I’m grounded in Montreal since my last trip in California in october and I’m starting to get crazy! Winter blues is flirting with me and I’m trying to find ways to survive the next month until my trip to Rio de Janeiro. So, I decided to spend a weekend in Russia. Because why not.
One of the reason why I’m in love with Montreal is because it’s easy to get in a travel mood even if you stay in town. I’m fascinated by Russia since a long time. I wish I could go this year, but I had to accept the ugly thing called « making choices ». Ahah!
Waiting for this trip, I discovered that Montreal has very good Russian shops and groceries. Check it out!
Hiding in a basement of Côte-des-Neiges, this typical Russian restaurant is a must if you’re curious about everything that can be cooked with potatoes (Yes, it is true that there’s a lot of potatoes in Russian cuisine). Of course, you can take the classic chicken Kiev or beef Stroganoff, but it’s your chance to be adventurous there! Try the Varenyky (some kind of slavic dumplings) or the Chebureky (meat pastries)… and the Borscht (beet soup), because Borscht is always a good idea.
What I like about this restaurant is that there’s pretty much just Russian people there: the Chef, the waiters, the clients… everybody is Russian! So you know you’ve come to the right place.
La Caverne: 5184 Chemin de la Côte-des-Neiges, Montreal – 514-738-6555
Photo by Elsie Hui (Creative Commons)
My favorite place in my Russian escapade in Montreal is Vova, a small bakery in Verdun. First, the owner, Yelena, is absolutely adorable and she’s very excited to introduce you to her country’s cuisine. Most of the product names are only written in Russian, and she’ll be glad to help you with anything you are looking for. We tasted her Mazurka (a walnuts pastry) and Zefir (a kind of Russian marshmallows made with apple aka deliciousness in the form of a soft cookie). If you have only one place to go, go there!
Vova: 3055 Lasalle, Verdun – 514-278-3411
For a complete Russian grocery, you can venture to the West of Montreal to discover Ella’s Deli. You’ll find a complete selection of Russian products, from canned food to bread. You’ll also find some Russian soft drinks… I must admit I don’t really know what this is since is only written in Russian, but I’d say it tastes like coke with molasses, or something like that.
Ella’s Deli: 5555 av. Westminster, Côte-St-Luc – 514-368-1741
La Petite Russie
Next stop: La Petite Russie, a boutique where you can find everything Russian. Books, shawls, matriochkas (the typical Russian dolls), etc. My favorite discoveries were the Sauna hats, wool hats made to protect your head in Russian Sauna.
La Petite Russie: 4953 Queen Mary, Montreal – 514-737-0447
The world’s best vodka comes from… Québec!
What would be a « trip to Russia » without a good vodka! …But you know what? The world’s best vodka comes from… Quebec! Oui oui.
I red this story recently about Pur Vodka. The creator of this vodka knew it was a very good product, but no one wanted to sell it because it was still unknown. So, he decided to participate to the World Vodka Masters, a prestigious contest, thinking he has nothing to lose anyway. Well, turns out he won the « Best Vodka in the World », in front of all Russian vodka, for 3 years in a row!
Now, you can buy it everywhere in Québec, and we tasted it in Vodka Bar. I must admit I was expecting something fancier for a vodka bar, but it’s more of a creepy place with a lot of slot machines. BUT, they have a huge selection of vodka. We compared the famous Pur Vodka with the « Russian Standard » and, both me and my boyfriend preffered the Russian one. I guess you will have to compare too.
Vodka Bar: 5505 Decarie, Montreal – 514-734-8227
I’ve heard of Scandinavian Spa, …but Russian Sauna? Never heard of that before going to Spa le Finlandais. It’s pretty much the same concept of playing with hot and cold, except you have to wear the weird hat and whip yourself with branches (But I think they call it « massage »).
Spa le Finlandais: 124 Labelle, Rosemère – 450-971-0005
Well, excuse me while I’ll go read Dostoievski and recover from whipping myself…