en plein air

Nancy and I spent a fascinating weekend in Montreal: a francophone enclave informed by an intriguing mélange of distinctly European and North American attitudes. Add to that a climate that would alarm most polar bears and you have the makings of a very interesting place.

Consider that most European pastime: taking coffee or tea at a cafe table bordering a piazza whence one watches the world pass by. Montreal offers any number of such venues only the majority are underground, punctuating the network of subterranean arcades that allow people to move through the city without braving the cold at street level. I sat at a wrought iron table ‘outside’ one of these cafes with a demitasse of very good coffee and watched the halogen world go about its business. The rhizomic network extends for miles in every direction, yet the ‘sky’ is no more than 15 feet above one’s head – a unique and disconcerting combination of claustrophobia and agoraphobia.

But for all that I was comforted that my coffee, hands and face remained warm long enough to read a fascinating article by an erudite and passionate Québécois on why the old adage about food and wine from the same terroir being perfect companions was in fact more often than not, not only wrong, but an injury to both cuisine and cellar in that region!

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