Pizza Saturday

My husband (aka Loverboy) and I love to eat out.  There are just certain foods that can’t be replicated at home; pizza is one of those foods. And so Loverboy and I found ourselves sitting at one of our favourite pizza joints this past Saturday. Now pizza is a meal that we  could possibly share, however we both like different toppings. I like bacon, green peppers and mushrooms (which Loverboy would never go for except when there are leftovers) and he likes the works ( which I would never go for, ever) so we each have to order our own.  I ordered a six inch (because I have a very small appetite, of course) and he ordered a nine inch because he doesn’t.

We were seated outside on the patio as it was a gorgeous day.  The sun was shining and the patio dining area was filling up quickly with people like us who obviously like restaurant style pizza better than what they can make at home from a box picked out of the freezer.  A restaurant is a great place to watch the comings and goings of the various diners.  Behind us were two men, obviously longtime friends, who were meeting up to have a drink and some pizza and share stories of the good old days.  Now I really wasn’t trying to eavesdrop – the tables were just very close together !  One of the men had his young son with him, a boy of about two or three years of age who was so well-behaved he deserved a medal, or a at least a free pizza (more on that later).

As the mother of two boys, who occasionally took them to restaurants, I know what I am talking about when I describe good behaviour because taking my children to restaurants was always a leap of faith.  My first born was actually very easy and eating out was a joy, however my second born was another story.   A restaurant was a venue just waiting to be explored, and then destroyed.  No linen went unsoiled, no drink unspilled!  It was always such fun and we learned quickly that the only restaurant safe for him was McDonalds.  (The washrooms there proved to be a bit of an issue but that is story for another day!). It was a whole lot less stressful because McDonalds caters to kids, there were no linens to wash and they had staff hovering around to pick up any messy spills.  As well, the price was also right!  When I see couples with an only child who behaves well in a restaurant, I can’t help but think to myself – “just wait you perfect parents until you have another – you will be replacing gourmet pizza with a cheeseburger and fry soon enough.”  If I see a couple with an only child who is not behaving, I telepathically suggest to them that McDonalds might be a better choice next time.

As we were waiting for our pizzas, a man, his face painted as a dog, entered the patio with his young daughter.  I actually had to look twice to be sure I was actually seeing what I was seeing.  It kind of made sense because the little girl had her face painted as a cat. I did make eye contact with the man once but looked away quickly when he gave me a look that said “I dare you to laugh!”  I really wouldn’t have laughed because first of all I wasn’t sure if he had all his shots, and secondly I was quite impressed with the lengths he would go to please his daughter.  Having your face painted like a dog and then going to a restaurant full of people takes a lot of chutzpah if you ask me.  You have to admire those parents who go the distance for their kids! I was left to wonder what his tattoo would look like when she grew old enough to get one, though.

Finally, the waitress served us our pizzas and she informed me that the cook had read her order incorrectly and had made me a nine inch pizza.  She graciously informed me that I would only be charged for a six inch, however.  Donnie’s eyes lit up, not because we were getting more for less, but because he knew I would not eat the whole nine inch which would mean leftovers for his midnight snack.  I have a habit of always leaving the last bite, the last slice, the last sip of anything when dining out.  Not sure why I do it but I think it is my way of saying I have a modicum of will-power. The pizza was delicious and I fought with myself to have one slice left over that the waitress promised to box up.  Just goes to show you that I am always thinking of Loverboy!

When it came time for the bill, the waitress came to the table looking rather chagrined.  She informed us that she had given our bill to the man with the little boy behind us, but that she had been able to rejig their bill so that we weren’t paying anything extra.  It was all a little confusing, especially because she handed me three bills – one for 44.80, one for 40.18 and one for 39.25.  When I looked at each one, I didn’t seen anything resembling our order and when I asked her which one was ours she gave me the one that said 44.80 which included a twelve inch pizza, a soft drink, two beer and a kids pizza. This was obviously the bill of the man whose little boy was very well behaved. Not sure why she gave me the other bills – maybe it was a test to see if I would choose the lowest one, I don’t know.  While I was looking at the bill for 44.80, probably with a very puzzled look on my face, the waitress suddenly grabbed it and the two other bills and said she would be right back.  When she did come back, she told me she had reentered our bill and handed me the updated bill that now said 34.18.  Wow, I saved ten bucks just by getting the correct bill!  And then I realized that the well-behaved young lad had actually gotten his pizza free because his father had paid for our bill which was ten dollars cheaper.  In the end, it was a just reward for the little guy’s good behaviour!  Not sure if the waitress had to make up the money but I made sure to give her a good tip so that it was a little easier to swallow.

