In the summer of 2015 I had the opportunity to take a trip to my mother's native country and it changed my life. I am half Portuguese, I grew up attending Portuguese school every Saturday, my Sundays consisted of going to Santa Cruz church in the plateau and I have been addicted to 'pasteis de nata' ever since I could remember. I have always felt very Portuguese even though I had never actually had the opportunity to go to the place I always wished to call my home. I expected to see beautiful architecture and beaches, I expected the good food and friendly people, but I did not expect for it to change my life the way it did, and this is why...
Portugal's beauty is overwhelming; the colourful and vintage european architecture blends in with the exotic beauty of the beaches, and the combination is spectacular. When I went to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, I was stunned at just how modern it was but rustic and vintage at the same time. Nothing compares to walks through the little alleys, the smell of Portuguese cooking, the loud laughter and great music; Lisbon will sweep you off your feet, you'll never want to leave – I certainly didn't.
Just like most places in Europe, I expected to eat a lot and pay a lot, but in Portugal, you eat so much and pay so little! It's every 'foodies' paradise. Being born and raised in Montreal, I thought I had a solid idea of what good food tasted like. Boy was I ever wrong! I don't think I had one bad meal during my 3 week vacation, and I camped for 4 days at a music festival in Zambujeira Do Mar... who knew festival food could be so good? I also thought the club scene on boulevard St-Laurent showed me a good time, until I went to Buzios, a club on Praia Da Rocha beach. A typical "night" out in Portugal looks a little like this:
11pm-2am: goes to multiple bars; 2am-6am: goes to a club; 6am-12pm: goes to an after party.
It's totally insane, Portuguese people party HARD. I also went to a music festival called MEO Sudoeste and met people from all across Europe, the 'joie de vivre' in this country is astonishing.
I had the opportunity to go to the bakery where they invented the famous 'pastel de nata' and it was life changing. I actually died and came back to life with every bite. Pasteis de Belèm. Write that down, thank me later.
I was blown away by the rich culture and history, beautiful architecture and beaches, great food, friendly people and crazy party scene that makes this country one of a kind. When people plan trips to Europe, they often leave Portugal off their list, and I genuinely think that it's the biggest mistake you could possibly make. Portugal has that element of 'je ne sais quoi', it was love at first sight. It changed my life, it could change yours too.
Boucherie Slovenia, a boulevard Saint-Laurent institution for 50 years, will soon serve its last spicy sausage.
The iconic home of enormous Eastern European-style sandwiches — Slovenian sausage and towering cold-cuts were staples — will close its doors forever on January 29, said the owners, Lourdes Rodrigues and Jean Teixeira, in a Facebook post.
"Thank you to all our loyal customers, for the wonderful years," they said.
With a menu overflowing with huge, yet affordable, meat and mustard sandwiches — sauerkraut, pickles and Cherry Cokes were also standard — Boucherie Slovenia is the latest of the Main's iconic old-school institutions to close.
The beloved Moishes steakhouse announced its closure under the strain of the pandemic in the summer of 2020.
The Boucherie Slovenia Facebook post asks readers to share their memories of the restaurant and butcher shop, with many offering childhood stories of visiting for a pepperette sandwich or their "underrated" smoked meat, which is "the best in the city," according to one commenter.
Many apparent long-time customers said they wouldn't know where to go to find dishes comparable to Boucherie Slovenia's treasured menu items.
Others remarked on how yet another classic Montreal restaurant is closing its doors. "Nothing replaces these fantastic old shops," said one person. "It's a loss. The rich character of the boulevard is disappearing."
Montreal is certainly no stranger to a traffic jam, which makes taking public transit a more viable option to not only get around faster but do more good for the environment.
As Canadian cities take the initiative to improve their transit systems and reduce their carbon footprints, Montreal has become one of the country's greenest metropolitan areas when it comes to transport, according to one ranking.
A December report from Kijiji Autos analyzed green transport options in Canada's most populated cities, evaluating their use of electric cars, bikes, scooters, and the number of electric charging stations.
With its metro and bus systems, BIXI rentals, bike lanes, and availability of electric cars, Montreal found itself in third place among Canadian cities that offer the greenest transport with a score of 5.5/10.
Although Vancouver and Ottawa/Gatineau snagged the top two spots, Montreal takes the lead as the most bicycle-friendly city in all of North America, with a total of 2,163 bicycle paths, says the Copenhagenize Index.
Montreal's third-place ranking is encouraging news, said McGill University Assistant Professor of Geography, Grant McKenzie, who specifically boasted about Montreal's metro system, "especially compared to other Canadian cities," as well as its "substantial investment towards electric buses."
While McKenzie said "we can always do better" and bemoaned the city's ban on e-scooters, he called the popularity of the BIXI and the inclusion of electric bikes in its fleet an "excellent move in the right direction."
As for electric cars, Kijiji Autos looked at new registrations of electric vehicles in the first quarter of 2021, as well as total charging stations. Montreal landed second to Toronto with a total of 3,633 new registered electric cars, and 1,258 electric charging stations throughout the city.
Kijiji Autos also looked at the number of hybrids and electric vehicles for sale on their platform. Montreal led the way with 1,063 hybrid vehicles and 375 electric vehicles, states the report.
With the province of Quebec offering residents a rebate for the purchase or lease of electric cars, Quebec estimates that there will be 1.5 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.
Women will lead five of Quebec's eight largest cities following the 2021 municipal elections.
The biggest headline of the night may have been Valérie Plante's triumph over old foe Denis Coderre in Montreal, but across the province, the faces of municipal politics have become more gender-balanced.
According to the latest counts and projections, France Bélisle (Gatineau), Catherine Fournier (Longueuil), Évelyne Beaudin (Sherbrooke) and Julie Dufour (Saguenay) are all also on their way to their respective (and figurative) city hall corner offices.
In Quebec City, it seemed for a while like Marie-Josée Savard would join them. Multiple outlets had even called the election for her until the vote count for her opponent surged into the evening. Bruno Marchand ultimately claimed victory.
Mayor Plante commented on the historic nature of her second mandate in her victory speech Sunday night.
"Four years ago, Montrealers elected the first woman mayor in the history of the City of Montreal," she said.
"Tonight, they told us again, 'yes, this mayor, we're going to continue to work with her, we trust her!'"
This year, for the first time, Montrealers will have two women leading the city, as Projet Montréal's Dominique Ollivier is set to take over as president of the Executive Committee.
The government is in the process of filling a Service Canada job bank and it's advertising salaries of between $61,152 and $65,887.
On an online recruitment page, the Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) office says it needs to fill 45 benefits officer and program officer positions in Quebec and encourages qualified individuals to apply.
The only education requirement is a high school diploma.
While benefits officers review and process employment insurance applications, the government describes a wide range of duties for program officers, including coordination with local stakeholders regarding services from the ESDC.
Service Canada says it has EI processing centres and "program branches" in Montreal, Laval, Boucherville, Drummondville, Thetford Mines, Shawinigan, Quebec City and Saguenay, but that it may assign alternative workplaces to applicants who don't live in these areas.
In addition to a high school diploma, Service Canada is looking for applicants who have experience totalling six months "in delivering services or programs to the general public" or "interpreting and applying legislation or policies."
The language requirement is either French-only or French and English, depending on the position, according to the recruitment page.
Complete details about the positions available and the application process are online.