Category Archives: Random


Photo credit to Montreal Nitelife Blog

Damn, I’d been having a hankering…

Romado’s caught fire tonight around 7pm and I got to witness one of those great moments where the Twittersphere lights up with grainy cellphone photos and people’s first reactions as they are instantly recorded for posterity. It’s neat to participate in, even if you’re rather removed from the scene, as is my case presently.

The good news is no injuries and relatively minor damage. Hopefully they have insurance and get back up and running ASAP. It’s a veritable contemporary local dining institution and it’s reputation is well-earned, and incidentally I’m as much a fan of the porc sandwiches as the mouth watering chicken.

I’ve always been impressed with the obvious weight and precisely sharpened edge of their cleavers and knives, as no more than two strikes are required to draw and quarter a bird.

Some argue that it’s not as good as it once was but I’d say that’s only as a consequence of many other fine restaurants trying their best to compete. Competition brings in new variations, seeking to satisfy many diverse palates, and makes a good thing more popular and ultimately better. And yes, the members of our Portuguese community may say that their families have an even better recipe.

But I digress. I find it fascinating to watch people react in situations such as these. I mean, it’s not a disaster by any means, if anything it’s a lucky break no one was hurt and they may very well quickly rebuild.

But that people all over the city are now collectively grumbling about how long it has been, and when the last time would have been. An odd moment of collective reminiscence, of our collective good taste and love of delicious food.

That was made rather clear as people tweeted their no.2 options in terms of where to get quality Portuguese-styled rotisserie chicken in Montréal.

We have many more options than you might think; this is a testament to Romado’s success in popularizing their menu as a high-quality fast-food alternative to traditional casse-croute offerings. And given our considerable Portuguese population, well, naturally opportunity abounded.

I wonder if the recipe is in fact truly imported from Portugal or if it is more directly linked to the Azores, from which a number of our Portuguese community hail. Or perhaps it is an adaptation of Portuguese methods and spices to something more typically associated with French Canadian cuisine.

I should find out, I’m also ravenous at the moment.

In any event. Glad no one was injured and hopeful I’ll have a chance to enjoy their delicious chicken once more.

I remember once thinking it would be nice to bring my children there (if I’m so fortunate to one day have a family of my own), and introduce it to them as my parents and extended family introduced my brother and I to the staples of local cuisine.

They always made it seem rather exciting.

Eating at Momesso’s, or Chalet BBQ or going to the Main were big deals for me when I was a kid because it felt like some higher level of street smarts was being revealed to me. It was this idea that tucked away here and there in the vast and modern city were these mom & pop hold-outs, that might not look like much from the outside when compared with the slick suburban family eateries of which I was more accustomed, but where nonetheless of vastly superior quality. And they were right. And I felt like I had been brought into a club. It’s silly inn retrospect but fun for a kid.

And it also imparted a preference for that which was not advertised, slick and processed.

There are many times I’ve gone well out of my way to eat at Romado’s (and more specifically, so that I may eat it in the bucolic splendour of Mount Royal Park on a beautiful summer’s day), and this is a testament not only to their restaurant but every other restaurant like it.

It’s unlikely any of them are part of a chain. Says something to me, like we might want to consider laws that put a leash on corporate restaurants and make it a little easier for the small entrepreneur to get established.

Food for thought…

Goings on about the town… Rope + Thread = Ism, the Biosphere, Fireworks

Interesting art happenin’ happening at the beautiful Sainte-Brigide de Kildare Church put on by iqgallery called Rope + Thread = Ism. It runs until July 14th and is a massive local artistic collaborative effort with over 60 contributors. I haven’t been yet, but will soon, and will post a review afterwards.

More info can be found here.

In other news, it looks like the Biosphere is getting the axe, what with it being a museum dedicated to the environment of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence River and our present federal place-holder government is doing just about all it can to trivialize environmental science and wreck our once pristine natural environment. Worse, the iconic geodesic dome will become the operations centre for our local Environment Canada office, which apparently is being forced to vacate their property in the West Island. I can’t imagine how Environment Canada is going to fit their operation into the Biosphere, and god knows where they’ll stick all those satellite dishes and meteorological radars. Unless the plan is downsize and eliminate the tools necessary for monitoring the environment altogether.

Shit. Methinks I uncovered a sinister plot.

In any event, go see it while you have a chance. Looks like this unique scientific and cultural facility will close its doors by the end of the year, just twenty years old.

And finally, Fireworks season has begun. I highly recommend seeing them from La Ronde if you can swing the ticket price – up front and personal it’s really quite enjoyable and you get the added benefit of taking in all the music and crowd reactions etc. But, if you don’t have the coin don’t fret – you can enjoy the weekly conversion of Pont Jacques-Cartier into a pedestrian bridge just for the occasion (I think it’s only about an hour or so on Saturday nights when the official fireworks are being lit off, not sure of the details but worth investigating if you happen to be in the Centre Sud or otherwise close to the bridge).

Repeated emails sent to the city weren’t returned because for some reason; every time I try emailing the city through it’s “contact us” page, I get redirected to a Bad Gateway message.


And I’ve tried switching up computers and my contact info too – is it me or do you think they did it on purpose so as to avoid having to deal with the public?

Try it yourself. Include the words “I want to create a new political party to contest the 2013 election” – let’s see what happens.

