To me, the best way to taste Montréal’s culinary culture is to visit Jean-Talon market. It’s open nearly all year round, closing only for a day or two. It’s the largest outdoor public market in North America.
Many Montreal chefs pick up their fresh produce there and even more locals go to pick up ingredients that will raise the bar on their favorite dish. The choice is out of this world and it’s the perfect place to nibble on samples of local and imported products. There is one shop in particular called Le Marché des Saveurs offering no less than 7,000 products from Quebec.
If you’re looking for Montreal specialties, the city is known the world over for two food items: Smoked meat and Bagels. I’m a bagel man and I can say that two “must go to” spots in Montreal are either Fairmount or Saint-Viateur Bagels. Bagels are hand rolled then tossed into wood-ovens through the day, which makes them the perfect breakfast, lunch, snack or… hum, hungover recovery! Some folk go for greasy food after leaving bars or clubs, but I prefer bagels, dipped into hummus or spread with cream cheese.
For restaurants, it’s an overwhelming task to pick one out of the 6,000 restaurants (not an exaggeration) but here’s one that’s fresh in mind: a restaurant called Chez Ma Grosse Truie Chérie (translation for My Dear Fat Sow!). The name and venue catch attention but it goes far beyond that with the delicious food, impeccable presentation and very pleasant staff. The three separate terraces offer completely different ambiances and decors which makes each visit there a second , third or fourth discovery.
What’s special about vacationing in Montreal? I’m slightly biased but I’d say the Festival culture. With 106 festivals taking place all year long, chances are something fun is taking place. Whether it’s dancing to DJ’s in Old Montreal in the middle of winter at Igloofest or taking in one of the 11 different festivals in one month for Festimania. Plus, many of the events have free components, like the Festival International de Jazz De Montréal, which is where I saw Stevie Wonder, Brian Setzer, Ben Harper and many more without having to spend a dollar… I don’t think you can find that anywhere else. Hugo.