Woodstock For Real – Wait, What?

This is the way to hear music, I think, surrounded by rolling hills and farmlands, under a big sky.

– Michael Lang (Co-creator of the Woodstock Music and Arts Festival)

As promised… here’s the next installment of our Woodstock Wander in Mid-July.  How can it be almost mid-August already?

Wednesday morning was THE day.  We were finally going to visit the site of THE Rock Concert of all time!  To say we were excited, is to put mildly.  Two Fifty-somethings all a-giggle, I tell ya…  By now we have watched countless videos about Woodstock, totally immersed ourselves into the whole experience as much as two born-too late-to-have-been-there peeps could be. (And if we had been there, would have been too young to remember and would have had beyond-cool (or crazy) parents… Just sayin’).  One hour, some 60-ish miles away.  I swear, we are still trying to wrap our heads around a Woodstock that never took place in Woodstock.  I think B’s wonderful intro post to our adventure says it best here.

But first, we needed sustenance.  I had brought my crêpe mix so of course I had to make those.  But then, I pimped ’em up.  We needed to fuel up, after all!  A little bacon, some Swiss cheese and a fried egg on top was sure to do the trick – add to that some Québec maple syrup and we had ourselves a breakfast of champions…

No matter how many videos we had watched – and we watched many there (not to mention tons more since our return), we were still amazed to drive through the winding country roads towards Bethel.  We tried to imagine all those thousands of cars simply left willy-nilly to block the road for three, almost four, days.  Insane.  Did you know that 37 rental cars were lost?  Thirty-seven!!  Just one of those little snippets of information discovered…

We finally get to our destination…

… and there are huge, I mean HUGE parking lots… now 😉  We chose a shady area to park the car and made our way to the main building.  How did I manage to NOT take a picture of the outside?  I dunno… So I have nabbed the one on the site…

I don’t know how to explain the myriad emotions this place evoked.  Maybe it was just us.  But I don’t think so.  Maybe we had created an expectation by reading about it, seeing movies, documentaries, listening to the music.  While neither one of us had this destination at the top of our bucket lists, we were still thrilled and awed that our desire to meet had directed us to this place.  Just how did the Universe sneakily direct us here?  Our love of music, culture and history might have had something to do with it.  Whatever it was that did bring us here, we felt we were on hallowed ground.  Or we gave it that descriptive.

Or maybe, just maybe, we each have a little Hippie in our Hearts.

We purchased our tickets and entered, looking forward to – we had no idea what!

“We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn … there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.

And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, ‘Don’t worry about it, John. We’re with you.’ I played the rest of the show for that guy.

—John Fogerty recalling Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 3:30 am start time at Woodstock”

There were so many things to see, notes to read, we could have stayed in there for hours on end.

It’s funny… I didn’t take the picture of the sign explaining the fence but felt this other sign said it all.  This concert was going to be way bigger than anyone could have anticipated (Imagine how parties have gotten out of hand with the advent of Facebook?  Could you even imagine?)  People were not going to let some fence stop them from getting in…  Might as well give in.  And they did!  In the name of peace.  And debt.

So many details, so many stories, so many things to see!

There is a small theatre within the museum that shows a 20-minute movie about the event.  So, of course, we watched it!

So many acts played in those three days, that spilled into part of the fourth.  Sha Na Na?  Really?  John B. Sebastian wasn’t even scheduled to play.  He was a “filler” and, according to Ira Brooker from “A Talent for Idleness” Sebastian was the ultimate hippie.  I dig, I dig.  And, I didn’t know him.  And now I do.

Time to go outside and see just where this party took place.

The grounds around the museum are beautiful and a stroll was in order.

Though he never made a sound, I could sense B was itching to get to the site itself and I quickly snapped a couple more pics before joining him.

I don’t know why I never realised how much of a hill it was!  You see the pictures and there are masses of people but somehow, I just never focused on the terrain itself.  This sign gives you such a perspective of the size when you are in front of the field.  I purposefully left just a smidge of said sign in the second pic showing the road (we felt it would be disrespectful to walk on the grass itself – at that time, anyway!) we took to get down to the bottom to show you a portion of it.

As we made our way down, we could see, right in the middle of the field, a huge Peace sign cut into the grass (like a crop circle 😉 )  Too bad they have been suffering from lack of rain because it is a tad difficult to see, no matter how much I enhanced it.

