Hello friends & Happy New Year!
Contrary to what you might believe, I haven’t been kidnapped or banned from the blogging world. Truth be told, the holiday season was quite hectic and this combined with nursing an injured sacrum that prevented me from sitting down led to my temporary absence. Have no fear – I would never abandon all of you lovely people 😀 That said, as a result of my absence, I’m a little behind with my posts, so I’ll start by publishing this one (see below). I meant to publish this before the holidays so that my fellow Montrealers could pick up some last-minute stocking stuffers but hey, there’s always Valentine’s day! Alright, let’s roll!
With my brother home for the holidays (well, he was home), I thought it would be nice to pick up on our old tradition – hitting the Plateau for some much needed window-shopping. The Plateau is one of Montreal’s most popular neighborhoods and typically known for being the trendy ‘Franco’ part of town. You’ll find plenty of good eateries and unique shops on Mont-Royal and Saint-Denis, but my preference is for the latter. Here are a few places that I think are worth checking out if you’re in the area:
Lululemon: There’s absolutely nothing special about this location (except perhaps, for the super enthusiastic educator whose name I don’t recall), but given my obsession with all things Lulu, I had to give them a shout-out. So, why Lulu? Their clothes are functional, look/ feel great, and last forever. In addition to this, they offer free yoga classes as a way to give back to their community. Check out some of my favorite pieces:
Groove pants – these are perfect for low impact sports or for chillaxing around town. Plus, they make your ass look great. Really, what more do you want in a pair of workout pants?
Inspire crops: If you’re a runner, try these on. They’re super lightweight, made of Power Luxtreme and make you feel like you’re running naked. Added bonus? They tighten everything up so your legs look great. I also love the Empower crops, but those aren’t available anymore.
Cuddle Up jacket: I LOVE this jacket. It’s super warm, fitted and very comfortable. Great for those cold winter days!
You can check out their collection online or in your local store. Come back and let me know what you think!
Suite 88 Chocolatier: One of my favorite local places for all things chocolate. They have a great selection of very unique flavors that come in various shapes and sizes, ranging from mosaics to shooters (yes, shooters with alcohol!). Some of my favorites include the Limoncello and Grand Marnier mosaics, the Litchee-Ginger and Valencia Orange Caramel domes and the Apple martini dome (aka: the shooter). Their individual bars are fabulous – I’m quite fond of the dark with almonds. You can buy pre-packaged boxes, or individual pieces but these are usually sold by weight. They also serve gelato, real hot chocolate and waffles! Side note: Made in Montreal!
Kusmi Tea: I’m typically not a big fan of regular tea (I prefer herbal), but I stopped in at Kusmi and was blown away by their vast selection of tea. Kusmi’s origins stem from Russia (who knew the Russians were tea connoisseurs?), but the Kousmichoff family later moved to Paris where they established their workshop. They currently have one Montreal location and in my opinion, it’s the place to go if you’re a tea lover – it’s impossible to walk out of there empty-handed. They offer black, green, flavored, decaffeinated and herbal teas in the loose leaf variety, but if you feel overwhelmed by their tea-lined walls, I recommend purchasing their sampler box, which contains 24 muslin tea bags (12 varieties, 2 of each). I’ve made my way through most of the flavors in the box, and find it hard to pick a favorite, so I suspect my next trip will leave me in the poor-house! Thus far, I have found their teas to be wonderfully flavorful and full-bodied – and they smell yummy! In no particular order, here are a few flavors that I recommend:
Prince Vladimir: Citrus fruits, vanilla and spices (and I usually hate vanilla!)
Anastasia: Bergamot, lemon and orange blossom
St. Petersburg: Citrus fruits, red fruits and caramel (and I usually hate caramel too!)
Be Cool: Licorice and peppermint
Sweet Love: Black tea, guarana, spices and pink pepper (I l-o-v-e this combo)
The sampler box sells for $25, which is fairly inexpensive considering that this represents $1.04 per tea bag (we pay more then that at our local coffee shops!). Next time you’re in the area, stop in and ask the knowledgeable Kusmi ladies to assist you with your selection – and don’t forget to report back to tell us about your favs’!
Ten Thousand Villages: I love this place! Their mission is to create opportunities for artisans in developing countries by bringing their products to our markets via long-term fair trading relationships. They work with 35 countries and 130 artisan groups, offering them fair value for their work. Did you also know that store clerks in your local shops typically don’t get paid for their services? You can find some unique gift ideas ranging from jewelry, sculptures, wall hangings etc. like these:
Lastly, if you’re a collector of vinyl, as in LP records, there are a few hot spots in the area, notably Beatnick and Primitive, both located on St. Denis, and Le Marché du Disque, located on Mont-Royal.
Have a favorite spot in Montreal? Let us in on it!