Mont-Tremblant: Day One
If you grow up with northern winters, and then you move down south, and you stay away a long, long time, you forget some things about snow. You forget that it has texture. You forget that it has a sound. You forget that it isn't just a cartoon blanket of white. Then one day, in February, you go north. You step off a plane, and onto the ground, and your feet remember the exact density and crunch of snow in deep winter. The kind that isn't going anywhere, anytime soon.
I almost started to cry. It was pure sensory recall, like the day the kids' snow pants arrived at our house in Little Rock, and my oldest son wore his around the house all afternoon. "My God," I said to Patrick, "do you hear that?"
"That," I said, as my son walked by, the nylon of his pants rasping like cicadas as he moved. "That was the background noise of every winter of my childhood. I'd completely forgotten it."
Walking around Mont-Tremblant today with Dominic, our guide, was a full immersion in those kinds of details. He was trying to point out all the amazing, state-of-the-art facilities around us, and I kept looking at the ground and exclaiming, "Oh! It gets brown on the roads! And slushy! I totally forgot it does that!"
Meanwhile, the kids were frantically gathering armloads of the white stuff, hoarding it, even though I promised them it wouldn't melt overnight, like it usually does whenever it snows at home.
Gondola? Hot tubs? Slopes? Shops? Who cares about all that when you've got a powder chunk as big as your head just begging to be thrown at your brother?
But in between making blindingly obvious statements about the physical properties of frozen water crystals, ("It's so cold!" "It melts!"), we did get a good look around at our playground for the next few days, starting with the view from our room at the Fairmont, which overlooks several steaming outdoor heated pools and the beginners slope. Dominic walked us around the whole storybook-looking village, where we shopped for a few last minute additions to the cold weather gear we had to acquire for this trip. (By the way, outfitting five people for snow, from scratch, is no small investment. The timing made it possible to take advantage of post-Christmas markdowns, which helped a lot.)
We rode the cabriolet to the rental shop, and completed our ensembles. School starts at 9:35 sharp tomorrow.
To help build our strength up, we feasted on french cuisine at Hotel du Lac. Before I tell you how that was, let's get something out of the way. Someone rang me up a few months ago, and suggested that me and my family might like to come play in the snow for a few days as their guests. I admit, I am inclined to think positively toward them. In fact, after today, they rank somewhere between my mother and husband in my affections.
I enthusiastically agreed to come here and blog all about it. I'm not going to pretend to be unbiased. But I promise to be sincere. So believe me when I say that dinner was Fabulous. And I'm not just saying that because a HERD OF DEER dined peacefully on the snowy lakeshore right outside our window throughout the duration of our meal. I'm saying the food was so good, we forgot all about the deer after the soup course (the deer probably thought management was feeding us for their amusement).
Patrick had quinte de petoncles saisi minute, creme reduite chevre Cayer (scallops in goat cheese). I had Magret de canard roti, pomme de terre Juliette a la confiture de mangues (roast duck and potatoes in mango sauce). The kids had (wait for it) chicken nuggets, pizza and french fries. Sigh. But to their credit, the big boys stepped out on a limb and had a maple mousse for dessert. The presentation, even of the kids finger food, was gorgeous. Their plates had little phyllo baskets filled with crudities, and their soft drinks were garnished with fruit swizzles. We took two and half hours to eat four courses. And sat there calling the deer fat.