Quick Trip to Montreal, part 2

If you missed the first Montreal post, check it out here! The first full day in Montreal was Monday, and we woke up bright and early to grab breakfast at the hotel and then set out for a full day of exploration. The hotel restaurant was very cute, and we snagged a table right by the window:

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Breakfast included coffee, juice, bread, fruit or yogurt, and a choice of eggs, omelette, crepes, or french toast. I got the vegetable omelette and Noah ordered crepes:

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After breakfast, we set out for a walking tour of Old Montreal. Noah was the guide, using the guide book borrowed from his parents. We visited the Montreal Bank (the oldest one in the city!):

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The red building on the left side of the picture below was Montreal’s first sky-scraper, called the Ediface New York Life:

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While its eight stories were a wonder at the time of its being built, it’s now been outdone by the Ediface Aldred on the right (resembling the Empire State Building – both of which were completed in 1931).

The tour also included Montreal’s Notre Dame:

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And City Hall:

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Unpictured tour stops include the Old Courthouse, some street markets (which were pretty deserted on the drizzly morning of our adventure), and a few more churches. Noah and I were excited to see a cycle track bike lane on one of the roads:

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We finished the tour by the Old Port on the waterfront. We could see Habitat 67 across the water, a distinctive housing project built for the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal:

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It’s pretty far away in the photo above, so here are a couple other pics (not from me) that give you a better idea of its look:

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We also had a good view of some grain storage along the water:

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After a busy morning of exploration, Noah and I were excited to recharge with lunch. We headed to the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood for food and some additional exploration. Plateau Mont-Royal is an area full of shops, restaurants, and hints to the immigrant influences in Montreal. One such hint is an abundance of Jewish-style delis, restaurants, and smoked meats. Noah and I went to Beauty’s for lunch, a luncheonette opened in 1942 by Jewish immigrants in what was – at the time – the heart of Montreal’s Jewish garment district. 70 years later, Hymie (the restaurant founder in 1942) is still there, showing customers to their table himself! Noah and I had a wonderful lunch there before heading out for more exploration:

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In the afternoon, we explored Montreal’s Underground City – a system of tunnels that connects buildings across the city. In reality, it’s partially underground and partially above, but it’s a fun/useful way to help city residents escape the cold throughout the winter! Some parts of the tunnel system are fairly sparse:

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But in other areas the tunnels open up into shopping malls! We found this cool water fountain display in the middle of a mall area while we were exploring:

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Our day ended with a trip to a Montreal movie theater to watch the new Hunger Games movie (seriously, SO GOOD! Probably the best movie in the series) and a quick dinner of pizza and salmon:

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Montreal was the perfect vacation to celebrate the end of my semester and to spend some quality time with Noah before I headed to Israel for 2+ weeks. Speaking of…I am actually writing this from a Jerusalem cafe! It feels great to be back in Israel and this beloved city of gold. 🙂 More posts about Israel coming soon!

 

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Jerusalem Cafes: Round 4

Israel…land of milk and honey, land once thought to be the physical center of the world, now “only” the spiritual and emotional center of the world.

Also, land of cafe culture and a quite-possibly-perfected leisurely breakfast….

So, it’s time for another ‘Jerusalem Cafes’ post!

The last few weeks involved two visits to The Grand Cafe. Grand Cafe is practically next door to my apartment AND delicious, so it’s proved to be a great go-to place for any meal of the day. I went for lunch with Noah and we ordered eggplant lasagna, open-faced mozzarella toast, and a cappuccino:

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My next visit was with friends for breakfast so, of course, we ordered the signature Grand Cafe breakfast. This included the Israeli breakfast standards of eggs, bread, a hot drink, cold drink, and salad. While many Israeli breakfast come with fixed sides including some combination of cheese, spreads, tuna, avocado, and other vegetables, the Grand Cafe breakfast lets you select your own sides from a lengthy list. Around the table, we ended up with jam, tapenades, eggplant (with and without yogurt), roasted zucchini, gouda cheese, and yogurt with granola:

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The waitress we had at Grand Cafe was super sweet and brought us coffee mousse with a chocolate ‘espresso’ bean after the meal!

