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Jean-Talon Market: Meat market

Meat market

Jean-Talon Market: For all you need, even a friend
Photo: Joseph Yarmush

Heading to the spanking new Jean-Talon for more than
just provisions

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.

Jean-Talon Market
In the square formed by Jean-Talon, Casgrain, Henri-Julien and Mozart
Jean-Talon metro

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  • by Heath Abram - June 16, 2005, 1:42 pm

    I love the ambience of being at the Jean Talon Market. It is such a melting pot of all different nationalities. The fruits and vegetables are so fresh and delicious. You have to be a smart shopper and buy what’s in season to get the best prices and the most flavour. Strawberry season is coming soon and I can’t wait to purchase them! One of my favourite things to do is go to the market and buy cheese, fresh bread, some fruit and then head to the mountain for a picnic.

  • by Tanya Parvez - June 16, 2005, 3:08 pm

    I love tasting and trying new things and Maeves latest review has me wanting to try all types of meats. Except pork.. sorry I don’t eat that. But will definitely try the squid… Actually one more meat I might not try is the Horse… who eats horse?

  • by Ronny Pangia - June 16, 2005, 7:26 pm

    Food connoisseurs know full well that for fresh produce and quality food offerings, the Jean-Talon market is pretty tough to beat. I used to think it was an Italian market being so close to Little Italy but to say that would be a gross misrepresentation of what the market truly represents. It’s a true cultural mosaic which represents in many ways what living in Montreal is all about. You’ll easily find yourself hearing many foreign languages and seeing different ethnic groups blend in perfectly together.
    You’ll find everything you need whether you’re a professional cook or a housewife. To get a glimpse of what the market looks like check out the movie Mambo Italiano starring Paul Sorvino and Ginette Reno. The movie is a dud but we see a vendor selling stuff in our good ol’ market.
    Right behind the Old Port and other touristy areas, I truly believe anybody visiting our city must pay a visit to the Jean-Talon market.

  • by Alberto Olivera - June 16, 2005, 7:32 pm

    ever since the major renovations at jean talon market ( not to long ago ) the prices for produce are no longer worth it. Stop by most corner fruit stores and you will find fruits and vegetables at more reasonable prices than jean talon market.
    It`s too bad, it was a nice place to go and pick up fresh fruits and vegetables..now its just a place where yuppies go to shop.
    Remember, if you want to get a bargain, always look for the old ethnic ladies dressed in black….if you see them shopping somehere, chances are that the prices are good…..i haven`t seen any old ladies dressed in black at the market since the renovations.

  • by Chantal Valade - June 16, 2005, 11:07 pm

    I love the Jean Talon Market. Not only can you buy fresh fruits and vegetables but almost everything you need for your kitchen (bread, meat, spices, flowers…). You can also bring home delicious ready-to-go meals. I try not to go too often because I always end up buying more than I need and it’s not good for my wallet.

  • by Steven Doucet - June 17, 2005, 2:27 am

    Going to this market is like going to expo. There is quite a bit of diversity and the freshness of the produce is hard to beat. I like the fact that you can haggle as well. I can even remember how many times i have gone there to pick up a couple of thing, ended up staying there 2-3 hours, and come home with at least twice the amount of produce i went for!! It’s great and lots of fun.
    The only problem is parking, it really is a drag. You will never get a spot close to the place and you willmost likely end up going around the blocks more than once. I have noticed a sharp price jump, due to the renovations. It is still more affordable and far more interesting than other markets in the city.
    It is a major part of our city and we should be proud of it!!!

  • by Andrea Silva - June 17, 2005, 6:48 am

    The Jean Talon market (and any other market for that matter) brings on a nostalgic feeling for many who come from other countries and know what it’s like to walk up and down the isle with endless possibilities of differet goods and produce. It makes for a different shopping expierence rather then going to your local super market. Of course nobody said it would be cheaper, but when you look, good deals can be found during the right seasons and you will always leave with something yummy!!!

  • by Tave Cole - June 17, 2005, 2:18 pm

    Despite those descriptions of greasy meats and veal sausages and braising techniques (eeew), that article still made this vegetarian want to go wander through the market for fresh fruits and cheeses and home baked goodness. I checked out the atwater market- it was expensive but very nice. A lovely old man gave my friend and i frozen maple syrup lollypops which are slightly refreshing on a muggy spring day. I think it would be nicest in the autumn with all the pumpkins and decorative squashes on display.

  • by Annick Poulin - June 17, 2005, 6:55 pm

    It’s a pity that this market is so crowded on the weekends because I don’t go there anymore..I go to the Marché 440 on the highway 440 in Laval…But I sometimes go to Marché Jean Talon on week nights when it’s quieter…I really like le Marché des Saveurs where I can choose between tons of gourmet products from all over the province of Québec…And sometimes they even have free tastings there.
    This year I also thought about buying organic vegetables baskets directly from a farm that delivers to my home..Some farms are affiliated with equiterre and so you give your money to a quebec farm and to an organism taking care of our planet’s health.
    Inspite of those choices that I have made. I will certainly go to Marché Jean-Talon to buy huge baskets or strawberries, rasberries, blackberries and blueberries when the time comes….

