Honeymoon Day 10 – French Waitresses, Chowda, Maine, and the Unmistakable Foulness That Is Moose S**t

Yeah, we’re a little behind on recaps.  We know.  Montreal took about five years off of my life.  My body took an “L” from all walking and I think I brought a cold back.  I don’t think I was supposed to declare the common cold virus upon re-entering the country.  I’m not sure what tarif law that that would fall under, but it is what it is.  So, on to the recap.

Our last morning in Montreal got off to a slightly rocky start.  We decided to hit up Jarry Smoked Meats for breakfast, due to the $20 in Canadian money I still had left.  We walk up in there and seat ourselves.  As we’re perusing the menu, our waitress comes over and offers cafe’.  We say “No,” and she walks away confused like “You do not want cafe? You stupid Americans probably don’t speak Francaise.  Spit. Spit.”  When she comes back and starts speaking French, we ask if she speaks English. “I can a little bit, if I have to.” #spit  The look of disdain on her face needed no translation.  From that point on, she spoke minimally to us, while mumbling something in French as she walked by our table.  Fortunately, the meal was on point.  Sausage, ham, bacon, eggs, home fries, fruit, pancakes, french toast, and toast.  It was the perfect culinary sendoff, except for the French-Canadian spittle that I’m sure was dripping off the bacon.  I left her a tip less than 15%.  Spit on that!

The ride towards the border was interesting.  Unlike Vermont, the Canadian landscape is flat and boring.  It also, apparently, is filled to the brim with moose dung.  We passed by several pockets of extreme aromatic atrociousness.  Think of every cow pattie you’ve smelled…multiplied by 100.  We looked around and couldn’t spot any farms, so we just assumed it was an accumulation of moose manure.  Not only will these jabronis waltz into traffic and tear your car a new one, they’ll also drop bombs in the forest that straight up destroy your olfactory organs.  Moose are the most disrespectful animals since cats.

One quick thing about the border.  At the crossing we passed through, the border is demarcated by an invisible line that separates two houses.  Essentially, you can walk from a Canadian family’s back yard right into an American familiy’s front yard with ease.  There was actually a guy mowing the grass between the two houses.  He kept crossing back and forth across the border at will.  We were like, “OK, that’s secure.”  At any rate, we passed through the checkpoint without incident.

The drive through Vermont and New Hampshire was breathtaking.  We drove through Mount Washington National Park, and were awestruck and the majesty.  We both agreed that Vermont was the best part of the trip so far.  The scenery is something to behold.  I think Vermont will be on our permanent vacation rotation for the near future.  If you can swing it, you need to make it up there.  Hopefully, someone from the Vermont tourism board is reading this so we can get our cut.

The drive through Portland, ME was also pretty cool.  The scenery was straight out of an 80’s Spielberg movie.  It actually can double as the town of Amity from “Jaws.”  We were digging the vibe.  You know what else we dig? SEAFOOD!  After researching local eateries, we settled on Gilbert’s Chowder House.  All the reviews said it had the best chowder in the city.  They didn’t disappoint.

The spot would fit in perfectly on Diner’s, Drive Ins, and Dives.  And that’s a compliment.  So, we decide to order fried shrimp, seafood chowder in a bread bowl, and a lobster roll.  The shrimp came out in about five minutes.  They were some of the cleanest, freshest shrimp I’ve tasted.  As someone who’s grown up on the Georgia coast, that’s high praise.  Before we could finish our shrimp, the chowder and lobster roll.  Man, lemme tell you.  The chowder was creamy.  You could see and taste the chunks of potatoes, shrimp, clams, scallops , and lobster.  It was summarily destroyed, along with the bread bowl.  The lobster roll was everything it was cracked up to be.  Huge chunks of lobster, slathered in mayo, sitting in a buttered toasted bun.  I wanted to take about two or five home.  We drove out of our way to go to Portland for this meal, and it was worth every second.  SEAFOOD!!!

 

-Diallo

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Honeymoon Day 8 – Teddy Bears, Poutine, Montreal and The Sinking Suspicion Of Being Laughed At

The day started off with a bit of lethargy.  Still feeling the effects of overeating the night before, the Tysons decided to sleep in and imitate sloths for much of the morning.  Neither of us moved with any sort of alacrity, and you’ll never see two people move with such disregard to energy.  That being said, guess what we had for breakfast? Leftover pizza, leftover sausage macaroni and cheese, and shoofly pie.  What?  We didn’t want to take leftovers to Canada. Don’t judge us, though we probably are worthy of a side eye or two.  Nevertheless, we finally got our stuff together and checked out of the hotel around 10:55, the latest we’ve checked out so far.

Next stop on the mystical magical tour was the Vermont Teddy Bear Factory.  It was actually pretty fun.  We signed up for the tour, which was quite entertaining.  The tour guide took us through the entire process, and I have to admit that I wanted one afterwards.  The bears come in several different flavors, i.e colors, and you can get their clothes customized however you want.  If you run your bear over with a lawnmower, they’ll fix it or replace it for free.  How great is that?  And I can’t believe I’m waxing poetic about teddy bears.  Honeymoons mess with your brain, man.  For real.  Anyway, the place is mad cool.  The only slight drawback is the cost of the bears.  They are a tad pricey.  If you can swing it, cool.  If not, take a picture it’ll last longer.

After leaving teddy bear paradise, we hit I-89N and made our way to Oh Canada.  As we rode, Kaia read through the French translation book in a last ditch effort to ensure we didn’t look completely like ugly Americans upon arrival.  I can safely say that we still got a few warts and a couple of crooked noses.  C’est la vie.  [See what I did?]  Anyhoo, the ride through Vermont towards the border was majestic.  We didn’t even bother attempting to take pictures.  You gotta be there in person.  However, the funny part of the trip was the tension, anxiety, and nervousness we felt as we got closer to the border.  Would border control stop us?  Would they bring the dogs out?  Would they cavity search us, then strip search us?

