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favorites at Jean Talon market?

I've moved across the street from the Jean Talon market, and am very happy and a little overwhelmed. Yes, I've now tasted the chocolate cherry sorbet at Havre aux Glaces (wonderful!) but how do you choose a butcher, or a cheese shop, when there are so many appealing choices? I've learned so much about this city from reading these messages - do people have suggestions or recommendations or stories about the market? Help me to make discoveries.


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  1. I usually do the same couple of stores/stalls.

    coming from the east (st-laurent)

    There a stall, first alley with very excellent salads of all kinds, on the left side of the center alley.

    after that, I walk around trying to find "pink" radishes" then I go to Hamel for cheeses ( better vibe there compared to Qui Lait Cru IMHO), and then I stop by Cochon Tout Rond for ham, saussicons. then I look to see if there are some fresh sea-food, usually in front of "Havre aux Glaces", but it might be late in season.

    After, I re-walk to see If I did not missed anything in the veggies stalls, then I go to Nino and fill up on fruits and "harder" to find veggies, mostly mushrooms, and I finish my run with bread at "Premiere Moisson"

    1. Trial and error, and also an eye on the prices. I've lived in that neighbourhood for 20 years (though I no longer live across the street from the market).

      In terms of produce, these days, I'm enjoying the organic stall co-op du Sud-Ouest (along the aisle next to the built-in shops, towards the east, and about halfway north. Don't know whether it is my "favourite" - there is produce just as outstanding elsewhere - but I found the most velvety tiny green beans today.

      Is this board the reason you moved to Montréal? Just curious.

      8 Replies
      1. re: lagatta

        I lived in Berkeley California, for much of my adult life. We would take out of towners to see the produce at the Berkeley Bowl. Work then brought me to Milwaukee Wisconsin (intro to winter and sad produce) and now to Montreal. I'm visually, but not verbally, fluent in French, so websites like this and Endless Banquet have helped me to get a better sense of my new home. But no, I didn't even know Chowhound existed when I moved to Montreal. Thanks for the description of the velvety green beans and the tour of the market.

        1. re: Katharine

          For a Berkeley girl, one word -- berries! I grew up in the St. Lawrence valley in a family that spent half the summer chasing wild berries, and the J-T Market restored my faith (destroyed in California) that man could cultivate berries nearly as tasty those that grow wild. The bleuets should be out now, get them (but leave some for me, I'll be there next week).

          1. re: Gary Soup

            Wasn't looking for them, but I don't recall seeing any local blueberries on a lightning visit to the market on Saturday. It wouldn't surprise me if a few warm microclimate producers have them but it's certainly not yet high season.

            1. re: carswell

              I haven't seen any yet - just farmed berries (which the local strawberry and raspberry producers are featuring in hopes people will REALLY want to make a berry salad). And I go there almost every day. Usually they are a bit later. Now there are some strawberry producers that produce a later-ripening variety that is often available at the same time as the blueberries - Katharine, of course you want the tiny ones, from Abitibi or Lac St-Jean. They are a superfood, and tasty too.

              I have seen some Ontario peaches but didn't dare buy them yet - I've had so many disappointing experiences in the peaches (grown in the Niagara warm microclimate, Katharine, one of the few real wine-growing regions in Canada) that were shipped too green and ripen wrong, rotting inside before they are fully ripe. If properly ripened they are very, very good, and a delightful counterpart to the wee blueberries.

              1. re: lagatta

                I found little Quebec blueberries at two stands this morning, one in the row closest to Premiere Moisson and the other stand in the middle row that has berries at two or three baskets for $5.00 (not many Quebec blueberries were at this stand). I'm not sure where they are from in Quebec, but they are amazing.

                So far this summer could be called adventures in eating fruit. I've learned the meaning of "mealy" (when seduced by the price of small peaches at $2.00 a basket), learned that the stands where you can taste and lots of people are buying are probably good choices, learned that sometimes you have to be really patient until the fruit ripens, and learned that its best to walk around the market at least once before buying anything (this is hard!)

                Thanks for the suggestions for the market and for outside the market. I'm on a budget now, so don't eat out much, but I like Ange and Ricky for takeout (they gave me a mango last night because they were out of dessert) and Tapeo for special occasions.

                What about fish - again, there are so many choices in and around the market.

                I'll be on the lookout for the Ontario peaches.

                1. re: Katharine

                  ONtario peaches are usually very good but I'd advise to wait a couple of weeks after they started to pop around to buy them. The first ones are usually forgetable, unripe and sour.

                  As for other spots I like, the nuts stand across from Veau de Charlevoix is really great and they'll let you taste before you buy. I also have a love/hate relationship with Sami. The place can deliver deals outside but inside it's a mad house.

