Ottawa – Montréal – Québec: With absolutely no apologies to Mr. Dickens – it was the best of times, it wasn’t a time. Dee started it all by asking a couple in the ByWard market area of Ottawa where to get good ice cream. She then asked them for restaurant recommendations which led us to a superb place where her informants had just finished dinner. In turn, the waitress at our Ottawa restaurant knows Montréal and gave us a list of possibilities there. And we were off and running. We have maintained the chain of referrals through to Québec.

Perhaps our favorite meal out is brunch. It’s such a marvelously luxurious waste of time. In Ottawa, we found our own brunch hangout, Benny’s Bistro. Benny’s? Not what one would expect in the space behind what was reported to us to be the best boulangerie in Ottawa. Whatever. Benny’s is clearly the Sunday morning meet and greet hangout for locals. With good reason.  Just think French toast with Brie and fruit. Now fast forward to last Sunday our first day in Québec. Let’s go to the brunch spot recommended by our Montréal waiter.  It’s more than a bit intimidating to walk into a restaurant early in brunch hours, see plenty of empty tables all neatly adorned with “Réservé” signs. Clearly a favorite with locals, that is, those with reservations. We did manage to get seated for super brunch number two. And the third brunch – the one in Montréal? It wasn’t. The recommended restaurant was closed for vacation. Could have been three lovely weekends in three lovely cities as defined by brunch.

For the purists in the crowd – those that argue Dickens did two cities so that’s all I can do, I give you two cities: Ottawa & Québec — two changing of the guard ceremonies — and one goat. Enter the royal goat, Baptiste X. The regiment here is a royal regiment which means that years ago Queen Victoria gave it one of her Kashmir goats. Being a royal of sorts, Baptiste’s role in life is to produce a male heir and to show up at ceremonial functions. Perhaps more like American politicians, Baptiste poses with tourists after the main ceremony. Pretty much everybody knows that I am no fan of stiffly posing for an I-was-wherever shot in front of some alleged landmark. Maybe I should broken faith and posed with Baptiste. Maybe then Dee could have a shot of me standing in line with the kiddies waiting to get my picture taken with the royal goat.

Click on image for larger view.