Marché Transatlantique report
The first time I heard mention of Marché Transatlantic was in 2002, in response to a query I posted about where to find niçoise and Nyons olives.
Its out-of-the-way location and limited opening hours (9:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday) meant I never managed to visit -- until last Friday, that is, when four-wheeled friends and I dropped by to pick up some tarbais beans.
Don't let the name fool you into thinking it's is a market in the traditional sense, with aisles of products, shopping carts and cash registers. And expect to be surprised by the decidedly unappetizing surroundings: the dumpy building sits in a run-down industrial/warehouse neighbourhood on the corner of Waverly and Port Royal, north of train tracks, south of Sauvé and about halfway between Acadie and St-Laurent. You walk up narrow stairs to a second floor warren of offices and a showroom dominated by a long wooden table on which various products are arrayed. A few shelving units and display cases line the walls. If your experience is like ours, you'll have the place to yourself and will have to make a commotion before you see an actual employee.
Commotion made, we were served by Frank (pronounced the French way). He got us our beans and then gave us a tour of the catalogue and tastes of several products. Some of the more interesting were:
- small jars of flaked morel and porcini mushrooms (add to risottos, doughs, sauces and soups or use to crust meats and fish, Frank suggested)
- black truffle oil with a small chunk of truffle in the bottle
- jars of Australian wild hibiscus flowers in syrup (place one in a flute, fill with sparkling wine: the flower "blooms" in the glass and perfumes the wine)
- Abitibi sturgeon caviar (frozen, a 220-g jar runs about as many dollars; also available in 30-g and 85-g packages)
- custom-smoked Atlantic salmon loin (or maybe belly; a long, thick but narrow piece that Frank says is the best part)
- smoked Malabar peppercorns
- several vinegars, including vinaigre de vin jaune, Ontario ice wine vinegar and blackberry-infused Baco Noir vinegar
- La Carminée du terroir from Verger du Clocher in St-Antoine-Abbé, an "apple quintessence" that one in our party likened to apple balsamic.
Surprisingly, they didn't have any olives, though they will soon be carrying some, in particular Picholines.
They also gave us copies of their catalogue, with the triple disclaimer that the selection is constantly changing, that not everything may be in stock at any given time and that the online catalogue isn't updated very frequently. Far too long to list here, but the general categories are:
- Frozen/dried/smoked fish and seafood
- Caviars (imported and domestic sturgeon, flying fish, pourtague, whitefish)
- French and Quebec charcuteries
- Truffles (fresh in season, frozen, canned, juice, oils)
- Duck products (fresh, frozen, canned foie gras, dried duck breast, rilletttes, terrines, mousses, saugsages)
- Wild products from Quebec and Canada (daisy "capers," pickled milkweed buds, Saskatoon berry preserves, cedar and fir jelly, frozen cranberries, cloudberries, elderberries, etc.)
- Frozen and dried vegetables and mushrooms (French and Canadian, including a large selection of frozen mushrooms)
- Rices, flours and pastes (including wild rice flour, chestnut flour, brick sheets, pistachio paste, saté paste)
- Mustards (e.g. moutarde de Brive violette, Moutarde d'Orléans à la fleur de sel et au vinaigre de Chardonnay)
- Vinegars (lots including varietal vinegars, honey vingar, Banyuls vinegar, apple verjus)
- Oils (olive, truffle, nut, etc.)
- Salts (including smoked salts)
- Peppers (including whole nioras and canned piquillos)
- Fruit purées and coulis (blood orange, poire William, cactus-lime, etc.)
- Flavourings (from porcini to gin, tonka bean to lobster)
- Copper-kettle jams (orange, fig, quince, Reine Claude, green tomato, etc.)
- High-end maple products from Ferme Martinette
- Teas and coffees (Kusmi, Délice Boréal, Café Ricard).
Quantities range from small jars and bottles to 5 kg bags. You'll have to ask.
They take cash, cheque or Visa but not MasterCard or Interac. Free delivery on orders of $200 or more.
All in all, an interesting place to keep in mind when looking for obscure or high-end food products, especially as their dedication to quality is obvious and they express a willingness to try to source products they don't normally carry.
T 514 287-3430
Word to the wise: Transatlantique is offering free delivery around Montreal in March and April, and 10% off internet orders. I had some extra aromas delivered to my office. Service was super professional and friendly. This is great since their opening hours are only weekdays when a lot of us are working too.
(the whisky aroma is not as well done as the gin one. The fruit ones are awesome, however. )
I finally make it there today, since I'm on vacation this week.
Employees Alexandre and Claire were happy to show us around, and discuss what was on offer.
They don’t yet have their 2011 catalogue, as apparently Transatlantique is planning to refocus their offerings, as they feel they are perhaps too random (my word, not theirs). For example, they’re going to drop some charcuterie products. They have also dropped the Verjus du Périgord I was hoping to procure; I’m trying the local apple verjus instead.
I had been intrigued by the gin aroma that Carswell mentionned and got to sniff several of the SelectArôme products they offer. The peach aroma was dazzling, as were the other fruit. They have a saffron one too! The gin aroma is spot on and I got one. I wanted a sniff of the tonka bean, but they didn’t have it in stock. I wanted to get them all!
Since a lot of the products aren’t on shelves, someone has to go downstairs to fetch it, which made me a bit self-conscious… it’s a very European way to shop. It’s perhaps best to take a look at their catalogue and make a list before setting out, and phoning them up to see if they have it in stock. They do deliver (free delivery the next 2 months btw).
They have some exotic peppercorns, including long pepper, and a marvelously fragrant one with a long name I failed to remember (vao?, voa?). Its appearance reminded me of sichuan peppercorns, but perhaps it was a cubeb type of pepper.
Truffles, foie gras, fancy vinegars, salts, lots to like.
We also got some copper-kettle jams, including the afore-mentionned Reine-Claude, and a milk jam with noisettes that Monsieur Snowpea was eyeing with much interest.
Alexandre gave us some tastes of the oils they offer, including a saffron oil (fragrant and spicy but I don’t cook enough in that register to warrant a whole bottle), and some lovely olive oil. We got a bottle of intense fruity Oulivie olive oil. And a giant jar of cornichons. And a jar of those flowers because I'm a sucker for that stuff too.
I didn’t ask about picholines or mushrooms… in any case, I’m sure I’ll be going back.
And the gin aroma? It works nicely for a non-alcoholic G&T with my home-made tonic and seltzer bottle. They also have a rum aroma. That may be next.
I bought some of the flakes of dried morel and Porcini mushrooms. Wow! Umami city. I can see that adding some of these flakes to food would add a lovely punch of mushroomy-goodness to the dish. Even eating them straight was a treat. I also purchased the hibiscus flowers, what can I say, I am a sucker for gimmicks! They look really beautiful in the picture. Planning to use super cheap cava for these cocktails though, no point opening up a really expensive champagne just to flavour it with flowers and sugar.
I wanted to buy some of the Abitibi caviar, but it seemed a bit expensive ($280 for a small jar, about 250 mg!). Maybe someday. I do love caviar. A big tin of Osetra is on my bucket list.