Beyond the Market tour

Located in the heart of Montreal’s Little Italy, Jean-Talon Market is one of the city’s oldest public markets. It opened in 1933 and was christened Marché du Nord, later changing to its current name in honour of the first Intendant of New France.

Famous for farm-fresh produce, flowers, spices, cheese, meat, fish and artisanal bakers, Jean-Talon’s also one of the largest markets in North America, open yearly (though on a smaller scale during the winter months).

Beyond the Market tour
[Danny Pavlopoulos]

Beyond the Market takes food lovers outside the mainstream, visiting some of Montreal’s less-touristed neighbourhoods. Tour guide/co-founder Danny Pavlopoulos lives right by the market so he knows it like the back of his hand. His tour company Spade and Palacio launched little over a month ago and has already built a loyal following from foodies to media outlets across North America.

Our tour starts at Jean-Talon Market, where we nibble on Epi de Quenouille (foraged cattails before they get enlarged and brown), heated and served on a stick. The texture is somewhat comparable to couscous, the flavour close to zucchini.

Beyond the Market tour

For the less adventurous, François Brouillard’s Jardin Sauvage has about 40 mushroom varieties for sale and helps his customers to pair them with dishes.

Montreal Jean-Talon Market's Havre aux Glaces

Havre aux Glaces sells gorgeous all-fruit sorbets, well-suited for summer strolls around the market. The entire group’s wowed by their strawberry and pear sorbets, though the pear is the hands-down winner.

Beyond the Market tour
[Tomme du Marechal goats cheese]

Further along, some of the delicacies that meet with belly contentment are locally-produced, non-pasteurized Tomme du Marechal goats cheese, Quebec-produced iced cider (a lovely dessert wine with a syrupy quality), and newly-opened O’Bagel, owned by a heritage baker who’s currently the talk of the town for his black seed (aka poppy seed) bagels.

Beyond the Market tour
[Just out of the oven!]

We not only explore Jean-Talon, but wander into the Little Italy and Mile Ex, sampling some mighty fine cold-brewed coffee and winding down the tour in the Mile End, a gentrified area with numerous eateries. At this point, we can’t help but pop into St. Viateur Bagels for a taste of another city institution.

With the highest amount of restaurants per capita in Canada (more than New York!), Montreal’s spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out.

Leave it to Danny to show you the market. He’ll also give you lots of tips on exploring the city. The Beyond the Market tour covers six samplings and costs $69 plus tax. Visit Spade and Palacio online for more info and booking requests.

Montreal Craft Beer Tour

Craft beer lovers will want to book a three-hour Montreal Craft Beer Tour, offered on Fridays and Saturdays. For $59 plus tax, you’ll get to visit three brewpubs, sampling two beers at each, along with tasty bites (chocolates, charcuterie, poutine, oh my!).

The three spots are within walking distance of one another (the tour covers about two km’s), and with over 25 brewpubs in the city, we’re happy to be provided a hard copy guide of others in the area. The guide also provides beer tasting notes and a numbered map to set you on your way for further beer exploration.

We also stop at a few cultural points along the way, getting a bit of history in with our brews. The big difference between brewpubs ad craft/microbreweries here? The former is only licenced to serve on-site (enjoy while you’re in town; no growlers at these) while the latter is able to sell outside their establishments. This makes for a truly local terroir experience!

We start at Benelux, where we sample L’Enfant Roi (a sour saison with a strong, sour punch) and Succube (Munich dunkel), a mildly-roasted beer that’s less sweet than a typical Irish red ale. This second beer is paired with a range of Valrhona chocolates and we learn that many of Quebec’s beer names relate to its strong Catholic history.

Montreal Craft Beer tour

At the second brewpub, we sample L’amère à Boire’s Hefeweizen (with a beef gravlax sample) and a Czech Černá Hora (black mountain) style pilsner, considered one of the best beers in North America (the brewmaster here brought back a yeast sample from the Czech Republic pre-Velvet Revolution!). How lucky we are to sample a true Commie beer in Montreal!

With that beer arrives a plate of year-old-aged cheddar from Isle-Aux-Grues (near Quebec City). Yum x2. Just a tad further down St-Denis brings us to Le Saint-Bock, where a sour IPA is one of two beers in store for our small group. This artisanale brasserie has a massive beer menu (Quebec and international brews). Peruse their beer menu book at leisure over a poutine and craft beer.

In case you’ve not yet visited Montreal, Rue St-Denis is the city’s pub-crawling district, filled with shops, restaurants, and beer pubs.

Find Montreal Craft Beer tours online. My Beyond the Market and Montreal Craft Beer Tours were provided courtesy of Tourism Montreal. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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