Sep 30, 2009

Tonight: Fashion show kicks off POP Montreal's Puces POP!

by Fiona O'Connor
Today is the first day of the Pop Montreal International Music Festival. What started off in 2002 as the city's leading indie music festival has since grown into a multi-faceted celebration of independent creativity and expression from Montreal and beyond. Musical acts range from the local and obscure to the international and legendary, and this year's line-up is complimented by additional programming which includes a fashion show, a craft fair, film screenings, and a host of art exhibitions and symposiums.

One of the festival's inaugural events is The Annual Puces POP Fashion Show and Emerging Designers Award, which takes place at 8pm tonight at the festival's headquarters: Espace Reunion (6600 Hutchison, corner Beaubien).

"Made possible by Le Chateau, this juried show will feature the work of 6 hand-picked up-and-coming fashion designers, each presenting a 6 look mini-collection to a panel of judges working in the industry. The winner will receive a prize of $1000 as well as a $500 gift certificate from Le Chateau and a feature in Worn Fashion Journal. All attendees will be entered in a raffle for 2 gift certificates of $250 courtesy of Le Chateau as well as 2 subscriptions to Worn Fashion Journal. This event will serve double duty as the launch party for this year's Puces POP!"

Marilis Cardinal is one of Puces POP's organizers, and in a conversation today she expressed her excitement for the event, describing this year's featured designs as especially "well-made, well-tailored and original."

Puces POP is POP Montreal's Do-It-Yourself Festival and Arts and Crafts Fair and takes place during the last two days of the festival at the St. Michel Church Hall (October 3rd and 4th at 105 St-Viateur O.). The fair features over 100 local and international artists, craftspeople, designers and indie record labels, and is a weekend event not to be missed!

Sep 27, 2009

The New York Times spotlights Montreal's Plateau neighborhood

by Fiona O'Connor
Montreal is once again the topic of discussion in The New York Times' T Magazine, this time in a feature about the city's Plateau neighborhood. The piece, by David Godsall, looks at some of the "people, places and things" that make the Plateau, according to the NYTimes, "the city's center of cool." Here's an excerpt:

"Since the 1960s, the Plateau has been variously described as the Park Slope, Williamsburg and Greenwich Village of Montreal. But these few dozen blocks of colorful, crumbling walk-ups east of the mountain still manage to defy comparison, as the neighborhood’s influence on the city’s, even the nation’s, culture is entirely out of proportion with its size. The bars on Boulevard Saint-Laurent give rise to half of Canada’s noteworthy new bands every year — first Arcade Fire, then Wolf Parade and now Plants and Animals — and the kids that pack them any night of the week are among Canada’s chief arbiters of style."

Check out the feature here.

Sep 24, 2009

New music video from Montreal's Land Of Talk

by Fiona O'Connor
Montreal indie-rock darling Land Of Talk put out a new video this week for their song "The Man Who Breaks Things (Dark Shuffle)" which comes off of their first full-length album, Some Are Lakes, released last year. Directed by the band's bassist, Joseph Yarmush (also of Montreal's Kill The Lights and Zeroes), the video's retro feel and psychedelic stylings are a compliment to the haunting vocals of front-woman Elizabeth Powell, at the same time highlighting the singer-guitarist's seemingly timeless cuteness (and, not to mention, great bowl-cut.)

The video will be available on the trio's forthcoming "Fun and Laughter" EP, the release of which lines up with Land Of Talk's US West Coast tour slated for this fall. To get more info on tour dates, check out the band's website. And, just for good measure, listen to some more of their wonderful music:

Some Are Lakes, the title track from Land Of Talk's debut album.

Sep 18, 2009

Mestiza: Mexico's gift to Montreal

by Fiona O'Connor
Considering my appreciation for Mexican food, it's a wonder it took me so long to finally check out Mestiza, the gourmet and specialty food shop located at the corner of St-Zotique and de la Roche in Rosemont. While this neighborhood boasts a number of Mexican restaurants as well as many Latin American grocers, Mestiza stands out for its unique range of high-quality products, imported treats, and variety of food-related services. Moles, adobos (sauces), conserves, and spices are all prepared in-house, and when not serving as a high-end tienda, Mestiza is a neighborhood food-academy, offering workshops on Mexican cuisine and special tasting evenings.

And, just in case you feel the need to test Mestiza's Mexican authenticity, I suggest dropping in for brunch, served exclusively on Saturdays and Sundays. For a price on par with that of many of the more popular (in the Spanish sense) Mexican joints in the area, Mestiza's small weekend menu offers a perfect number of traditional dishes to choose from. Try the chilaquiles (crispy tortilla chips laden with green salsa, chicken, cheese, sour cream and beans, served with a salad) for $5.50, the tacos de cochinita pibil (marinated porc tacos) for $6.50, or a classic tamal for $3.00 (I recommend the chicken and mole). While there are still a number of menu items I'd like to sample, my next visit will be dedicated to dessert: cheese and tequila tart ($2.00) and a hot cup of cinnamon-y sweet cafe de, how do you say...Si por favor?!

