In 2001, I was living and working in Hollywood.
Due to my multilingual capabilities, I was dispatched to attend the World Film Festival in Montreal that year. Arriving late in the evening, I met up with my counterparts, a group of foreign filmmakers with a hearty appetite. As they spoke neither French nor English, I was their meal ticket.
Into cabs we piled, directed to l’Express, Montreal’s French bistro du jour on the rue St. Denis.
We arrived to tiled floors, a zinc-lined bar, hand-written menus, and a packed house nearing midnight. Jars of cornichons sat atop each table – a self-serve snack with mustard on the side.
It could have been Paris.
Meat. They loved meat. So, I ordered a mess of steak tartares and steak frites.
Fat, they loved fat, so we had paté, foie gras, and bone marrow as well. They inhaled it all.
I had rongnon de veau, coated in a creamy mustard sauce and a plate of cheese.
Dessert? They couldn’t manage. Neither could I. Back into cabs we went.
The next morning, I went for a long run to work off my excesses from the night before. Yet, even as I set out, I realized that I was running towards food.
St. Viateur Bagels is legendary. The original bakery on St. Viateur West is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. At 6:30 a.m. there was already a small queue forming.
Fresh bagels seemed to tumble out of the oven by the dozens into a long chute to cool. With a fairly good run back, I shouldn’t have eaten. But I couldn’t resist the intoxicating smell of the warm, sesame dough. I bought half a dozen, split one and ate half of it with schmear. It was very good, the right amount of chew and heft.
I hauled the rest back with me to the hotel.
When I got back, there was an envelope waiting for me at the front desk. Inside was a press pass to an interview with Sophia Loren. I showered, changed, ate the other half of my bagel, grabbed my camera and an extra roll of film and headed over to the film festival venue.
There, I took this photo of Sophie Loren.
She was absolutely charming.