We, of course, went to the official memorial monument (which bizarrely is NOT where the stage was…)

The stage is left of and further down from the marker when looking up the hill.  It was confusing to us at first but then I could see the demarcation of the sort of square where the stage was.

Standing on the “stage”, looking up I could not imagine 500,000 people.  I’m sure the 600 acres Max Yasgur rented out spilled out beyond… Plus, I do not have a wide lens… but still.  It takes your breath away.

I’m a farmer. I don’t know how to speak to twenty people at one time, let alone a crowd like this. But I think you people have proven something to the world–not only to the Town of Bethel, or Sullivan County, or New York State; you’ve proven something to the world. This is the largest group of people ever assembled in one place. We have had no idea that there would be this size group, and because of that, you’ve had quite a few inconveniences as far as water, food, and so forth. Your producers have done a mammoth job to see that you’re taken care of… they’d enjoy a vote of thanks. But above that, the important thing that you’ve proven to the world is that a half a million kids–and I call you kids because I have children that are older than you–a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music, and I God Bless You for it!

— addressing the crowd at Woodstock on August 17, 1969
Peace and Love…

We made our way back to the car, our souvenirs in hand (of course I got a Tye-died shirt) with new memories created and oh-so happy we had made the trek.  We may have missed out on actually being part of the whole Woodstock experience 49 years earlier, but walking those grounds sure brought us closer to the feeling that we would have fit right in.

Joni Mitchell didn’t make it either, but all say she captured the feeling exactly.  I was torn between the video where Joni explains why she wasn’t there – with a little catch in her voice – or the one she did right after the concert… So I put both!

Part 1

Part 2

Fun Night With The Piano Guys

I have to thank Frank, I think, for introducing me to The Piano Guys on his blog.  If it wasn’t him… no… it was him, I’m fairly certain…  I then caught a video here and there on Facebook, which led me to watching one after another on YouTube.  Well, don’tcha know, way back in February, the 8th, to be precise, tickets went on sale for The Piano Guys.  They were going to be in Montreal for three nights.  Woot!  Without further thought, I bought a pair of tickets.  For Wednesday, August 1st.  Six months away.  Had no idea who would be joining me and it didn’t matter because I knew I would find a willing accomplice.

Only thing is, not many people in my crowd know who they are.  No matter.  I mentioned it to Julie, that kinda friend who is willing to join me for pretty much anything (Cubano Sammy Search? Check!, Ballet tickets sold to me from another friend? Check!) “Who are they,” she asks?  “Google ’em,” I say.  Same day, I get an “I’m in!”  Like I was surprised.  This chick is a lot like me.  We dig good stuff.  We like to explore, we love cultural activities… we were even asked if we were sisters as we walked to the venue!

So, let’s start at the beginning of our evening.  Yes, we went to a favourite restaurant in the Gay Village:  Mozza Pâtes et Passions (where I have brought about 13-14 people so far – I’ve lost count).  It’s good food quality/price-wise, it’s bring-your-own-wine and it’s the best place to people-watch as you sit on the terrasse (terrace for you non-Quebecers) – and lemme tell you, there are some wild ones.  We smiled and nodded at the ones we could not help but admire…. coz seriously, that scrawny guy in the floppy hat, yellow dress, fishnet stockings and platform sandals, not walking but sashaying in a way that said… “This is me, bitch!” deserved a smile.

Plus, where else can you dance in the bathroom?  (Yes, I am sitting on the toilet, looking up!!)

We decided to take a chance (dissing the weatherman’s predictions) and walk to Place des Arts from Mozza – we are talking a good 20 blocks, 1.7 km (a bit over a mile).  Now that is not so bad, a twenty minute walk or so, and part of it in the middle of St.Catherine Street which is closed off to cars during the summer and strung up with balls representing the LGBT flag. Fun stuff.

We made it, with time to spare, and sat in our front-row tickets on the first balcony, right in the centre.

What a show, with each half lasting one hour, a 20-minute intermission separating them.  Time flew.  These guys are hilarious, ridiculously talented and wonderful performers who who interact with their audience as well as each other.

