5 foods in Montreal you need to try
Our chips-loving Frenchman Seby was dying to try the famous poutine when we visited Montreal. And he wasn’t disappointed. After a night out exploring the gay scene of Montreal, this gravy-cheese-curd-fries concoction is the perfect hangover food your body needs!
Over the past few centuries, Montreal has experienced many culinary influences as a result of the large waves of immigration, particularly from Europe and Asia. These have all merged together to form a pretty unique set of delicious bucket list items to try. These are our 5 favourite foods in Montreal, which we tried, loved and think everyone should check out when they visit.
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Foie Gras Poutine at Au Pied de Cochon
For most Canadians, poutine is considered their national food and certainly the signature dish of Quebec. It is thought to have originated in 1957 at a restaurant called Le Lutin Qui Rit in Warwick, Quebec after a customer asked the owner, Fernand Lachance, to mix in cheese curd with his fries. The confused owner obliged, but in doing so remarked:
“Ça va faire une maudite poutine!”
(“That’s going to make a dreadful mess!”)
The gravy was added later, and voila, one of Canada’s most iconic dishes was born!
The French influence in Montreal has taken this even further to create an even more unique take of poutine, particularly at the Au Pied de Cochon restaurant. Here, you can order foie gras (duck fat) poutine, where the duck fat is used to make the gravy, as well as the fries, then the finished poutine is served with a generous portion of foie gras.
For a more traditional poutine, check out one of the many fast food diners in Montreal like Patati Patata.
Peanut butter dumplings at Papillon Bleu
Bet you didn’t know that peanut butter was invented right here in Montreal back in the late 19th century. In 1884, Marcellus Gilmore Edson of Montreal first developed the idea of a peanut paste as a delicious and nutritious protein source for people who struggled to chew solid foods.
The wave of immigration over the last century from Asia has brought with it a rich cultural influence, which has merged and integrated within the rest of Montreal. One very unique creation from this fusion are the famed peanut butter Hunan dumplings served in Asian restaurants across Montreal like Papillon Bleu.
Montreal smoked meats at Schwartz’s
Montreal smoked meat is similar to the New York pastrami. It is made by salting and curing a beef brisket with spices, which is then left for a week to absorb the flavours, after which it is hot smoked to cook through, then steamed to completion.
It was introduced to Montreal via the wave of Eastern European Jewish immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Schwartz’s is the most popular deli in Montreal, established in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania.
Schwartz’s has become an institution in Montreal, so famous that it always has long queues outside. Tip: if you’re just 1 or 2 persons, you’ll get called in quicker than larger parties, thereby skipping the bulk of the queue.
We came here and tried the classic smoked meat, which is served with bread and pickles. It’s really tasty, definitely worth the wait, but you’ll be drinking lots of water afterwards. What makes it even more awesome – in 2012, Celine Dion became a part owner of Schwartz’s as she helped keep it alive when it was facing financial difficulties caused by the recession.
Montreal bagels from a Mile End bakery
Montreal also rivals New York City with its own unique style of bagels. The recipe was initially introduced to the city in 1919 by Russian immigrant Isadore Safman who opened up one of the first bakeries.
Montreal bagels are smaller, denser and sweeter than their New York cousins, with a larger hole. The Montreal style bagel dough includes eggs and honey. Honey is also added to the water used for poaching the bagels before they are baked in a wood-fried oven.
The traditional bagels of Montreal are made with poppy seeds, which get stuck in your teeth and give you an unpleasant black smile. To counter this, Montreal bakers created sesame seed bagels, which are lighter in colour, making your smile look infinitely better.
Bloody Caesar Cocktails at Le Saloon Bistro Bar
The Bloody Caesar is Canada’s famous cocktail, similar to the Bloody Mary but infused with clam broth. It tastes a lot better than it sounds!
This Canadian cocktail was invented at the Westin Hotel in Calgary in 1969 and has since spread massively in popularity across the entire country. A typical Bloody Caesar contains vodka mixed with clam-infused tomato juice (Clamato), lime, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
One of the tastiest Bloody Caesar cocktails we tried is the Saloon César at Le Saloon Bistro Bar in the Gay Village, which is made with lemon-flavoured vodka, fresh basil, balsamic reduction, olives and cherry tomatoes. Definitely our favourite way to quench all that thirst caused from eating all that smoked meat at Schwartz’s.
Watch our vlog from our experience during the first ever Canada gay pride in Montreal: