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A shop on rue Saint-Denis in the Plateau

Montréal is a truly beautiful city in the summer. In the winter? Well, the city becomes endowed with a damning amount of snow so we make most of what we’ve got during these gloomy months. But let’s get back to the summer season. Even though the daytime sun shows off European-inspired architecture and the well-kept gardens dotting the city, some might argue that Montréal becomes even more alive at night. And I’m not just pointing to the city’s famous adult entertainment — the city is so much more than being just the default Canadian getaway city for those celebrating the last of their bachelor(ette) days.

Some cases in point follow. An evening stroll reveals picturesque silhouettes of numerous steeples, vestiges of the city’s strong religious past. The city with the most number of restaurants per capita in Canada (and second in North America) brings fierce competition for diners, serving up excellent culinary experiences into the night. And of course the ongoing array of events jam-packed in the summer, such as Just for Laughs and Montréal Jazz Festival, keeps the city partying past your usual bedtime. It just happens that we took a few photos here and there during these warm months between sips of cocktails on a terrace. Here are a few images of some of the city’s summer evenings thus far, a small snapshot into the bustling summer nights in Montréal.

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Changing lights on the façade of Pavilion Judith-Jasmin at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
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Omma
177 rue Bernard Ouest
Montréal, Québec H2T 2K4
(514) 274-1464
www.restaurantomma.com

Since moving to Montréal a few years ago, I have accepted a few culinary facts about the city:
(1) The baguettes are always amazing
(2) “Vegetarian? No problem, we have fish!”
(3) The quality of Korean restaurants are dreadful

File this under complaint number 8,356 about the gaping hole of good ethnic eats in la belle province. Alas, I have come to terms with the lack of quality and authentic Korean restaurants in Montréal with heavy pangs in my heart. I get it, I was spoiled with an excellent array of Korean food during the first twenty years of my life as I grew up in the Toronto suburbs where a subpar Korean restaurant would never last more than a year. Torontonians, both those of Korean heritage and seasoned Korean food diners, demand some decency when grabbing Korean grub, whether it is Korean barbecue, KFC (aka Korean Fried Chicken), hipster Korean tacos, momofuku (or those inspired by the inventive Japanese-Korean fusion eating trend), late-night pork bone soup, or just a traditional eatery. See? So many different types of Korean restaurants are out there! Why not bring some good ones to Montréal, I ask?

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Dol sot Bibimbap (top) with sweetened hot sauce, Kimchi Combo side (middle), and Spicy Lamb or Agneau épicé (bottom)
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Just For Laughs Comedy Festival 2014
Métro Place-des-Arts
Montréal, Québec Canada
Wednesday July 9th to Monday July 28th 2014
Box Office: 1-888-244-3155
www.hahaha.com/en

Montréal’s annual comedy festival is back and flashbracket was there too to soak up the summer laughs. Every year, we try to see one or two shows, and this year we opted for The Ethnic Show hosted by Maz Jobrani and Date Night: The Relationship Show hosted by Godfrey. But you don’t need to buy tickets to partake in this summer festival favourite — head to Montréal’s Quartier des Spectacles at Place-des-arts metro and see the free outdoor stage events, spontaneous on-the-road magic and comedy acts, and a funk-playing bank dressed up as aliens (see picture below).

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Watching the live performances at Quartier des Spectacles at Place des Arts
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Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
(Montréal Jazz Festival)
Métro Place-des-Arts
Montréal, Québec Canada
June 26th to July 6th 2014
1-855-299-3378 (in North America)
www.montrealjazzfest.com

The last night of Montréal Jazz Festival, officially known as Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, closed on Sunday after eleven days of free and outdoor concert events, ticketed attractions, and lots and lots (and lots) of roaming spectators across the grounds at Place des Arts in Montréal.

The 35th edition of this annual summer festival did not disappoint. The lineup of free and outdoor, or ticketed (with fees) events included a range of artists that were not only rooted in jazz but meandered into the other usual genres such as pop, hip hop and rock. This year’s participants had heavy hitters such as Cassandra Wilson, Angélique Kidjo, Keith Jarrett, married couple Elvis Costello and Diana Krall (who performed individual events), Tony Bennett, Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, and Mulatu Astatke; Canadians Rufus Wainwright, Nikki Yanovsky, Coeur de Pirate, Barenaked Ladies, and Michael Bublé; and contemporaries represented by Snoop Dogg, Of Montreal, St. Vincent, frequent participant Ben Harper, Bonobo, and Deltron 3030 who closed the festival with a free outdoor concert.

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What does your Valentine’s Day sound like?

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays rife with confusion and controversy. Some of us like to call it “Another Hallmark Holiday” (said with a sigh), or Singles Awareness Day (accompanied by rolling eyes), and for others it is the day to take out all your cheese (fromage) reserves and lay it all down for your partner. Others shrug “meh” and I definitely fit into this category year after year, whether or not I have a date once the 14th of February rolls around.

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Here in Montréal many of the panhandlers are perfectly bilingual. Scrawled on ripped cardboard box parts, the signs read:

“J’ai faim. S’il vous plaît aider.
I am hungry. Please help.”

In the dead of the Québec winter they line the interior tunnels leading to the subway systems, or metro as we call it here in francophone Canada. Most are sleeping, some are drinking openly visible bottles of alcohol, others are slumped against a wall and staring vacantly into space. I have even seen some of them shooting heroin, not at all bothered by the sight of perturbed pedestrians in broad daylight.

I never spoke very much to any of these homeless people. I knew their lives were much more complicated than a simple summary could attempt and were often marred by drugs, mental health issues, and broken homes. I sometimes gave them food but never money as I have been afraid that my donation would serve as a vehicle to fulfill any addiction urges. Though many of the members of the homeless community in my cities of residence became familiar faces, I didn’t know them. I didn’t know anyone who was homeless. Until recently.

A week ago I was comfortably perched on a café stool, an overpriced pot of tea at my right, my books at my left, the view of my neighbourhood street ahead. My laptop was at the centre and my piano fingers were quickly tapping out some notes when a new email popped up in my inbox. It was from “Mike”, my ex-boyfriend. We had broken up many years ago.

Mike was sending me a barrage of emails after almost a year-long bout of silence. I had asked him not to contact me many times but, per usual, he circumscribed past the imaginary boundaries that I had erected between him and I. Mike pleaded for me to be his “friend” again. His emails were block letters, ellipses, and irregular grammar. He told me he was homeless.

***

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Happy Lunar New Year! The new year according to the lunar calendar is also known as “Chinese New Year” for those of us in English-speaking countries. Koreans, just like the Chinese, traditionally followed the lunar calendar before adopting the Gregorian calendar of the west, so we Koreans refer to the same horoscopes as the Chinese. For 2014, we celebrate the Year of the Horse, and apparently it is the year of the “Blue Horse” for this cycle. According to the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), the Blue Horse, unlike a regular horse horoscope character, comes around every 60 years. This is just as unique as the two other “special” horoscopes that I am aware of — The Golden Pig, which happens to be my dad, and the White Horse, which happens to be my sister.

The Lunar New Year is a very big event in Korea; it is considered the most important holiday of all, besides Chuseok or Korean Thanksgiving in the fall. And holidays in Korea mean family and food, not unlike the celebratory traditions of many other cultures. So what does my family do? We make a feast. But what do Korean people make at home to feed a crowd? I am the kind of person who asks my friends from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds what their families make at home, so I thought others may be interested in what the dinner table looks like for Korean-Canadian families. So here it is.

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“Kalbi” or barbecue short ribs

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