Though Marché Jean-Talon is Montreal’s go-to Farmer’s Market all year round, I always look forward to summer as the season when the market, like the city itself, fully busts into bloom. Certainly, producers who have been labouring in greenhouses to get ready to sell plantables and hanging-baskets of multicoloured floral tangles of joy are happy to see the warm sun in order to bring out their wares. But it’s also time to start buying—and cooking—the local bounty of seasonal fruits and vegetables and other delicacies from agricultural producers around Montreal who all gather in the hub of the Market to bust out the green. Plantables: When it comes to my own garden, Jean-Talon is where I buy my plants. It’s worth coming here simply for the selection of herbs and leafy greens, some of which are rare and hard-to-find. This year, I bought lemon mint, ginger mint and peppermint as well as the regular kinds, to assure that my summer mojitos can be mixed in several minty varieties.
Also, tomatoes: Montrealers are expert balcony tomato-growers, as the dozens of varieties of tomato-plant starters suggests. I’m seeing a resurgence of interest in growing heritage varieties, many of which have been off the market for decades.
Edibles: If you’re visiting from out of town, it’s worth stopping by the market for a stroll—there are plenty of samples to munch on, including the first tomatoes, sprinkled with salt. The seasonal harvests, or “arrivages” as they’re called in French, are the market’s biggest draw. For example, Rhubarb is a big draw at this time of year: if you don’t have a kitchen of your own here in Montreal to cook up a compote, many local bakeries and pastry shops, such as the aptly named Patisserie Rhubarbe can offer up seasonal treats. I’d also check out the ice-cream shops and the crepe-maker to see what they have on special for spring.
And last but never least in Montreal, it’s new-milk season in Quebec’s multitude of cheese farms, so the cheesemongers will, by the end of June, be stacked with the season’s brand-new stocks of our amazing local cheeses, such as 14 Arpents, Casimir and Riopelle.
Jean-Talon Market, 7070 Henri-Julien, (514) 277-1588