Pretty in pink: Mestiza's fine foodstuffs in their tasteful displays.
Oaxacan hot chocolate: winter won't be so bad with the help of this southern specialty...

Mestiza. Address: 6699 de la Roche. Tel.: 514 670 6997. Email:

Sep 14, 2009

Neighborhood nosh: a few Montreal restaurant tips

by Fiona O'Connor
With all that's been going on in the world of visual arts recently, I'm feeling a little guilty for not keeping you up to speed on the Montreal food front. After all, the city has at least as much, if not more to offer in terms of culinary diversity as it does art, often making the decision of what to eat and where seem overwhelming.

I myself was confronted with this dilemma the other night, when the inspiration to cook lost out in the battle against post-Saturday lethargy (aka the hangover), and I was forced to choose among the copious array of restaurants, both cheap and delicious, available in and around my Little Italy/Rosemont neighbourhood. Do I walk 3 minutes up to St-Zotique for some Salvadorian pupusas and a pitcher of horchata from the popular La Carreta? Or do I stick to my default merguez sandwich from my closest chicken joint, the curiously-spelled Poyo Loco on Beaubien?

In the end, it was my hankering for sweet and spicy comforts that was rewarded with a classic chana masala, a hearty butter chicken and perfectly puffed naan from Punjab Palace, one of the many Indian restaurants located on Jean-Talon in Parc-Extension (Parc-Ex). Though my dining companion and I had first set our sights on the celebrated Bombay Mahal, when we arrived to find the kitchen had just closed we weren't hard-pressed to find a satisfying alternative. With its Greek heritage and myriad immigrant communities - African, Latin American, Caribbean and South Asian among them - Parc-Ex is considered the city's most culturally-diverse neighborhood. One of its main commercial thoroughfares, Jean-Talon reflects this diversity in its abundant restaurants, clothing shops, deps, and beauty salons.

Deps done right: a Jean-Talon corner store adds legumes in bulk to its typical sundry stock... well as a smorgasbord of sweets!

Sep 11, 2009

Shucking for a cause: first annual Montreal Oysterfest this Sunday

by Fiona O'Connor
Montreal's first annual Oysterfest takes place this Sunday, September 13th at The Pigeon Hole, corner of Notre Dame and St-Jean streets in Old Montreal. The event, spearheaded by Daniel Notkin of the super-hot L'Orignal restaurant, will feature a variety of oysters as well as specially-prepared dishes from some of the city's top chefs. Montreal restaurant critic Lesley Chesterman says today in The Gazette that "From 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. participants who spring for the $65 (for two) advance tables can also enjoy food prepared by the oyster-lovin' chefs from L'Orignal, Garde-Manger, DNA, Burgundy Lion, The Claremont Café and The Nelligan Group. I'm told a crew from Joe Beef will be serving barbecued pulled pork sandwiches, Kool-Aid pickles, coleslaw, and Jägermeister shots. Wow."

For more information on the event, and the environmental cause it supports, check out Lesley Chesterman's write-up or join the O Oysters Facebook group.

Sep 8, 2009

Art and Design Montreal at the SAT

by Fiona O'Connor
Between Le Mois de la Photo, the World Press Photo Exhibit and its two accompanying shows, La Foire de l'Image and Anthropographia, it seems like every gallery in town is dedicating its wall space to the photographic medium this month.

Well, there's another one to add to the list: the multi-faceted and über-chic Art & Design Montreal is hosting an exhibition this Friday, September 11th at the SAT, Montreal's premier transdisciplinary digital arts centre/enormous party venue. Featuring a slew of photographers and- you guessed it- artists and designers, the exhibit serves to create a bridge between the commercial practice and artistic vocations of those whose work is featured.

Drinks will be served, haircuts will be asymmetrical, and an interesting mix of pictures and shapes is guaranteed. Admission is $15. The SAT is at 1195 St-Laurent Blvd.

Sep 3, 2009

World Press Photo in Montreal

by Fiona O'Connor
The World Press Photo exhibition is one of the events I most look forward to every year. Usually hitting Montreal in September, the touring collection of winning images from the organization's photo contest showcases the best in photojournalism from around the globe. True to its form, the annual exhibition exposes, informs and inspires, offering artful reflections of the world we live in. The World Press Photo Exhibition runs from September 4th to October 4th at Montreal's Just For Laughs museum (Musée Juste Pour Rire) at 2111 St-Laurent Blvd. Visiting hours from 11am to 8pm daily; 11am to midnight on Thursdays.

Above: the World Press' Photo of the Year (2008) by Anthony Suau captures the grim reality of the American mortgage crisis. Shot in Cleveland, Ohio for Time Magazine.

Callie Shell's image of the First Couple, shot for Time Magazine, won 1st prize in contest's People in the News category.
Brazilian Luiz Vasconcelos' image of a female squatter resisting eviction in the state of Amazonas, Brazil won 1st prize in the General News category.

For more information on the exhibition at Just For Laughs, click here. To learn more about the World Press Photo organization, click here. Also, stay tuned for more on another major Montreal photo event, Le Mois de la Photo à Montreal , taking place from September 1oth to October 11th.