Saturday, May 3, 2008

Marche Gourmand Laval

Food lovers in Laval can now rejoice. The tides of culinary inferiority between islands are slowly changing. Along with our farmer's market, Marche 440--which is located on the 440 service road next to Club Price, foodies now have another haven to obsess over.

The Marche Gourmand is located at, 2888 avenue du Cosmodome, and is part of the obscenely over-developed Centropolis complexe. I decided to pay the new market a visit upon hearing that a Premiere Moison had finally opened. During my last visit, the market offered more boarded up locals with "overture bientot" signs than vendors displaying their fares.

I always like to approach a market the same way. There is something very gratifying in playing the role of casual observer. Walking about with an attitude of unobstrusiveness as I take it all in. I let the market seduce me.

The first shop upon entering is Premiere Moisson, and it is the largest I've ever been in. Is it me or do they seem to be selling all manners of victuals? The selection in here is daunting, from their impressive breads, cakes, pies, and pates to a wide selection of prepared sandwiches and salads, which patrons seemed to be enjoying in the seated section. Also available, a wide array of prepared sauces and French classics such as Confit de Canard and Beef Bourguignon. (I'm not a fan of prepared food but The Hungry Italian will try everything once without bias. If anyone has tried any of these ready-to-go meals I would love to know what they're like.) I couldn't leave without buying something, and one look at the sugar pies made my legs feel weak. So three small pies and a ficelle later my market adventure continued.

Fig. 3 Inside Premiere Moisson

Fig.4 Maple Syrup, apricot, and pecan pies from Promiere Moison. All good, especially the maple syrup, the crust is reminiscent of a brown sugar shortbread and added a nice contrast to the soft filling. Also beautiful is the packaging, although some might say excessive.

Walking past a large Boucherie, with several butchers enticing passer-by's to covet their meat, I suppressed the carnivore in me and welcomed the herbivore. Next stop, Fruiterie 440, prices are good but the quality can sometimes leave something to be desired. The selection, however, is impressive; I bought some kale and was on my way. There's something sublime about eating kale. It's as though with every bite your life is slightly prolonged, and like the invincible inhabitants of Crete you too can live to the ripe age of 101.

Out of the fruiterie and into La Maison du Fromage; An impressive cheese shop with a staggering choice of cheese. The staff was very helpful and know their way around un-pasteurized French cheese and Italian cow's milk cheese equally. I was taken by surprise when I asked for smoked provolone and was immediately answered with "how much would you like?" Unlike the more readily available smoked gouda and gruyere, smoked provolone, (made from whole cow's milk), has a mild sharpness (which comes from the sourness of whole unadulterated cow's milk), and it is also sweeter than its Dutch and Swiss counterparts. This is not an easy cheese to find; needless to say, I happily bought some of this smoky goodness, as well as some grana padano, and continued on.

Fig.5 Cacciocavallo, Gorganzola, and the elusive smoked provolone

My next stop was La Fournee des Sucreries de L'Erable. The Maple Syrup pie I tasted here was the best I've ever had. The filling just seemed to dissolve on the tongue, and didn't have that "my teeth are hurting" level of sweetness or grainy texture which often comes with pies containing too much sugar. I purchased a couple of pet de soeur and the biggest macaroon I've ever seen and kept walking.

Bonbons & Cie is a small candy shop specializing in all manners of hard to find bonbons. Browsing in this shop brought back memories of the after school depanneur haunts of old.

Fig.6. The still- popular ring pop and the renamed, Popeye's "candysticks". I showed my son how to roll the box in his shoulder sleeve so he would look like a "Greaser".

Walking past a pizza place and an Eastern European charcuterie,(where I tasted a very nice smoked Kielbasa) the aroma in the air led me to Creperie Oasis Gourmand. I surrendered to the smell and shared a Nutella crepe with my son.

