Living in New Jersey, Montréal is my favorite long weekend getaway. In just over 5 hours I am transported to François! Montréal leads a double life; Vieux-Montréal (Old Montréal), with it’s historic cathedrals and English-French Colonial Architecture lives in retro-chic style alongside its modern twin, with its stylish clothiers, amazing nightclubs and, of course, trendy restaurants. Also, just as incongrously, less than a couple of hours from the border of the most populous English speaking countries in the world, lies the highest concentration of Francophiles. All these paradoxes, come to bear on the food; French with a touché of American.
Montréal is truly a food lovers’ paradise. Walking around Montréal during our first visit last Summer, we realized that one can’t go more than a single block without hitting a gastronomic jackpot! So, just before the end of Spring season this year, we went on a quick foodie trip to the city. While our first trip was very touristy, our itinerary for this trip included some of the hottest French food destinations like Claude Postel, Eggspectation, Olive et Gourmando, Jardin Nelson, Le Grande Terrasse, Toqué, Vieux-Port and some more! I also managed to squeeze in food shopping at the Marché Atwater and picked up some sweet treats from the Maple Delights store in Vieux Montréal.
… Check out my souvenirs de Montréal!
Atwater’s Meats and Cheese Platter
A foodie heaven, the Atwater Market is an upscale farmer’s market on the southwestern edge of Montréal, housing a number of vendors and stores for local cheeses, organic produce, freshly baked breads, wines and other specialties. When the weather warms up, the local farmers transform the outdoor parking lot into colorful alleys of greenhouses showcasing their fresh seasonal produce, flowers and plants, while the indoor shops are bustling with food shoppers all year round!
In the couple of hours we spent at the market that cool Spring morning, we strolled our way through the outdoor vendors and the made it inside to La Fromagerie du Marché Atwater, where I picked up a few specialty meats (spicy hot prosciutto and salami) and local cheeses with the help from their courteous staff members.
After a trapesing through a series of shops on one side and the vendor stalls on the other, we hopped, skipped and jumped to the last one – a liquor store, SAQ, that had an amazing collection of the local Québec wines and liqeurs. I found a few interesting and very unique local wines – an Ice Wine, a Rose Petals and Honey Wine, a coupe of Dessert Wines and a whisky-like liqeur.
So, after another epicurious tour of Montréal, I lugged back enough edible souvenirs, that could enjoy a taste of Montréal right here in my home. I put together a stunning meats and cheese platter and enjoyed it with a couple of red and white wines.
There’s no cooking involved! Simply arrange the meats and cheeses on a platter. Add a finishing touch by placing some crackers or bread, and fruits like green or red grapes.
With the help of a very friendly cheesemonger at La Fromagerie du Marché Atwater, I picked up cheeses with an interesting mix of flavors, textures, and colors — a hard sharp Québec Cheddar, semi-soft creamy and butterly OKA L’artisan with mellowed nuttiness, a semi-firm melting-in-the mouth De Charlevoix 1608 and soft creamy Grey Owl goat cheese. The butcher at this store recommended two extra hot and spicy varieties of salami (Salami a la Salsa) and prociutto (Capicolli Extra Fort) to keep my cheese company.
Antipasti Pasta Salad with Capicolli Crescents
With the leftover salami and cheeses from the platter, I tossed in another version of my antipasti pasta salad for lunch a couple days later. The dressing is a very simple vinaigrette made by whisking in red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper. I purposely kept it to be a mild dressing and not overpowering, so that it could highlight the flavorful meat and cheese in the salad. For added color and texture, I tossed in some peas, shredded carrots, spicy red onion and sweet roasted red pepper along with a pretty Riccette pasta that I picked up from a local Italian store carrying imported specialty products.
… And to go with the salad, may I suggest some freshly baked capicolli crescents?! The capicolli crescents is an interesting twist on the classic butter croissants. I just laid a thin slice of the leftover capicolli (a hot & spicy prociutto on top of every pre-cut triangle-shaped dough, rolled it up and baked it according to the directions on the packet. You can also play around with your favorite cheese slices or any other sliced meat.
1 packet of refrigerated Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough
8 slices of capicolli (You can use sclices of prociutto, bacon, ham, salami or any other cured meat of your choice.)
2 cups of short pasta
½ medium red onion, finely chopped
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
1 medium carrot, shredded
2-3 roasted red peppers from jar, sliced
about 1 cup cubed cheeses ( I used a combination of sharp cheddar, a semi-soft and a semi-firm cheese.)
5-6 slices of salami, cut into thin strips
fresh ground black pepper
flat leaf parsley, chopped
1:1 proportions of red wine vinegar: extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tbsp each)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
For the Crescents
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Unroll crescent roll dough sheet and seperate into 8 triangles by cutting along the perforations.
Lay slices of meat on top of each triangle; fold to fit on top of the triangular shaped dough sheet. Roll loosely starting from the base of the triangle to the tip, forming a crescent shaped roll.
Bake for 12-13 mins, until golden brown.
For the Pasta Salad
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat and generously season with salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the pasta water to add to the pasta later, if needed. Let the pasta cool down to room temperature.
In the meantime, chop the vegetables, and slice the meats and cheeses. Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking togetherolive oil and vinegar in a large bowl along with minced garlic, salt and pepper.
Add the pasta, the vegetables, sliced meat and cheeses to the vinaigrette in the bowl. Toss well to coat evenly. Add the required quantity of reserved liquid for desired moisture level.
Stir in some freshly chopped parsley and adjust seasonings with salt and fresh ground black pepper.