138 avenue Atwater
À l'angle des rues Notre-Dame et Atwater (at the corner of Notre Dame and Atwater)
Montréal QC H4C 2H6
Friday, April 20, 2012
If you’re a foodie, you’ll feel like you died and went to heaven. Even if you’re just a plain vanilla appreciator of nourishment like pt at large, you’ll be dazzled by a visit to the Atwater Market in Montreal, Quebec. The word cornucopia comes to mind.
If it grew or was harvested or produced within trucking distance of Montreal, it is here: vegetables, fish, cheese, flowers, confections, wines, beers, artisanal drinks, pates, and meat of every variety. And a bakery stocked with goodies that stuns your imagination and short circuits your ability to choose just one or two delectables to go with your latte. You simply want to camp out there until you’ve tried every kind of croissant, cake, torte, cookie, pie, bread and baguette. By the time I walked down the market's two football field sized floors in the concrete and steel building, I was in a daze. Oo la la.
When my traveling companion asked for a selection of local cheeses, the young man behind the glass case at The Fromagerie Atwater said, “How about a sample of one hard cheese, one medium and one soft cheese.” He sorted through a pile of cheeses in the case, found what he wanted, gave us small wedges to sample, listened to our assessnents, and homed in on ones that matched our tastes. In the midst of the process, he motioned us to come behind the counter to see a map of the regions where the cheese was made and found a copy of the map for us to take with us.
He was cheerful, knowledgeable and appreciated our desire to learn about the products he knows from the cow to the counter. The store also sells delicatessen items, Quebec and imported micro brewery beers, and speciaty items. We could have stayed there for hours. The cheeses, by the way, were fabulous.
The hard cheese was LOUIS D'OR aged 24 months, priced at $58.99/kg from Fromagerie du Presbytere St. Elizabeth de Warwick. The soft cheese was KENOGAMI d'Hebertville. The medium cheese was consumed before I had a chance to record the label!
The Atwater Market is one of four huge markets and 11 neighborhood markets and flower kiosks designed to give Montrealers access to food and horticulture produced locally. In 1993, 250 farmers and vendors formed an alliance under the Corporation de Gestion des Marches Public de Montreal. The four huge public markets are located in historic buildings in different parts of Montreal and all steps from Metro stations. They've been enlarged and modernized and are hubs of activity every day.
The market was built in 1933 at a cost upward of one million dollars, a pretty steep pile of cabbage back then. In addition to the boutiques inside and on the perimeter of the building, the market’s third floor has a sprawling room that can hold 10,000 people for social and political events, a new twist on the food for thought theme.
My travel companion and I departed the market with bags filled with local "snow crab" legs (see photo below), maple sugar sweets, fresh roasted almonds and maple roasted cashews, a crusty loaf of olive bread, the aforementioned cheeses from the Lac St Jean area north of Montreal. We had tasted micro brews of blueberry (yes, blueberry), raspberry, and peach beer, and sampled a two-year-old cheese that the marketer hasn’t even devised a name for yet. As an afternoon bracer, I had a tasty latte and inhaled two almond croissants that made me want to move to Montreal.
Judging by the quantity and quality of the food in the Atwater, Montrealers take food seriously. I’m sure there are microwave ovens in their kitchens but I’ll bet they don’t spend much time defrosting frozen foods. Vive la Marché.
Photos by Paul A. Tamburello, Jr.
The Jean Talon Market, another of the four huge public markets reviewed by pt at large in July, 2010
Oo laa laa...
Check here to see if the veggies you want are in season
Local "snow" crab (photo at right that is only harvested for six weeks in April and the beginning of May. Freshly steamed on the premises at Capita1ne Crabe's so it couldn't be any fresher. So sweet it would be a crime to put sauce or butter of any kind on it.
pt at large could have camped out at this boutique for days
Everything here fresh, clean, and presented with care
Everything from soup to nuts
Just one more look...