Montreal Birthday Weekend

Honestly, I understand the sentiment, but what was the hotel thinking when they put a 20cm sparkler on my birthday cake? At midnight on Friday, my husband almost set the bed on fire, and no, I am not talking dirty on my blog. I mean literally, as in potential flames with smoke. Just back in our hotel room after a lovely bistro dinner, he lit the sparkler and it started spitting out sparks (erm, that’s what it is supposed to do, we realise that). Thankfully, Z quickly moved it to the table, averting a fire. Since we were too busy laughing our arses off, I forgot to make a wish, but the important bit is that we both ate a large chunk of that sludgy, dark chocolate cake with sweet, tart raspberry compote on the side. And that’s how our less-than-48hour-weekend began.

The weekend was full of sugary, airy, custard-rich pastries (mille feuille, a childhood fave of mine and Ami’s) with bowls of creamy café au lait and fragrant jasmine green tea for breakfast; brown butter sautéed chanterelles and fried eggs with wobbly yolks sitting atop toasted soda bread for brunch; crumpets with puddles of butter, slathered with berry jam; and rich, indulgent confit de canard and lamb sirloin with feta mousse at a local bistro for dinner.

Oh, and there was chocolate during tea-time. Lots of chocolate. Molten chocolate in brandy glasses at Juliette et Chocolate.

In between meals there were honey-licked, pillowy bagels at St. Viateur, where the gracious proprietors gifted the ‘Pakistani couple visiting Montreal from Toronto‘, a bag of bagels. The soft texture reminded me of sesame-flecked naans straight off the tandoor back home in Lahore.

All of this was interspersed with walks in the Mile-End; winter boots shopping (best waterproof boots, for those who don’t want to compromise on that sleek look); art gallery and museum hopping- don’t miss the John Currin exhibit -it was delightfully kitsch- or the Québécoise Triennale at the Contemporary Art Museum.

On our last night, we had dinner at a raucous, rustic-chic restaurant in the middle of Old Montreal. The food wasn’t as good as expected- sadly, my foie gras tasted like a slab of unsalted, tasteless butter and my medium-rare steak came out ‘well-done’ the first time, then ‘medium’ the next- (I ate it, nevertheless)- but the service was impeccable and the atmosphere truly unforgettable.

A huge thanks to my friends:  S, who writes this incredible Montreal-based blog and to Nadia, who knows everything there is to know about the bistro and cafe scene in Montreal.

But thank you most of all to my husband, Z, for organising a properly amazing trip to Montreal. After so much gluttony, it is back to egg white omelettess for weekday breakfasts.

Well, at least we have the black truffle salt and grainy bread from ACE Bakery to go with it. And on weekends, we can indulge in my husband’s farmer’s omelettes.



  1. Fabulous food photos from a city with an old reputation for dining and memorable nightlife – MONTREAL!

  2. Gorgeous photo essay! Did you leave old Mtl? A resto I love is called Cuisine & Dependence but it’s up in the north plateau. Quite a hike from OM. Not that I haven’t done it many times…

  3. the mushrooms on toast is just too much! i won’t be satisfied until i have the same.

  4. Just dreamy darling – a very Happy Birthday once again! xx

  5. Happy Birthday, Shayma! I love going to Montreal as I always leave feeling that I’ve just been to the next best thing to Paris. Looks like you hit all the best spots in town, you did a great job capturing it all on film (or a memory card as it were). Glad you averted disaster in the bedroom!

  6. Amazing photos, you’ve captured Montreal beautifully. I’m so glad you had a weekend to remember. We’re going to go this weekend and will hopefully try Lawrence for brunch.

    and many thanks for the mention, it was totally unnecessary. I was more than happy to help you. 🙂

  7. Shayma
    I have been reading your older posts for the last hour, the one filed under afghan and pakistani, sheer poetry. I have skipped work and given myself an hour to read through blogs only to be stuck here and it has been amazing. You should get a book published.

