Heading to the spanking new Jean-Talon for more than
Sunday mornings I start to look forward to our weekly visit to the Jean-Talon Market, and to plot my gustatory trajectory. For me, the market’s no longer merely about picking up supplies, but is also about eating as wide a variety of meats as possible. Hot, greasy, flavourful meats. Often on sticks. Sometimes in buns. Sold along "butchers’ alley," the new row of vendors along the east side of the market by Henri-Julien Avenue.
As if the everyday bounty of veggies and fruits, the redolent Hamel cheese shop, the chaos that is Sami grocers, and smoking lamb on spits weren’t enough, the market now boasts more butchers, bakers and, well, even candlestick makers. Not to mention cheap portable eats.
From the north to the south, here’s a selection of munchables. Pick up some fried squid rings at Aqua Mare. Tasty, but heavy enough that you’d want to share them. Snack on a nice little veal sausage on a stick, served with tarragon and curry mayos at Le Veau-Saveur de Charlevoix – the "fort" one has a pungent cheesy kick. Pick up free recipe flyers for dishes like smoked veal with citrus or veal heart with port, or just get pointers on how to braise.
Boucherie Prince Noir is a carnivore’s cornucopia. Horse, deer, boar, partridge. Within, you can buy a variety of hot meals, outside you can feast upon meat on nature’s own sticks: turkey wings or guinea hen legs.
The Mauritanian gent who runs the resto jewel La Khaïma on Fairmount has opened a baklava counter smack-dab mid-row. Admire the range of North African pastries and marzipan treats, then choose one.
You can get a rocking sausage sandwich at the Romanian grocers, Balkani, and sometimes they dole out "choucroute garnie," meaning sauerkraut laced with sausage and other porky bits.
Thirsty? Down some blueberry juice, no sugar added, from the Ferme Jean-Marie Gélinas booth. They also sell buckwheat flour, crêpe pans and candles.
Being the season to scream for ice cream, Havre-aux-Glace scoops up stunning flavours, not too sweet, like almond milk, espresso, matcha green tea and pistachio. I regret not trying their blood orange while it was around.
More meat on sticks anchor the row. Les Volailles et Gibiers du Marché serve up homemade potato chips, and have at least two or three kinds of sausage on the go. I find their duck à l’orange too porky tasting, but love their bison-wine combo.
Although cheap lunch is a fine reason to trawl the alley, support these top-quality vendors by shopping too. There are beguiling mounds of fresh pasta at Pastificio, such as mezzelune ("half moons"), mini ravioli, spinach spaghetti, potato gnocchi and twisty worms of cavatelli. Other alley notables include the olive oils and spices at Olives et Épices, co-run by caterers Ethné and Philippe de Vienne and the team behind Laurier Street’s Olive & Olives. They’ve also opened a splendid condiment-and-more store called La Dépense, where you can find Mexican chipotles, and Peruvian rocoto salsa. Browse the (pricey) boutique cheese at Qui Lait Cru (which also sells Fromentier bakery bread) or the lovely sheep cheeses at the booth for Fromagerie La Moutonnière ("100 per cent happy sheep!" a sign boasts). And don’t forget Wawel bakery’s famous Polish doughnuts and good poppy seed strudels (though I’m still seeking a roll to rival those from late, lamented St-Laurent Bakery).
A final note on the market: Maybe I was the last to notice, but the butcher on the northwest side has gone Latin. Wander west to check out Boucherie-carniceria Mundial, and on your way, pop into the hugely expanded Première Moisson, just reopened this month.
In the square formed by Jean-Talon, Casgrain, Henri-Julien and Mozart