After paying for our food, Loverboy and I headed out. He happily carried with him the boxed slice of pizza, dreaming of his midnight snack, while I happily reflected on the fact that I hadn’t paid the 44.80 for our lunch as I was all ready to do so.  It was a win all around!  As my father says, ” a penny saved, is a penny earned” and I think that counts in this situation even though I really didn’t save anything, but you get my drift!


We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Part IV (The Finale)

After a great night’s sleep, we were all able to rise fairly early to begin our last day in Montreal.  On the agenda was some shopping, some dining and a visit to the Just for Laughs Festival.  Fortified with Advil to counteract the chocolate martinis and wine from the night before, we  had breakfast and set out to tour the shops as we were sure there were sales to be had.

There is something about sales that makes me loose my mind. First of all, I can never find anything that fits – the size I need just never seems to be available and so I try on outfit after outfit with no success in saving money.  It is so frustrating as I want to save money!  I did end up buying a pair of casual black ankle pants but they cost me $75 so I not sure that counts as saving money!  The other ladies had more success with saving money than I did, so all was good.

We had lunch at a restaurant with an outdoor patio on St. Catherine’s Street which is always pleasant, except when bird poop is involved.  Poor Mon Shin was sitting there, minding her own business when she felt a wet plop on her arm.  Thinking it was starting to rain, she looked down expecting to see a water drop and discovered that instead, she had been the victim of an errant bird dropping.  Not fun, however Mon Shin is very chill and just casually shook it off her arm.  Later Peppermint Patty, who had ordered a salad, discovered something very similar in her salad – well as least she thought it was that though the waitress assured her it was just an old piece of lettuce.  She was gracious enough to exchange the salad though, just to be on the safe side.

That evening we headed down to the Places des Arts to take in some of the craziness of the Just for Laughs Festival.  As we were entering the site, we met up with the same man we had walked with the night before from the Queen concert.  What are the chances of that in a city of 1.7 million people?  After a brief reunion, we were on our way.  The site was very crowded and there were acts going on everywhere.  We stopped to watch a Disney-like parade of transvestites dressed up as Disney princesses.  It was interesting and I can assure you that I will not look at a Disney princess in the same way again.  After the parade passed by we did witness a rather disturbing encounter between two men. One man had his pants pulled down to his knees and he was arguing with the other man.  We watched horrified and looked around for security but there didn’t seem to be anyone around.  The two men stopped arguing, the pants were pulled up and they went their separate ways.  It was  very disturbing!  We saw the same two men later, doing the exact same thing and realized it was one of the acts that were happening on the site.  I guess good comedy is subjective!  After we had all the laughs we could take, we headed back to our hotel to pack up and get a good night’s sleep in preparation for our next stop, Quebec City.

The drive to Quebec City was pretty uneventful.  With the two GPS’ guiding us, we were able to avoid getting lost and made it to our hotel by early afternoon.  We headed out to tour around the Old City, popping in and out of shops, discovering more ways to save money along the way.  We noticed dark clouds forming in the sky so decided it would be wise to pick up a rain poncho, just in case.  For 2.99, we were able to buy some very sexy ponchos – you know, the ones that look like a giant garbage bag with a hood.  Now Peppermint Patty, ever the practical one, determined that a little rain wasn’t going to hurt her so she decided to forego spending the 2.99. We continued on our way and ended up sitting in some bleachers watching a busker perform some dangerous feats, juggling what looked like very sharp sabers while riding a unicycle.  He was pretty entertaining.  Of course, during the show, the skies opened, but with our sexy rain ponchos, we were able to stay and watch the show.  Peppermint Patty did get a little wet but it didn’t hurt her so all was good.

