Modern Mississauga is in Montreal for three days to experience the renowned Montréal International Jazz festival along with Brigitte Hasbron from The Food Tease. In this three-part series, we’ll be sharing our experiences with you.
Like the old saying goes, to know a city or country one must eat the food of the locals. And I couldn't agree more with that statement and it applied so perfectly for when Modern Mississauga and I took part in one of Montreal's walking food tours.
Our food tour, aptly called the Flavour of Montreal South, is a tour full of cultural and historical tidbits that help explain the multi-diverse ethnicity that Montreal has. It is with this diversity that food lovers can enjoy the wide range of culinary delights that the communities in Montreal South have, some in which we were happy to try during our tour.
Our very knowledgeable and hospitable guide, Micheline, provided the small tour of seven hungry guests (a blend of Americans and Canadians) interesting historical tidbits pertaining to the cultural communities surrounding Montreal South. During our tour we had a mini worldly excursion as we were able to sample both culinary treats and some beverages from Chinatown, the old Portuguese and Jewish district's and the infamous Montreal red light district.
Part of the charm of this walking tour is the fact that it takes you inside mom & pop shops, delis, ethnic stores and specialty shops all the while seeing some of Montreal landmarks as you fill your tummy with yumminess! You not only learn the history behind the establishments, but the significance behind some of the culinary gems that have been deemed famous today.
Participants in our walking group enjoyed the East meets West melange of culture and tasty offerings. From Chinatown, we went to visit and sample where they actually make a wide range of products, one being the famous Chinese Fortune cookies to sampling herbal teas from My Cup of Tea, a Chinese specialty store with a plethora of flavours to discover.
We also sampled a Viatnamese signature item, know as the Bánh mì sandwich. Bánh mì's literal translation is "bread" and it's filled with one or more meats, accompanying vegetables, and condiments. The one we had was filled with chicken, carrots, lettuce and daikon radish, and it certainly had a good taste to it.
Westward, we had the opportunity of eating some Spanish (Murica al Vino) goat milk cheese aged in wine with quince paste from Librarie espangnol, some Hungarian sausages from a local deli and the tastiest egg pastry, called pasteis de nata from Les anges gourmets, a Portugese bakery. Now going on a food tour in Montreal, one must stop and have a smoked meat sandwhich where it has been labelled as a Montreal institution, Schwartz's. But it wasn't just a smoked meat sandwich, it was a sandwich married with a huge pickle and their signature accompaniment, a can of cherry Cola to wash down the goodness. Oh, but we can't leave out the dish that is synonymous with Montreal food. The ooey gooey yumminess of a Montreal poutine was eagerly devoured by the group from the legendary Pool Room.
With the weather on our side, the almost three hour walking tour was a perfect way to enjoy the diverse food offerings that Montreal is known for.
And now, on to the musical side of things!
One of our absolute favourite concerts during our trip was experiencing Misses Satchmo, a Quebec based sextet that's nearly a decade old, that blends the signature New Orleans jazz flavour with a healthy helping of Louis Armstrong, while sprinkling it a strong and charismatic front-woman in Lysandre Champagne, who takes care of vocals and trumpet duties.
Their gig at the Astral was a quaint event and all in attendance (I'll ballpark it at about 150 in total) were toe-tapping and head-bobbing throughout their set.
The musicianship was absolutely incredible, with each member being given a chance to show off their chops with brilliant solos, including the drummers whistling solo!
Finely balancing the musical dynamic between faster, upbeat tunes and delicate slower numbers, Satchmo's intricacies amongst each other played beautifully through every song.
There have been a few iterations of the lineup over the years but it looks like they've found the right recipe with their current setup, seeing as they fed extremely well off each other during the JazzFest.
With a full head of steam, this jazz band will be lighting up stages and dazzling audiences for many years to come and I absolutely insist you make the best effort possible to check them out live.
Check them out online as well!
This lovely lady from across the pond has been churning out hits for more than a decade after quickly rising to fame with several awards including a Brit and Grammy award. Her silky smooth yet powerful, unique voice had the audience amazed at every tune. As she's more of an upbeat songstress, Stone happily admitted that she rarely gets the chance to perform her softer songs and that the 2017 JazzFest was a great outlet for her to do so.
Her mezzo-soprano and contralto singing style wowed the audience, as was evident through the roaring applause after each tune.
She interacted with the audience and shared a personal story of how her mum was pregnant with her and attended a Melissa Etheridge concert...talk about things coming full circle!
Stone's soaring vocals, filled the venue perfectly and her band expertly filled in the gaps for her.
The way she performed The Look of Love, Landlord, Stuck On You, Victim Of A Foolish Heart and others were mesmerizing and it's hard to believe that someone who's so young is so accomplished and talented.
My favourite tune was her exciting and powerful version of "Son of a Preacher Man" as her closer, which was the perfect set up to Melissa Etheridge.
She even (gently) tossed about a dozen flowers to audience members at the end of her show!
One of my favourite singer songwriters is Melissa Etheridge. Why? Well, when I was in my teens during the 90's and learning to play guitar and understand songwriting, she was a huge presence on the radio and television. She just kept churning out hit after hit. And those vocals...those gritty, strong, powerful, unmistakable and instantly noticeable vocals. It's remarkable how her singing voice is still as enchanting as it was nearly 30 years ago.
She's changed gears a bit, focusing her current album, called "Memphis Rock and Soul", on the R&B, horn-section-heavy side of things paying homage to the artists on Stax Records, which she nicely blended into her set.
Featuring two talented backing vocalists, a three-person horn section, drummer and keyboardist/guitarist, Etheridge's support was very strong, allowing her to focus on wowing the audience.
And how did she do that? Through moving across the stage to pay attention to all 180 degrees worth of audience. By sharing stories with the audience between every song. By engaging with the audience. Simply put, this gal is an expert at holding the audience in her hands.
Etheridge has taken over the role of lead guitarist lately and she went through about a dozen guitar changes throughout her nearly 2 hour long set.
Yes, she played her classic hits "I want to come over" "I'm the only one" "Bring me some water" and "Like the way I do" all of which got raucous ovations and had nearly everyone singing along. She mixed in some tunes off her new album as well, which were well received.
A touching moment came when she explained that her first meeting/performance with Stone was in 2005 at the Grammy's when Etheridge (who was recovering from breast cancer) was asked to play Janis Joplin's "Piece of my heart" alongside Stone and how impressed she was with the young Brit. It was only fitting that the first encore tune was "Piece of my heart" played with Stone to a deafening audience. It could very well be in my top 10 for best concert moments ever!
Etheridge even showed off her drum chops with a small drum solo near the end of the show, which shows her versatility as a musician.
With over 30 years of rocking and rolling, experiencing her at the Montreal JazzFest was a wonderful moment that will stay with me forever.
Read about our day 1 here: https://www.modernmississauga.com/main/2017/7/4/experiencing-the-montreal-international-jazzfest-day-1
Read about our day 2 here: https://www.modernmississauga.com/main/2017/7/5/experiencing-the-montreal-international-jazzfest-day-2