Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Montreal: Marche Jean Talon
Fresh Organic Produce
Smarter, more responsible people would plan their mornings early, have a little breakfast and then plan their tour of a city accordingly. They wouldn't head off at the last minute when there were other appointments to be made.
I'm just not that smart.
It's the Finals today of the Canadian Barista Championship and I'm supposed to co-emcee the event. But I'm also planning on leaving town immediately after the finals and won't have time to pay my proper respects to Marche Jean Talon, the city's largest public market. After a quick calculation, it's on and I'm blazing out the door and up Rue Saint Laurent heading for Rue Jean Talon and the market in Montreal's Petite Italie (Little Italy).
There's still more to fall's bounty at Jean Talon.
I've been here before and I know what to expect: French Culinary Goodness. On the way, I'm planning in my mind what to seek out. I've only got an hour to spare so I've got to be quick about it and I won't have time to properly explore the marche like last time. I'm thinking: cheese, duck confit, meats and whatever else catches my fancy. A friend warned me about problems crossing the border into the United States and since I've forgotten to bring my vacuum sealer, I'm taking a chance. But life is a gamble anyway, right?
At the market, I spy all sorts of tasty treats. Au Lait Cru is chock full of wonderful cheeses, Porcmillieur is stocked up with everything pork, the husband and wife team at the sausage place attract my attention and I'm running away with some Mini Menage sausage and a vac pack of Saucisse "Toulouse" Confite, He gives me a taste of the Mini Menage and it's absolutely beautiful. Rich, complex and buttery on the tongue. I should have bought more.
A little paella, just in case.
At Au Lait Cru, I realize that, like many things, cheese is my nemesis. I really know nothing about cheeses. It's all a mystery to me. So many to choose from. I don't know how. Sure, I'll go to the local market at home and just buy whatever to give it a taste but here in Montreal, i don't want to choose poorly. It's not like I'm coming back here next week.
Luckily, the counter guy must be familiar with idiot Americans and he guides me to some choices. There's a wedge of a Swiss cheese and two Quebec made cheeses (goat and a soft cheese similar to camembert). He assures me that these are good quality and hopes that I'll enjoy them.
Must avoid the fromagerie.
At Porcmillieur, I dig around their bins until I find a nice hunk of smoked loin ready for poaching, roasting, slicing and eating. The girl speaks about as much English as I do French but we manage to discuss the finer points of the loin and how to prepare it nonetheless.
Next to Porcmillieur is a specialty butcher and he's got some nice looking vac packed duck confit. I can't resist. Oh, and is that a tub of duck fat I spy in the display case? I'll take that too.
Wonderful duck and pork goodness.
A closer look at the sausages.
Jean Talon also has a nice selection of prepared foods, including baked pies and such. But I'm on a schedule and whatever I buy has to keep for several days until I return home to Maryland. I decide to pass on the baked goods - except for the Ficelle I picked up for the cheeses.
A Petroncini coffee roaster.
All this shopping and I'm feeling the need for a little nourishment, as well as a little coffee. There's a coffee shop in the market and I order an 8z drip coffee. They've got espresso, but many times I'd rather just have a plain old brewed cup of coffee. The coffee looks pretty decent and they roast their own on a Petroncini roaster.
Coffee and a cream-filled beignet.
Add a little sugar and milk to the coffee but the pastries at the coffeeshop look pretty mundane and run of the mill but there's a nice looking bakery across the way. There I decide on a cream-filled beignet to go with my coffee. The combination of coffee and beignet is a classic. It's just right, delicious and a great way to get things rolling.
From here, it's back into the Sonoma and back to the Palais des Congres de Montreal for the championship.
Marche Jean Talon
70/70 Rue Henri-Julien