                  I'm also really fond of Olive & Épices. A bit more expansive than bulk spices but worth every penny of it. They have mad mexican rubs for BBQ season. Especially enjoy the Guerrero mix with it's spicy yet fruity flavor.

                  Veau de Charlevoix and Porc Meilleur are my veal and pork providers. Veau also carries very good pork. The ham is especially good and very affordable.

                  Capitol also a good selection of meat at a decent price. Their sausages are also quite good.

                  Though a little more expansive, saussages at William j Walter are really good and offer interesting flavor combinations.

                  On St-Laurent, I'm a bog fan of Milano for anything italian while the cheese usually comes from Hamel.

                  Don't miss Marché des saveurs du Québec and its alcohol outlet where you can buy anything that's made in Quebec. Great honey wine and berry wine as well as apple cider. I really like the maple syrup cream which I don't recall the name but the bottle is frosty white with leafs painted on it.

                  Off course, Hâvre-aux-glaces is not to be missed like the chocolate shop next to Alfalfa.

                  As for produce, i'm also keen on Birri. My eggs usually comes from Le Capitaine. And make a spin at Louis and Nino for good quality fruit albeit more expansive.

                  1. re: Campofiorin

                    Milano and Capitol do have a good selection of Italian and Italian-style cheeses. Milano always has a delicious goat's milk ricotta. And lovely little sausages (at the back by the butcher's counter, not in the middle, where there are the large Italian sausages).

                    Agree, no peaches yet. I wouldn't touch them until August.

                    As for wine, the SAQ on St-Laurent at the corner of Mozart has a better selection and is usually quieter than the one in the market. But for a really good selection, you'll have to go down to Beaubien métro, corner St-André (not a long walk) or perhaps to the SAQ next to Loblaws (a short walk west, but Beaubien is a better outlet).

                    One of the oldest cafés in the area is Caffè Italia on St-Laurent - decades ago it was a male preserve but women are certainly welcome now. Cheap prices for authentic espresso and cappuccino...

                    But the weather is too nice to stay in and write - I've finished my day's work, so of to the market...

              2. re: carswell

                The woman who sold me berries last Saturday said the Saguenay blueberries would be selling at the beginning of August.

        2. "how do you choose a butcher, or a cheese shop, when there are so many appealing choices"

          It depends on several factors including time, what I'm looking for, the price I'm willing to pay and the season.

          Butchers: My default is La Boucherie du marché, which has an impressively wide selection of high-quality meats (including hard to find cuts like hanger steak, though don't go in expecting to find it at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon) at fair prices. For pork and veal, I usually head to Porcmeilleur and Veau de Charlevoix (which also sells decent lamb) in the new extension. For rabbits, "game" birds and pork when I'm feeling especially flush and ecological, organic Les Fermes St-Vincent. Other butchers (e.g. Les vollailes et gibiers du marché and Prince Noir) are more fall-backs than regular suppliers, though the fresh guniea hens at the former are quite good. By the way, while it's not at the market per se, don't overlook the butcher counter at Milano on St-Laurent; good meat, good prices and knowledgeable staff. Unlike some others on this board, I'm not a huge fan of the charcuterie on offer at the market, the main exception to the rule being Cochons tout ronds.

          Cheese: For Quebec cheese, Les saveurs du marché is my first stop because they have the largest selection, are less busy than the other mongers and are an enterprise that deserves our support. Otherwise, it's a toss-up between Qui lait cru and Hamel; for example, the former's Comté is usually more interesting while the latter has a wider selection, including some wonderful proprietary chesses like the Maroilles washed with Maudite ale. And when looking for, say, a Saint-Marcellin, it's whoever has the most perfectly ripe one.

          Produce: In spring, summer and fall, I don't buy anything until I've toured the farmers' stalls to see who has what. I always play close attention to a few favourites: for example, Birri et frères in the westernmost *allée* with its wonderful organic greens (red oak leaf lettuce, mesclun presented like a bouquet, etc.) or the pepper guy in the easternmost *allée* who in August has rareties like fresh piquillo peppers. In corn season, I just wander around, stopping wherever I find heirloom or non-supersweet varieties (increasingly rare). For affordable exotic produce, check out Sami on the north side of the market just across from Aqua Mare. In cooler months or when in seach of gourmet produce (ratte potatoes, locally grown white asparagus, edible flowers, micro greens, wild mushrooms, Provençal garlic, etc.), Chez Nino and Chez Louis are the top spots.

          But, hey, half the fun of frequenting the market is exploring it, making discoveries, learning who to avoid and developing relationships with vendors you like. So take a deep breath and savour the adventure.

          1. I do hope one of the pepper guys gets in the much-promised piments d'Espalette, - peppers from the Basque country - which are slightly hot (not fiery) peppers with a lovely flavour...

