From Bill Brownstein’s article in The Montreal Gazette, July 18, 2008
So you thought the ageless Joan Rivers was in fine form at the opening gala at Théâtre St. Denis on Wednesday night. … Well, she must have had energy to spare. Either that, or she was fuelled by her first experience with Montreal smoked meat.
Rivers held court at Schwartz’s following the gala. Surrounded by friends from the biz, a couple of media interlopers and Schwartz’s boss Hy Diamond, Rivers regaled all with hilarious tales relating to the storage of ashes of deceased loved ones, including dogs, taking up nearly all her cupboard space to her exploits on Celebrity Family Feud, wherein the Rivers clan battled the Wayne Newton brood. She also tried to show compassion to members of Overeaters Anonymous: « Who are they trying to kid? Anonymous? Their rallying cry is Save the Whales … for breakfast. »
Tourists caught in the middle started clicking photos with their cellphone cameras. Almost lost in the shuffle – and no doubt grateful for that – was ex-federal foreign affairs minister Maxime Bernier, chowing down on a sandwich at the counter with an engaging female companion – not Julie Couillard, the woman with the uninvestigated past who created a furor after reporting he left secret intelligence papers at her home.
Bernier did come over to the table, between bites, to ask Kevin Tierney – a film producer when not part of the crack Gazette comedy-critic panel – if he’d be interested in making a movie, from Bernier’s and not Couillard’s point of view. Bernier was then introduced to Rivers, who, no doubt, will incorporate the Bernier/Couillard affair into her act – the next time she comes to Canada.
Incidentally, the only thing Bernier left behind at Schwartz’s was a tip, of the monetary – not of the dangers of politics – variety.
I was wandering up and down St. Lawrence on the Grand Prix weekend, I decided to drop into Schwartz’s because it has been SO long since I ate there. I went inside despite the tent they had set up outside, which would be cooler….but there’s just something about the atmosphere inside! I sat a table with a young couple from Baie Comeau, Quebec. They only make the 8 hour drive up river to Montreal once a year at the most, and of course, one of the things they have to do is eat at Schwartz’s. We had a nice chat, but then they decided to leave. They didn’t know that Schwartz’s only took cash…no problem, there’s a ATM across the street and one block down….except his card didn’t work. He went to another machine and it didn’t work. To make a long story short, the guys at Schwartz’s were very understanding. With a guarantee of his driver’s license, they allowed him to come back the next day and pay.
As for me, the waiter brought my fries and drink but never my sandwich. When I had finished all my fries I inquired….the waiter was super apologetic and gave me another fries and a pickle for free to make up for it.
For details on the DVD, check the web site www.chezschwartzfilm.com
C’est vendredi après-midi…time for Schwartz’s. The jazz festival started yesterday. The line is half a block long. The sun is hot. The noise from the construction is overwhelming. I stood in line with a couple from Switzerland. It will be their first time to eat Schwartz’s smoked meat before they fly home to Geneva tomorrow.
Finally after a 40 minute wait, I got in. Since it was so crowded, I had to talk the waiter into giving me a place at a table. I sat with three lovely people from Victoriaville, Québec. They were proud of their city but enjoy a foray into the big city of Montreal from time to time.
I was able to talk with Alex again about possible publication of his Schwartz Poetry. If you are connected in the local publication scene, let me know. I would love to see some of his 900 poems published!
Last week I stood in line with a university student. I thought he was a tourist because of the guide book in his hand…but it wasn’t a tourist book for Quebec but for Thailand. He was planning his trip which was a few weeks away. The middle age women behind me with the colorful glasses said she comes to Schwartz’s once a year to buy the spices…and of course she stays to eat smoked meat, of course.
The conversation at the table was not very exciting…deux quebecois qui parlaient sans cesser sur les affairs…and a bit more interesting….a middle age mother and her high school age son….but here’s the interesting part…he’ goes to boarding school in New England. She seemed to be the principle of a Montreal Cegeg (Jr College). She seemed to be lowering herself to accompany her son to his favorite Montreal restaurant. All that just to say all types eat at Schwartz’s.
I wandered over to Schwartz’s on Friday just after my visit to the dentist. To my surprise, one of the waiters recognized me as I walked in the door. He spread out his welcoming arms saying aloud… »Schwartz Stories dot com! » Wow, this just made my day. He sat me at a table with 3 people from Colombia. Two of them live here and the other was visiting, all were experiencing Schwartz’s smoked meat for the first time. With my really bad mixture of Spanish, French and English I helped them navigate the menu to find the classic medium smoked meat sandwich.
I didn’t have much time to hang around and butcher the Spanish language, being already late for my rendez-vous avec Joseph. But as I was standing in line to pay, a couple at the table near the caisse engaged me in a conversation. Turns out they are annual visitors to Montreal from New Jersey and Schwartz’s is always a part of their visit. I was able to tell them about my recent visit to Camden, NJ and to Philly across the river, where I connected to two unusual communities: Camden House and the Simple Way.
The film Chez Schwartz starts March 2nd in Montreal at the AMC Forum and the Excentris. Take a look at the trailer below. C’est un très bon film! I recommend seeing it at the Excentris and then walking a few blocks north to Schwartz’s to have a smoked meat afterwards. There’s a warning with the film: Don’t watch it on an empty stomach!