HOME > Chowhound > Quebec (inc. Montreal) >


student budget local gift ideas?

I just moved to Montreal in September for my grad school,
and am about to go back to Vancouver for Christmas break.
While I am looking forward to enjoy good Asian food, especially Korean food (I am Korean-Canadian) and local apples in Vancouver,
I want to bring back something from Montreal for my family.

I know that there's a recent thread on gift ideas,
but I am on student budget and want to know what would be good, affordable food gifts unique to Montreal, or hard to get in Vancouver?

I have been discovering much wider and more available selection of cheese, bread/ pastry (for much cheaper price), yogurt, preserves, etc here, but don't know about practicality (flight?)

I mean I guess I could always buy fairmount bagel with carry-on (my family brought back a dozen when they came here to help me move),
but anything more fun, creative, would be much appreciated!

Thank you so much in advance

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Smoked Meat...the best Lox in the city at Victoria Fish Market..obviously bages like you said...then there is always the French Canadian side of food which can probably be frozen prior to flying depending on what it is....

    1. What is your budget ?

      Have a look at the other post about the "50$ gift"),

      you could buy a couple of jars of preserve, some nougat, ... form La Dinette Nationale or some honey or spices from La Société Orignal

      Or some duck product from "Rusé Comme un Canard"

      or go to Hamel and get some Québec cheese ($)

      or local beer at Marché Des Saveurs.

      1. ooh Max what about a can of Foie Gras from the infamous APDC..(au pied de couchon for our friend)...now that is a symbolism

        1. Do look at the other thread, as many of us had ideas well below $50, or locations where there are inexpensive as well as more opulent ideas.

          1. Howsabout packs of curd cheese (will survive the flight in checked baggage with flying colors) and St. Hubert packs of poutine gravy mix. You can assemble do-it-yourself poutine kits (just add fries) complete with instructions, pictures, history, etc.

            2 Replies
            1. re: porker

              I've done that (from Montreal to Paris) and it worked !

              1. re: Maximilien

                Really?! You didn't get (use Inspector Clouseau accent)
                "Terrible! Disgusting! Dis iss simply post-colonial trash fewd."

            2. Thank you all for your suggestions!

              Smoked meat + actually the duck product sounds nice, just that I have to know what I'm doing when I pack;

              I was actually at Marche Adonis today and thought some of the turkish/ Mediterranean confectionaries would also be nice since they are relatively hard to get in Van.

              re: porker,
              I have not thought about poutine ingredients (because I am not a fan of potatoes in general), but my sister LOVES poutine so that would be actually nice!

              Any particular brand of curd cheese/ poutine sauce mix to recommend?

              4 Replies
              1. re: puretopaz

                Next time, try Amal Bohasali rather than Adonis (across the street from the Sauve location). There is a big difference in taste. Or take a look at this discussion:

                The duck from Naked Lunch is delicious. It is not cheap but tastes wonderful.

                +1 on Sortilege (suggested by Shattered below), it is one of favourite things to give to out of town friends.

                But, alcohol gifts on a student budget won't work too well. Jams, maple products, pickles, even mayonnaise from St Jean de Matha have been on my gift list.

                My favourite curds are the Bergeron ones, but I couldn't tell you where to find that in Montreal.

                By the way, if you find that you're having to buy too many gifts, you should suggest a gift exchange to your family. We used to buy one thing for every sibling and every child but now we do a gift exchange it has drastically cut my shopping list and is a lot easier to budget for.

                1. re: hala

                  Cheese curds lose their squeaky property when refrigerated so always buy them fresh and never refrigerate them. I don't know how long they last unrefrigerated but I would assume a couple of days max.

                2. re: puretopaz

                  Actually, I don't like poutine myself. Fries with gravy, yeah! with cheese, not so much. But I do know that poutine has almost mystical properties to many people outside of Quebec, and so my suggestion.