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Grand Cafe is definitely a favorite. Everything on their menu looks great, and everything from their coffees to salads are really tasty. Also, their dessert case looks amazing. 🙂

The next cafe we visited was Cafe Hillel. Cafe Hillel is an Israeli cafe/coffee shop chain – somewhat similar to Aroma – but slightly fancier. Noah and I met there for lunch during the week and had a nice meal. Many restaurants around Jerusalem offer a ‘business lunch’ which includes a lot of extras with an entree order if you go for lunch during the work week. I ordered eggplant/goat cheese ravioli with pesto cream sauce and it came as a business lunch with bread, salad, and juice (I chose carrot juice). Noah shared my business lunch extras with me and also ordered a caprese pizza (although there didn’t seem to be any basil) and a fruit shake:

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I really liked Cafe Hillel and there were a lot of salads and drinks that looked appetizing – I definitely hope to go back and try another dish!

Lastly, we went to Tomas Masaryk for dinner. Tomas is on Emek Refaim and has a fairly brief menu: salads, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, and a few fish dishes and starters.

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I liked the atmosphere of this restaurant, and we had a seat where we could see a little bit into the kitchen and saw the chefs working their magic with the pizza oven. For our meal, we ordered a pizza with spinach, tomatoes, stracciatella, and olives, a salad with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, and feta, and focaccia with eggplant, pesto, and mozzarella.

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The food was good, but I don’t think Tomas is a new favorite. If I’m eating on Emek, I’m still partial to Caffit!

Other Jerusalem Cafe posts:

Round 1
Round 2
Round 3

Duluth Whole Foods

On our way up to the boundary waters we stopped in Duluth for lunch. We decided to try the Duluth Whole Foods Coop (no relation to the Whole Foods chain).

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The Coop had a neat system where foods were all identified as local, regional, or neither.

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In typical Coop fashion, there was a hot and cold salad bar:

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A made-to-order sandwich bar:

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And a coffee bar:

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There was also a wide selection of delicious looking desserts, produce, and grab-and-go foods:

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After much deliberation, I settled on a salad with a variety of veggies, hard-boiled eggs, honey mustard potato salad, cranberry chutney, and chicken. I also had a ginger kombucha:

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I also had a whoopie pie for dessert. 🙂

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Others in the group had a turkey sandwich, grilled cheese, falafel pita, protein salad, carrot cake cookie, and key lime pie:

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Everything was phenomenal. The only downside was that the coffee bar and made-to-order sandwich stations were extremely slow (like 15 minutes or so to make three sandwiches). Nonetheless, it was worth the wait! So worth the wait that we decided to stop here again for lunch on our way home. What can I say?! We’re creatures of habit. 🙂

I went with the salad bar again this time, but I loaded up on hard boiled eggs and had some traditional potato salad. I also tried a cranberry kombucha drink (unpictured):

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Others ordered turkey sandwiches and a roast beef/ham sandwich:

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Everyone left full and happy. I wish this place were in Minneapolis! The Wedge Coop in Minneapolis is amazing, but unfortunately there’s no sitting area so if you order deli food you have to take it to go.

Other Boundary Waters Trip Posts
Poplar Creek B&B
Hiking and Canoeing

Uptown Eats

I tried a couple restaurants around Uptown that have been on my ‘to-try’ list for quite some time.

The first: Fuji Ya

Fuji Ya is a sushi restaurant on Lake Street between Lyndale and Garfield. I’ve seen it recognized as a top notch sushi joint on several occasions, so I decided to give it a try.

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Their happy hour deals from 5-7pm are awesome, so I went with a couple friends during that time frame. I ordered the yakitorii (chicken skewers) and futo maki specialty roll (egg, tofu, squash, spinach, cucumber, and japanese pickles).

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Everything was good, but I always seem to have the same feeling after eating sushi: I’m not full. I feel like I would need to eat several rolls to really feel full after a sushi dinner. Still, I thought it was good and would certainly go back here. I think I still prefer Wakame in Calhoun Commons though.