            Boucherie du marché is also where I buy very good grain-fed chicken legs when I'm NOT flush; as carswell says they have many cuts of meat one does not find elsewhere and they are helpful and friendlly.

            You'll have fun exploring the neighbourhood - a few streets east there is a little knot of East Asian shops - the largest is Marché Oriental - for East and Southeast Asian groceries and bbq ducks. There are several North African (Maghrebi) butchers and grocers not only in the market itself but opposite on Jean-Talon and up on rue de Castelnau (a short block north). You will also find Zaatar there, a Middle-Eastern (Lebanese, I think) bakery with mostly savoury offerings.

            A slightly longer walk west, under the railway viaduct, will take you to Park Extension (walking past the big Loblaws supermarket) where you will find a good many South Asian groceries, from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

            1. I won't repeat all the suggestions from my fellow hounders, but will add a few personal faves.

              L'olivier for lamb, its does not look like much (they don't really spend time or money on the decor and amenities) but the lamb and merguez are fantastic. One of the old-school merchants at the market. The outdoor stall for sandwiches is amazing too.

              Boucherie Milan for veal paupiettes. The very best in town, the only ones that truly replicates the taste of Europe. Also some of my north african friends swear by their merguez, though I prefer l'Olivier's.

              Marché des saveurs (again): Don't forget their vast beer selection either! A msut stop for "something" every time I go.

              1. What I love about JTM is that you don't have to cho ose! I go every Saturday to stock up on fresh goodies and never leave disappointed.

                Carswell turned me on to Birri et frères, I can't skip their bouquets of greens and sweet tiny tomatoes. They'll sometimes have zucchini flowers and other nifty things as well. I always check out Chez Nino and Chez Louis (though I'm usually disappointed by the latter) for oddities.

                Definitely try the baklava at Ryad, in the center of Butcher's row. I always grab a piece, and enjoy it with a coffee from the shop on the corner before beginning my rounds. The first time I had it, my knees went a little weak it was so tasty. The small pasta shop in the same area makes a tasty porcini mushroom ravioli on weekends, which I indulge in once in awhile. I also like Marché des Saveurs, where I hit the dairy section for local plain yogurt, great with a bit of maple syrup and fresh berries.

                Like others, I prefer Hamel over QLC, though I always go into QLC for a look.

                8 Replies
                1. re: phedre

                  Speaking of QLC, I have been hunting for cream with no additives for a while, and everytime I've been at JTM or Atwater for the past few months, all the shops have been out of it - until last week. QLC stocks Beurrerie du Patrimoine's products, which I'd never tried before. So along with my cream (which I use to make ice cream with) I bought some plain yogourt, cottage cheese, and a few other goodies of theirs to try. When I had it the next day, the yogourt had me re-checking the label to make sure there was no sugar added - it was amazingly sweet (in a good way). And the cottage cheese is also excellent (it goes without saying, so is the cream - the ice cream made with it is noticeably better than other batches I've done recently). I think Hamel carries some of their products as well.

                  1. re: cherylmtl

                    Beurrerie du Patrimoine! That's the name of the yogurt I get. It's a dollar cheaper if you pick it up at Marche des Saveurs as opposed to QLC, by the way. Check it out!

                    I've only heard rumours of how amazing their chocolate milk is. I'll be picking some up this weekend to give it a try.

                    1. re: phedre

                      Thanks for that info - I will be picking it up there next time. As for the chocolate milk, I bought some of that too, for my son. While I haven't tried it, he claims it tastes just like milk with real cocoa added (which basically it is), and has given it his seal of approval (then again, he's 11, but an aspiring little foodie).

                      1. re: phedre

                        Thanks for chocolat milk tip. Parmalat and Québon are just not cutting it for me.

                        1. re: mainsqueeze

                          I bought 200g of Patrimoine butter (demi-sel) - it is utterly delicious, and at $2.99 (at Hamel) not at all unreasonable. I am lactose intolerant, so I can't consume cow's milk or most cow cheeses, but there is very little lactose in butter - not that I eat it often, but I had bought some new potatoes just crying out for some.

                          There is a ewe's milk products booth in the gourmet/butchers' lane (they also sell some lamb). The ewe's milk yoghourt has a nice taste but an odd texture. Drained it makes divine lebna...

                          1. re: mainsqueeze

                            Reporting back in on the chocolate milk: AMAZING! But so hard to find. It sells out at both Marche des Saveurs and QLC really quickly. Give it a really good hard shake before drinking, as all the cocoa settles to the bottom.

                      2. re: phedre

                        Don't overlook the paczkis (filled Polish donuts) at the Wawel bakery. Apricot, cream, or prune filled - I dream about them.

                        1. re: Laker115

                          Wawel also has excellent rye bread of the heavy, dense kind you slice very thin - good with sardines, salmon, some cheeses. The coriander rye is especially noteworthy.