    Belated Happy B’day and you did have a super happy one

  8. What great pics! You have become a pro! Hope you got our card. Lots and lots of love. P&R

  9. Saadiya Saadat says:

    Bravo Sham…love your blog & pic’s:) xox

  10. What gorgeous photos! Glad you had such a beautiful birthday weekend!

  11. Happy Birthday, Spicey! Do I spy with my little eye wild mushrooms on top of that toast? YIIIIIIIIIIII!

  12. My darling you are toooo gooood! Love ya.

  13. happy birthday! love the post and love Montreal too! x

  14. Oh my goodness, I’m dreaming of visiting Montreal again after seeing your gorgeous pics! I’m so glad you had a wonderful birthday weekend and did not set the bed on fire! 😉

  15. Out of all the cities he lived in globally, Montréal was my son’s favorite by far. I have yet to visit. Looks like you had a wonderful time, great way to celebrate such a momentous occasion!

  16. Zahir Riaz says:

    Fantastic-as always. And a belated Happy Birthday.

  17. Love your photos and love Montreal! Happy Belated Birthday 🙂

  18. WOW!!! Wonderful shots 🙂

  19. Fantastic, fabulous, mind boggling the photos and the story to go with it. So how many pounds does one accumulate in less than 48 hours in Montreal? Love your story writing style….you made me live through the experience!

  20. Shayma, you make Montreal look like paradise on earth…….beautiful beautiful post. those matzoh’s look INCREDIBLE. Did you try one? Imen xx

  21. Happy Birthday S! All the best to you this fine year.

  22. Happy Birthday S!
    All the best to you this fine year.
    Beautiful pictures!

  23. Love your blog.. the pics are amazing!! you are truly a foodie.. I am loving all the amazing beautiful food pictured …and the description turns it irresistable.. being a foodie mysellf appreciate it like hell.. happy belated birthday.. I myself am a blogger and was thinking of suggesting your blog to the Pakistani blog community…hope you take the gesture well…and i am sure there are lots of ppl out there who would love reading your blog..

    take care

  24. Happy belated birthday, lovely Shayma! What wonderful photos of glorious Montreal—those chanterelles are mouth-watering!

  25. Sounds like paradise to me. Love the photos!

  26. You’re making drool with photos of delectable dishes. And the desserts too! I’ve never ever been to Montreal but it’s wonderful to be able to see it through your camera lens. Happy belated Birthday!

  27. Montreal will definitely be on my list of places to go. Those mushrooms on toast look delicious, that’s my breakfast sorted. GG

  28. Aamna Abbasi says:

    Dearest Shayma,

    What a wonderful blog I happened to stumble upon which is now firmly positioned in my favourites tab! You are a great inspiration and I hope to start blogging about Pakistani food and all of it’s wonderful influences soon from the UK.

    Good luck & may you continue to blog until the end of time.

  29. What beautiful photos! A belated Happy Birthday to you! I’m so jealous of your trip – Montreal is high on my wish list, especially with a very good friend of mine, who I rarely see these days, living there. I would die for that mille feuille right now…!

  30. Extraordinary photos of wonderful scenes and delicious looking plates of food. Thank you for this photo tour of lovely Montreal.

  31. just reading this shayma and great pics. montreal is one of our favorite cities – it is beautiful, the people are great, makes you feel like you are really AWAY from america for a moment, is easy to get to (for us east coasters) and the FOOD is fabulous. it’s a shame your final dining night had to end on a low note. i think if i was to live anywhere else in north america, it would definitely be montreal. i love it there!

    great weekend!

  32. I live in Montreal and reading this makes me fall in love all over again with my very own city!
    next time you are in town, be sure to check out ” au pain dore ” my absolute favourite!
    as well as “cocktail antabli” .. very different , very desserty and very yummy

  33. I came to your blog via PAB . What a wonderful site you have .I loved this particular post with its details is absolutely entrancing . As is the cake which is killing both me and my daughter very very softly !

  34. Chandrika Bhatt says:

    Hii, I enjoy cooking and reading food blogs, though havent yet started on my own..but I must say its been ages since I have come across a blog more “delicious” or fabulous which accurately resonates exactly how I would like to see, read and feel food and life expressed. It catches the exact flavour I feel. Kudos to you, Cheers:)

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