Friday, July 3, 2015

Nibbling around the edges of the biggest farmer's market in Montreal

An order of fried smelts ($9.99) is just one of the items prepared by Aqua Mare, a fish store in the Jean Talon Market.

Fried fish and other seafood can be eaten at picnic tables or taken out. Aqua Mare offers fried seafood Fridays through Sundays only.


MONTREAL -- This French Canadian city is renowned for its food and its music festivals.

So, when we're here for the 10-day International Jazz Festival, we always visit the biggest farmer's market in the city, and sample food fresh from local fields and waters.

Along with produce from Quebec, visitors to the Jean Talon Market will find food stands and restaurants selling everything from homemade soups to freshly shucked oysters.  

Today, I saw one stand selling Vietnamese pho, the anise-flavored soup, and summer rolls of vegetables, and another one offering freshly made juices.

Most take only cash. Prices are given in Canadian dollars. At the moment, each U.S. dollar is worth about $1.20 Canadian, but exchange fees can cut into that.

On Thursday, I tried fresh oysters, and today, we returned to try a homemade soup and to order fried smelts to go.

On Thursday, I ordered four delicately flavored Canadian oysters from La Boite Aux Huitres ($11.50), below. The oyster bar is opposite the fish store that sells fried smelts and other seafood.

No frills, just fresh oysters. The beautiful shell of one of the oysters I had, below.

Not far from the fish store and oyster bar, Le Tartarin prepares homemade soups you can eat there or take home. Today, I had a large bowl of lentil soup made with red pepper and fragrant cumin, and garnished with chopped fresh parsley ($5.95).

Fresh asparagus grown in Quebec.
Jean Talon Market is open 7 days a week starting at 7 a.m.

Free fruit and vegetable samples are provided, but not toothpicks, above and below.

Take a number at this cheese store opposite the market, and bring plenty of money. 

A cheese called Le Gaulas costs more than $26 a pound.
At  Boucherie Al Khair, a Moroccan butcher shop about a block from the market, I saw homemade kibbe and falafel, above, but purchased two small containers of Ras el Hanout, a mixture of spices ($2.50 for 60 grams). The store is at 300 Rue Jean Talon.

Mabrouka is an extra-virgin olive oil from Morocco sold at Boucherie Al Khair. "Mabrouk" or "mabrook" is an Arabic word used to congratulate someone on a special occasion, such as a wedding or the birth of a child.


Jean Talon Market, 7070 Avenue Henri Julien, Montreal, QC; 1-514-277-1588

Metro stop: Jean Talon. Look for Rue Jean Talon exit, which is closest to the market. 

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