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STREET PROFILE: SAINTE-CATHERINE

  The list of Montreal Streets that we’ve already profiled has gotten so extensive that I’m going to skip the usual witticisms and just lay out where we’ve been so far: Bleury, Maisonneuve, Saint-Paul, Saint-Zotique, Crescent and Greene Avenue. But, with Christmas and visions of over-stuffed shopping bags dancing around your checking account, we thought it was time to take a trip to Sainte-Catherine… If there’s one street that visitors to Montreal know without consulting our profile series, Sainte-Catherine (or St-Catherine/Ste-Catherine) is probably it. It’s a massive east-west thoroughfare, which starts in Westmount and ends in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and manages to pass through the Concordia ghetto, the Quartier Latin and the Gay Village on its way. Which is clearly too huge an area for us to cover in one post. And it’s not really necessary, because it’s the part of Sainte-Catherine that crosses downtown Montreal that is the big draw…and has been for years.

DELTA MONTREAL HOTEL AND THE GIRLS GETAWAY PACKAGE

Shopping trip with the girls? The Delta Montreal is the hotel for you! Last week, still glowing from a hot tub-sauna-and-manicure splurge followed by an afternoon spent in a heavenly bed, I ran into my neighbour Claudia, and told her: “I’m just back from trying out the girls’ getaway package at the Delta Montreal”. With a quizzical look on her face, she immediately asked: “Sounds  fun, but… what IS this getaway package, anyways?”

CHICAGO’S TOP CHEF CHARLIE TROTTER IN MONTREAL TO HONOUR NORMAND LAPRISE

It seems to be the thing, these days, to see celebrities flying in, making a splash, and flying out. Jean Paul Gaultier, überchef Gordon Ramsay – who’s opening a restaurant in town in February! – and also…. Charlie Trotter, who’s a veritable culinary legend in Chicago, where his restaurant Charlie Trotter’s has been among the highest-rated for as long as there have been reputable restaurant guides. And yes, we spoke to him, too.

F BAR AND BRASSERIE T!: THE TWO HOTTEST NEW RESTOS IN TOWN

Montreal may not be New York, with dozens of media-crazed chefs and restaurateurs, but it has a vibrant yet easy-to-grasp restaurant scene, with a handful of true restaurant-world stars. Locals know them on a one-name basis: Picard. McMillan. Chuck. Ferreira. Laprise. These are some of the biggies. But more on this later…

CELEBRITY-SPOTTING IN MONTREAL

The who, where, and why you might care. A few days ago after a few late night cocktails at Barroco Restaurant (312 rue St-Paul ouest) in the Old Montreal, gal pal Mary* and I moseyed over to Le Papillon Rose (1071 côte du Beaver Hall) to fete our buddy Josh’s birthday (forever 39, right darling?) Josh – despite being PR man for Hype energy drinks – is a decidedly laidback dude. Mary, then, was a perfect study in contrast when actor Owen Wilson walked through the doorway and she shrieked, “Owen Wilson!” (In her defense, it was a very ladylike shriek; I don’t think everybody noticed.)

AN INTERVIEW WITH M FOR MONTREAL’S MIKEY BERNARD

M for Montreal is now in its fifth year of bringing journalists and music industry insiders from around the world to Montreal in order to expose them to the silly amounts of great music this city has to offer. While it has become an international launching pad for many local (and close to local) acts, the benefit for the rest of us is simple: from November 17-20 we get to see some great shows… When trying to figure out how best to explain this event to you, we figured we might as well just go straight to the source. So we touched base with “M for Mikey” Rishwain Bernard, the fest’s program director and man-about-several towns who seems to attend almost every great party happening anywhere in North America…

JEAN PAUL GAULTIER WAS HERE

Yes, I’m sorry to report that Couture King Jean Paul Gaultier has left the building – that is, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. But don’t fret, fellow fashion fanatics. He’ll be back sooner than you think to launch his retrospective The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, which makes its international debut right here in Montreal before continuing on to Dallas and San Francisco. Mark your calendars now, people: June 17 to October 2, 2011.

FORGET AMERICAN THANKSGIVING, ESCAPE TO MONTREAL FOR THE WEEKEND

Dear American friends, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For many of you, this time of year represents festive meals and the opportunity to reflect on the blessings in one’s life. Yet for other folks, Thanksgiving is a tired and stress-inducing holiday where you’re forced to wear that god-awful chartreuse sweater that your half-blind aunt knit you while salivating over Don Johnson during a Miami Vice marathon. And let’s be honest, the embarrassment of smelling like Fixodent drool each holiday begins to erode one’s self-respect.