  • by Basil James - June 17, 2005, 9:40 pm

    I haven’t been to Jean-Talon Market in quite some time and this article just makes me want to go back to see what’s changed. It’s been so long since I’ve been there that I didn’t even know they were renovating the place! Nevertheless, the Jean-Talon Market is a true Montreal institution and I’m sure that everyone who’s lived in Montreal, at one time or another, has been there. If, as one of those who have commented on this article is correct, prices on their produce has gone up then it’s lost some of its attraction which is too bad (by the way, how does Alberto Olivera know that old ethnic ladies in black shop where the bargains are? I hope following old ethnic ladies around isn’t a hobby.).

  • by Clara Kwan - June 17, 2005, 10:40 pm

    I love food! I mean who doesn’t love food? If you think food, and fresh food you have to think of the Jean-Talon Market. However, I do have to agree with the previous contributor about the prices. It is turning out to be like the Atwater Market. I like the Jean-Talon Market, because I find it to be the perfect place for vegan and vegatarians, which I have become lately. People should definitely check out Pastificio (they make some of the best mushroom tomato sauce in town) and Havre-aux-Glace for the best ice-cream, I wish they had Gelatos though. Anyway, Ciao and enjoy the city when the weather is beautiful.

  • by Meghna Patel - June 17, 2005, 10:47 pm

    I loved it here, it was so nice walking around in the summer in the open market, seeing all the different fruits and veggies.
    Friendly people, fresh food and a great atmosphere.
    Hmm, I think it’s time I head back!

  • by Lise Auger - June 19, 2005, 2:40 am

    The market is great to get fruits and vegetables so fresh that you want to eat them right there and then…In the summer I enjoy going down to the market…That place breathes summer and everytime I leave the market my hands are full of bags containing fresh produce and I have a smile on my face knowing that a great supper is going to be on my table that night…

  • by Maria Cecillia Silva - June 20, 2005, 4:22 pm

    If we had kept markets alive in the city , farmers would have been able to make alittle more money. When you buy at the market you iliminate the middle man who usually makes the most profit. You get the fresh fruits that have not been waxed and made to look as if they were plastic. You also get nice local products and a big variety.It is fun for the whole family. I really hate the fact that I am so far away from any of the existing markets and nobody is putting one up in NDG. Markets usually have butchers too, where you can get fresh meat cut just the way you like it. In europe they also have a fish market , but I guess that is not so popular here. It is a nice learning expierence for the kids and you can learn alot from the venders. There has to be alittle control to make sure it is kept clean! Yes put up some more markets they are great!

  • by Rita Reale - June 20, 2005, 4:48 pm

    I just love going to the market to pick fresh fruit and vegetables. This is another summer tradition. I love the smell of fresh strawberries and pineapple when it’s just ripe. Whenever I see all those beautiful colors I have the urge to buy so many things, from apples to zucchinis. If you haven’t been, you have to visit it at least once, then you’ll see, you’ll be back.

  • by Charles Montpetit - June 21, 2005, 6:50 pm

    Though I’m a vegan, I hate sounding holier-than-thou and I usually try not to get dragged into discussions about the merits of being a carnivore. But when an article is written about one of my favourite food-shopping places yet focuses on the few meat-selling places in the vicinity (as if THOSE were the reasons for which most people went to Jean-Talon Market), I simply have to fight back. Come on, now! When will we come to our senses and realize that meat-rants like this article completely undo whatever good might have come from the review of Water Inc., just a few pages away? Fail to see the connection? All moral considerations aside, the devastating effects of meat-farming are well documented (see for instance http://www.whyvegan.org/whyvegan/environment.html). The unapologetic promotion of butcher-shops at the city’s largest fruit-and-vegetable stand is like driving a gas-guzzling SUV into the auditorium where the Kyoto protocol is being discussed, and then going “What, shouldn’t this be perfectly acceptable behaviour?”

  • by Mark St Pierre - June 22, 2005, 8:55 am

    Wow, sounds like a haven for meat lovers, though not necessarily the more mundane meat and potato types – this is food for the adventurous. After all, you can avail yourself of guinea hen legs, horse, deer, boar, etc…To wash it down, blueberry juice sounds refreshing and, for dessert, funky flavors like almond milk and espresso abound. And this is just scratching the surface, so if you’re inclined to save some coin, support local enterprise, and savor some succulent fare, do yourself a favor and wend your way down to Jean Talon market this summer!

  • by Alan Huang - June 22, 2005, 2:10 pm

    I used to live a few blocks away from the Jean-Talon market (on Henri Julien) when i was a kid. Every weekend, my mom, my bro and I would head out there in the search of fresh, inexpensive produce. I remember how it looked real cruddy, but that didn’t matter because it was amazing. The smells of all the fresh fruits and veggies, sneaking cherries and other various small fruits into my mouth and pockets, bugging shopkeepers about their mysterious and exotic fruits and veggies, the hustle and bustle…
    Well I’ve gone back lately, and much has changed. Major renovations have changed the whole market around, giving it a clean, prestigious and glistening outer surface. The smells are still there, but it seems they were much more pleasant in my memories. And is it just me or are the prices not the bargains they used to be? Seems to me the produce is fresher and cheaper at certain unnamed italian grocery stores…
    Still, Jean Talon market is a great place to visit and an important representation of Montreal life.
    ps. am i old and bitter or do the most of the sami fruit workers act like real jerks?

