Archive for August, 2011


Thanks to everyone for sharing your favourite thoughts and highlights of Montreal. If you haven’t visited the site since the last post was uploaded, please take a moment to check out everyone’s contributions in the “Comments” tab at the beginning of the last post.

This week, as promised, I’d like to focus on the sweeter side of Montreal, the city where Chocolatour  was officially launched back in October of 2009.

There are a plethora of excellent chocolate bistros around the city that not only offer a tempting selection of handmade fresh chocolates to take home, they serve sensuous chocolate creations that can be the main focus of your meal or the perfect ending by way of a make-you-squeal dessert.

I really enjoyed lunch at Juliette & Chocolat located at 377 Laurier Ouest. The atmosphere is perfect for lunch with the girls, and the menu offers some really unique offerings such as the chocolate salad! The Juliette & Chocolat Salad is served with seasonal fruit, and goat cheese with buckwheat crepe slices, topped with a chocolate raspberry vinaigrette. Delicious!

the Juliette & Chocolat Salad comes with a special chocolate raspberry vinaigrette

Juliette & Chocolat is also famous for its drinking chocolate, offering an exotic list of chocolate origins to choose from. This picture of a friend enjoying her drinking chocolate tells the story of complete satisfaction.

savouring one of the amazing drinking chocolates at Juliette et Chocolat

The chocolate selection is lovely, too, and take time to peruse the “Chocolate Bars” on the menu which provide interesting tidbits about chocolate and cocoa around the world. This is truly a place for chocolate lovers!

the selection of fresh chocolates at Juliette et Chocolat is tempting and creative

I also enjoyed chatting with chocolatier, Marlain Jean Philippe, owner of Marlain Chocolatier, located at 21 Cartier in Pointe Claire, a suburb of Montreal. The small shop is located in a historic house and don’t be surprised if you’re welcomed by the ear-to-ear smile of the proprietor when you walk in the door. He is French-trained (in Paris) and carries the designation of Maitre Chocolatier-Confiseur, so you know that he knows his chocolate!  I absolutely loved the Obama chocolates made from soft nougat, pineapple, ginger, coffee beans, almonds and the finest dark chocolate. They had an amazing flavour and texture that I shall always remember.

Marlain Jean Philippe is the creative force behind Marlain Chocolatier

And Marlain doesn’t stop at edible chocolate! He offers an assortment of cocoa-based creams and cosmetics to make your body as smooth and silky as the delectable chocolate he’ll box for you to take home and savour.

There are many other exquisite chocolate shops in Montreal. What are some of your favourites?

Please join us back here the week of September 12th, when we’ll enjoy more taste-tempting travels.

Montreal has an important place in my heart as it is the place where the research for my book, Chocolatour, was officially launched! Fellow chocolate lover, Kathe Lieber of Montreal, accompanied me on the first overseas chocolate research trip back in October, 2009. Hard to believe it’s nearly been two years of chocolate tasting that has gotten me to this point!

But before we boarded the big bird and flew to Brussels, Kathe took me on a journey of chocolate discovery in Montreal. I’ll share some of our findings in the next post on this blog. For now, I’d like to focus on the city itself, as Montreal is such an amazing metropolis that as sweet as it is, chocolate will have to wait its turn for our attention.

Being a travel writer has its perks and privileges. It also instils some wonderful habits that come in handy. I looked thru my mini-notebooks that diarize my travels and found the one dated May 26-June 3, 2001. It had been exactly 10 years since my last visit of any length had been to this great city!

At that time, I had the great privilege of staying at two terrific hotels, one so very different than the other. The two properties personify the two distinct personalities of Montreal: the modern, chic French-speaking metropolis of North America, and the charming “Old Montreal” where you’ll find numerous reminders of the four centuries that make up the city’s rich and colourful history.

City Hall in Old Montreal is a landmark and well-maintained

The Hotel Le Germain on Mansfield, is situated in downtown Montreal, a close walk to the bustling shopping street of St. Catherine and to McGill University. If you are looking for a chic boutique hotel with impeccable service, this is the place to stay.

We also enjoyed being the guests of suite 501 in the beautiful historic, Auberge Bonaparte, a lovely room with an outdoor terrace complete with fresh flowers. What a romantic place to have spent our 6th wedding anniversary! And what a location. If you’re looking to stay and play in the heart of Old Montreal, the Auberge is a terrific choice.

Rue St-Francois Xavier in Old Montreal is home to the Auberge hotel & restaurant, as well as a terrific museum.

On my trip in June of this year, I stayed at the Residence Inn, a Marriott property offering reasonable rates and a convenient location to Concordia University, where the PWAC conference was being held. It’s not as luxurious as the other properties I’ve cited, but it has spacious rooms with full kitchen facilities and is perfect for lengthier, or more informal stays.

Writing this post has made me realize that I must get my beautiful slides from the late 1990’s and early 2000’s put onto disk. Right now, they’re in boxes in the garage just waiting for me.

Please join me here again the week of August 29th, when we’ll look at the sweeter side of Montreal. Until then, please share your comments about your favourite place(s) to stay in Montreal. As well as other things you love about the city.