So, why are they called The Piano Guys when there is a pianist and a cellist?  Oh, and two other guys who are officially part of the group, so to speak?  Well, it’s like this, see.  It was all part of a social media strategy… Paul Anderson had a piano store called, you guessed it The Piano Guys.  Jon Schmidt (the pianist of the group) came into the store to practice piano when he was in town.  Paul asked Jon if he could film him and upload it to YouTube to share on Facebook and such to sell his pianos.  Jon agreed.  However, Paul saw a video Jon had uploaded of him and Steven Sharp Nelson (the cellist of the group), doing one of their mash-ups they are so famous for, which had received more than one million hits.  He asked the two guys if they would allow him to make professional videos of them, which would be uploaded to YouTube and the store’s Facebook page, all to promote his store.  Paul then brought in his neighbour, Al van der Beek (singer and music arranger) into the fold.   They chose the craziest locations, places one would never expect to find a piano, to sell his pianos.  Not a single piano was sold.

But.

A phenomenon was born.   They blend classical and contemporary music which they put together as a “Mash-up”, i.e. The Mission’s Gabriel’s Oboe with How Great Thou Art – so beautiful.  They did, thankfully, play this one while the video played in the background.  Gorgeous.

They don’t limit themselves to this mix of genres.  They do straight-up classical or straight-up jazz, as well.  Jon played a beautiful solo piece he wrote when he was 17, called “Waterfalls”.  Hard to believe he was 17 when he wrote it.  Then Steven played his famous “The Cello” piece, as he calls it, by Bach, that he does for 8 cellos.  I was wondering how he would manage to pull this one off as he cannot be on 8 different cellos at the same time in a live performance! He showed us with all his accessories.  I must apologise for my video.  I was trying not to disturb others, so I had my hands covering the screen and was trying to place the phone between the bars.  Not quite so successful but voilà.

They played, they teased each other, they told their story.  Then they brought out the two others.  Al has quite a nice voice and he sang, “Okay”, getting the audience to sing along.

This is the type of concert where you half expect a rather sober experience.  Or a slightly “stiff” one.  So not the case!  Julie said she thinks she laughed more with these two guys then at the “Just For Laughs” shows she went to!

You do not expect four grown men to run around a piano, plucking the strings, banging the cover against the back, three sets of hands on the keys, slapping the sides like a percussion instrument and such.  I kinda wish I had taped it for you to see..

They brought in four local bagpipers to play “Fight Song”

Did one last “run around the piano piece” and took a final bow.

We were just so happy to have had the chance to see these wonderful performers and I highly recommend that you go if they come to your neck of the woods.  It was an unforgettable experience.

Still talking about the show, we stepped outside of  PdA, into the rain.  Remember, we have twenty blocks or so to walk.  Like two kids, instead of fifty-something broads, we gleefully just started walking, chatting away, laughing at those running – dudes! don’t bother!  We got totally soaked.  It was such a warm rain we didn’t care.  A red light, a bus hut, a quick selfie and we laughed the rest of our way to our cars.  A perfect night with a wonderful friend.  Thanks, Jules!  So glad you are my partner in culture and that Michael doesn’t mind me taking you away from him now and again!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstock – Woods and other Stock

I did promise there would be more to come and I do like to keep my promises.

Tuesday’s forecast called for rain but we sure were not going to let that determine what we could or couldn’t do.  We had promised ourselves a hike on one of the many trails in the vicinity and hike we would.  After a hearty frittata breakfast, to The Comeau Property, we went.  A mere hop, step and a jump away from our Airbnb and right in the middle of Woodstock.  Not what one would call a challenging hike but it was a very pleasant walk along the Sawkill Stream.

Arriving at the parking lot, we found a map of the trail, (Did I take a picture?  Of course not!)  So this one was snagged from the website.

©BarkerHudson.com

See that map on the right panel?  Yeah well… I dunno who was behind the design of the thing but it was confusing as all get-out!  And bass-ackwards.  We found the short trail – coz it was right there behind said “Info Centre”.  The trail brought is immediately to the stream which seemed quite low.  Hopping from one rock to another, we found ourselves right in the middle.

As we continued walking along the trail, the rain started, but the canopy of trees protected us.  Besides, it didn’t last long.  Before long, we realised we had gotten off the trail and found ourselves in the middle of a wide empty field.  Or was it?

How cool to see this family of deer racing past.  Thank goodness I had time to switch my zoom lens and capture them!  I know for some it is no big whup to come across deer in mid-day but for us, it was magical.

It’s funny, we kinda forgot we were in the middle of the Catskill Mountains until we turned around.

We returned to the woods and continued our walk, enjoying the quiet.  It is summer season and we were amazed at how few people we encountered.  One was some weirdo chatting away on his cell… You are surrounded by nature and instead of listening to the sounds provided by said nature, you gotta jibber-jabber on the phone?  To each his own.  We were glad when he was no longer in our vicinity.

