Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue March 17 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | March 17, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    Montreal for The Foodie

    Montreal for The Foodie

    Montreal is an art and history lover’s dream, boasting miles of public art as well as world-class museums and the historical charm of the Old Montreal district. Add to that the non-stop festivals all year round and you have a charming, eclectic destination with something going on at every turn.

    In fact, there's so much activity in Montreal that I think visitors sometimes miss the fact that this city is also a foodie paradise. From the distinctive Montreal-style bagels, to the iconic poutine dishes, you could eat your way through this stylish metropolis and never try the same thing twice.

    With celebrity chefs whipping up gourmet treats on every other street and sprawling outdoor food markets open most days, Montreal is truly a nosher’s nirvana. My first foodie stop was Brasserie T, an offshoot of Toque!, Montreal’s most popular and highly distinguished restaurant. Set along a terrace of fountains and the stage for the Quartier des spectacles in downtown Montreal, Brasserie T hops with crowds before, during and after shows. There was a line snaking down the street when I arrived to the sleek, glass encased structure splashed with a bright orange interior.

    The menu features seasonal ingredients and contemporary presentation. I sampled lightly grilled salmon with a tangy dill fennel salad. It tasted fresh and expertly seasoned so that the natural flavors shone through. I topped it off with a glass of ice wine, an iconic Canadian drink that’s created when grapes are frozen on the vine and picked at the coldest point of a winter’s night.

    The fermented juice is extra sweet because the freezing and thawing of the grapes concentrates the sugars and acids. The flavor is luscious and addictive; I immediately plotted the best methods to pack bottles in my suitcase. Other popular dishes include chicken liver mousse, a couscous lamb skewer and Parmesan fondue, all decidedly French but with a North American twist.

     Next, I hightailed it to the food shopping Mecca, Jean Talon Market. The biggest outdoor market in North America, this colorful emporium has served up fresh produce since 1933. Located in the landmark Little Italy neighborhood, the market brims with old-world character. Unlike typical American farmer’s markets, this sprawling food fest cannot be experienced with a quick jaunt through the aisles.

    With over 300 vendors and free samples everywhere you look, Jean Talon requires stamina and an empty stomach. Along rows of live seafood and insect-devouring plants, I found typical Quebecois products. I tasted maple syrup lollipops, maple syrup tea, locally produced honey in blueberry and raspberry flavors, mustard spiked with mushrooms and fresh goat cheese from the famed fromagerie.

    I could barely move after tasting all of that, so I people watched and listened to Peruvian wind pipe musicians (everybody comes to Montreal to play music) performing at the market’s entrance. I spent two hours at Jean Talon just skimming the highlights but you need at least three hours and good walking shoes to really shop. I also managed to check out the hip outpost, Le Magnifique, which is so crowded and so cool that they don't allow photos. I did sneak a pic of my popcorn and salmon salad, which was weirdly delicious.

     You cannot visit Montreal without nibbling the quintessential Quebecois dish of poutine. It’s so much a part of the culture that even McDonald’s serves it. But what is it exactly? Well, it’s a gloppy concoction of fries, cheddar cheese curds and gravy that tastes a little better than it sounds.

    Poutine literally translates to mess in French and its served in fine restaurants and dives. I spotted dozens of variations with chicken gravy or bacon thrown in but I was determined to try the classic version. I plopped down in a food court for a late night taste and it was interesting. The cheese curds add an unusual texture to the fries and the gravy gives it flavor. Poutine is an essential Montreal experience and I felt a little closer to the city after trying it.

More Montreal


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
Sandals Resorts: The 5-Star Luxury Included Resorts

Hotels & Resorts