Daisies, Bison & The Wild Lanaudière Region

Our Saturday morning visit to the Jean-Talon market was a time of rediscovery: we snacked on honeycrisp apples,

admired the full display cases of Portuguese custard tarts,

Then we went upstairs and discovered something new: the Lanaudière region, a largely rural area Northeast of Montréal that provides an abundance of agricultural products for the city.

As one of many events for Montreal en Lumiere, ten producers from the Lanaudière region gathered at Jean-Talon to showcase their diverse products. In addition to the huge spread of samples, there were  also cooking classes featuring Quebec ingredients and chefs.

We tasted thick, dark Quebec birch syrup from Sucriere Du Rang Double,

creamy Le Bocke cheese from La Fromagerie Champêtre,

and syrup from Quebec-grown saffron.

Saffron is the dried, red stigmas of crocuses, and its production is a relatively new practice in Canada.  Emporium Safran is the first saffron producer in the Lanaudière region, and their golden saffron syrup is the result of their first harvest!

After a morning at the market, we spent the evening sampling more of the region with a meal prepared by Chef Marc-André Lavergne of Accords Bar à Vin Resto (one of the country’s few natural wine bars). 

For the festival, Accords hosted an all-Quebec dinner, with many of the meal’s ingredients coming from Lanaudière. 

We started the meal with a few Raspberry Point oysters (which made us fondly recall the sunny day we spent on a PEI oyster boat),

and a charcuterie board with chicken liver mousse, duck rillet, and salami made with thyme and blue cheese, which was unbelievable.

Next came a creamy butternut squash gnocchi paired with a white wine from Regal d’Automne, Quebec’s first natural vineyard (the fields are left unsprayed, and only the yeast that naturally occurs on the grape is used in the fermentation process).  

On top of our gnocchi sat pickled daisy buds, which we immediately recognized from the morning.  They were foraged by Chef Nancy Hinton and forager Francois Brouillard, who produce a line of diverse wild food products from Quebec called 'Les Jardins Sauvages'.

Their goods include crinkleroot mustard, fiddlehead ketchup, lily buds, and an array of wild mushrooms.  

If you have the great fortune of living in Montreal, you should check out their market stall at Jean-Talon, or even better, their restaurant “La Table des Jardins Sauvages” in Saint-Roch de L’Achigan. 

Next came duck terrine with haskap jam, lingonberry jam (known as partridgeberries if you’re in Newfoundland), and a brioche-style bun that smelled (in the best way possible) of turkey dinner.

We swear they must have used duck fat instead of butter. They were paired with a still apple cider from Pierre & Terre (the same winery that brought us the sparkling pear cider we had at EVOO).

The 4th course was bison Wellington, made with bison raised by the lovely folks at La Terre Des Bisons ranch.  They’ve been ranching for 21 years, and currently have about 140 bison roaming 400 acres of land. 

At the market we tried their bison and elk terrines, and at L’Accord we enjoyed the pastry-wrapped Wellington with a 2012 Le Frontenac Noir from Demaine Des Metéorés

To finish the meal, we had lemon sponge cake with white chocolate and honey thyme ice cream, which was served with Vignoble Mondor’s icewine “Le Mindel.” The wine tasted like frozen strawberries and burnt caramel. 

Many thanks to the chefs and producers who were responsible for this lovely all-Quebec meal—I think our next visit to Quebec will need to include some adventures in the Lanaudière region! Also, could somebody please give us a recipe for duck fat brioche??