Thursday, May 28, 2009

Celebrating 10 Years in Québec

Poutine at La Banquise. Photo by Rob Ireton

There comes a point in all of our lives when we have to make a decision that ultimately shapes our future. For me that choice came ten years ago when I decided to move from Western Canada to the French-speaking province of Québec.

At the wise age of twenty, after a lengthy tromp around the globe, this country girl bought a one-way plane ticket to Montréal for a most honourable reason: to catch a certain man I had been dating long-distance. Bringing only an old army bag, my trusty MEC backpack and zero sense of style, I arrived in the city with no job security, no place to call my own, and about as much understanding of the French language as I had style-sense.

I had traded my home, family and mountains for the city life and a chance at true happiness with the geeky engineer with the bright eyes.

You know what happened after that, right? There's a happy ending, but first there was culinary school, many jobs, an engagement, a stage-turned-three-year-job at Toqué!, a wedding, a European honeymoon, a house purchase, other jobs, a baby boy, a blog, and another baby boy. That about sums up the last ten years and I'm pretty happy with the outcome. Gosh darn, I feel like the luckiest girl around.

So, I'm celebrating a milestone this month, I have now lived in La Belle Province for a whole decade. A decade.

Here is where you can help me out, please. I'm trying to decide how to celebrate.
I've already determined that I'm going to fête (party) for the month of June, maybe even the whole summer, but I need some good suggestions. Sure, I could just go get a poutine (and be sure that I will. Several, in fact) as has been suggested to me numerous times, but what else? It has to be something bigger. I mean, I'm in one of the best cities in the world to party!
(Please, no Club 281 suggestions; I don't mean that kind of party. I'd rather get my kicks on the Monster at La Ronde!)

Cirque Tents in Montreal's Old Port. Photo by Rob Ireton

Actually, I'm secretly hoping my hubby will surprise me with tickets to Cirque du Soleil--fitting, no? Their tents are set up in the Old Port right now; their bright colours calling to me.

No more cupcake tastings, though, I'm done! That was so last year...and the year before that.
Anyway, it's going to involve a lot of eating no matter how I celebrate, starting with that poutine...


Melissa said...

Wow! Congratulations on an eventful ten years. I hope the hubby surprises you. I love when they do that!

Dana said...

I admire your guts to just get up and go for love! I would never have had the guts. I'm lucky I met my soul mate in my home town and never had to make a decision like that. Congrats on a wonderful and adventurous 10 years. Felicitations!

Cheryl Arkison said...

Congrats. I followed my man West, from the Martimes. Coming up on 13 years now.

How about perfecting a croissant? I would love to try it, but all the work scares me.

kickpleat said...

I went to La Ronde when I was little, I loved it! You should definitely make a tarte au sucre, which is what my grandmaman made every summer (along with raspberry pie) when we were at la lac (aux sable). Congrats on your 10 years!!! Who knows, I might just move to la belle province with my love eventually!

Roving Lemon said...

How about a series that celebrates the things that make Montreal so special? Foods (poutine, obviously, but also all the other cuisines, shops, bakeries, markets, etc. that make it such a great food city); places (La Ronde, Mt Royal, St Laurent, St Denis, Atwater Market--oops, veering into food again); events (all the summer festivals!). You can go and do things to celebrate (and then write them up for the rest of us to enjoy vicariously!). Happy 10th Anniversary!

Jennifer Jo said...

How about throwing a party for all the people who have helped to make Quebec your home? Hand-cranked ice cream or a donut fry are two fun options...

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

You know, I always advised our daughter not to change her life for any man. (She didn't, but found the man of her dreams and they have two beautiful daughters.) But you took a chance on love, and look how beautifully it's worked out. Congratulations!

Aimée said...

Hi Melissa- Me too! Fortunately he's very spontaneous.

Hi Dana- You can call it guts...or just plain nuts!

Hi Cheryl- Congrats to you! I used to make croissants, but when the perfect croissant can be purchased for pocket change nearby, I loose all incentive to bake them.

Hi Kickpleat- La Ronde rocks..I'm a sucker for roller coasters. Mmm, tarte au sucre. Good idea!

