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City of Saints

As a Montreal ex-pat, there are many things about this city that I miss. Leaves rustling on the canopy of maple trees that drape Westmount Park. Riding the monorail at Expo 67. The view from Mount Royal. Shopping. Watching baseball at The Big "O". Sweltering on a late summer night, listening to the crickets compete with the traffic on the Metropolitan. Back in the day we couldn't afford air conditioning. Not every house had it installed like most do today.

By contrast, the winters could be bitterly cold. The blizzard of '71 dumped over 18 inches of snow on Montreal, a record broken only recently. The snow paralyzed the city. Nobody could drive anywhere. My father dragged a toboggan to the Dominion grocery store to get supplies for our family and our neighbours.

Of all the things I miss, Montreal cuisine is at the top of the list. Ribs at the Bar-B Barn. Orange Julep at that restaurant shaped like an orange ball off Decarie Boulevard. Piazza Tomaso. Ruby Foos. Smoked Meat. Pizza. I love you, Ottawa, you're my home now, but your pizza will never be as good, sorry. And more recently, friends introduced us to tomato pie. Also called 'Sicilian Tomato Pie'. There's an American version called 'Philly Tomato Pie', but I've only ever had it in Montreal. It's rectangular, the crust is thick like bread and the sauce is sweet and tangy. It can be served cold and it's great for parties.

I went looking for some Tomato Pie in Ottawa for my granddaughter's 2nd birthday party tomorrow, never believing I'd find it. My search ended in success at a small deli near Little Italy, a thirty minute drive from my house in the burbs. This is huge for me, to drive downtown for food. I rarely leave my suburban bubble. I must really be missing my first home.

I picked up some buns, cold cuts and cannoli, an Italian pastry. If you've never tried cannoli, you are missing out.

I will savor a piece of tomato pie tomorrow and the taste will bring me back to a magical time, when I lived in the City of Saints.

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