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DIY: MONTREAL CHRISTMAS TOUR

Montreal’s public farmers’ markets are not only places to do your grocery shopping, but also gathering places for the community. The market is also an ideal place to seek out the ingredients for a traditional or modern holiday feats—Foie Gras half-baked in a terrine is a traditional Christmas treat from the Old Country, and these days, chefs around town like to sass it up with maple syrup, ginger and ice wine.

HILTON MONTRÉAL BONAVENTURE

The Hilton Montréal Bonaventure was built back in the day to accommodate the wave of foreign folk who would come for the International World Fair: Montréal’s fabulous Expo 67. Some 40 years later, this 395-room hotel has certainly been around the block, and then some.

OYSTERS ON THE MAIN

Winter is the traditional season for oysters, though Maestro owner and Maitresse d’hotel Ilene Polansky reminds us that the thing about only eating bivalves in months ending in “r” went out when refrigerated transport containers came in. But December reminds us that oysters are delicious, so we satisfied our craving the other night at Ilene’s Montreal classic, Maestro S.V.P.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN MONTREAL: 5 GIFT IDEAS FOR YOUR FOODIE FRIENDS

Planning to come to Montreal before Christmas? Friends and family back home are into food and restaurants? You’re in luck: this city is a veritable treasure trove of gifts for the seen-it-all-tasted-it-all foodie.  Champagne? T.V. chef cookbooks? So déja vu! Here are a few presents that would make any food-lover happy:

COME-AS-YOU-ARE BAR AND NIGHTCLUB

I love that when I go out in Montreal I can get Mad Men fancy and dress up to the nines (look for my earlier post “Get dolled up at Bleu Blow Dry and Rouge Nail Bar”) – or just tie my hair up in a ponytail, dress down, and nevertheless go out and have a good time. When I feel like doing the latter, which is most of the time, there are two new spots on my radar.

GET DOLLED UP AT BLEU BLOW DRY AND ROUGE NAIL BAR

I’ve raved more than once about my favourite little beauty bars where I love to treat myself and get my nails done. Vanity is a curse; I know. So, when mini-Montreal chain Rouge Nail Bar opened up a “sister concept” – Bleu Blow Dry Bar – right next door to their Fairmount location, my first thought was, This is a match made in heaven. Or was it, Thank heaven!

CHRISTMAS CONCERTS IN MONTREAL

Though your uncle’s eggnog-fueled Bing Crosby impression has its place, one of the most magical parts of the holiday season can be found in the music that defines it. Here are some of highlights of Montreal’s Christmas Concert lineup…

GET DOWN AND SHOP IN THE UNDERGROUND CITY

My parents were born on a sunny island in the Pacific, so I like to believe that I’m genetically opposed to winter. Thank goodness then for Montreal’s Underground City, a massive web of tunnels that connects a major area of downtown office buildings, hotels, museums, banks, condominiums, great deals on smoked meat, shopping malls, metro stations, and even the Bell Centre.

SHOPPING AT MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS

Whether you are in town for a meeting or with your family, friends or loved one, you will find many great holiday gifts ideas at the boutiques of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There are two shops: M Boutique offers more traditional fares, and Design Space offers the cleanly contemporary.