  • by Cheryl Mitchell - June 25, 2005, 2:24 am

    I am a walking distance from Atwater market….so unfortunately I have not been up to Jean Talon Market. I passed in the area once and found that you can hardly get parking there. Is it because it is a larger market or because parking space is limited in that area.

    They have recently renovated Atwater Market and the surrounding areas. Newly developed condominium that is built, with the Lachine Canal near by, a bicycle path and just the set up of it make it look beautiful. Even thought I do not buy lots of fruits and vegetable like I use to, I find it a great access to many of the people in the downtown area. There is enough parking place and it does not seem crowded like Jean Talon Market….I am wonder is it because many people in Montreal may not know about this market or maybe it is a little bit smaller. But there is a large variety of fruits, vegetables, fish market and many more other vendors and store for your liking….YOU SHOULD COME GIVE IT A TRY!!!!!

  • by Giovanni Paquin - June 27, 2005, 8:04 pm

    I cannot figure out how people have no qualms about stating that they love the Market Ambiance of places like Jean-Talon Market; a market whose purpose has changed from serving local area working-class residents to one that construct a ‘symbolic landscape’ that suits the nostalgia of Yuppy patrons for the bygone era of Public Markets.
    Newsflash, ‘public markets’ of the past generally did not have a vast array of Balsamic Vinegars that range in price from 7$ to over 200$ a bottle. Those serving you are not the working-class farmers and butchers from the past, but rather businessmen and women who are trained in marketing and merchandising.
    At least people who go to Disneyworld know they are paying for a ‘Fantasy’. Most people who go to Jean-Talon or Atwater markets hardly seem aware that the market is as carefully constructed to evoke a sense of the past and fantasy landscape as any elaborate theme park.
    I don’t go to Disneyworld, because the marketing depresses me, same with these Public Markets.

  • by Carmela Sicurella - July 22, 2005, 8:09 am

    I recently went to the Jean Talon market and I feel that they just overprice on the food there. There are so many places where you can get a meal for half the price that they are charging. I will probably never go back to this market ever again as long as I live. The items in the market are just disgusting and their fruits and vegetables are always damage and soft. I laugh when I read the other comments saying that this market has the best food. Do yourself a favour and don’t go to this market because it’s all a waste of money.

  • by Sabrina Berardo - August 6, 2005, 1:37 pm

    jean talon market? have you ever been, if your answer to this question is no then think of maybe passing by and buying a couple of fresh fruits, their juicy, good looking and not too expensive, when you take a bite of each fruit you buy, you notice that every single bite was worth the penny you spent on it. I live not to far from the market and I can tell you, if you can go there and buy your fruits every week dont even stop and think about it. Drop buy and pick up your favorite fruits. Each bite will be a bite to remember.

  • by Patrick Ducharme - August 14, 2005, 5:52 am

    With the recent improvements offering, among others, a lot of new parking spaces, the Jean Talon Market has insured its place as THE market to frequent in Montreal all year long. With new restaurants, new specific and refined boutiques, the best bouches in Montreal can now find whatever they hope to find in order to prepare the best food in the world.
    The variety of products one can find there is simply amazing. The environment is just charming…
    The diversity of restaurants one can find in Montreal now finds its equivalent in terms of market where customers can manage to cook themselves the best of the best.
    Try to ge there in the morning during the week while it’s not too crowded and the freshiest products are still available! What a nice way to start… You’ll want to come back over and over!

  • by Cathy Paul - August 14, 2005, 10:26 pm

    I live in Toronto. Each time I visit Montreal I make a point of going to Jean Talon market. I spent 2 years in Montreal and one of my favorite things to do was shop at the market. On my last visit I discovered a small Tunisian restaurant/ grocery store. It’s on the same side as Sami’s but at the opposite end. I didn’t make a note of the name and I’m wondering if anyone knows the name of the shop or their telephone number or if they have a web site. I would like to get in touch with them as I would like to get some ‘brik’ phyllo pastry that they sell. I cannot find this anywhere in Toronto. I also bought some very good olive oil and a typical sweet ‘makhroud’ which I remember fondly from my visit to Tunisia.

  • by Pedro Eggers - November 16, 2005, 8:58 pm

    The ~new~ Jean-Talon?
    I’m sorry but just because we’re talking about a facelift and a bit better selection to pick from doesn’t make it new in my eyes, simply better. Shopping and eating are personal and interactive experiences. Well, at least I think so. You can go to a closed-off place with a stiff gaggle of employees to serve you ~or~ you can go to a place where the stuff is fresh and you get to know the people you’re dealing with. Yes, I personally prefer the Atwater market but that’s not a knock against this place, which frankly runs not far behind it.

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