Montreal & Old Quebec 2016

For our 2016 trip, Nathan and I went to Quebec! It was my first time to Canada. Nathan and I stayed in Montreal for half the vacation, and then Old Quebec for the second half.

I never posted a blog about this trip because I had my wallet stolen in a grocery store parking lot. (To be fair, I’m the idiot who left it in the cart I had been using.) When I got home, I realized what I had done, but by the time I got back it was too late. Luckily for me, I received a letter from the store notifying me that they had my wallet. My phone was gone, but for some reason all my cash and cards were still intact. There was around $300 in there, and my phone was pretty old, so I couldn’t be that mad!

My point being that I had lost all my Canada photos. However, I’ve decided to blog about Quebec anyway, because it was a great trip and I want to be able to look back on something!

MONTREAL

Montreal is Quebec’s largest city. We stayed in a downtown area, at a centrally located Airbnb. There was a lot of construction going on at the time, and I think it had something to do with preparations for some sort of anniversary? Montreal has a mid to big city feel, but more relaxed. The amount of diversity of people is apparent, which I loved.

We were out a couple of late nights, and I noticed that the area we were staying at died down quite a lot. It’s not something I’m used to. I’ve always loved the more frenetic late night big city feel, like Gangnam in Seoul and Ximending in Taipei.

OLD QUEBEC

Old Quebec is very different from Montreal. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a historic neighborhood of Quebec City. It was a bit of a shock when we first drove into the area, going through their fortified city walls. It almost felt like a different country. We had a fantastically located Airbnb right on a busy strip, very close to Terrasse Dufferin and the St. Lawrence River. It was quite nice to sit out there at night and look over the water.

The city is incredibly tourist heavy and expensive to dine and play in. Jammed with eateries, there are plenty of options but be aware that it’s not cheap!

Old Quebec is certainly lovely. I had the most fun just walking around everywhere, exploring, checking out both Upper Town and Lower Town. The history and the sites make this place a must visit.

I loved both Montreal and Old Quebec, for very different reasons!

FOOD

I recently remembered that I had reviewed my favorite restaurant on Yelp after the trip, so these are pretty much the only food photos I have.

Un Thé au Sahara

SAMPLER PLATTER

We enjoyed the sampler platter but the spicy lamb sausage was easily the star of the plate. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it was amazing. That, along with the Lamb & Prune Tagine, were my favorite. I don’t eat lamb anymore but damn. So good.

LAMB & PRUNE TAGINE
LAMB & ARTICHOKE TAGINE

Listed below are other restaurants that were too good not to mention.

Montreal:

Le MajesThé – Fusion, Asian

Old Quebec:

Bello Ristorante – Italian

Chez Temporel – Cafe

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Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant

Ethiopian food is in my top three favorite foods of all time. I love Gojo’s, I love Little Africa, and yes, I love Gursha!

DORO WOT & VEGETARIAN PLATTER

I usually go for the vegetarian dishes but on this visit, we also tried the Doro Wot (chicken stew) which is pictured in the center of the platter. The sauce is amazing! At the time, Nathan surprised me by saying that it was life changing. (That’s an exaggeration, but it was something along those lines. I can’t remember exactly. ) As much as I liked the Doro Wot, I still preferred the vegetarian dishes. Miser Wot (red lentil stew) and Alicha (potatoes, cabbage and carrot..someone please correct me if I got the name wrong!) are my absolute favorite stews.

The service has always been friendly, albeit you may find yourself neglected at times.

Gursha is located in a strip mall on Kalamazoo Avenue. If you’re a fan of Ethiopian cuisine, definitely check out all three places that GR has to offer! They each have their strengths, weaknesses, and dishes that are the star of the show. Even their injera bread is different from each other!

Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine

Ethiopian food is easily one of my favorite types of cuisine. I went to a festival years ago that was held downtown in GR, and Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine was one of the vendors down there. That’s how I first tried Ethiopian food, and I immediately fell in love. However, the popular restaurant Little Africa became my go-to for African fare. Only recently I visited Gojo again, and I found out that there are new owners that took over the little restaurant in East Town. Gojo was good before, but you know what? After my two recent visits, this place has jumped to the top of my list; definitely not pushing Little Africa from its throne, but more so forcing room so that they can both sit comfortably in the same spot.

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VEGETARIAN PLATTER
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MY FAVORITES

The new owners at Gojo plan on changing the menu gradually, where you can choose what dishes you would like. Currently, they are still using the old menu where they don’t have individual sides as much as they have platters. Because of that, I don’t know all the names of the dishes that were served with the Vegetarian Platter I ordered, so I just circled the ones that I found to be absolutely delicious. Alicha, spicy green beans, salad with fresh jalapeno, beets, and stewed lentils. So good.

The new owners have been very friendly, just like the prior ones. So far it seems that the new menu will reflect lower prices; I feel like higher price points was a reoccurring complaint about the old menu, but that’s just what I gleaned from reading old reviews.

If you ever think about visiting Gojo again, or for the first time, I highly recommend it! They have plenty of meat dishes as well, like tibs wats and siga wats. If you’re going vegetarian and not knowledgeable about the names of dishes, like me, show them the photo above with the circles. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Freakin’ Fantastic Ethiopian Food at Little Africa.

One of my favorite cuisines is Ethiopian, and my favorite place to get it is at Little Africa. I believe that the owner of this small restaurant is the only one who works here as well. He makes the food, serves, cleans, and handles the money. This place doesn’t take credit cards, so make sure you have enough cash on hand.

Alicha and Ferfer platter.
Alicha and Ferfer platter.

Injera is a yeast risen flatbread. The texture is spongy, and the flavor is nice and and mildly sour, but not overwhelmingly so. You rip a piece of the injera and wrap it around dish you chose, so there is no silverware involved. The top is porous, so it’s good for scooping up Ethiopia’s massive array of incredible sauces with the vegetables or meat. At Little Africa your meal is served with a small bowl of water and something lightly pink so you can rinse your fingers.

Alicha is my favorite. It’s a fresh mix of saucy potatoes, cabbage, carrot, green peppers,  green beans, garlic and ginger.It sounds simple but it is truly outstanding. So flavorful, and also light. The Ferfer is made with onion, kale, garlic, tomato paste, and cayenne pepper. This one was bold and savory, and delicious as well. Heavier and more dense in texture, I loved that it was spicy.

Sweet tea.
Sweet tea.

I ordered tea but I’m not sure what kind it was. It reminded me of chai in aroma. It was very deep in color, thicker than many teas, and it was sweet as well. The spices were pleasant and lingered.

This restaurant is a must try in Grand Rapids. I think the prices are quite reasonable, and the owner is a fantastic cook and a welcoming and friendly man. The interior is very basic and plain, but I rarely care about that. With food this good, not much else matters.