                      3. Today I went to a small artisanal boulangerie just east of the market, at 907, Bélanger est (corner av de Châteaubriand). It has good sourdough baguettes - and not the Saturday afternoon crowds at PM and Pain doré. Has the rather uninspired name "La Miche dorée".

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: lagatta

                          (reviving the thread)

                          There's a new Nuts vendor in the new section, they have really good pistaches.

                          1. re: Maximilien

                            You mean between the organic producers from le sud-ouest and the natural beef. Yes, very good nuts, very fresh.

                        2. The Ontario peaches and nectarines are out. I picked up a basket for $5 yesterday. Oh. Mah. GAWD. I was going to save this second one for a snack later today, but yeah, not happening!

                          1. This is a good place to share a photo of some rainbow cauliflower I took last week at the market.


                            1. I bought some "Cochonnet" from Porc Meilleur this past week-end and it was very good! did it on the BBQ (not marinade, only salt and pepper and EVOO) saturday evening, and ate the leftovers tonight.

                              very good, tasty, moist and the skin crispy.

                              They do not have some every W.E. it seems.

                              1. My favourite snack place at JT is William J. Walters, Saucissier,

                                Fresh made, eat-in, take away and take home!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Paphos.SK

                                  This has to be the one I disagree with. It's probably a question of personal taste, but the WJW sausages are de-greased and overly ground, so they lack the texture and the taste of "real" sausages. The only ones I really like and the smoked sausages with cheese.

                                  1. re: ScoobySnacks20

                                    Heh. Those are the only ones I've tried that I disliked! I found the cheese added a weird gooey texture to the sausage. I like cheese ON sausages, not IN them.

                                  2. re: Paphos.SK

                                    I'm fond of the merguez sandwiches at An-Nasr (two grilled merguez sausages on a baguette "all dressed"), probably because it is hard to find good merguez where I am.

                                    1. re: Gary Soup

                                      Have you tried the grilled merguez sausages on a baguette at the place next door(L'Olivier)? I wonder which one is better.

                                  3. I never have the time to explore the market the way I want, so I usually get my food from aisle 4:

                                    - We stop at Havres aux glaces first to ensure cooperation from the kiddies;

                                    - Jardins Mil'herbes, an organic farm right in front of Marche des Saveurs: I've been very pleased with everything I've gotten from them so far. This week I bought a few melons that looked and tasted very much like Cavaillon melons, albeit a little paler and with less intense flavour (although realistically I don't expect Quebec to be able to compete with Provence for melons). They tell me melon season is just ramping up and many different varieties (including the Charentais; I cannot wait to try that one) will be maturing in the coming weeks.

                                    - La Moutonniere sheep milk products: their feta is so tasty, and I just read today that they won awards for 5 of their cheeses at last week's American Cheese Society competition. Good for them.

                                    - Qui lait cru for Fromentier bread, which I prefer to Premiere Moisson where the lineups are too long anyway.

                                    - Porc Meilleur for sausages and chops; I get the rest of my meat delivered from an organic farm;

                                    - I also go to Chez Nino for tropical fruits, and I stop at the peripheral stalls on the way for beans, corn, peppers, whatever I see that looks appealing

                                    I am wary of the resellers in the center aisles who offer samples; I've had a few bad experiences where what they sell me never tastes as good as the sample.

                                    I am curious to try the tomatoes as this M. Plante, if I could only figure out where he is!

                                    I have given up on Ontario peaches, they never taste as good as white peaches, and they are really too small. Although I did get outstanding imported nectarines at the beginning of summer at Nino.

                                    1. Just wanted to mention that Chez Michel has piments d'Espelette (moderately hot Basque peppers with a special flavour). $5 for a little basket, but they are always expensive, and the dried powder frighteningly so.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: lagatta

                                        I missed that!!!!

                                        I hope they still have some next week.

                                        I did a hit'n'run at the market this afternoon, I usually go early on saturday,

                                        everything was gorgeous !!! with limites backpack space and hands, I could only carry so much!

                                      2. I haven't been to Jean-Talon since they covered up a few weeks ago and am curious as to which outdoor vendors remain. Is it just me, or has their website changed? I can't get any useful information out of it, not even opening hours.

                                        In other news, I read on a food blog that Philippe and Ethné de Vienne came out with a cookbook a few weeks ago: La cuisine et le goût des épices: http://www.epicesdecru.com/fr/book.php
                                        Putting it on my Xmas list!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Venusia

                                          I haven't been for a few weeks either - does anyone know if Birri still operates there over the winter, or only in the summer?

                                          1. re: cherylmtl

                                            Birri told me that they stay as long as the season lasts - they don't operate over the winter. Not sure if they are still there at the moment.