How fabulous is that – a personal tour of Montreal with someone in the know. Aimee dedicated an entire Saturday morning to me, a virtual stranger, and picked me up at 0745 from my downtown hotel.
Aimee is a wonderful photographer, with a crackerjack camera, as you will see from her site. Most of these photos are from her eye and her camera – thanks so much to her for letting me use them on my site. The crappy photos, not tagged Under the High Chair, are mine.
- olive and gourmando sign
- olive et gourmando (under the high chair)
Aimee is kind and knowledgeable and also very lovely. Our first stop wasOlive and Gourmando – a very fragrant bakery and food shop in Old Montreal. I had a brioche with dark chocolate – the chocolate was so dark it was black and rich and the sweetness and caffeine went straight to my head. There were piles of flaky pastry goodness behind the glass, and 15 minutes after opening at 8 am, there was a long queue of people lining up for their Saturday deliciousness. Olive and Gourmando also have a very funky website – click here for a peek.
- jean-talon market (under the high chair)
We then drove to the Jean-Talon Market – which is huge and open every day, year round – bigger than Granville Island Market in Vancouver, and even bigger than Pike Place Market in Seattle. Dare I say – this was the biggest food market I’ve ever been to.
There were rows and rows of Quebec produce – little sweet strawberries and gooseberries and sour cherries and big fat pea pods and huge piles of garlic and rows of carefully arranged corn. What fun. Could I imagine produce shopping there? Yes, yes, yes. Aimee told me, in fact, that many Montreal chefs shop here for their ingredients.
- cheese glorious cheese
The Market has rows of stalls, but is also surrounded by food stores. We stopped in a lovely smelly cheese shop whose name I cannot recall, which is a proper fromagerie, but I sadly could not purchase anything because I was lacking in a cooler, and I thought my plane-mates would not appreciate me bringing smelly warm cheese aboard the plane.
- olives and epices
Tucked away in the Jean-Talon Market is a very special spice shop called Olives and Epices, where Aimee knew the owner and we spent a thoroughly enjoyable half hour inside, smelling spices. It was like being in a fragrance store for cooks. Olives and Epices has little metal boxes of blended spices, and I picked up three little spice kits (Mediterranean, Fish, and a basic kit) for ‘hostess’ gifts while visiting family in BC. I happily purchased a bottle of vanilla bean pods, a bag of cinnamon sticks, Turkish bay leaves and a little tin of saffron for me. I broke the bank in this place. It was great.
st. viateur sea of bagels
Aimee then deftly nagivated us to St. Viateur Bagels which features a hole in the wall storefront and a sea of bagels floating down the middle of the store. It smelled very good in there. In fact, I am going to proclaim that most of Montreal smells very good – from the hotel lobby of the Hilton where I stayed, the bakeries, the lavender smell in the art gallery store, and the chocolate shop. Even stinky cheese smells good to me.
I was not sure how I would fit a dozen St. Viateur Bagels in my suitcase to take to my brother and his girlfriend in Vancouver, but somehow I managed.
- les chocolates de chloe (under the high chair)
After the bagel place was a very special chocolate shop on Duluth called Les Chocolates de Chloe. It is two doors down from the most famous Au Pied De Cochon restaurant, which I did not manage to go to on my stay in Montreal, and which I am very sad about. I will have to come back on a special trip just to go to Au Pied De Cochon for dinner.
Les Chocolates du Chloe is the sweetest little place, very French, with mini little business cards that are so very cute. I had a Fleur de Sel chocolate that tasted like a little taste of sweet salty heaven. I hid an extra chocolate bar in my purse for the flight, since airlines have stopped serving any food at all (unless you pay), even for six hour flights.
- pommes de frites at l’express (under the high chair)
Our final stop on our foodie morning was at L’Express for lunch. Aimee told me it was very French, and even though I have not been to France, I totally believe her. This means the maitre d was doing us a favour by even allowing us in the premises and seating us, especially since we did not have a coveted reservation. Our punishment was to be seated at the very back of a very bright room near the bathrooms.
But that was slightly amusing and also ok.
L’express was all French bistro indeed, and I tried to find my Seattle octopus salad, but to no avail, but the lentil and octopus salad at L’express was just fine. The pommes frites were excellently crisp and hot and served with homemade mayonnaise.
Aimee dropped me off at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and we continued with our respective days.
Aimee’s name is pronounced like aime…which of course means friend in French. So thank you, mon amie, for your time and generosity, my foodie friend for such a wonderful Saturday morning.
edited to add: I managed to recover some photos from my little camera, including this one of my aime Aimee. Aimee, you should consider hosting Montreal food tours for money! Seriously!
- aimee, my montreal foodie tour guide