We took the Funiculaire down to the lower part of Old Quebec and continued touring around.  We discovered a little shop that sold cider and other goodies and so entered to take a look around.  At the same time, a group of young teachers from British Columbia also popped in and they asked the girls working there if they allowed taste tests.  We joined in and tasted the many different types of cider that they offered and to show our appreciation for those free tastes, we even each bought a bottle of our favourite cider.  No money saved there, but I am sure the cider will be a hit at some dinner party in the future.

Our final stop in Old Quebec as at Il Teatro, a lovely restaurant just outside the gates. Mon Shin and I arrived first and asked about seating for five.  The hostess told us it would be a 15-20 minute wait as the two tables set for five were taken.  Well, fifty minutes later we were still waiting for a seat and things went downhill from there.  I won’t go into the details because I already wrote about the experience on Trip Advisor so you can read my review there but we ended up being welcomed at another restaurant, Pizza D’Youville, where we had a delicious dinner.  All’s well that ends well!

We checked into our hotel later that evening and after a good night’s sleep began the long trek home.  I have mentioned that we were using two GPS systems to keep us on track but unfortunately, we got distracted by the Backyard Barbecue Chips, licorice and M and M’s and missed a turn off somewhere.   We only realized it when the four lane highway suddenly merged into two lane highway and the GPS (which we had silenced) was frantically telling us to make a U-turn.  It all ended well and after a lovely though smelly drive through the country, we made it back to the four lane highway and the road home.  The We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Tour was coming to an end and we had made some great memories that will not be forgotten because I wrote them down!  And we are really excited because ABBA is coming to Montreal next year so we can see a Dancing Queens Tour in our future.  Stay tuned!


We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Part II

Finally, after months of anticipating, we were finally in Montreal and that much closer to Queen and Adam Lambert.  Now, I do have to send out appreciation to my travel mates, The Woman, Peppermint Patty, Cinder and Mon Shin because they are not diehard Queen fans like I am and just came along because, well, Montreal is an awesome city to visit.  We decided that we would take a walk to Old Montreal to visit some famous landmarks and of course, do a bit of shopping along the way.  It was a beautiful day, a bit on the humid side, so our hair was pretty much standing on end when we finally reached Old Montreal, but it was worth it to have a chance to trip on the cobblestones that spread out before us.

Before you reach Old Montreal, you pass through China Town.  It’s an awesome community with many shops, some of which have interesting names.  Many of the shops actually sell the same goods – it is like you hit repeat every time you step inside one so I am not actually sure how anyone makes any money.  While we were strolling along, we noticed a large gathering in front of store called Pap Pap.  What was going on there?  Well, of course, you know where our minds went with that one – a two for one Pap test store just waiting for a photo op.  The large crowd was actually a tour group, however and they just happened to be regrouping in front of the store because Pap Pap is probably as easy a landmark to remember as any.

We finally reached Old Montreal after a few wrong turns – I was the leader but I have never claimed to have a strong sense of direction so you get what you pay for!  We strolled around visiting shops but then decided that we needed to eat something. We stopped in at La Cage Brasserie Sportive (remember that name as it will play out later in our adventure) and each of us ordered an appetizer that we would share.  We wanted to save room for the supper we planned to have before heading to Queen.  The Woman decided to order a Greek salad.  Now normally, she would hold off on the olives because she doesn’t really like them but the rest of the group said they would eat them. When the salad finally came, it looked suspiciously like a Caesar salad with olives.  Well low and behold, when the waitress came back, she looked at the salad and said, “That is not a Greek salad; that is a Caesar salad with olives.”.  I guess our powers of observation were right on target!  By the time The Woman got her Greek salad, we were done the other appetizers and had finished off the olives from the Caesar salad so we were all pretty full.

On our way back to our hotel we stopped off at the IGA to see if they had mini ice cream cones – the ones with the pointy bottom, not flat bottom.  Not sure why it mattered but Peppermint Patty prefers them when making her famous maple cones.  We have come to realize, however that they are apparently rarer than the Hope Diamond because we tried several other stores and could not find them.  Anyway, we did find out that the IGA was connected to a mall (bonus) and a liquor store (because what we brought with us was not enough) and so we did a little retail therapy, too.