The second place I tried was Caffrey’s Deli.

Caffrey’s is a sandwich shop on Lyndale between Lake and 31st.

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Caffrey’s is another place that had been highly recommended both by people I know and various Twin Cities food reviews (VitaMN just listed it as the #2 sandwich shop in the Twin Cities). That said, I was pretty excited to see what all of the fuss was about.

Caffrey’s has a pretty small interior, and you order at a walk up counter (they also deliver).

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Besides the main event of sandwiches, there was a case with some nice looking desserts, and they also appeared to sell Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.

Their menu is pretty basic – sandwiches and soups. The specifics, however, are not basic. Rather than offering one or two soups, there are 8 to choose from. The sandwiches come on white or wheat, and they have the standards along with philly-style sandwiches and a make-your-own option.

I opted for the loaded chicken philly on wheat (loaded means it comes with peppers, onions, and mushrooms) and a side of cole slaw.

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The sandwich was good, but I wouldn’t write home about it. I think all the hype got me thinking that I would take one bite and be thrown into an ecstatic frenzy yelling, “this is the greatest sandwich ever!” Needless to say, that did not happen. The sandwich was fine. I enjoyed my meal. But I don’t plan on running back to get another one any time soon. Disclaimer for all you Caffrey’s die-hards: I will admit I am not a big sandwich person to begin with. I much prefer other lunch time meals, so feel free to consider that fact when judging this post. 🙂

The Green Mill

The Green Mill is a restaurant chain in Minnesota and other midwest states. Known best for serving pizza, they also have a broad restaurant menu as well as a full bar. Today I went to the Uptown Minneapolis location with my roomies from breakfast brunch lunch (how does time fly by in the morning?!).

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Yes, that is my finger in the picture. Just in case you don’t have enough of me as it is. 🙂

The meal started with the bruschetta appetizer and a strawberry smoothie:

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The bruschetta was pretty impressive – cheese melted onto the bread, served with plenty of veggies, cheese, and an olive tapenade.

For the meal we ordered a thai chicken salad:

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Veggie burger with fruit:

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And a walleye sandwich with asain slaw:

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I ordered the walleye sandwich. It was lightly breaded and topped with parmesan cheese. Delish! The asain slaw wasn’t the greatest…I was expecting something veggie based and was surprised to find it was more of a noodle dish.

The food was good, but nothing too spectacular. The menu was a typical ‘we do everything’ restaurant and was, quite frankly, a bit overwhelming to order from. Maybe I am just too indecisive at restaurants, but I have a lot of trouble ordering if there are a dozen sections in the menu! This is an okay spot for a quick meal in Uptown when the better restaurants are too crowded (we ended up eating here since there was too long of a wait at Uptown Diner), but I would put a lot of other places before it.

Let there be LIGHT

The Twin Cities faced some major storms this week. Big rain, big winds, big wreckage, big time power outage. Yup…over 500,000 people without power. I’m going on 3 days now…and I’m not holding my breath. But, I am getting creative with solutions:

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Plus, it could be worse. This could be my car:

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Or I could have been hiding behind this tree:

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So what does one do when there’s no electricity? Well, in my case, I find a boyfriend who has power (thanks, boo). But, more seriously, maximize the daylight! How? Easy: food and fun.

Today, food manifest itself in the Finnish Bistro in the Como neighborhood.

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This adorable bistro is connected to a Dunn Brothers, but it has its own unique menu and bakery display case.

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The menu was chock full of sandwiches, salads, soup, and breakfast dishes. We ordered a caprese sandwich and a yogurt parfait:

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Both were delicious! The sandwich came with ample amounts of pesto, and the yogurt parfait included a generous portion of berries.

With food out of the way…time to move onto fun! This included a bike ride into downtown St Paul ending at the Science Museum.

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During the warmer months, the Science Museum includes an outdoor mini-golf course. After my mini-golfing adventure at the Walker, I’ve been quite keen on the sport. The course at the Science Museum is part of an outdoor garden:

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super.cool.

