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Sep 17, 2008 09:12 AM

Finding Farm-Fresh Eggs

Inspired by this morning's story in the New York Times on eggs (see below) I'm wondering where to find the best eggs in Montreal.

NYTimes story:

I've seen the egg vendors at JTM with alluring varieties ("pintade," "caille"), but wonder about their provenance. "Pasture raised?" "Humane raised and handled?" (These terms may not have any regulated meaning in Canada, where oversight and language is different from the USA: a problem all its own).

What I'm hoping to find is a reliable farmer (or, in a pinch, a good supermarket brand) that produces the nicest, most naturally-raised, and most flavorful eggs.

What's your experience with eggs?

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  1. I've always been very satisfied with the eggs bought at Capitaine at JTM. My GF also tried the duck (or should I say cane) egg.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Campofiorin

      Yup, have been going to Le Capitaine for years.

      See story in Gazette from the summer.

      1. re: ios94

        Many thanks to both of you for confirmation that the best place to hit is Capitaine (I hadn't noted its name when I was last at JTM) -- and thank, too, for the article in the Gazette; nice to know all the details about the proprietor and how the hens are raised.

        My cousin in Western Massachusetts is considering raising heirloom hens for eggs and currently buys hers from a farm where the eggs sit out in a basket, unattended. You just drop your cash and collect your eggs. They were so delicious that I was hoping to recapture something like that here in Mtl.

        I went up to JTM this aft and got some hens' eggs -- looking forward to tasting the results of the search!

        1. re: ios94

          I am rather dubious about the veracity of the claims in that Gazette piece on Le Capitaine. It's rather suspicious how he can sell his "pastured" eggs at 2.90$, which is barely above the price of supermarket Omega-3 battery eggs. The latter simply roll through the legs of the caged hens and onto the conveyor belt, they are not "hand-picked by workers strolling through the fields". Secondly, if he really was organic, he'd have a big poster either by Ecocert or Quebec Vrai or whatever, prominently displayed, boasting of his certification

          Best bet is through a CSA or other farmer who sells direct to consumers.

          1. re: Venusia

            Actually, they work organically but never asked for the certification. God knows why, maybe because it's coslty, I don't know.

            1. re: Campofiorin

              A lot of producers who are in fact organic can't afford to get certified, it's true. I cannot say whether this is the case for Capitaine.

        2. re: Campofiorin

          I always wanted to try Capitaine, but got a little bit alarmed when a poster here claimed that they are mis-representing their products. I know I should have tried them myself, but thought that s/he was probably not making it up. Or maybe s/he did?

          1. re: emerilcantcook

            I don't think Spanky would make something like that up. He's very serious about food and farming issues, and a very nice guy IRL.

            1. re: SnackHappy

              I agree, from seeing his previous postings on this board, & before that reading his reviews, when he was restaurant critic for the Montreal Mirror paper.

        3. hello Julius,
          This spring, we finally got our own chicks to raise as hens for eggs, I only have some 30 hens at a time, most will be pure breds.
          Now..those eggs...I have trouble keeping some for myself, the hens are free range((all over my yards, the neighbors and forest)). The hens will eat our of our hands and the rooster is king of them all.(He saved a hen from an attacking neighboring dog!)).
          Our lives have changed, the hens are so funny and temperamental..the kids love it even more.
          About the eggs...they are big..mostly, they do not fit in a standard carton, and they at times I have to fetch the eggs from the coop for my clients. They are so delicious, the texture and taste different and yummy. A real treat.
          Maybe you could find a small place to get your eggs too.
          Anyhow..good luck!

          As a side question, how much a dozen for the eggs at JTM?

          7 Replies
          1. re: Richelle

            Hmmm. The plot thickens! I wondered too, when I went to Capitaine, how he was able to charge so little, though I'll say that I've gotten farm-raised organic eggs in Massachusetts for not a crazy amount. The half-dozen I bought at Capitaine cost, I think, less than $2 (maybe $1.50?).

            Since I don't have access to a CSA, I'm still hoping I might find the kind of small-scale producer locally should Capitaine prove to be perhaps less than an ideal source, or even to support someone who's producing in Montreal's suburbs, at home. I know that there are lots of people raising hens in Brooklyn, believe it or not. It's illegal to raise chickens in Boston; I wonder what the law says in Montreal, and whether there are "downtown" small-scale producers.

            Richelle, you don't happen to be connected to other people who raise hens and have "subscribers" or clients, do you? I would love to support someone who just has a few hens and a surplus of eggs...

            1. re: julius_ii

              Hello Julius, let me look for you, but give me a few weeks, I am leaving this week and time is short.


              1. re: Richelle

                Le Capitaine was not a farmer. I don't know who Steve Finkelstein is, but the article says he is the son. The old guy was a liar, and if you asked too many questions he would yell at you and tell you to go away.

                The other egg vendors did not like him and accused him of simply buying eggs from a wholesaler and reselling them. I find it hard to belive that the son has a farm where he raises chickens ("organic" and "non-organic" separately) and ducks and quail.

