Sadly 2 days I’ve spent there weren’t all that much to get to know the city better food-wise but I managed to try some really good international food as well as typical Montreal and Quebec specialties. I must admit I hadn’t known much about the typical food for that area before I visited it but it turned out there are some really good local food to be found there! Good news is that vegan Montreal scene is awesome so even if you don’t eat meat (like me) you will enjoy some good meals too!
First of all, everyone probably knows that maple syrup is made in Canada. But did you know that 80% of its production comes from the province of Quebec? I didn’t. Maple is a really big thing there and when last year barrels of syrup worth $20 million were stolen it was the main news in Canada. Of course everyone knows about the syrup but there are so many other things made of maple: cookies, sugar, candies or tea (that’s what I’m enjoying while writing this post, it’s really good!).
If you want to do some maple shopping then Montreal is the place for that. It’s much cheaper, the variety is much bigger and you can get products made in that very province. The best place to get everything you need is a Jean Talon Market, located in the northern part of the city, between Castelnau and Jean Talon subway stations on blue line. This outdoor market is the largest farmer market in North America, in the peak season (June-October) you can find there around 300 vendors selling their fresh products. There are all kinds of fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, cheese, seafood, bread, flowers etc available to buy. And the small part of the market is dedicated only to products made in the province of Quebec. Of course the majority of them is from maple but there’re also jams (divided into regions), diary products or beer with some really cute labels. The market itself was opened in 1933 and until 1961 the main building served as a bus station. This makes the place really special and gives it a wonderful atmosphere. It’s best to go there with your stomach full as everything is just so tempting but when there you can also try all the goodies – small samples are always available!
Before visiting Montreal I always pictures bagels as a symbol of New York. As it turned out bagels are extremely famous in this major Canadian city too! There are two main bakeries that compete between each other and claim to have the best bagels: Fairmount Bagel (founded in 1919) and a younger one, St-Viateur Bagel. I visited the second one and learned all about the process of making the bagels. People who work there are extremely friendly, explain you everything about their products and don’t mind you taking the pictures around the shop or with them.
The smell of fresh bagels hovered around the neighborhood, steps away from St-Vitaeur Begel shop. The entrance was busy with people coming and going and inside there was always a line of customers ready to buy still hot bagels fresh from the oven. The shop is open 24/7 and each day sells around 12.000 bagels – the production is going on and on hence you can be sure there’s always a warm piece waiting for you. The bagels are made right in the shop, in front of your eyes and you can watch the whole process. First the dough is done and form into circles. These are then dip in water with honey so whatever is put on the bagels later on will stick to it nicely (there are lots of options – sesame, herbs etc). When the bagel is prepared it goes to the wood-fired oven. After enough time there ready bagels are gracefully moved to the big box from which they go straight to the customers. At first there were only bagels sold in that shop but now you can also get there cheese, salmon or anything else you can add to your bagel as well as some drinks. There’s also a wall full of articles about the shop – they are changed regularly to add newest pieces. Bagel shops are such an integral part of Montreal that can not be missed!
When I looked for some typical Quebec food before my trip always one name poped up – poutine. I’ve never heard about it before but I knew I’ll have to try it, even if it was a caloric bomb. This dish is pretty simple – there are french fries (they have to be made from fresh potatoes, not pre-made and frozen) covered in cheese curds (the cheese has to crunch and slide on your teeth) and topped with brown gravy. Many places sell poutine but there’s one restaurant in Montreal that is especially famous for it – La Banquise. It’s been running since 1968 and right now there’re more than 20 variations of poutine in the menu. I took vegetarian one and the taste was surprisingly good! I loved the cheese playing on my teeth! Just be careful when ordering a big portion – I was really hungry so I took it and despite my big efforts I didn’t manage to eat it all. But it was really delicious! And I guess poutine is a perfect hangover food after the whole night of partying! ;)
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Montreal was a food paradise! The excellent dining options were endless there and I just wish I could have stayed longer there, to try more of their delicacies! But at least I have a reason to come back!
Have you ever heard of poutine? Would you like to go for a food trip to Montreal?
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If you think of visiting Canada or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it!
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