We ended up back in the parking lot, looked at the map again, tried to figure out just where the second trail started… I did mention it was not exactly clear.  We crossed the street and lo and behold!  There it was!

We walked along the trail, a lovely carpet of dried leaves cushioning our feet, the daylight shining through gaps in the canopy.  We could hear the water nearby and the trail led us to it from this side.  Did I mention how calming and soul-filling these walks can be?

This trail was so much more.  The water flowed stronger and the vista was enchanting.

Of course, I’m a bit of a rebel, so I totally trespassed (with proof I was the only one…)

We drove back “home” in the rain and M decided it would be grand to go for a run.  By the way, there may have been some rumblings of thunder.  Just sayin’.  I, totally NOT a runner, especially not one in a storm, wished him well and stayed back to get ready for the movies.  We had checked the local listing and decided to go for a short drive to see the afternoon viewing of “Oceans 8”, which we both enjoyed, along with a mega bucket of popcorn.

I had seen a video of a certain sandwich on the Facebooks and we decided to try it.  I mean come ON… we already had my fab vodka mix; all we needed was to pick up a few more ingredients so I could make us “Bloody Mary Grilled Cheese”.  We did not have the perfect bread (or a quick dip would have been better) but taste-wise?  Yeah, baby!  I am so doing these again.

The rain had stopped again and we decided to sit outside under the balcony for an early nightcap.  We were blessed once again with a couple of visitors.  Luckily I was able to capture this little guy.

And then this beauty.

This was turning into a fabulous getaway in the presence of most pleasant company, both the four-legged and two-legged kind.

Next up, THE site!

Part one is here, for anyone interested…

 

 

 

 

 

Why Not Woodstock?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, Live the life you’ve always imagined.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Without going into any woe-is-me sob story (which is not my style, anyway), many of you know there have been challenges sent my way over the years.  I don’t think these events changed the way I already thought and acted or reacted, but maybe they just magnified the who that I am.  I can tell you that they gave me the power to not be afraid of:

  1. being alone (not that I want to remain so forever, but if I do, I will survive)
  2. doing things by myself for myself
  3. putting myself out there, either by writing or travelling or whatever opportunity presents itself.

Why have I gone on with this preamble of sorts?  Because I must explain how the hell I ended up in Woodstock, baby!  I cannot honestly say it was ever a destination on my “bucket list” (if I were to have one, that is).  Yes, I adore the music of that time and love the idea that 400,000+ people could gather in the conditions that they were and not turn to violence… you know like rioters do now when their team friggen WINS

Anyway.

Last February, I “met” a blogger on another blogger’s blog (say that ten times quickly 😉 ).  We exchanged miles of comments until it was suggested by moi to chat elsewhere.  Good thing because I am quasi-positive there is some sort of blog etiquette on hogging another’s comments section.

Our exchanges – via text, voice, video chat – occurred almost daily.  We discovered that we had so many things in common and felt we could share pretty much any and everything.  A true friendship was born.  We started joking that it would be great to meet in person.  Little snag was we lived about eight hours apart by car.  Still.  What about meeting half-way?  Great.  We did talk about New York City which would have had a coolness all its own though is not quite an even half-way point but I was willing to do the extra.  Problem was, who in the name of all that is holy wants to go sweat in NYC in July?  Besides, there was nothing available hotel-wise.  So that was that.

Looking at maps, one place than another was suggested until he said:  Why not Woodstock?  A true half-way point for both of us, easy access, lots of places to stay plus the potential of visiting THE musical site of musical sites of all times…

It all depends on how we look at things, and not how they are in themselves.
~ Carl Jung

And so, in May, Woodstock was booked.  Now we had to wait until July 16th.

So. Far. Away.

Till it was here.

We had discussed the official meet-up, who would bring what – I was gonna introduce this Yank to Clamato… welcome him to the Canadian Bloody Caesar (rare are the Canucks who do Bloody Marys).  Not only that, I was making my special “Garden mix” vodka. I warned him I would probably ruin him for future Bloody Marys… He was bringing beer and stuff that comes to mind when one thinks of Woodstock – and what we would do.  We had checked out the surrounding areas and found there were various places to hike so that was definitely on our agenda.  Plus, of course, visiting the venue.

We aimed to meet at the Airbnb for 1 pm on Monday.  Excellent.  We would then go for lunch to break the ice and then do some grocery shopping for some of our meals, eat in on Monday night and then go with the flow and the weather.