                He is an egg vendor, not a farmer. His "organic" eggs were so cheap because they were not "organic". To give the benefit of the doubt, I will visit in the next few days and check it out.

                For good eggs, join a CSA. I get almost all my veggies, eggs, some meat and lots of cheddar from my CSA. I know it is good and I know where it came from.

                1. re: spankyhorowitz

                  It makes me sad how much lying there is going on all over the market.

                  By the way, what CSA are you with that you get cheese?

                  1. re: mainsqueeze

                    Cadet Roussel. I chose it because it has the closest drop-off tio my home, but there are probably quite a few that sell cheese, eggs, meat, flour, beans, juice, etc. The cheese isn't made by my CSA, but a place nearby.

                    1. re: spankyhorowitz

                      Ours is André Samson. We have eggs but not meat, dairy or other extras.

                      1. re: mainsqueeze

                        I'd also like to find pastured eggs and chicken. Any new leads?

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I was recommended Le Capitaine by a friend, but now I'm wary of them. I'll have to check them out for myself.

              In the meantime, I'd like to recommend Stairsholme Farm who sell pastured duck eggs at the Marche Fermier:

              A few weeks in a row I've gotten their eggs and they're huge, delicious, and live up to their claims. A 1/2 dozen costs about $3.

              10 Replies
              1. re: tgs

                Le Capitaine gets his chicken eggs delivered daily from the Nutri-Œuf plant in St-Hyacinthe. I don't know where the rest of his stuff comes from. The eggs are much fresher than what you get at the supermarket and the price is very reasonable. I have no problem buying from him despite the fact that he may be misreprenting himself. If misrepresentation got you kicked kicked out of JTM, there would probably be only handful of stands still open there.

                If you want something more akin to farm fresh, you can get your eggs at L. Pétrin. They have their own processing plant.

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  Thanks for the info. I just picked up a dozen eggs from Le Capitaine to see for myself and though they present the carton wrapped in newsprint for that farm-fresh look, I was disappointed to see the stamped barcode on each egg. I suspected that they went through Nutri-Oeuf, like many of the grocery store brands, and it's helpful to have that confirmed by SnackHappy.

                  Nutri-Oeuf works with lots of smaller farming operations, but for me their industrial-scale packing methods are unacceptable. For an example of their ethics, they boast on their website:

                  "Most of the producers in Quebec use large, ultramodern buildings which house between 10,000 to 100,000 hens (60 000 hens per builging [sic] at the most) and where everything is done automatically. We no longer have to look for the eggs under piles of straw; eggs are now moved by conveyor making gathering eggs easy and efficient. Hens now live in clean and well-ventilated buildings where the temperature, humidity, and lighting are controlled throughout the year. Water and fresh feed is always available. Even the removal of manure has become automated. Cages are designed so that the droppings fall directly on a conveyor, bringing it outside; this allows the eggs and hens to remain clean and disease-free."

                  I guess to sell at JTM you have to be relatively big, so I'll stick with my duck eggs from Stairsholme Farm. Any other small farm suggestions (particularly for hen eggs) are welcomed!!

                  1. re: tgs

                    How do duck eggs compare to chicken eggs (apologies for my ignorance!) I was at Marché Fermier yesterday and noticed the Stairsholme table.

                    1. re: heliotrope

                      No apologies! It was my first time trying them too.

                      They're bigger and hardier, but the taste is basically the same. One is usually enough for a breakfast fry-up. The white is also a bit runnier, so they're good for baking, and they work really well as soft-boiled or poached.

                      1. re: tgs

                        oooh, I love poached/soft-boiled eggs. Sounds lovely, will get some next time, Thanks!

                        1. re: tgs

                          Hi tgs - Thanks again for this recommendation. Thought I'd report back. I finally had my taste of these Stairsholme Farm duck eggs - WOW - hopefully others will give them a try too!

                          I got them specifically for poaching - my favourite way to eat an egg. I found them to be an absolute dream - EASIER than poaching chicken eggs.

                          I was initially wondering if maybe the heavier size would make them harder to! Not only did I get a beautifully gigantic runny yellow yolk, the white was less viscous, it could withstand more handling; there was practically no egg white loss in the water - still very tender and ribbony to eat, but I didn't get the foaming that tends to happen with the chicken eggs.

                          Absolutely beautiful poached eggs, and so easy! They have a milder taste, maybe? I haven't tried it side by side, so I'm not 100% sure.

                          For anyone wanting to do a special brunch with poached eggs, try out these Stairsholme duck eggs.

                          Thanks again for this great suggestion, I will definitely be getting these again. As you said, 1 is usually enough - I usually will have 2 poached chicken eggs, but 1 poached duck egg was just right.

                          p.s. Maybe this might help others too: I found the egg whites took more time to slide out of the shell, they needed a little extra coaxing. So if you're going to poach them, it might be worth considering cracking them into ramekins or some small bowl first, before slipping them into the water.

