Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Anthony Bourdain's The Layover features Montreal (sans poutine)

Montreal restaurant. Photo by Sue Frause.

As much as I was looking forward to Anthony Bourdain's new show on the Travel Channel titled The Layover, I was somewhat disappointed. As a fan of Bourdain's No Reservations, I had high hopes, but so far I've been underwhelmed. In fact on Twitter, after watching the Montreal installment on Boxing Day, I tweeted: "The Layover has a snarkier tone than No Reservations (e.g. Montreal). A weird edge that isn't part of NR. Wazzup?" So far during its debut season, Tony has spent six layovers in Singapore, New York, Rome, Miami, Hong Kong and Montreal.

I've been to Montreal at least a half a dozen times, and Bourdain is right when he says that "Montreal is a chef town." It has great restos (as they're called in Quebec, so much easier than saying restaurants), and is a city known for its food. When Gourmet magazine was still in print, they devoted their March 2006 issue to the food of Montreal. The tourism peeps were ecstatic.

One thing I do like about The Layover is the locals that they interview, who give tips on everything from how to kiss correctly in Montreal to saying thank-you (the Americans and English say merci way too often!). And I always find out things, like the fact that food trucks are banned in Montreal. Who knew?

The other thing I like about The Layover is all the information that's on the website, plus video clips. So if you don't wanna sit through Bourdain's outbursts of how he needs to take a dump or the F bombs that he hurls around the globe (like when he's driving around in the back of a pick-up truck with a bunch of drunk chefs), it's an easy way to get a taste of the show without overdosing on the high carb, high calorie, hour-long episode.

I was pleased that I'd been to some of the Montreal spots he mentioned in the episode: Marche Jean-Talon (farmers' market); St. Viateur Bagel & Cafe; L'Express; and Schwartz's. But there are plenty of other places I need to experience, so I'll bring along this list next time I'm in Montreal. And don't forget, the foodie friendly town was on Will and Kate's Royal Tour of Canada this past summer. Bon Appetit!