Tag Archives: Montreal

Discover Montreal’s Best Shopping for Foodies

Discover Montreal’s best shopping for foodies. Spade & Palacio Tours will show you the best places to buy and try all things edible in the north end of Montreal.

Good friends Danny Pavlopoulos and Anne-Marie Pellerin met in a Montreal tour guide course. And upon graduation, they decided to form their own company, Spade & Palacio.

Ever since then, they’ve educated visitors and native Montrealers alike on the very best food products available in their ‘hood: the Mile End and Mile X section of the city.

Pavlopoulos and Pellerin want their clients to walk away with a true local experience. So how do they select the stops for their tour?

“The selected locations are actually our favorite hangouts. We have spent hours in each of them enjoying their products. We call them our living rooms. The products are the best in their league, hands down,” says Pavlopoulos.

The lively three-hour tour starts with the best pupusas in the Latin Quarter at Salvadorian restaurant Los Planes and finishes with a picnic meal of Southern barbecue from Triple Crown at Parc de la Petite-Italie at the junction of St Laurent and St. Zotique in the north end of Montreal.

Les Bonnes Tomates du Quebec
Les Bonnes Tomates photo credit: John Cameron

In between, there’s serious food shopping at the Jean-Talon Market and surrounding areas.

“We show our guests around the way we would with a friend from out of town. We are proud to be part of only a handful of tour companies that share this ideology in the city,” adds Pavlopoulos. “We aim to teach and to share our neighborhood experiences with our guests.”

Since 1934, the Jean-Talon Market has supplied Montreal with fresh Quebec products and specialty items from around the world. Jean-Talon Market is open every day, year-round.

Visitors will find a variety of produce (including organic and pesticide-free items); flowers and fine herbs; fish and meat; and ice cream and sorbet made with local fresh fruits like sweet Quebec strawberries.

Delicious barbecued lamb, pork and chicken sandwiches as well as bison on a stick, makes the market a great lunch destination.

The Jean-Talon Market is also a great spot to sample Quebec wines and ciders around a cozy outdoor bar that allows for great people watching.

Danny Palacio of Spade & Palacio
Danny Palacio (on left) photo credit: Sherel Purcell

At the Jean-Talon Market, participants will meet unique vendors such as the “Sausage Pimp,” who produces tasty items like shrimp and scallop sausages.

Spade & Palacio can also show how to get the best deals on produce by shopping the back lanes of the stalls for bulk sales on produce that can be whipped into hearty soups and sauces to be frozen for later use.

Brasserie Harricana
Brasserie Harricana

At nearby Brasserie Harricana, guests discover a variety of tasty microbrews served with a spicy take on the famous French fry and cheese curd dish: poutine.

A short walk away into the light industrial area of Mile X, visitors can buy vacuum-packed bags of fair trade Ethiopian, Peruvian and Columbian beans from Dispatch Coffee , used in their excellent cold filtered brew.

Down the street, check out Manitoba restaurant, where the dinner menu changes frequently, based on the fresh and wild food items available – as it should be in a restaurant that prioritizes natural ingredients sourced locally.

These are all served in a cool redesigned space with an inviting patio attached that focuses on the great outdoors.

Rest assured that Spade & Palacio will show you the very best food products available in their ‘hood.

Certified Village Cafes of the Eastern Townships

An hour outside of Montreal, visitors to the beautiful four-season vacation area of the Eastern Townships (Cantons-de-l’Est) can join the locals for breakfast, lunch, dinner or just coffee at a new association of local cafes that have been certified for serving quality, healthy meals using local ingredients and products. Strict criteria state the cafes cannot be part of a chain, must be central to community life and often feature the cafe owner behind the counter.

Local village café owners invite visitors to their fine restaurants to enjoy coffee (often organic and sometimes free trade) along with meals prepared using top quality local ingredients as well as locally-produced specialty products for take out, often available frozen for quick make-at-home meals.

This newly created, select group of local cafes is similar to the Cafes de pays found all over rural France.  These cafes also serve as meeting places that are known to be friendly, welcoming and down-to-earth. The owners of these cafés, which are centrally located in the towns and villages of the  Eastern Townships are proud to share their diverse flavours and their beautiful surroundings. The cafes are often located near scenic viewpoints such as alongside lakes and rivers.

Musee-du-Chocolate
Musee-du-Chocolate

An example of a village cafe which produces a specialty product is the one located in the Chocolate Museum in Bromont, founded in 1993. While enjoying such local dishes as salmon pie, chicken crepes or baked beans served with a fresh vegetable salad topped with a home made chocolate and balsamic dressing, visitors can also learn about the history of chocolate and enjoy a wide selection of hand made chocolates and chocolate desserts served with a rich cup of milk or dark hot chocolate.

Cafe de Saveurs
Cafe de Saveurs

Some of these small establishments like Cafe Saveurs et Gourmandises also hold liquor licenses and offer local beers and wines. Sitting on the bank of Lake Massawippi in North Hatley, Saveurs et Gourmandises, specializes in homemade delicacies including a perfectly-sized cake-style chocolate brownie filled with walnuts. For lunch, their hearty French onion soup topped with a generous helping of melted cheese is a great place to start followed by a fillet of salmon sandwich or a warm cheese and ham on a fresh croissant. Their six varieties of pizza are popular too.

Other village cafes in the region specialize in maple syrup products or multiple varieties of homemade bread while still others grew out of central food markets. Some serve as local co-ops and a few feature exhibits by local artists.

Whatever their origins or focus, the village cafes, a prime feature of everyday life in the community, are a great place to experience the Eastern Townships like a local.