Every February, Montreal’s bellies look forward to the Gastronomical aspects of the midwinter High Lights festival, also known as Montreal en Lumiere. This is the 11th edition and for the last 10 years the festival has treated us to some of the finest tables this city has ever known—and best of all, there are events for every budget, from chef-hosted, multi-course tasting menus to culinary walking tours of various Montreal neighbourhoods and workshops at Jean-Talon market…
Every year, the festival has a theme—last year’s event was centered around women in the kitchen, and the programme featured special guest star Anne-Sophie Pic, the highest-rated female French chef, as well as a raft of other exciting invited guests.
This year, the emphasis in the kitchens will be on the cuisine of Belgium (specifically Brussels and the Wallonia region), with several events pointing to the unique melting pot of this Northern European country (hint: it’s not just waffles and frites). The whole festival will also culminate with a star-studded homage to Belgium’s most famous export, singer Jacques Brel. Quebecers have a special affinity with Belgians and this year’s honourary president is Yves Mattagne, who will be hosted by Normand Laprise of Toqué!, one of Montreal’s best restaurants.
There will also be a spotlight on the wines of the Pacific Northwest, specifically Washington and Oregon, and an accompanying emphasis on chefs and cuisine of Seattle, as well as featured events from Quebec’s Outaouais region.
Culinary tours: You won’t want to pass up a culinary tour of the city dedicated to one of life’s best things: Beer. The microbrewery tour will visit several of the city’s best brew pubs and breweries, and also includes some munchies so you can keep with the program. There is also a tour of Atwater market, the historic marketplace on the city’s south side, as well as walking tours of the Quartier des Spectacles, Little Italy and the Old Port- this last one includes a tasting of macaroons at local favourites Europea.
Jean-Talon Market: Montreal’s biggest market will host a series of events showcasing the best in Quebec terroir. Farm-to-table demos and chef workshops featuring the best of the province’s Outaouais region, including Chocomotive and Fromagerie Montebello.
Montreal High Lights Festival, February 16-26, 2012