Yesterday’s just a memory, tomorrow is never what it’s supposed to be.
~ Bob Dylan

The morning was perfect.  My bags had all been packed, the booze, the crepe mix, my clothes.  According to Google Maps, if i Ieft by 8:15, I would arrive at my destination for 1.  I left at 7:55.  Got to the border at 8:50 – record time as there was zero traffic, stopped off at Duty Free for a coffee, some water bottles and made my way to the border itself.  One car ahead of me.  The border guy asked where I was going, of course, and wished me a fun time.

Set my cruise control to 118 kph (73 mph) because I am a lead-foot and need to be restrained and off I went.  My first pleasant surprise was when I filled my gas tank.  Down to 1/4 tank, I don’t mess around and stopped as soon as I could.  I forgot that trick of using the three digits in my postal code and adding two zeros because the stupid gas tanks ask for a zip code… so I had to pay inside.  The cashier asks me how much, so I say “fifty bucks”.  She says not to worry, whatever amount I use is all I’ll be charged for…  Cool. Press the lever and it pops at $23.38.  What?  Press again and a few cents’ worth is added.  Holy moly!  Or rather… FUCK!  We pay way too much for gas in Quebec!!  3/4 of a tank would have cost me at least $45…

Continue on and arrive in Woodstock.  GPS tells me to turn into the driveway and I can’t see the address but trust it. It is 12:55 and no one is there.  Not even the owners.  Hmmm…  So I sit on the porch.  It feels like it’s 100 degrees.   I walk around and feel that maybe this isn’t right.  Hmmm… I can’t remember there being a pool in the pics.  I do remember 3 doors on the carriage house but don’t remember the colour.  That should have been my first “Hello? may be at the wrong place?”  Just as I am about to jump into my car and drive a bit further, I get a text.  “I’m here.”  I respond, “Me, too”.  “Huh?”

Dumbass.  I was at the house next door.  Way to make a great first impression, Rogerson.

Drive into the nice and narrow drive where I was supposed to be…

A smile and a nice long hug and a glad we made it, we left my stuff in my car because the house wasn’t ready for us.  Using his car we made our way into town for lunch. Our chatter picked up exactly where it had left off the night before.  We knew it.  The comfort level was exactly what we had expected/hoped it would be.

We chose the Oriole 9 which had a fabulous selection of salads and sandwiches and beers… we were good!  Enjoyed our lunch (I was starving), found a grocery store, picked up some items and back to the carriage house.

The sweet owners, Emy and James, were the perfect hosts, made sure we were well-connected to their smart TV and that we lacked for nothing – then we never saw them again!   We connected to YouTube and focused on everything Woodstock.  How neither one of us thought to do any research before hand is beyond us both.  This turned out to be a good thing.  We were able to absorb everything together.  Cooking supper, enjoying each other’s company, watching videos.  We were good.

And seriously, how ironic was it that we were there from July 16-19 and 49 years earlier, the famous concert of concerts was held August 15-18?

The spell had just begun….

 

Search For the Perfect Q-Ban – This Ain’t Easy – Take Two

This past week – and I mean FULL week of seven days, we have had weather to rival any Caribbean country – say, like… Cuba!  I’m talking a most disgusting average of 35°C (95°F) with that humidex factor making it feel like 45°C (115°F).  What’s a girl to do?  Continue on her search for that perfect Montreal version of the Cubano sandwich, of course.  Her partner in crime, Julie, ever the willing participant, agreed to meet me today, Friday, on my day off.  So what was today’s temp? 22°C (72°F) and it felt downright chilly!  Now for us Quebecers, who start wearing shorts when it hits 15-16°C (60°F), – sooner for some locos – this may seem silly.  But it has been hotter and muggier than the inside of Hades mouth so, this cool-down was quite the shocker.  And me, wearing a sundress…

Now I know Linds B. and Marc, over at Sorryless are done with the whole Cubano Sammy thing but they did encourage me to keep on it.  They apparently like when other peeps crash their party…

Right.

On my way to destination number two, I was struck by the sheer amount of garbage everywhere.  You see, here in Quebec, the official moving day is July 1st.  That means peeps are moving from one apartment to another and leaving shitloads of stuff behind.  I’m thinking garbage day in the area I was driving through still had not come…

Destination number two was suggested to me by a friend whose boyfriend just so happens to be Cuban.  He says other Cubans go there:  Café Cubano, still on the outskirts of Little Italy but now, on Beaubien East Street.  Traffic for Jules was horrendous, so I sat outside on a park bench in the sunshine (it was still warm, then).  Then I took a few pics in preparation.  Cute little brother and big sister skipped by.  I was amused as it seemed everyone who passed by sounded French from France.  Had me wondering what area I was in after all.  Very residential with little business like this one on the ground floor and apartments above.