Now as we were passing through the mall, we spotted one of those nifty photo booths and so decided that we had to take a photo of the five of us.  I am not sure if you have recently tried out a mall photo booth, but they seem to be a lot smaller than I remember and trying to cram five fifty-plus women into one was quite a feat.  We managed to contort our bodies enough so that our grimacing faces would be seen by the camera, put in our five dollars (last time I did this the cost was fifty cents) and screaming with laughter or pain or both, did four very interesting poses.  We were quite the spectacle and attracted some interesting looks from the other shoppers. The photos looked pretty good on the screen so we were quite excited to see the finished product.  Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t turn out – there were just lines on the little strip.  Not to be deterred, The Woman approached the mall info booth to see if there was a way to retrieve our photos.  They called the mall handyman who told us that he would be unable to retrieve our photos but that we could put the strip we had gotten into an envelop, mail it back to the company and they would refund our five dollars.  Oh well, who needs a picture anyway; the memory of our attempt is enough!

We continued shopping, each of us looking for particular items.  The Woman, who spends a lot of time at the gym, was on the search for some pretty athletic wear.  Looking good is a must when one is working up a sweat! As we were getting ready to leave the mall, she asked us to wait as there was one more sports store she wanted to try out upstairs.  When we got there it turned out to be the Le Cage Brasserie Sportive – an identical restaurant to the one we had eaten at in Old Montreal.  As I have said before, we only had one bilingual member of our group and it was not The Woman!  Laughing, we made our way back to our hotel to begin getting ready Queen and Adam Lambert!  It was going to be an epic night.

To Be Continued

We Are the Champions (Sort Of) Part I

What do you get when five fifty-plus women, whose nicknames range from The Woman to Peppermint Patty to Cinder to SuperQueen to Mon Shin, travel on a epic journey to see the one, the only Queen, minus Freddie Mercury (RIP), plus Adam Lambert (awesome replacement)?  Well, you get a little bit of rock and roll with some mayhem and madness thrown in for good measure, a lot of laughs and some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime (or at least as long as we remember them).

We had many crazy adventures that began in the small rural community of St. Hilaire, NB where were met up and loaded all of our gear into The Woman’s truck. Now no one can accuse us of traveling lightly (calorie wise or other) as Peppermint Patty, the cook of the bunch, had concocted a cheese cake, maple cones, and ginger cookies and we all had brought along assorted survival foods like M and Ms, jujubes, licorice and chips (assorted flavours) and dip.  Also included were several bottles of wine, some chocolate liquor and a large bottle of Grey Goose – you know, all the necessities needed for a grand adventure! With our suitcase bulging with enough clothes to ensure we were prepared for any wardrobe malfunction or clothing emergency, we hit the road to Quebec and our final destination, Montreal.

It wasn’t long before our decision to pack survival foods seemed like a pretty good one.  Stuck in a long line of traffic between Edmunston and Riviere du Loup due to an accident several miles up the road, we soon found ourselves following some other very smart drivers down a side road believing it would lead us away from what was promising to be a very long wait.  Shortly after, we left a roughly paved country lane and found ourselves traveling on a narrow dirt road, dust swirling around us, visibility limited.  With heavy shrubs and trees lining each side of the road, there was nothing to do but keep moving forward.  Suddenly the cars and transport truck ahead of us stopped and when the dust cleared we realized that we had not made it to the road, but were now stuck on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere with no idea how long we would be there.

No worries for us though because we had our survival food and set about laying out a feast that would have made a lumberjack cry.  I decided to offer some ginger cookies to the people in the car in front of us as they had been nice enough to take a picture of us to memorialize this part of our trip (thank goodness we have cameras on our phones as the pictures will help when our memories get fuzzy as well as provide plenty of jealous moments for our Facebook friends who had to work).  I had just re-zipped up the ziplock bag, when drivers began running to their cars and we heard that the line was moving.  Hurrying back to the truck, we threw the feast back into the bags and ran for our seats.  When Peppermint Patty hopped back into the front seat, she expressed concerned about the dip and questioned whether or not she had put it back into the cooler.  As a food safety advocate, she knows her food safety rules and was very concerned that we would be poisoned because of her carelessness.  We reassured her that if indeed the dip had not been placed in the cooler, we would be able to get new dip, free from salmonella poisoning, when we reached Montreal, so all was good.