                  I mentioned St. Hubert brand mix only because I've seen it labelled as "poutine gravy" making it "authentic"
                  but actually ANY gravy mix would do - check out the gravy mix display in a large grocery. Knorr, Clubhouse, Swiss Chalet, and French brands all come to mind.

                  As for brand of curd cheese? I have no clue. I've seen small, single serve bags of the stuff, which would make it the perfect size for such a "gift".

                  I'm not an airline expert, but I think checked baggage in the cargo hold does not get as much heat as the passenger cabin. Our suitcase contents are always cold coming off the plane. This may help with whatever perishables to bring. I think a vacuum-packed smoked meat brisket (or partial brisket) would do fine on the trip - its cured and smoked. Besides Schwartz, I suggest taking a look at Quebec Smoked Meat (1889 Centre, Montréal, QC H3K 1J1
                  (514) 935-5297) for a less expensive product (closed weekends last time I checked).

                  And puretopaz, you gotta have the last word here: when the holiday frenzy is over, when you're sliding into the next semester, when you're comfy in your student apartment, think of the sorry folks at Chowhound. Then report back with a summary of the gifts you decided on and how they were received, liked or hated! hehe.

                  1. re: porker

                    Thanks for the list;

                    I actually planned to shop today after church but the weather is not helping!
                    Depending on how much time I get between exams I may not have too much time to go around :(

                    I'll try my best (hopefully it gets more walkable here) and update once I get back!

                3. Many of these suggestions have to be eaten pretty much the minute you disembark. Smoked meat and bagels are already going off after 12-24hrs at room temp, and nasty after 48+ (although you could try freezing and gently reheating).

                  I'm pretty sure you can get foie gras and duck and so on out west.

                  For something without an expiration date that I know for sure can't be found outside the province, I'd hit the SAQ's Quebec ("terroir") section and grab some Sortilege, comes in maple whiskey or maple cream varieties. My siblings in Ontario love the stuff.

                  Also Caribou liquor, liqueurs in various wildberry flavours, ice ciders, etc.


                  The SAQ, man. It's one-stop Xmas shopping.

                  1. Here are some of the treats that I take back to family or send to friends (though I am from Australia, so apologies if some of these are readily available in Vancouver). Some of these have been mentioned by others..

                    Granulated maple sugar and maple butter (I like the grinder of maple sugar you can get in the epiceries - it is about $10 and a nice gift, which is lighter than a can of QC maple syrup!)

                    Sortilege - even people who don't really like whiskey (myself included) like this

                    Ice cider - my favourites are from Ciderie du Minot

                    Jams from Preservation Society (they will be at Puces Pop this afternoon, go if you have time, try some of their limited edition jams. They are $10 each)

                    Honey from Miels d'Anicet
                    This is a new one for me, I had the idea after reading about them in the Gazette on Wednesday. They has a stall at Les Salon des Metiers at Place Bonaventure and are very happy to offer tastings and chat about their products.
                    These were also incredibly reasonably priced, much more so than many of the other food products available at the show. $6.50 for a jaw of raw honey, $5 for a jar of their homemade honey mustard.

                    Sachets of St Hubert gravy mix, and the mix for the Hot Chicken sandwich. Any "ready to mix" things that you find in the supermarket here that would be unfamiliar to those back home.

                    Brownies from Kem CoBa - these were a hit with a friend in the States - freeze them before you leave and them pack them in your checked baggage - they will definitely maintain freshness! I think they are $3.95 each

                    Have fun shopping!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: unlaced

                      Did you like the miels d'anicet? I think he has a book out, and a book + a honey + a mustard would fit nicely in my budget.

                      1. re: hala

                        Yes, I liked them very much! If I wasn't potentially leaving Montreal soon, I would have purchased much more. In the end my favourites were their mead, their raw honey and the honey mustard (the yellow variety - I was surprised that I liked this one more than the dijon honey mix!) Their buckwheat honey was so flavourful, I would imagine it would be incredible in different baked goods.

                        I had a flick through the book and there were some delicious looking recipes in there! I think that kind of pack would make a wonderful gift!