Julie arrives and we pick a table.  Always a good sign when the other patrons speak the lingo.  We get the menus and I see that the Cuban Sandwich is NOT there.  And yet, when I Googled it, it was.  Hmmm…. I ask the waiter if they do do Cubanos and he says, get this:  “Not today”.  What?  “I am sorry, tomorrow you can have some.  Today we cook the pork and it takes hours. There are none today.”

Fuck.

Looked at Julie and said, “What to do now?  I am on a Cubano Sammy search.”  She agrees we need to find another place so here we are sitting in this restaurant, with our glasses of water we dare not touch, Googling for other restaurants in the vicinity.

We come upon La Bodeguita de Montréal on St. Laurent Street, a 7-minute drive away.  We decide to go with just my car – why look for two parking spots?  While I’m driving, Jules says.. “Hmmm.. their Facebook page says it’s closed.”  Dammit.  On the Google page, it says Fridays it is open from noon.  We keep going, not knowing who to trust.  We get there.  Door is locked.

Fuck.

More Googling, and by now, our stomachs are starting to auto-digest and we need us some grub.  We do NOT want to drive to downtown as that will take us a good 23-40 minutes.  Julie finds one on Park Avenue – but it’s a Mexican joint!  BUT the comments on whatever site she is looking at says you MUST try the Cuban Sandwich.

We need no further reason.  What a fabulous find!  Lemme tell you, Linds and Marc, if I decide to crash your taco party, Imma go back to this spot called Ta Chido on Park Avenue.

Colourful, joyful, smell of fresh bread cooking, kitschy as all get-out, we are charmed immediately.  Screw the Cubano, if we must.  By now it is quite cool and we choose to sit inside.  Then move to outside.  I did NOT know there exists some Mexican Heavy Metal… Thankfully it was playing pretty low (so wish I had Shazamed it 😉 )

I have to share some of the decor with you…

Okay, I’ve made you wait enough, haven’t I?  Let’s get to serious bidness.  As we were starving, we ordered a bowl of guacamole with the usual chips and chicháronnes. We stuck with water for today.

I explain to our waitress – sweetest gal ever – that I am on a Cubano mission and though I realise that this is a Mexican place, they do have what they call a Cubano… She says:  “Well that is what WE call it too.  But.. I am so sorry to tell you, we are out of jamón.”

Sigh.

Julie suggests we get two different sandwiches and share.  And frankly, that is a great idea.  So, Jules gets the “Tinga de pollo” – pulled chicken sautéed with onions and chipotle peppers, mayo, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes, sour cream and feta cheese.

And I had the “Cubana” – breaded beef cutlet, pulled pork and ham (though there was none), mayo, cheese, black bean spread, avocado, tomatoes and caramelized onions.

Julie found the chicken needed some oomph and was glad to pour on the jalapeño sauce that was brought to the table.  I agree.

The “Cubano” had nary a Cubano element… but was very tasty for me.

We are 0 for 2 in the authentic Cubano search.

However.  After some discussion, and poor Julie still has no idea what a real Cubano is…I give it a solid 6/10.  Why so high when there were only two elements in the sammy?

That bread.  That bread was so bloody divine, I cared not one whit that it had never seen the inside of a press.  So good, in fact, that Imma go aaaaalllll the way there to buy some to make MY OWN Cubanos…  And for my celiac friends, they also make gluten free… though I would check out the facilities to make sure there is no cross-contamination.  I didn’t go look, to tell the truth.

The pulled pork was tasty, as was that piece of beef and caramelized onion.  Avocados are a favourite ingredient of mine and pretty much end up in all of my sandwiches.

The chicháronnes were light and crunchy and addictive.  the guacamole was delicious with just the right amount of smooth and chunk.

We felt we had made quite the discovery after all the shenanigans of finding a bloody place to eat.  Plus, Julie still wants to be my cohort for the next run.  Win-Win-Win.

