The Old(e) Spaghetti Factory

Don’t worry, Montreal, I am taking this place by storm. Sampling some delicious thangs. One place I went to was the Old Spaghetti Factory, on Esplanade and Church. It’s so fawncy. The interior is large, mostly wooden, and stained glass everywhere. It’s like being in a really cozy church, without all the churchiness.

Never underestimate the power of freshly made butter. This was so soft, so flavourful, the butter just explodes in your mouth. The left is fresh churned butter and the right is fresh churned garlic butter. Garlic butter you say? Garlic butter. Oh yes, I’m in heaven. They serve this with a nice crispy french baguette. Working at a bakery has done wonders for my bread vocabulary.

Some nice and chunky clam chowder. The way it’s supposed to be made. It’s like I drank all of the sea in one bite. Long John Silver’s lost booty is in me.

Look at how beautifully ornate their plates are! This is just a regular spicy beef marinara sauce. Perfectly seasoned.

This is their most famous pasta, and you either love it or you hate it. Brown butter and cheese pasta. If you’re not afraid of clogging your arteries and butter and cheese sounds appealing to you, this is it. This is not just your plain butter and cheese. It’s actually got a pleasantly nutty flavour to it, but really, warning, before you order this dish, it is dripping in butter. I really liked it, but the one who ordered it, ahem ahem, didn’t enjoy it that much after a few bites. If you aren’t picky and like to try new things, I would, without a doubt, recommend that you try it this.

We ended it with some nice Spumoni ice cream, which I had never heard of before coming here, but I recently saw some at the supermarket. It is a vanilla, chocolate, and pistachio flavoured ice cream. The hot Italian cousin of Neapolitan ice cream.

All in all, we both agreed that the Old Spaghetti Factory had a great atmosphere, and half of us enjoyed the food immensely. Even for lunch portions, I was pretty full by the end of it.

Christmas in Xam Bo

Christmas in Vietnam is a strange feeling for sure. After all the years of Christmas being huddled indoors, hiding from the snow, spending the day in a light sweater and warm weather is a bit of a shock. A nice shock all the same, however.

Xam Bo is my mother’s village, about 15 minutes from the city of Hai Phong. It’s very rural, and very religious. A relative of mine always said (with great disdain) that people from there don’t work, they don’t do anything but sleep, eat, and go to church. Which is true to some extent. So of course, Christmas there is a huge affair. They decorate the village up in garish lights, in a display rarely seen back home. The church, the village’s center, as expected, is done up with no expenses spared. The Christmas mass, held outdoors is a huge spectacle, but to me, and my fellow Canadian youths, it was just another mass. Held at night, way later than we ┬áhad gotten used to staying up, and dragged on and on while we sat on rickety wooden benches that we brought from home.

At least, before heading into the church grounds, there were little vendors that sold balloons, candy, and popcorn that were delicious. As boring as the ceremony itself was, it’s hard to deny the very different feel of Christmas that you get abroad. Viva la motherland.

Because there's no snow in Vietnam, they dress their trees up with ratty cotton. It looks very funny. The first time I saw it, they had circled the entire base of a palm-like tree, and I thought it was just growing a cotton-like moss.

Glitter and confetti from Christmas crackers littered the streets that night.

One of the alleys (to call them streets would be too generous) done up for Christmas.

Back of the church.

The entire village (and surrounding areas) showed up for mass.

The front of the church (Nha Tho Xam Bo). Gorgeous, if slightly gaudy.