduation
The whole point of our trip was to attend my cousin David’s graduation. It is always incredible to see someone fulfill such an amazing accomplishment. Here’s to Dave and his life work in medicine. We are so proud of you!