Fresh, local food, original and delicious, smiling faces of Quebec farmers, snack kiosks from crepes to baklava, fair-trade coffee, homemade pasta, giant mushrooms, prize-worthy cheese. These are just some of the things that come to mind when thinking about Montreal’s Jean-Talon Market.
This open-air market, which has served the city since 1933, is located in the geographical center of the island of Montreal in the “Little Italy” district. It has 150-plus vendors and covers over almost 220,000 square feet. In the summer the vendor numbers double, most coming in from farms in the surrounding areas of the city.
In true Montreal form, the market braves the city’s harsh winters and is open year-long. In the summer there is fresh seafood from Quebec’s Gaspesie region and strawberries from a number of local farms. Spring boasts all things maple, and the market has endless stalls selling maple any and every which way anyone could hope for. There are rows of treats in endless maple combinations like maple candy, maple fudge, maple butter, and the classic, maple syrup. There’s sometimes “tire d’erable” (maple taffy) ready to sample, every Canadian’s favorite winter snack. During the harvest time there’s squash and pumpkins aplenty, Quebec cranberries and fresh cranberry and apple juice ready for purchase or to go. There’s a kiosk with more different types of mushrooms than you knew existed, close to 30. After you’ve browsed through the middle of the market, hands occupied with bags filled with fresh produce, head to the edges of the market to its many unique shops. There are specialty shops for fish (or “poissonneries”), prize-winning meats and cheeses, spices, bakeries, and pasta. There is much to browse, sample, and buy. Jean-Talon Market doesn’t miss a thing when it comes to food.
In the middle of a busy city day, the market is always there and the farmers are waiting for you to sample a fresh tomato slice and take home a $2 bag before heading to the spice store to buy Moroccan mint and authentic Jamaican jerk spice from the experts. Then sit in the middle of the market and enjoy a crepe and a cup of coffee.
Across from some of the best Turkish Delights you will find outside of Turkey, there is an amazing bakery stand that has wonderful Québécois desserts, such as pet de soeurs and maple pie.