As a result…

A little extra “blah-blah-blah” as our day was not done…

Traffic was gonna be crap for both of us, so we decided to go to the Marché Jean Talon to browse all the wonderful produce, get inspired for supper – right, like I was gonna eat supper – and maybe flirt with Frank from Birri Farms.  (What?  He’s gorgeous, Italian, single and such a flirt…)

On our way there, as we were approaching a stop light, I was pointing out a restaurant we had talked about when BANG!  I got hit from behind.  WTF?  Both of us were stunned.  I got out of the car and the guy behind got out of his apologising profusely.  First thing he asked was if were we hurt, then we checked our cars.  Mine had nothing, his, a cracked bumper.  I asked him if he wanted to fill out papers and he declined (I might add his car was a clunker).  Asked again if we were okay, apologised again and we were on our way.  We turned at the next street and pulled over to really check.  Nothing.  We both felt it in our necks – a light case of whiplash.  I know we are going to feel it tomorrow or the next day.

 

Joining in on the Search for the Perfect Q-ban Sandwich – Take One

Marco and Linds over at Sorryless have been on a quest to find the perfect Cubano sammy. ‘Course they are way out there in Pennsylvania – a good 8.5-hour drive for me – so there ain’t no way I can play with them direct-like, so I am crashing their party from way over here in the Great White North …

I mentioned my latest adventure plans to my friend Julie who was more than willing to keep me company. Now… we were supposed to do this weeks ago, but you know how that goes. Life gets in the way and all that. Neither here nor there. We finally made it.

Turns out, there are a lot more places making Cubanos than I ever expected. I even solicited my Latina friend, Naira to see if she had an opinion. Despite her boyfriend being Cuban, she had NEVER been… Sigh. She did suggest a place and we shall be trying that place next. I was wanting to be nice to Jules and pick a place ‘twixt us so I chose La Cecilia, just outside of Little Italy on Bélanger Street.

I parked a few blocks away on purpose. Figured I’d need to walk off the extra calories and this is a ‘hood I don’t really know. Turns out it is more Latino than Montreal’s official Quartier Latin What up wit’ dat? I heard more Spanish a-speaking here than I ever did in the Berri area… Our colourful character (see below) confirmed this to us… He said this ‘hood had more Latino-influenced establishments than they did. Apparently, Mtl Blog agrees.

Julie needed to leave by 2:30-3:00, latest, to drive her son to his grad (ball), so we didn’t have all that much time, but really? How long does it take to eat lunch? We met in front of the restaurant at around 12:45.

Such a tiny place! We liked that. The owner (we presume) spoke in an extremely heavily Spanish-accented French. I made the mistake of saying hello in Spanish and he let ‘er rip… Señor! No habla l’español (though I can understand if spoken s-l-o-w-l-y). Second good sign.

I explain to him that we are on a mission to discover wonderful Cubano sandwiches and probably would have taken some kind of appetizer but we were able to take a “combo” of sandwich with soup or salad or fries and a drink. We both opted for the salad. As for the drinks, Señor Chef/Owner suggested a “Maracuyá drink”, or, as they call it, in his native Dominican Republic (uh-oh, not so good sign), “Chinola” – turns out that this is the term for Passion Fruit blitzed with milk into a sorta milkshake if, you please.

Absolutely delicious!

This character came in. What a hoot and a half. Obviously an employee (could be family, who knows?) and said that it was all wrong… How can you have a Latin-inspired restaurant such as this and have no music? Up on a chair he went and turned on the music. Ahhh… now it was perfecto!

Talk about adding colour to the joint

Along comes our sammy and “salad”. Um. OK. I had explained to Julie what the components are supposed to be, which is why she jumped on the bandwagon to have one: pork, ham, cheese (I won’t get mad if it’s not Swiss, but it better have flavour), pickles and mustard on a pressed bun.

I’ll start with the salad. Cut up iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato “artistically” placed on top and a little container of bottled Italian dressing. I couldn’t even take a picture. I know, I know, I should have. Hang on… lemme see if I can replicate it… Ya. Never mind. I am positive you can picture it.

The Cubano. Yes. Bread was pressed and nice and crunchy. Pork was the equivalent of pulled pork – I’m not too bothered by it because it was so tasty. Found a small slice of ham in the second half of my sandwich. Cheese? Was there cheese? Pickles… Yoooo hoooo? Where are you? They must have been held hostage by the cheese… I think there might have been some caramelized onions, but that may be because of the pulled pork. There were a few little pieces of lettuce but not even enough to give it crunch… There was some mustard on the bread. Wasn’t there? Yes, there was. A very light coating.