The remainder of the trip was rather uneventful – well except for the little stop at the rest area.  We all had to use the bathroom and so pulled into one of Quebec’s best features, a road side rest area.  Of course, it was busy and there was a line up for the women’s bathroom.  This is a world wide problem that I don’t understand.  They can spend millions to put a man on the moon, but they can’t spring a few extra dollars to put some more toilets in women’s washrooms.  Boggles the mind!  Anyway, one of team (whose identity shall be protected) had to really go to the bathroom and so we suggested that she use the separate disabled one that was free.  When she came out a few minutes later, we still had not moved too far and the line up had grown.  A couple of older ladies, seeing our friend come out of the disabled washroom, decided they would use it too.  Unfortunately, when they opened the door, they fell back and exclaimed that it smelled really bad and that they couldn’t use it.  This was all done in French and so our teammate, who also has a limited French vocabulary didn’t understand what they said but our gal Cinder, who is bilingual did understand and she translated for us.  Well of course, we fell into hysterics while our friend who was standing a few feet away and could not hear what was said, stood there with a blank look on her face.  Too funny!

We got back on the highway and texted Mon Shin, who had flown to Montreal from Saskatchewan to assure her we would be in Montreal before nightfall.  With two GPS devices guiding the way, we made it to our hotel with only a few wrong turns and checked in.  The poor concierge loaded up all of our gear onto a cart and holding onto his back for some reason, limped to the elevators.  Since we couldn’t fit into one with him, we took our own and finally met up with Mon Shin.  As you can imagine it was an extremely loud and boisterous reunion and I am surprised we weren’t put out on the street then and there!  Our bags arrived, the concierge wisely giving us enough time to greet each other so that we would then remember to tip him. As he walked back to the elevator, I was pleased to see that the limp had been replaced with a little skip – it is amazing how a good tip can put a spring into your step!

Well, because it was well after seven o’clock and we had eaten virtually nothing except for some licorice because we had thrown all of the the rest of the food into the back of the truck and didn’t want to stop to get it out, we decided we needed to head out for supper.  When you go to Montreal, Reuben’s is kind of an obvious choice and so that is where we went.  With great food, a tall, dark, handsome and very funny waiter named Tolis and an opportunity to catch up, we had a great evening.  Tolis was kind of cool when he first began waiting on our table, but certainly warmed up to the crazy ladies that he had the great opportunity to serve!  He joked with us and teased us and even gave us the good napkins (usually reserved for dining) for the desserts which are usually served with small flimsy napkins.  We were obviously very special customers.  It was an enjoyable evening and I hope Tolis got to keep his job after we left because his manager didn’t really seem to appreciate that Tolis had supplied us with the expensive napkins when the cheap ones would have done the job.  We assured the manager on the way out that Tolis was a gem and he should keep him on staff even though he ignored his other customers because we were so much fun.  If the waiting stint doesn’t work out, Tolis told us that he is also a stand up comedian so with his good looks and acerbic wit, we know he will be successful in that career and we can say we knew him when!  It is safe to say, we also provided him with some new material for his routine!

We made our way back to our hotel for some more reminiscing and a good nights sleep in preparation for what promised would be a big day on Monday!  We had a king sized suite which included a bedroom with a king sized bed, a bedroom with a queen sized bed, a living room with a pull out couch, and a good sized kitchen so there was plenty of room for our survival food and drink and assorted clothing and footwear.  We did have to share one bathroom and The Woman wisely brought some deodorizing spray with her so that we could ensure we left the bathroom smelling lavendery fresh when we used it. By midnight, we were all snoring away, resting our bodies for our next adventure in Montreal.

(To Be Continued)