Marche Jean Talon, Montreal, QC

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A feast for the eyes

at one of Montreal's public markets

In the heart of the city, you can find an oasis of fresh produce (and flowers and gelato and smoked meats and crepes and provisions and Turkish pastries and... ).

The marche Jean Talon, in Montreal's Little Italy, is a gastronomic playground. Considering Montreal's status as a culinary destination in its own right, the fact that several such markets pepper the city should come as no surprise.  Good meals start with good ingredients, and that's what you'll find here: the ingredients for the good life. We've made several trips to the market, and have always found it to be bustling and delicious. 

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I'm a sucker for crepes, so I've enjoyed a few here at Jean Talon. The creperie serves both savory and sweet options of their buckwheat crepes. The ham, egg, and cheese crepe with spinach (below to the left) may be my favorite, but don't discount the salmon crepe (center) or the apple cinnamon crepe (right) if you feel like splurging. 

The beauty of markets like Jean Talon is the range of options. If a sandwich is more your style (or your dining companion's), the smoked meat at Boucherie des Terroirs is a good option. You can read about the history of smoked meat in Montreal here, or get an itinerary for a smoked meat tour of the city here. It's a staple, and I admit that I haven't tried the sandwich enough to compare this one to others in Montreal.  What I can tell you is that this one was quite tasty. The boucherie offers other meat options, too, like the roasted chicken shown below.


It's a simple idea, really: meat, mustard, bread.  And it works. The pungent mustard balances the smoke, and the bread just gets it all to your face with ease.  This is something I'd like to explore more on future trips to Montreal. While this one certainly hit the spot, I'm excited to try other permutations of this masterpiece of simplicity.

Sweet options abound at the market, too. The Turkish pastry vendor offers a dazzling array, and will pack up your treats so you can enjoy them later... perhaps after a nap. We also found a gelato stand down one of the aisles near the produce. Which reminds me: you needn't restrict yourself to the prepared-foods section of the market.  The fresh produce and flower portion of the market is just as large and stunning. I've written before about the importance of feeling connected to the source of one's food, and particularly the significance of seeking out those connections when traveling.  Here at Jean Talon, I felt the respect for growers and producers that informs the Montreal food scene.  

You can also find shops around the perimeter of the market, such as a book store selling only cookbooks (in French and English), as well as restaurants and specialty grocers.  It's a foodie haven in a foodie city, offering not only daily provisions for locals but also -- for the visitor -- innumerable introductions to the diverse and delicious food culture of Montreal. 

Marche Jean-Talon

7070 Henri-Julien Avenue

Montreal, Quebec, Canada