Our fears were unfounded, it seems.  Although there was some slight tension as we pulled up to the guard.

Guard: And where are you from?

Me: Umm. Uh…United States.

Guard: Yeah, I know. Where from in the US?

Me: Umm, Atlanta?

For some reason, I thought they’d turn us around or shoot us if they didn’t like where we were from.  Hey man, I don’t know how gangsta they are in Canada.  I got nervous.  At any rate, we made it through without further incident. And as soon as we pulled off we realized that we were no longer in the States because the metric system hit us in the face.  The speed limit was 90…km/h.  What the?  Now I have to do math, while driving in a foreign country?  Thankfully my wife pointed out that the speedometer had km/h underneath the mp/h.  Like I said, I was a little nervous.

So we eventually get to our hotel and begin plotting dinner for the night.  Kaia has wanted to try poutine for the longest time, and we found a spot that received rave reviews for their poutine.  They are also purveyors of smoked meat, so yeah!  We looked out as Jarry Smoked Meat is just a frog’s jump from the hotel.  As we walked towards the entrance, all we heard was French.  Oh no.  The maitre’d  merely asked “Deux? and took us to our seat.  After a moment, the waitress came by, said something in French and gave us water.  The next time she comes to the table she starts speaking English.  We’re both like “How did you know?” Well we didn’t respond to her French the 1st time around, and I was wearing a Braves t-shirt and an Old Navy hat with a US flag on it.  I felt like such an American douchebag flaunting his American-ness in a foreign country.  Everyone in the restaurant probably went home and made fun of me.

Oh well, the food was awesome.  We started off with karnatzel sausage.  Think Slim Jim, but about two million times better.  It was a great starter for the meal to come.

We ordered poutine and Montreal style pizza with smoked meat.  The poutine was sublime.  Kaia figured they put cinnamon in the gravy, and boy did that make a difference.  The pizza was stupid.  I don’t know how they make their dough but I’m thinking they use brioche and french bread techniques.  The pizza was essentially deep dish but the crust was light, crunchy and flaky.  The meat was smoked to perfection.  It was the bomb dinner.  Even though we loved dinner, we learned our lesson and didn’t overeat.  See, no need for any further scorn or side eyes…

-Diallo

Honeymoon Day 7 – Kaia’s 2 cents

O. M. G. Even after 8 hours of sleep, I am still full from dinner. The idea of never eating again has crossed my mind. Twice. It has to be those damn dinner rolls. I mean, we didn’t really have lunch yesterday. Just ice cream. How is this possible? I thought we were better than this.

Ok, so King Arthur Flour Bakery store. Um, drool? I’m ready to go back already. It’s like a buffet of tools, gadgets and uncommon ingredients for die-hard bakers. I mean, they’ll even sell you a machine that lets you mill your own flour from actual wheat berries. Everybody needs that, right? It’s the food nerd fantasy I never knew I had.

Then, Diallo made me put the jar of Vietnamese cinnamon back on the shelf. Hey, I NEEDED that for, for… well, something. He is so lucky that the sales lady handed me a mail order catalog. Because I was at borderline throw-myself-on-the-floor-grown-woman-temper-tantrum-meltdown levels.

donkey tail wood artAnywhoo, the maple syrup spot. My home training kept me from sucking down the Fancy grade sample like it was a baby’s bottle. ‘Nuff said. They also had a few pieces of cool wood are on display. By the way, if you ever visit this place, please keep in mind that you are still in the city of Montpelier.

Diallo didn’t mention how quaint the capital “city” of Montpelier was. Downtown looks like a 3-block frontier town. The capital building, with it’s gold dome, was nestled between the lush green hills. I’ve never seen such a cute state capital.

Montpelier is also home of the New England Culinary Institute. If D ever wanted to attend culinary school here (not so subtle hint), I’d be more than willing to do the good wife thing and support him any way possible (another not so subtle hint) so that we can live here.

By the way, I wound up buying a tin of Vietnamese cinnamon tea at the tea place. Ha!

the "Willy Wonka" door at Ben and Jerry'sBen and Jerry’s – Sigh, coming here has been a mere bucket list item. Well, maybe a lifelong dream. Only slightly less important than the air I breathe. Hold on, gimme a second. (Inhale. Exhale. Calming down.) It was pretty cool despite the overt touristy feel of the whole operation. I’m not mad though. I mean, they’re only selling out factory tours that start every 10 minutes. It is what it is. I really liked how the door you go through to start the tour has a Willie Wonka feel to it (the original movie, not the weird Michael Jackson-like Johnny Depp one).Diallo eating ice cream

Overall, everyone there looked to be having a great time. Well, with the exception of the people who were the parents of toddlers. They all exuded the “I’m DONE” vibe. Something to think about if you’re planning a pilgrimage up this way.

A few tips if you’re going to visit Vermont:
1) You need more than 1 day to do it all. Yes, you can easily drive through the entire state with a stop or two in 1 day. I don’t recommend it.

2) Respect the 65 mph speed limit. The highways have twists, curves and downhills (and exits on steep downhills) that sneak up on you. There’s also signs everywhere warning of bear, moose and deer crossings. In many of these spots, if you had to veer out of the way of wildlife, your only options are to steer toward a rock wall or a steep ravine. Besides, the scenery you drive past is so amazing, you’d be a fool to speed past it in blur.

3) Come in the fall when the leaves are changing. Everything is green right now and it looks amazing. I kept imagining what it would look like with all the reds, oranges and browns. The sight would probably unhinge my jaw.