Sep 20 2002

Prelude to a grease bath…

Yesterday, at lunch time, Bink and I hopped on our bicycles and rode down to rue Notre-dame, into that nowhere zone where it intersects rue de la Montagne. greasyWe were in search of the the greasy spoon called something like Restaurant Bertrand, which is supposedly the only place left in Montreal that serves home made biére de l’epinette (spruce beer). We found it easily enough, as I had been there a couple of times before, back in the mid-90s.

It was my intention to make a guerrilla documentary about the excursion, but in the end I didn’t really have enough interesting pictures, so maybe I’ll just show a few of them here…

When we arrived, just moments before the lunchtime rush, there was a small table for (barely) three available out front. That was pretty good luck considering there are only three tables on the whole “terrace” (read: sidewalk). Inside there are a number of stools and counters, but no tables. I claimed the available table while Bink went in to get some biéres. He got three, because we were expecting a third party (Blink) to arrive at any minute.

frostyBlink arrived, and we ordered up a grease bath of burgers, fries, and “steamys.” The highlight of the meal was the biére de l’epinette, which was cool and refreshing, and not too sweet. It bears no resemblance to the fizzy so-called biére de l’epinette you sometimes find in grocery stores in two-litre bottles. That’s just biére de l’epinette-flavored soda pop.

This (the real stuff) comes in frosty-cold 500 ml bottles for a mere $1.50 — making it cheaper than water. If you go, go before noon, because by 12:05 there was a lineup outside the door, with a dozen or more people coveting our beers and burgers as they waited for their fix.

fuzzyAn interesting postscript… it turns out you can see this place from my office window. Mind you, it’s far away and you can barely tell what it is. I’m going to take my binoculars to work today to make a zoom lens for my camera and try to get an image, which I will post here later. Update: Here’s a picture of Restaurant Bertrand taken from my (former) office window. I held my digital camera up to the eyepiece on a pair of binoculars to make a poor man’s telephoto lens. Unfortunately it was a very hazy day, otherwise it would have been less fuzzy. On the plus side, there happened to be a big pointy finger hanging in the sky at the moment, and it happened to be pointing right at the restaurant…

The rest of the story…

In the meantime, my fabulous girlfriend was in far-away Sherbrooke, Quebec, working. She knew nothing of my greasy plan. That night at around 7 pm she and her colleagues arrived back in Montreal at the company’s offices. She hopped in a cab with a few other people to drive to Le Plateau where I was preparing a lovely dinner of chicken parmagiana and spinach-cheese tortellini with Blork’s famous homemade tomato sauce. She was very tired so she napped a bit during the ride. At one point, she lifted an eye and saw through the window a funky-looking greasy spoon restaurant, and she made a mental note along the lines of “This looks like the kind of place that Blork would like. I should tell him about it and maybe we’ll bike down here on the weekend.

An hour or so later, stuffed with parmigiana and pasta, I told her about my bike ride to biére de l’epinette heaven, and when I described the restaurant, her jaw dropped. Sure enough, it was the same place that she had seen when one eye opened for a moment during the cab ride home.

Of course no one ever believes these stories. I tell people about how M and I seem to have this kind of psychic connection where we both seem to think the same thing at the same time (frequently — I mean really frequently) but people generally dismiss it as the mutual cooing of people in love. But no, this goes back to the very beginning. One day, a few days after the night we first met, we each left a comment on the other’s blog at exactly the same moment! In both cases, it was the first time each had commented on the other’s. We’ve been wired together ever since…

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