And if you’re looking for more information on this remarkable city, visit Tourisme Montreal where you’ll see a totally cool video.

Blog Jog Day

This is a special post to celebrate Blog Jog Day (BJD)!

It’s my third time participating in this celebration of blogs, which, by its essence, brings new participants to the blog. I last participated with this blog on the November 21, 2010  BJD and introduced several new readers to Travel Diversions with Doreen at that time. I hope you’re still with us!

This year I’m promoting the blog of Kimberley Linstruth-Beckom who resides in Connecticut and blogs about living with fibromyalgia. Find her insightful blog at: http://www.fibroandfabulous.com/.

Drop in and take a look around, and then move on to the blog that Kimberley recommends in her BJD post. It’s fun, educational and inspiring!

If you’re looking for a different kind of blog, never fear! You can hop over to Blog Jog Central at http://blogjogday.blogspot.com/. There, you’ll find plenty of great blogs to peruse and enjoy, including my other blog, http://doreenisthewizardofwords.blogspot.com/, that focuses on the writing lifestyle. Drop in for insights on the joys and challenges of a professional writer.

Join us back here the week of August 15 for the next post on my journey with Chocolatour, when we’ll take a sweet look at Montreal.

But before you leave, please take a look at some of the posts we’ve had on this blog. You’ll find many posts on my chocolate adventures throughout Europe and the UK, as well as numerous other travel posts to tempt and entice you.

And please leave a comment, subscribe, and “like” or tweet the link if you like what you see! Thanks so much … and enjoy your travel diversions with Doreen! 

I know. I was supposed to be heading to Montreal for the next post. But it’s just so darned beautiful right now in Manitoba, and there are so many amazing things going on that I thought I’d treat you to one more round of local bragging. I hope you’ll indulge me, and join in with a comment celebrating your own favourite Manitoba place, memory or summer event. After all, as Travel Manitoba would say … “It’s Manitoba Time!”

the re-enactors of Vikings Vinland demonstrate battle techniques

We visited the Icelandic Festival in Gimli on the weekend and were fortunate to have timed our visit to see the battle re-enactment performed by members of Vikings Vinland, a troop of  re-enactors from all over North America. It was awesome! We also enjoyed a Goldeyes baseball game in Winnipeg.

But what really inspired me to write this post was the amazing culinary talent we have right here in the Interlake. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending High Tea at the Fat Cat Bistro (located just north of Camp Morton on Hwy 222.) It’s held every Tuesday from 2-4 pm and is a delight for just $13. We started with a plate of giant pinwheel sandwiches, followed by a course of hot appetizers. I loved the giant Japanese mussels made in a sauce of tomatoes and peppers. The mushroom puffs were also terrific and light. And a crostini featuring local Goldeye fish finished off the middle course with a lovely fresh flavour.

The dessert course consisted of a plate of cheeses and fresh fruits alongside a plate of dainties. And yes, there was chocolate! The chocolate coconut brownies were soft, chewy and really quite decadent.

My friend couldn’t eat nuts, so was made a special pavlova (which was dressed right at our table by John, partner of Karen Nielsen, our talented chef.)

John preparing a lovely pavlova at our table

Although the High Tea was not traditional in the sense that there were no scones with clotted cream, it was delightful in every way. I’m told by Chef Karen that she does make scones on occasion and changes the menu every week to keep her scores of regular customers happy and coming back each week or every second week to see what she has in store.

Today, we visited Fat Cat for breakfast. I’d been there once previously for dinner, but had not (until today) had the pleasure of enjoying one of their tasty breakfasts. As I’m watching my calorie count these days (the two years of intense chocolate tasting has finally caught up with me!) I ordered a simple breakfast of two poached eggs and sausages with multi-grain toast and sliced tomatoes. Include your coffee or tea and you’ve got an amazing breakfast for $5!

My male companions were not as concerned with their waistlines and ordered much more elaborately. Roy had the omelette, asking Chef Karen to create something unique for him. And that she did! His fluffy omelette was stuffed with goat’s cheese and local Saskatoon berries. A bit heavy for me, but Roy loved it!

My husband, Reg, ordered the authentic Icelandic pancakes (Karen is a local girl of Icelandic heritage) stuffed with seasonal berries and topped with fresh whipping cream. Wow! That was truly amazing, and something that I would order on a return visit.

Fat Cat's Icelandic pancakes

Fat Cat Bistro is becoming a local favourite with discerning diners of the Interlake. That, along with Mask Mediterranean Restaurant of Gimli are boasting internationally trained chefs who love the Interlake region and are hoping to tantalize diners’ taste buds beyond the (pickerel) fish and chips (french fries) that have become the flagship meal of many area restaurants.

Let’s talk. Tell me about your favourite hangout, event or memory from YOUR most coveted Manitoba time.

Please note there will be a special “Blog Jog Day” post on this blog on Sunday, August 7th, as I once again participate in an event that helps fellow bloggers expand their audiences. And we’ll be back the week of August 15th, when we will finally explore the virtues — and chocolate — of Montreal.

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