Like New York's Lower East Side, for three centuries immigrants to Montreal have settled along the city’s main boulevard, known interchangeably as St. Lawrence, St.Laurent, or “The Main.” French, British, Chinese, Eastern European, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Latin American and North African – all have found their time and place on this historic street. Today, in lively shops, cafes and market stands, they continue to share their culinary heritage.
This action-packed “Flavours of The Main” tasting tour - deemed a ‘Canadian Signature Experience’ by the Canadian Tourism Commission - tells the story of the arrival of these groups of immigrants, their roots, and the communities they formed in Montreal. You'll learn about the traditional foods and recipes they brought with them to Canada, and others that were created here in Quebec crossing cultures. We visits landmarks, ethnic grocers, delis, specialty shops, lunch counters, restaurants, cafes, and marketplaces, many of the mom & pop variety in business for between 50-100 years, all with their own unique stories that will be recounted by your guide.
Of course, the best way to learn is to taste! This North City tour leaves the Fitz & Follwell shop in the Plateau and makes its first stop in Little Portugal at a traditional Portuguese bakery for a classic 'pastéis de nata', egg tart pastry. The next two stops celebrate the Jewish history of the diverse Mile-End neighbourhood by first visiting Wilensky's deli (in business since 1932 and barely changed inside!) for their famous Wilensky's Special sandwich, and next to 1950's founded St Viateur Bagel for a hot-from-the-oven Montreal bagel, a must do on every Montreal visit. After walking a typical Mile-End back laneway to spot some street art & murals, we then hop on the city bus for a short ride into Little Italy. There we track down some more classics: an espresso at the bar of Caffé Italia (another 1950's founded business) amongst the local Italians chatting away, and match it with a delicious cannoli from Passticeria Alati-Caserta, a neighbourhood gem around since 1968. It's not over yet! Our last stop is a climactic finish at the Jean-Talon Market, where we taste the best of Quebec’s ‘cuisine du terroir’ with two locally produced Quebec cheeses and ice-cider).
Here at Jean Talon - North America’s largest open-air market- is where you'll part ways from your guide with plenty left to explore - you will be full from the tour but tempted to keep eating!
Highlights:Little Portugal // Jewish Quarter // Mile-End // Little Italy // Jean-Talon Market
What's included:Food & drink samples, bottle of water, Bus pass (there is one short bus rider per tour), and countless restaurant recommendations!
When:Monday to Saturday, year-round.
Departure time & location:11:30am from Fitz & Follwell's headquarters (2:30pm during Spring & Summer) . This tour ends at the Jean-Talon Market in Little Italy!