Hi Roving Lemon- There's so much to choose from. All are good ideas! Sounds like you know the city pretty well.

Hi MamaJJ- I love throwing parties, but this would be a LOT of people. Lovely idea, though, thanks!

Hi Lydia- That is good advice. I didn't really take a big chance, I always knew that we were meant to be together.

Writer Dad said...

Celebrate by eating without silverware! Just dig in to your deliciousness with your face. It's better than balloons. : > )

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Hope the next ten years are even better for you and your family Aimee!

missweb said...

Congrats Aimee! We just saw Ovo a few weeks ago and it was lovely! I highly recommend it. Also try for a room at a nice hotel in the old port and make a mini weekend getaway of it if you can!

1Capricieuse (Annie) said...

Why not celebrate by going to Quebec city. You could do so much things with your kids and also enjoy great food.

I suggest a bike ride (if you have bikes) along the boulevard champlain and enjoy the magnificent view of the Saint-Laurent. Make some time for a picnick at the Plaines d'abrahame and maybe play ball.

Then why not a visite to the musée de la civilisation to see the summer exhibit: Momies, bet your boys will be excited (plus there is a costume area in the basement that is also awesome for the kids)

Just in front of the MCQ (musée) there is the Québec-Lévis Ferries and for a few dollars you can cross to the other shore and enjoy the most amazing panorama of Quebec. And guess what, in Lévis you could stop for an ice cream at "chocolat favoris" which is to die for and very close to the ferry.

Also close to the museum there is many amazing restos such as Toast (but it's maybe expensive with kids) or Café du monde (good food and less expensive for a family) or many more that are maybe more suited for a family diner.

Ah oui! and if you are not to tired, walk by the pier to enjoy the Moulin à image de Robert Lepage if you haven't seen it yet.

The next day you could drive a little outside Qc to visit les chutes montmorency (if you're in this time of the year they also present amazing fireworks at night) and go on Orlean Island for some fruit picking or just sightseeing.

Apart from the food, ferry and museum, all these activities are free!


Terrie said...

So glad you came! As for celebrating, I like the throw-a-party-for-all-those-who-helped-shape-your-life-here. Or, and I personally like this one the best.....have another boy baby and called him Jean-Baptiste. Or a girl with a double name beginning with Marie- , like Marie-Claude, Marie-Eve, Marie- Josee, Marie-Geneieve etc.

LyB said...

First off, congrats! 10 ans, c'est pas rien! :)

I agree with 1Capricieuse(Annie), you should come to Québec, and don't forget to give me a shout, I could celebrate with you! :)

David Hall said...

Congrats Aimee, well done! We have done a similar thing, moved around until we felt comfortable and equally done so many things in the time! As long as you are happy and in love.

All the best

Aimée said...

Hi Writer Dad- Sounds like usual dinnertime around here!

Hi Ingrid- Aw, thanks so much!

Hi Cara- Ovo sounds incredible, to be sure. Lovely getaway idea, but I would have to head to the country for a real break. A secluded B&B sounds best!

Hi Annie- Wow thanks for all the suggestions. I'm taking notes. I need to reconnect with my town Montreal first, though.

Hi Grammy- O-kaaaay! How about Mary-Terrie? That's got a ring to it. Oh,and you'd be first on the party invite list for sure.

Hi Lynne- Now we're talking! Party with the locals!

Hi David. Thanks, well said.

Elyse said...

Sounds like a fabulous past 10 years!! So many wonderful things have happened to you since your move. I moved out to the West coast (CA) to be with my long-distance boyfriend--moved from the East Coast. Sometimes the scary move can be the most rewarding experience! Sorry I've been away for the past week; I had a good friend in town and wasn't able to do much on the computer. I'm back now, though :)

CookiePie said...

Congratulations!! You have the best kind of success :) To celebrate, how about an apres Cirque du Soleil treat like a perfect lemon tart, or one of those gorgeous multilayer crepe cakes?

Whatever you do, enjoy, and here's to another wonderful 10 years!

Green said...

truly amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

see you next post.


Emily said...

Wow! That's amazing! Congrats on ten years.

