Heat waves in the East are nothing compared to the couple of hot days a summer that the drier side of western Canada gets (this coming from a born-and-raised Calgarian who recently transplanted to Quebec during a heat wave). In Montreal, when the temperature surpasses 30 C and feels more like 40 C with the humidity, there’s nothing you want to do more than stand in front of the A/C and embrace the frigidly cool air it outputs. However, an even better method of lowering your internal body temperature is to eat and drink all of the freezing cold things you can get your hands on. So here’s what to do.
Get some wine – preferably a chilled white or rose
Obtaining wine in Quebec is as easy as breathing. You can get it at the grocery store, or a traditional liquor store, plus you can even bring it to certain BYOB restaurants (sans corkage fee!). You do have some hard decisions to make when deciding how you are going to cool off, however.
First of all, how grimy, sweaty, and disgusting are you currently? If the answer is “so much so that I probably shouldn't be seen in public”, then I would suggest picking up a bottle to bring home. However, if you feel presentable enough, pick up that same bottle and take it to dinner. Where should you go? Duluth Street has plenty of options, one of which is Khyber Pass, where it serves delicious Afghani food. Terrasse Lafayette in the Plateau is also a great option if you are on a budget but still want good food and huge portions.
Whatever you do, and wherever you are, please for the love of God, choose something crisp– no one wants a tepid red when it is scorching out!
Get yourself an ice cold cocktail, ASAP
If wine isn’t your poison, go find yourself a well-made cocktail instead. The Abokado at Biiru is a dangerous beast. Made with avocado, cachaça (the Brazilian spirit distilled from sugarcane that is also commonly found in caipirinhas), yuzu and lime juice, this drink is refreshing and tart. You might even forget that you are melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West.
Try its mushroom okonomiyaki while you are at it, a savoury pancake with cabbage, drizzled with liberal amounts of Japanese mayo and a Worcestershire-hoisin-like sauce. Alternatively, Biiru’s sister restaurant. Escondite, which specializes in Mexican-style small plates also does some wicked cocktails. Go for a classic Michelada with beer and Clamato, or class it up with its “El Chingón”, made from bourbon, chamoy syrup and lime. It goes down smooth, maybe a tad too smooth, and yes, I’m speaking from experience here.
Grab an iced latte or tea-based bevvy
For a non-alcoholic solution, iced coffee can always come to the rescue, not to mention it does double-duty of cooling you down and energizing you for the day ahead. Café Parvis has you covered if you are in need of a cool, caffeinated beverage, and as a bonus, it has some killer sweets to provide a decent sugar high as well. Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. Ever. Go see for yourself.
Café Myriade also has a myriad of coffee based-drinks to kick start your day. The iced mocha is made with thick, European-style hot chocolate, rather than the common chocolate syrup, so it has the most voluptuous viscosity, pleasantly coating your tongue with a mix of melted chocolate to round out the bitter coffee. Plus, it’s cold. Cold is good when it’s this hot out.
Scream at the top of your lungs for ice cream!
Of course, ice cream is one of the best ways to get you out of your over-heated, miserable funk. So, where should you go to get the best ice cream in Montreal? Pizzeria Gema (recently nominated for enRoute magazine’s Best New Restaurants in Canada list) offers frozen custard in vanilla bean, custard, or swirl flavours, complete with toppings like chocolate sauce, fruit coulis and roasted nuts. Bilboquet also has a plethora of flavours available at various locations around Montreal.
Frankly, all you have to do is walk around the downtown area and you’ll be sure to find a creperie, gelateria or related frozen treat shop to cool you off in a jiffy!