Ode to Pierrefonds

The Chateau de Pierrefonds, Oise Department, France

My hometown is named after the castle in the photograph above; there is nothing even remotely as grand as this beautifully restored 13th-century chateau in all of Pierrefonds, that much I can guarantee you, but it’s certainly inspiring nonetheless. I could not possibly have asked to be raised in a more ideal suburb. Over a century ago, a local and somewhat infamous notary by the name of Joseph-Adolphe Chauret created the first incarnation of Pierrefonds as a village separate from the Town of Sainte-Genevieve. Pierrefonds, like the adjacent communities of Roxboro, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Ile-Bizard, all grew from the parish and village of Sainte-Genevieve, which itself was established in the early 18th century. Chauret had seen an engraving of the eponymous chateau, which itself is of particular historical importance given that it was an early example of philanthropic cultural heritage preservation projects we now associate with urbanism in Montréal in general. He had a thatched-roof ‘seigneurial’ residence built so as to emulate the engraving; his house was completed several years before he had a chance to vist the real thing. When he returned, the locals turned up to welcome him. Pierrefonds Québec, prior to the late 1950s, was rural, agricultural and predominantly composed of old-stock French Canadians. Gouin Boulevard runs the entire length of the community, itself traced upon the path laid out by 16th century colonial urban planners creating the ring road then known as the Chemin du Roy. Habitant Homes still dot the path, and the area still maintains a small collection of very early 20th and mid-late 19th century structures.

Construction during the pre-war years was focused on summer homes built near Rivieres des Prairies, easily accessible by the train station in Roxboro. But during the post-war residential construction boom, the prospect of regular commuter train service to the expanding downtown of Montréal led to rapid residential, low-density growth. Much of what constitutes the Pierrefonds of today was built between the mid-1950s and early-1970s. All the houses are roughly the same size occupying similarly sized lots. It’s verdant, with many parks, green-spaces, playgrounds and public pools. Many of the residential streets turn back in on themselves, minimizing thru-traffic. Today it forms the largest single component of the West Island in terms of population, estimated at just over 60,000. Given its history, it is probably also the most francophone West Island community on the island of Montréal.

It is a profoundly middle-class, multi-ethnic community, closely integrated with Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Roxboro and Ste-Genevieve. Unfortunately, it lacks its independence, though there is undoubtedly a local character, given that many residents are themselves first or second generation middle-class and it’s in many ways emblematic of both the independent West Island communities and City of Montréal bedroom suburbs. It is modern in design with plenty of rural stylistic influences – the choice to leave many streets unlit and the rather spacious lots (in comparison to the generally modest bungalows) are well-stocked and over-flowing with flora throughout the temperate months. From what I’ve experience having lived most of my life here, I can only conclude its an ideal, if not superior suburban community and a more-than-ideal place to raise a family.

Unfortunately, for a variety of factors, Pierrefonds has a bit of a bad reputation. The generally bored SPVM West Island detachments seem to believe all gangs operating West of Highway 13 emanate from one part of Pierrefonds or another, and the merger hasn’t done much for community spirit. There are parts that are run down, but they are in the minority compared to the large sectors of stable, happy and prosperous detached homes. The schools are good and crime is almost non-existant. There are many local small businesses and some important cultural and community centres serving a large and diverse population. Perhaps most importantly, Pierrefonds is exceptionally well-served via public transit, making it an attractive location for white-collar families. Downtown is a mere twenty-five minutes away.

Let me be the first to say, nothing of consequence may have ever happened in the place I grew up in, and like many other parts of North America, it exists as a community to the degree by which the community invests in it. If we are to be more than we currently are, we’ll do so collectively. If not, we’ll simply exist as another component of the expanding City of Montréal; no harm, no foul.

But it makes me wonder, in these times of transition and change, what was necessary to establish Pierrefonds as more than simply a place where one lived? What made it so balanced, so equal, so ideal for suburban family living?

It’s odd – I used to joke about Pierrefonds as being nothing particularly special, even going so far as to over-emphasizing it’s ‘street-cred’ as it was perceived to be a ‘rough’ part of the West Island. Horseshit in hindsight. It may be one of the most ideal communities to raise children on the whole island of Montréal.

Come see for yourself I suppose, we have the largest nature park on the island. Stop by Vivaldi for supper (a shockingly excellent Italian restaurant on Gouin West). I really have no idea how to end this article, nor where precisely I’m going with it. So I’m going to end it abruptly here.

Skydome: the Musical

This is the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. The June 3rd 1989 gala-opening of Toronto’s Skydome ended up becoming a kind of Canuckistani ‘Cavalcade of Stars’ with a song-and-dance show reminiscent of a poor country trying out for an Olympic opening ceremony.

Maybe it’s because this happened more than twenty years ago, but Jesus H. Vishnu, this is so god-awful I wonder what they did to get all those people in there in the first place?

We Montrealers may have had our fair share of problem with our retractable-roof stadium, but at least we never did anything like this. And, yeah, as you may have guessed, Skydome, or whatever it’s called these days, is typically undersold and the Jays haven’t been doing so well since the double-header in the early 1990s. That’s the problem with TO – the weather’s typically decent year-round and I know that breeds a funny kind of optimism in people. I personally can’t wait for the ‘Skydome Repurposing Gala’ next Fall…