Fig.7 Fresh crepes "Parisienne"

Walking past a Kitchen supply shop, which housed an impressive variety of "old school" pasta making tools, a Saucissier, and a shop specializing in oils and vinegar, I came face to face with a store I was already familiar with, just not in Laval. Along with the Marche Jean-Talon, Laval now has a proper fresh pasta shop with Pastificio Sacchetto. I've bought pasta from Pastificio before and have always been satisfied, and the prices are comparable with other fine pasta shops in St. Leonard, R.D.P., and St Michel.

I left the store giddy and satisfied with a kilogram of gnoccetti, half a kilo of spaghettini and some decadent Panna from parmelat which no self-respecting kitchen should be without.

Fig 9 Mushroom ravioli

Coming to the end of my market journey, I spot a chocolate shop called, I Love The shop had a nice variety of handmade chocolate and the owner, Annie Roggero, was very gracious with her information. She informed me that all of her dark chocolate is Belgian and 75% pure. Her milk chocolate is an above average 45% pure, and that she also has a line of sugar free chocolate which she developed for her diabetic mother. I tasted some of her milk chocolate, which wasn't as creamy as I was accustomed to, but had a much deeper cocoa flavour to it. I drifted out of the store with chocolate melting in my mouth.

Fig 10, Tea's from around the world meet chocolates made in Montreal

It was time for a coffee break to ponder supper. I opted for some take home sushi given the amount of chocolate I had consumed on this market discovery.

People sometimes ask me why I go to the trouble of writing something like this when I don't get anything out of it. It's difficult to make people understand that the satisfaction comes not only in the writing, but in the sharing; a selfless quality I believe all food lovers possess. My sincere hope is that some of you reading this article will side-step the time-convenience of a supermarket frozen pizza and instead find your own market such as this one and have your own adventure. Buy all of the ingredients fresh, whether it be for a pizza, a pasta alla vongole, or even a simple grilled cheese, take them to your kitchen and create proper food.
It has always been my contention that there's nothing convenient about ready made prepared foods. In the end it is your health which matters most, and there's nothing convenient about destroying your body.

It's up to us Laval residents to help out the little guys; Galen Weston Jr. has enough money. Take your family and explore the Marche Gourmand.

Le Marche Gourmand:

Premiere Moisson, 450-682-1800

Bonbon & Cie, 514-953-5207

Boucherie La Superieure 450-686-8889 -
Other location: 7500 boul. Les Galeries-d'Anjou 514-355-2640 in Les Halles Anjou

Pizza Gourmande, 450-688-3544

La Maison du Fromage, 450-973-2743

Charcuterie Balkani, 450-680-1626
-Other location: 7070 Henri Julien, 514-807-1626, Marche Jean-Talon

La Boutique de L'Olivier, 450-681-6003

Olive & Olive, 450-687-8222
-Other locations: 1389 Laurier est Montreal 514-526-8989
428b ave Victoria Saint-Lambert 450-923-2424
Marche Jean-Talon 514-271-0001

Cuisine-Promax, 450-682-0947

Le Petit Coin d'Europe, 450-686-0492

La Fournee des Sucreries de l'Erable 450-686-7718
-Other locations: Marche Jean-Talon 514-279-7830
6423 rue d'iberville, Rosemont, 514-727-8085
4492 rue Granier, 514-524-4464 Plateau Mont-Royal

Pastificio Sacchetto, 450-686-9222
-Other Location: 7070 Henri-Julien, 514-274-4443, Marche Jean-Talon

I Love, 450-963-7402
-Other locations: Choco Style 1093 Legendre est, Montreal

Un Amour des Thes, 514-605-7448
-Other locations: 1224 Bernard Ouest, Outremont
5612 Monkland, Montreal

Le Marais, 450-688-9993

Sushiman, 450-687-1212

Creperie Oasis Gourmand

Fruterie 440

Poissonnerie Odessa (to open in two weeks)


The Hungry Italian said...

great article. I'll be paying a visit.

Jayne said...

What exactly is Favosites as shown on page 34 & 35 of Our Canada. It says to serve this spicy chocolate sauce with your Favosites poultry and to pour into your Favosites mug.

Laura® said...

Do you have any pictures or info about La Boutique De L'Olivier? You mentioned it in your list of shops, but I was wondering if you'd been there since then.

richard said...
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