Oct 21, 2012 - Personal    6 Comments

Little Italy and Jean Talon Market, Montreal

Blog reader and occasional commenter Thierry wanted to meet up with me today to talk about some of the practical aspects of setting out on the road full-time in Canada. As he is based in a part of the city where my mother shops frequently, I asked if she was due for an excursion, hoping to get a ride in so that I could take public transportation out. Yup. So she dropped me off in Little Italy near the restaurant where I was supposed to meet Thierry.

As I had about an hour to kill, I decided to do some shopping. This being Sunday, a lot was closed, but the Italian grocery store Milano on St-Laurent was open so I decided to go pick up some treats. On the way there, I passed Anatol, a spice merchant. Being out of turmeric, I was tempted to go in, but I had a feeling my budget wouldn’t survive this shop. 🙂

Milano’s is a couple of doors down:

This store reminded me of one of my favourite shops in Ottawa’s Byward Market that I used to frequent often. It was full to the brim with wonderful products straight from Italy, as well as offering a full deli, cheese counter, fruit and vegetable section, and some North American groceries. Mindful that I would have to carry everything for hours, I made some careful choices of pesto, biscotti, gnocchi, Jerusalem couscous, and this awesome multi-coloured pasta:

I’ve been wanting to try squid ink pasta for some time, so this seemed like a non-intimidating introduction.

Heading back to the restaurant, I snapped a pic of iconic Montreal architecture:

Montreal is famous for these row houses with the huge exterior staircases in the front. Common lore from the time when the Church ruled Quebec with an iron fist claims that the staircases are outside so that neighbours could keep an eye on who was going into the houses to reduce moral depravity.

The other, more logical, claim has to do with the climate. While it might not make sense to have a big slippery staircase outside a building where it’s winter six months of the year, it does make sense to not waste energy heating an enclosed staircase.

I met Thierry at the appointed hour where I taught him the first lesson of his future life: that you need to be flexible in your plans. As it turns out, the restaurant was closed at lunch time! We walked around a little looking for a non-crowded place and he ended up directing us to the SoupeSoup lunch counter on Casgrain. It’s a tiny place serving up salads, soups, sandwiches, coffees, and desserts. The food was excellent and this was a great place to linger and chat.

After, we crossed the street to finish up the conversation at Jean-Talon Market, a large year-round market offering some of the best products from all over Quebec.

In the summer, there are a lot of exterior vendors, but there is an enclosed year-round space, too.

After Thierry left, I wandered around for a bit and finally splurged on some creamed honey and maple syrup, and ended up paying several dollars less than the sticker price because the vendor was closing up for the season!

There is something wrong with the maple syrup can. Can you guess what it is?

It was starting to spit after this, so I decided it was time to start heading for home. Tomorrow, I will introduce you to Montreal’s métro system!

And, yes, our discussion will warrant a post, too. 🙂

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6 Comments

  • Is it that pure.. is pura (in italian) instead of french?
    Oh, for the love of pasta..what is squid ink pastas?
    Are there farms milking squid to make this??..
    mental picture of this is cracking me up….lol

  • Gina, no, that’s not it. It does say, ‘pure à 100%’, which is French for 100% pure. Hint: that label does not conform with Quebec language laws.

    As for squid ink, it’s a common food additive! You can buy it in wet or powdered form. It’s harvested from dead squid. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cephalopod_ink#Use_by_humans The milking image is hilarious!

  • I wasn’t going to even try to critique the French, since it looked just fine to me.
    HOWEVER, the French needs to be ON TOP, to conform to Bill 101 . I think that was the one, introduced by good ole René .

    I thought I’d be super clever and go off and do a search and try and quickly confirm my suspicions, but oy! is there ever a lot written on the subject! Gah!
    Do you think the producers of that Maple Syrup went to the “Human Rights Commission” claiming their charter rights were being infringed upon?? *snort*

    Are there bonus points involved?

  • Bob, you get some bonus points, yes! 🙂 Not only is the French supposed to be on top, it is supposed to be much bigger than the English.

    That said, I will admit I’m not sure if that applies to packaging or just to signs out in the world. I mean, all the imported products, like the things I bought from Italy, have a translated slapped on top of them with the French and English the same size. So perhaps that can is legal.

    The language police in this province is SCARY.

  • Salut Rae, it was great meeting you, what a good time and thank you so much for sharing your experience, knowledge and smiles. I’ll be missing Jean-Talon market when we’ll hit the road as full timers.
    Merci et a la prochaine!

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