This past weekend, two weeks into our August stay in Montreal, Joe and I decided we’d waited long enough. We could finally revisit our Montreal favorites from our 2012 stay. Returning to the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal’s Little Italy neighborhood was at the top of our list.
The outdoor market is massive: the produce stalls canvas an old lacrosse field, the border lined by fromageries (cheese shops), boulangeries (bakeries), and cafés (um, cafés).
The last time we visited Jean-Talon Market in 2012, we hoarded raw cheeses — then banned in the US — fruits and breads and Metro’d to Ile Sainte-Helene, where we feasted on our selection and stumbled on an impromptu EDM festival.
This time, I was curious to uncover what’s seasonal in Quebec in August and stock up on the week’s groceries. Trips to the farmer’s market are, above all else, one of my favorite weekend activities — coffee at Hungry Ghost and a trip to Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza greenmarket was my Saturday ritual and ‘hello’ to the weekend. Of all our nomad adventures to come, I’m most excited about continuing this ritual elsewhere.
So we packed up our bags and steered our Bixi bikes towards Little Italy (we actually haven’t Metro’d once this trip, the city is so bikeable). But first, a detour to Le Plateau for lunch. The neighborhood is one of my favorites, with cafe-lined streets and street art everywhere you look.
Canada’s largest Middle-Eastern community resides in Montreal, and we’ve been taking advantage of the Lebanese and Afghani food options at every opportunity. We grabbed a vegetable-forward ‘Mid-Eastern’ lunch at Omnivore and took it across the street to eat in the park.
Once we’d pedaled our way up to Jean-Talon Market, we dove right into the produce stalls. Cherries, stone fruits, and berries are everywhere in the summer — the air smelled like strawberries as we walked by.
I find that half the fun is wandering the aisles. Musicians on the corners. Owners passing out samples. We ended up stuffing our bags with cauliflower, string beans, scallions, greens, cherry tomatoes, and nectarines.
Once our shoulders were sufficiently aching from our haul, we turned our eyes to the shops around the market perimeter. We’re on the hunt for black garlic, or garlic that has ‘caramelized’ for weeks until black through and through.
We’d tried it on oysters that Friday and we’re now fixated on topping burgers with the umami bomb. Sunday wasn’t our day. The owner of the lovely fine foods shop didn’t have any, but forbade us to purchase it on the Internet. So… if you have any leads on the Montreal black garlic market let us know. I’m in the mood for a burger.
We wanted to close out the day with a bike ride over to Parc Mont Royal to see the legendary Tam Tams. But our tired legs revolted. We cruised home, clocking in over 19 kilometers (12 miles) biked. We sprawled on the couch for the rest of the night, catching up on this season of GoT.