Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Montreal's Jean-Talon Market is offering a world of food all in one place

GLOBE TROTTING: Marche Jean-Talon at 7070 Avenue Henri Julien is a large produce market in Montreal offering fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as prepared food from the province of Quebec and around the world. You can take the subway to the Jean-Talon Station, a couple of blocks away.

EVERYTHING BUT TOOTHPICKS: I don't know of any other produce market that gives free samples.

NO PESTICIDES: One stand offers Lebanese-style cucumbers grown in Quebec without pesticides.
NORTH OF THE BORDER: One stand sells tortas and tacos stuffed with cochinita pibil, a traditional slow-roasted Mexican dish of shredded pork prepared in a sauce of orange and lime juices, and vinegar, seasoned with chili powder, cumin and achiote, above and below. 

QUICK LUNCH: You'll pay $5.50 Canadian for three tacos or a sandwich. Visitors from the United States get a discount because of the strength of the U.S. against the Canadian dollar.

SAY CHEESE: Freshly made sandwiches are filled with Quebec cheeses. 
FISH FRY: Aqua Mare is a full-service market with a well-iced display of wild-caught fish, as well as live lobsters, but the shop also prepares fried seafood you can eat on picnic tables outside. Opposite the store, another vendor serves freshly shucked oysters for $2 to $3 apiece.
SMELTS IN THE MOUTH: An order of fried smelts and shrimp with spicy mayonnaise is enough for two as a snack ($10 Canadian).

IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Less than a block from the produce market, Boucherie Al Kahir at 300 Rue Jean-Talon East, Montreal, is a Moroccan butcher shop that also sells a wide variety of prepared food, spices and bread. 

SPREAD THE JOY: The butcher shop offers hummus, baba ghanoush and the less familiar zaalouk, made with eggplant, tomatoes, oil and parsley.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: In Morocco, pastilla is a pigeon pie, but in Montreal, Boucherie Al Kahir makes them with chicken or seafood.

BREAKING BREAD: The butcher shop's bread corner. I can find fresh Middle Eastern pocket bread baked in Montreal when I shop at Fattal's and other stores in the South Paterson section of Paterson, N.J.

TORTILLAS AND MORE: On the corner opposite the Moroccan butcher shop, La Tortilleria bakes tortillas in the front of the shop and prepares tacos and other Mexican specialties in a kitchen in the back to take out or eat there.

SPICE OF LIFE: Marche Jean-Talon is ringed with food stores, including Vrac en Folie, a shop at 274 Rue Jean-Talon East with hundreds of spices. Unfortunately, the za'atar spice mixture sold here contains soy. I found a much better version at Boucherie Al Kahir. Vrac en Folie did have ground cardamom to mix in Turkish coffee or espresso.



  1. Paprika is not one of the ingredients of Cochinita Pibil, the mysterious ingredient is Achiote.

    1. OK, thanks. Chef Rick Bayless says you can use achiote seeds, also called annatto.


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