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Each hole provides visual and written information about how moving water impacts the landscapes it travels through:

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There was even a small garden of strawberries along the course!

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We were there right before closing, so we didn’t look through the actual museum at all, but I am looking forward to going back soon to see the museum’s inside!

Italy: Part 4

On two of the days I was in Italy, Noah had class, so I was left to entertain myself. This seemed like a perfect opportunity to do more of the super-touristy activities Noah had already done.

The first activity was Rick Steves’ ‘Heart of Rome’ Walking Tour. This tour brought me through all the major sights in downtown Rome. The walking tour started at Campo de Fiori – a piazza in downtown Rome that houses a market every morning.

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The market sold pretty much everything you can imagine from fruits to pasta to clothes to kitchen supplies:

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I got a late start to the day, so by the time I was finished exploring Campo de Fiori my stomach was grumbling for lunch. I stopped in at a pizzeria and bakery that looked to be very busy (I took this as an indication that it was very good). The crowds seemed to indicate the truth, because the veggie pizza was delicious. I also ordered an aroncini to try (a fried Italian rice ball):

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After lunch, the tour’s next stop was Piazza Navona with the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) and some impressive Baroque architecture.

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The tour led me by the Pantheon again:

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The book described the light coming down through the Pantheon’s oculus as ‘the greatest column in all of Rome.’

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I thought that was really beautiful. 🙂

After the Pantheon, it was time to pass by the Parliament buildings…

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…which just happens to be nearby to the most famous gelatteri in Rome: Giolitti!

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Obviously, I needed to try it out for myself.

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It did not disappoint! I tried the nutella and crema flavors – but I wanted to try everything! The nutella was especially rich and delicious.

After gelato, I moved on to the Trevi fountain:

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Perhaps because of the small space, this site seemed more packed with tourists than any of the others!

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The tradition goes that if you through a coin in the Trevi Fountain, than it will ensure your return to Rome. Hey, it worked last time – so might as well!

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The final stop on the ‘Heart of Rome’ walking tour was the Spanish Steps:

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The Spanish Steps get their name from the Spanish Embassy which has been near them for over 300 years. The steps themselves don’t have any major historical significance, but they’ve become a media icon through Roman Holiday and the fact they were a popular hang out spot for John Keats and other Romantics.

For my next solo day, I explored the Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Colosseum. Rick Steve’s ‘Roman Forum Walking Tour’ starts at the Arch of Titus – a monument to commemorate the defeat of Judea:

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The Arch of Titus is the gateway to the forum, and the rest of the tour explores the various ruins of temples, legal buildings, and outdoor pathways. Highlights include the Basilicae where people met for matters of law or business (and after which Christian basilicas would later be modeled):

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The Temple for Julius Caesar, dedicated to the spot where he was burned after being assassinated:

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The Temple of Vesta where Vestal Virgins kept an eternal flame lit:

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And the only original door from Roman times:

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From the Forum, I walked up to Palatine Hill where the emperors built their homes palaces. The remains on the hill were even scanter than on the forum…

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But there was a fairly well preserved garden area that had been used for exercise:

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Well preserved perhaps due to the modern upkeep 🙂

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Visiting the Colosseum certainly will take your breath away.

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The structure is massive (hence, it’s name), with a base of 6 acres. Imagining the terror that occurred inside is a little scary though.

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Used for gladiator fights and other spectacles, the Colosseum was the site of much blood and brutality. When it originally opened, a 100-day festival followed that resulted in the death of 2,000 men and 9,000 animals. Workers had to move around the building spraying perfume to mask the smell of blood!

Once Christianity became the dominant religion and slaughtering people wasn’t considered PC anymore, the Colosseum closed and has been in a state of deterioration ever since. Nonetheless, it is fairly well preserved and an incredible testament to the structural abilities of the ancient Romans (or rather, the abilities of their slaves!).

After the Colosseum, I went for lunch at a restaurant in the area recommended by Rick Steves. They gave me a free drink since they saw I had the Rick Steves book!

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Other Italy Posts
Italy: Part 1
Italy: Part 2
Italy: Part 3
Italy: Part 5