I want to visit Quebec! It sounds fun and I love French things.

I'm not sure what you could do to celebrate. I like the tour of the city idea. That seems like fun.
Or you should definitely bake something French and serve with cafe au lait.

Belle said...

No suggestions, but CONGRATS!

Deborah said...

Unfortunately, I've never been to Quebec - or even Canada for that matter! Congrats on 10 years, though, and maybe after seeing what you do to celebrate I'll just have to plan a trip there!

Coco Bean said...

aww wonderful! Someone was telling me about that strip club the other day... I'm scared. You could go on a culinary journey of the city! Eat everything that says "Montreal", a steamie from la belle provance, a shish taouk from Boustan's, some bagels from St.V, a couple macarons, some croissants from premier moisson, some maple syrup,or a trip to the markets!

Nifty One said...

First off, I love your blog and really glad to have somehow managed to find you.

Being a Montrealer who has a hate/love relationship with this city, I find that at just the right moment, I find that special place or mood in the city that keeps me here. It could be a spot at Jean-Talon market, or a walk along the Lachine Canal, the waterfront of Lasalle or one of the many great places to eat.

For our 2nd summer together my BF and I are planning a day of city delights, starting with a walk through Old Montreal. We will then be catching the afternoon showing of OVO after which we will head to one of the most decadent places to dine in Montreal, Au Pied de Cochon.

Of course, no full day in Montreal would be complete without indulging in a little party-time so grabbing drinks at Otto (hotel W) will also be on the menu (try this: BLUEBERRY BLAST vodka, vanilla schnapp’s, crème de bleuets).

To celebrate a 10 year, I would suggest planning a day around your favorite spots, areas or places where you realized or reinforced the reason why you love it here so much... that's what I am doing!

Momo Fali said...

There isn't much better than Cirque de Soleil! That would be a great gift. Either that, or a second European honeymoon...

Aimée said...

Hi Elyse- Sounds like you are up to speed on the cross-country moves. Glad it worked out for you.

Hi CookiePie- Thanks, Darling. Love the sound of a lemon tart and I know just the place!

Hi Green- Thanks for stopping by.

Hi Emily -Come come! You'd love it.

Hi Belle- Many thanks.

Hi Deborah- You're not so far should plan a trip North sometime!

Hi CocoBean- Sounds like my usual summer, ha ha! No really, I'm going to have to eat Montreal in a serious way to celebrate.

Hi Nifty One- Welcome to UtHC! I'm always happy to meet other local bloggers. I love your suggestions. We are actually booked no for OVO and APdC is my favorite resto too!

Hi Momo Fali- Maybe I'll get that second honeymoon sometime, but not this year. I'd be pretty tickled with CdS.

Lucy said...

Wow Congratulations! It must have been a challenge when you first arrived but now, as the pictures and words of this post show: its all great!

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

A fabulous 10 years in Quebec I would say. How's about a balloon ride, or a trip into Quebec City, or take in Chuck Hughes retaurant Garde Manger, go whale watching on the St. lawrence...I know the list is endless:D

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Congrats on a decade of living in Quebec! It definitely sounds like it was the right choice. I'd love it if you'd do a photo tour of Quebec to celebrate.

Marta said...

You have had a very efficient decade: you've done so many things!!! Congratulations! I'm glad you have a happy life and, most importantly, that you appreciate it and radiate it out to the world. That's exactly what we need :)
Cirque isn't coming to Calgary this year, I'm so sad about that!

Culinary Wannabe said...

Congrats! You know that they say that you are a real new yorker if you've lived in the city for 10 years, so I guess that makes you a real Quebecian! :)

Natalie Sztern said...

Aimee so nice to meet you, I also live in la belle province but i have been here my whole life...hope u got a chance to go to the main this past weekend....

Natalie Sztern said...

Actually aimee, a true montrealer would go to plattsburgh for the day!!!

Jason Sandeman said...

Wow! Congrats on a 10 year anniversary. I come from Calgary, so I can identify with the whole missing the mountains part of this move.

If it was me, I would definately make it to the park at night, and look at the view there, go to Laronde for the fireworks contest. *Just be careful! I got hit with a fireworks piece last time I went there!

Food wise, you could check out the Old Port, as it is hopping as usual. You could even check out the Opus (Koko Resto and Bar) where I work on a Sat night with the girls.

The Jazz fest is just around the corner too. Too bad about Grand Prix though. Crescent might be a good bet if you are looking for a fun time though.

I hope all goes well, and you have another 10 years here!

Aimée said...

Hi Lucy- Yes, well that transition from a carefree life to one of responsibility is always challenging, right?

Hi Val- Balloon ride!! I've wanted to do that for sooooo long. It just so happens that the hot air balloon festival s right around my birthday. Hmmm.

Hi Lynn- Thank you! I'll certainly be toting the camera around this summer.

Hi Marta- Thank for the encouragement. It's funny because I certainly never planned a decade like this!

Hi Culinarywannabe- I never heard that, but it makes sense.

Hi Blondee47- Welcome to UtHC! You know it just hasn't been nice weather for going out. We need some sun!
Plattsburgh, eh?! My hubby loved this one.I think you may be right!!

Hi Jason. All good suggestions, thank you! Fireworks are certainly on the short list and we have tix for the Jazz Fest!-

Tina said...

I haven't read all the comments, but congratulations on ten years in la belle provence.

I would recommend a 'maudit' on a terrace somewhere. Followed by a symbolic pilgrimage up one side of Mont Royal and down the other.

Or, you could take the whole family on a weekend trip to Chicoutimi, go whale watching, sample some of the awesome homemade ice cream at this tiny shop on the main drag, and discover a whole new part of the province.

Tina said...

PS. That picture of poutine is dangerous! My 5 month pregnant self is going to be dreaming about that plate for days, weeks, months, until the toootallly rational need for poutine is satisfied.

Chocolatesa said...

I have a great suggestion for you! Come to Rawdon for the weekend! I live in LaSalle and my parents have been in Rawdon for the past 10 years, and it's such a beautiful place in the mountains. It's only about 45 min. north of Montreal, just follow the 25 North and you're there! There's a nice hillside beach where you can rent canoes or paddleboats, Arbraska (a tree climbing place), a bison farm with a store where you can buy bison meat, the beautiful Dorwin falls, a few nice restos, the best chocolate shop in all of Quebec called La Maison du Chocolat(lol I used to work there) a campground with swimming pool, etc. If you go let me know and we'll get together and make some Swedish food, my mom is from Sweden :D just put your mouse over Tourism under the Leisure and Culture tab for more info.

Kate said...

I think I'd ask my children (well, the ones who can talk, that is ;-) ) where they'd like to go best of all - where their favourite places are, including all the walls they like to clamber on and the flowers they like to smell. And then I'd pack a picnic and go there with them, seeing the place again through their eyes, as if for the first time.

MaryBeth said...

Just wanted to say I just stumbled on your blog (From Simple Mama)and am enjoying looking around. I enjoyed reading your story. I left sunny California just over 2 years ago to move to Alberta, to catch one certain husband, and put an end to our long distance relationship. (Yes to Alberta where it snowed on this lovely June morning...Yes he is totally worth it :) Looking forward to trying some of your recipes! MaryBeth

Aimée said...

Hi Tina- It's shameful how little I have traveled in my own province. Thanks for the suggestions--ice cream is always a good option!

Hi Chocolatesa- Thank you for the invitation! It sounds very idyllic. We have plans for some time out in the country, although I don't know how close we'll be to Rawdon.

Hi Kate- My 3yo would probably say the Jazz Festival and 'Monster Spectacle'. We'll be frequenting the former suggestion, for sure. Thanks for the suggestion!

Hi Marybeth- Welcome to UtHC! Sounds like a familiar story. Wow, snow, and here I'm complaining about rain...

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your 10 years!
You could go to the village of warwick, i think it is only 1 hr away from montreal, this weekend is their festival of cheese! i have never been, but always dream of it, one of these years!
jenn in niagara

Joshua Wimbush said...

cute post - have fun @ La Ronde!

Anonymous said...

Isle d'Orleans, or any time in Vieux Quebec City!

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