My expectations were not sky-high high… but they were higher than what we got. While the sandwich was missing too many ingredients to qualify as an Autentico Cubano in my books, it was tasty. That Maracuyá (or Maraculla, as another patron spelt it for me) drink was the BOMB. Don’t even talk to me about the salad. Combo, my ass. Next time I’ll splurge on soup or fries… In case you did not bother clicking on the link to the restaurant, here is what they show their salad and sammy to look like…

Which goes to show that I did NOT look at the pics because… does that look like a Cubano to you? Does it? No, it does not. So… my bad for choosing the joint.

I will score it a 4/10. NOT for the Cubano, but for the drink, the friendly owners/employees and the fabulous company. Plus, Jules did say she would accompany me on my next Cubano hunt which will be sooner rather than later. (Jules is more generous than I… giving it a 6 – but then, she had nothing to compare it to.)

Me and my beautiful friend, Julie

B, I think you hexed me this morning when I told you the name of the joint we were going to…

It’s What Nourishes Me

Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends.

— Virginia Woolf

I have come to realise that without my friends and family, I am lost.  The words used for me are often “resilient” or “strong” or “capable”…. There is only one way for me to be that.  To connect with my friends and family when I need the extra strength to move forward.

I have always been this way, apparently!

My mother likes to tell me a story, of which I have zero recollection by the way, of a punishment she doled out to me when I was, I dunno… 4? 5? 6?  I’ll have to ask her.  Turns out it was the ultimate, primo, perfect punishment for one such as me.  You see, I was a biter.  I wasn’t happy with you or what you said or did?  I’d bite.  Drove my mother batty.  She threatened more than once to break my teeth with a hammer… ‘course she didn’t.  (And by the way… I STILL bite – so it may have worked only short-term, Mom.  If we’re wrestling or I’m being held down and I feel I can’t break free – I’ll bite you!  Consider yourself warned…)

Anyway, back to my story.  I bit, probably Dougie Dixon, my neighbour, once too many times.  My mother decided that my punishment was for me to stay in my yard, no friends could come over, not even cross the line (grass) and I couldn’t go anywhere for THREE DAYS! (She later realised that one and half days probably would have sufficed as it became more of a punishment to her as I moped and whined and complained.)  THREE DAYS!  It was torture.  No friends?  None?  Not one?  Be alone… They came to the house and my mother told them… “No, Dale can’t come and play with you.  You see, she is an animal and bites…”  Oh, the horror…

Why am I boring you all with this now?  Because I was feeling rather “meh” and frankly, lonely, these past two days… It’s amazing how you can share your house with three young adults and still feel like you are all alone.

This afternoon, I went Bob Burrowes’ funeral (my late dad’s girflriend’s baby brother).  Like my dad, like Mick, every single picture of Bob in the video they had playing on a loop showed his big-ass grin.  This guy, gone too soon via massive heart attack at the age of 67, had a lust for life and people just like Dad and Mick.  The number of people who showed up is a testament to this guy.

Many knew both my dad and Mick so there was some reminiscing going on.  Moments of sadness mingled with smiles of remembrance.

I left from there to shoot down to Montreal to join friends for Giselle’s birthday supper.  And THIS is the point of my going on and on… Jeez… Written diarrhea anyone?

Surrounding myself with people who love me and who I love is what nourishes me.  Keeps me from losing my mind.  From finding myself going too deeply into sadness.  I am blessed.  I can’t help wonder if that is what was missing from Anthony Bourdain’s life.  From Robin William’s.  From so many others who took their own lives.

And, because I can’t always be serious.  As I was parked two streets over and two blocks ahead, Dany and Giselle gave me a lift to close to my car.  I insisted they not go out of their way.  I got out of the car, crossed the two streets and…. promptly walked north instead of south.  Three blocks later, I think… jeez… didn’t walk that far to get to the restaurant, did I?  Turned around and started worrying that my car had been towed.  Dumbass.  I was further south than I thought.  That’ll learn me to pay attention to, not only the street I am parked on, but the cross street too!

Julie mentioned a fabulous App called “Waze” that tells you where the cops are, the potholes, which streets are suddenly blocked off, which bridges are closed… so I used that and realise that… yay!  Despite seeing the tail end of some fireworks (effing annual competition…) my bridge home was NOT closed…

A few of the 10,000 things that make me happy and grateful

61. Finding reasons for getting together

62. Nourishment of friends

63. Finding my car

64. No closed bridges on my way home

65. Great readers who also supply me with love and friendship (yes, Frank, this does include you!)