                          1. re: heliotrope

                            Had to post to nth heliotrope's and tgs's recommendations of the duck eggs from Stairsholme Farm. I bought a dozen two weeks ago and just finishing them up - they're amazing!

                            I had tried Capitaine's duck eggs a few times last year and I remember being impressed at the time, but these are notably different. They take a bit of getting used to, mostly because the whites (as heliotrope alluded to) are "stickier" than other eggs. I'm guessing this is a sign of freshness, as they've been a bit less sticky the past couple of days. I was actually a bit grossed out the first few times, but once cooked, it's not an issue at all - they are both easier to handle and (way) tastier than ordinary eggs.

                            Agree that one of these is more than enough per serving. The ratio of yolk to white is way different - where it might be 1:3 in a chicken egg, it's about 3:2 for these. When the yolk cooks up, it's gelatinous rather than runny; flavourwise they are buttery to the point where they don't even need seasoning. I've been micro-poaching them and using taralli from Roma to dip in the yolk (yummy!)

                            They've run into higher demand lately and have asked via their newsletter that we place orders in advance (i.e. before Thursday).
                            Here's their contact info if interested:
                            Stairsholme Farm
                            Rommy and Andrew
                            (450) 247-0143

                            1. re: anachemia

                              How much bigger are the Stairsholme Farm duck eggs compared to duck eggs at Capitaine? The ratio of yolk to white in Capitaine duck eggs is approx. what?

                    2. re: SnackHappy

                      In my experience the eggs from Le Capitaine are often no fresher than what you can find at Metro. Part of the barcode shows the day they were laid/processed so its easily verifiable.

                      ...and just to say it, I would assume any egg with the barcode is not "farm fresh" or at least not in the way I would like it to be.

                      1. re: thelonious777

                        I joined a CSA this summer, specifically Les Jardins du petit tremble. They deliver the vegetable basket to the Plateau location every Wed between 5:30 - 6:30 and they sell eggs at the same time. You don't have to preorder or be a member of the CSA (well I'm 99% sure you don't have to be). They set up at 4449 Berri, which is just diagonally behind the Mont Royal metro. They're eggs are $5/dozen. I thought they were very tasty, even if a bit small (and not very uniform in size, but I guess that's more natural than the barcoded ones I'm used to). Anyway give them a try if you would like. They also sell vegetables and fruits at the same local - and like I said I'm pretty sure you can just go buy, the CSA basket was the only thing that had to be paid in advance

                        8630 Rue Sherbrooke E, Montreal, QC H1L1B7, CA

                  2. Hi julius_ii,

                    Jean-Pierre at Ferme le Crepuscule has the loveliest farm eggs. They have that sun yellow yolk that you do not see anymore and the whites are so firm when cracking that they remind you of times gone by. He is an organic farmer in Yamachiche, who delivers to various places in Montreal. I have been buying meat, eggs, vegetables and dairy from him for years. I have visited his farm on many occasions and can personally attest that his chickens roam free, happily eating whatever they can forage all spring and summer long and in the winters they rest in their barn, while Jean-Pierre personally prepares their bounty of flax, his own special seed mixture and seaweed to replace the grasses they miss in the warm months. I was fortunate enough to recently witness the delivery of chicks that will be raised as the next generation.
                    He delivers to Montreal every Wednesday and here is his website:
                    If you try them, let me know what you think ...
                    Happy eating, Oana


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: oana

                      Although I have endorsed Le Capitaine in this thread in the past I have
                      recently discovered Les Fermes Valens eggs, as Oana says about Crepuscule,
                      Valen eggs also have a nice bright orange yolk and the taste doesn't match
                      that of the mass produced egg. The last time I went to Capitaine a few
                      months ago, I asked him if he had organic eggs, his response was, "all our
                      eggs are organic, 'almost' organic". I didn't bother asking him what
                      "almost" meant but I got the jist that he's trying to pull a quick one. It
                      seems Fermes Valens eggs can be ordered online for $4.29, they also have
                      "organic" eggs that are a bit more expensive. I paid $6.19 for the non
                      organic ones at the "health" food store on St Jean, a bit pricey but well
                      worth it. I'm sure they can be found for under $6, if anyone knows who else
                      sells them let us know. St Vincent butcher also sells eggs which are very
                      good as well.

                      1. re: ios94

                        Any chance you can provide details as to where these places are? Which health food store on St. Jean, and is that the St. Jean on the West Island? Also, where is this St. Vincent butcher?

                        1. re: Haggisboy

                          The only health food store I can think of on St-Jean which would carry eggs would be the one in the same strip mall as the Baton Rouge (St-Jean and Salaberry).

                          Boucherie St-Vincent has locations in both the Atwater Market and JTM.

                          1. re: wattacetti

                            Yes wattacetti, that location. Thanks.

                      2. re: oana

                        Has anyone had any recent experience with eggs from Crepuscule? Are the difference between small and large eggs significant?