31 August 2012

Montreal Day 3

Today was a mix of local culture (Jean Talon Market), and tourist trap (Old Port). We went to the Science Center (geared to non-science majors, unfortunately) and Pointe-à-Callière, and I learned so much about the Samurai and Etruscans!

Cafe In at Jean Talon Market ~17$
I got a smoked salmon, dill, and capers sandwich, made with some sort of bread (it was like a very light, toasted baguette) that started with a "b", and it was either local to France or Montreal. Without the panini press, the bread had been less flat (but still reminded me of a bagel without a hole). The sandwich came with a fruit salad. I used to hate dill, but apparently, my brain now has become quite attached to that fresh flavour.

[UPDATE 6th August 2013: I think it's a bialy. Pretty common in Ithaca, NY]

My brother got the same type of sandwich, but with Cajun chicken filling instead. He also got  coffee with milk (as he had been each day, even though he usually stays away from it).

Jean Talon Market! ~15$

I enjoy looking at how/what food is sold in other cultures. Jean Talon Market was intriguing because there were a bunch of Quebec or Montreal products, and everything was written in French. Finally, the pages of French vocab for vegetables and fruits have come into use! In addition, it appeared that fewer people knew how to speak English.

We saw cotton still on the branches!

Apparently, there is no tax for products bought at the market! This meant that maple syrup that was 20$ for 3 cans ended up being 20$, and not 23$! Maple syrup bought in a gallon-sized container was 48$. In general, the maple syrup was cheaper than at the RESO or at the gift stores at the touristy areas, and although there were maple leaf and log cabin bottles of syrup, there were also plenty of simple jars of syrup and butter stamped only with a company logo. Along with the economic benefit, I wonder if it's better to buy maple syrup from the market because there may be fewer middle-people, but I know nothing of Montreal's food politics. Needless to say, the market gets far less tourist traffic than the gift stores at the RESO or Old Port. There were also some maple butters that were refrigerated, and the store owner gave my brother and I a delicious sample. I chose to buy a maple butter made with 100% maple syrup. There was also a maple butter with some glucose syrup in it, that didn't need to be refrigerated. When I asked why the 100% maple syrup butter HAD to be in the fridge, the woman said that it would harden if left outside. That defies the concept that heat causes liquids to flow more easily, and I didn't want glucose syrup in my maple stuff!

Pomettes! Crabapples! I always thought that crabapples were this apocryphal non-edible fruit, and that Ms. Krabappel from The Simpsons was so named because she was crabby (but is she?). Yet crabapples are actually real fruits that look like miniature Pink Lady apples! They are the size of large grapes, and taste extremely sour - lemon sour. Apparently, people use crabapples to make crabapple jam, but as we lacked a pot to make the jam, I tried to eat half our punnet within the next two days. They did get a tad sweeter over time, but they were all still much more sour than the sourest Granny Smith apple. 2$ a punnet, which actually equates at least a jar of quality jam, had I a saucepan.

There were also cute punnets (everything is in punnets, and when you ask to buy something, they transfer it to a plastic bag unless you happen to have a reusable bag handy) of ground cherries! GROUND CHERRIES! I'd never seen such a thing before I went to the botanical garden, and seeing them being sold commercially was quite amusing. We didn't buy them though, because we already had the crabapples.

I also bought a cone of maple butter. While the cone was the standard tasteless wafer, the maple butter was thick, creamy, and melted instantly in my mouth. I love maple flavour, and the sweetness could sink ship (a large one, mind you). It was great!

La Fournee de Sucreriers de L'erable 7$
Finally, a pastry shop advertising maple pastries and tourtières (a regional meat pie)! Unfortunately, there were no tourtières that day, so I'll have to wait until I return to try one. I got a maple syrup tart that sweated maple syrup during the day, while my brother got a chevre, blueberry, and "basilic" tart. "Basilic" means "basil", but instead, there were almonds (and no basil!). Either way, my brother claimed that it was delicious. I thoroughly enjoyed my super-sweet maple syrup tart. It was basically all sugar and fat, textured like thick, gooey jam-fudge. While eating, my brother told  me that when he was really young, he used to think that one was supposed to eat the foil too.

Lays Dill Pickle Potato Chips 1.72$
We also shared some Dill Pickle chips, obtained from a gift store at the RESO. To both my brother and I, the chips tasted like Lays Salt & Vinegar chips, and we were right! There is acetic acid in the ingredients! However, there is a hint of dill and there are small green specks on each chip. I wonder why Lays doesn't try to advertise these in the US, since I would buy them instead of the Salt & Vinegar chips (multiflavour chips!)

Acité - Old Port 45$
Throughout our time in Montreal thus far, we commented on the lack of "42nd St"-ness in Montreal. By that, I mean that Downtown Montreal is not littered with gift stores, no one is trying to buy 8 Montreal shirts for 10$, people walking down the streets downtown aren't all waving cameras around, well, it just doesn't look like New York's Times Square, in both atmosphere and cleanliness. However, after shuffling around on the streets of Old Port, we concluded that everything cliche and gaudy could be found in Old Port. Tourists milled around fancy restaurants (steakhouses?), gift stores that sold "I [heart] POUTINE" shirts and "DO NOT TOUCH" beaver tail hats, and overpriced maple syrup, and a guy who juggled sticks of fire.

I wanted to go to Mont Royal Plateau to eat dinner but my brother wanted to eat at Old Port. So, we went to Acité, a nearly empty restaurant with exclusively outdoor seating of about 20, and I ordered snails and my brother got chicken and rice. Out of all things to consume, my brother picked a chunk of chicken and a scoop of rice.
The snails had been deshelled and were like little blobs of rubber in a plain cheese and oil sauce. It was quite bad. I don't recall snails being rubbery and tough (though the last time I'd tried them had been at The Dwarf Restaurant in 2001 or something in Hong Kong, and those had been shelled snails stuffed with delicious mashed potato and cheese). the cheese sauce was nothing special and particularly unctuous. The dish was very shallow. I was disappointed. Needless to say, I also didn't think much of what my brother got, though he seemed happy with the overall meal.

Les Délices de l'Érable 1.73$
My first macaron! Maple syrup flavoured, about 3 cm in diameter, and surprisingly moist! I didn't know macarons were chewy and soft. I always assumed it'd be something like meringue. It was delicious! And, to think that I can make a batch of these for the price of one...

Super C ~17$
We got Oka cheese! With mushrooms! It was semisoft, creamy and mild and had a hint of truffle. It was great! Apparently it is local to Quebec.
We also got ground cherries! Whoohoo! 2.99$ They were phenomenal! They were like mini tomatoes, and tasted like tropical fruit (mango?) and were slightly sour, like a tomato, but were also surprisingly sweet! It was so great pulling apart the outside!

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