Finding no volunteers, I went by myself at the Place Des Arts a couple of times in order to be sure to try as many things as possible. It was on Ste-Catherine street between St-Urbain and Jeanne Mance. The instant I stepped in the area known as the Souk (marketplace found in Northern African), I felt overwhelmed. First there were so many people; it was hard to get to a stand to another without bumping into someone, everybody was curious. Second, many smells were intertwined that made my nose go slightly crazy. I believe I have a good one, which easily spots different aromas. I relate to Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from the Perfume sometimes, excellent novel by Patrick Süskind!!! Third, my eyes were jumping from left to right, trying to spot the most astounding stands.
It was my third time going as I lost the pictures of the two previous times (stupid camera)!!! I noticed that most places had pulled pork sandwiches and I decided to taste the one from Pas d’Cochon dans mon Salon. When I was handed my sandwich, I wondered how in hell’s world would I ever finish it. A big bun filled with pulled pork that was literally dripping. Apparently there was some salad in that sandwich, which I doubted until I came at the end and saw a few lettuces. How could I describe it? EFFIN GOOD!!! I mean yes, I felt like a pig eating that but it was so yummy with mostly only meat.
Ooh and the meat are barbecued on charcoal, bringing more people to their stand as they are attracted by the amazing smell in the air. Just 7 dollars for the sandwich, not only does it fill you up but it’s definitely worth its price.
Even if full, I stopped by Takoyaki Montreal to get some takoyaki again. What’s a takoyaki? It’s a Japanese snack often eaten during summer festivals. I loved that there was a sheet, describing exactly what it is in both French and English. I thought it’d be nice to put their description, which is accurate and very detailed: “Wheat flour based pastry batter with pickled ginger and fresh green onion. In the center, we put a piece of cooked octopus or a piece of Shiitake mushroom. After the balls are done we decorate it with Japanese TAKOYAKI Sauce (vegetable base), Japanese Mayonnaise (lighter & tastier), a sprinkle of dried seaweed powder and Bonito Flakes (smoked tuna flakes)”. They also mention a bit of history for the curious people out there. I already knew that takoyaki originated from Osaka (Japan), but I didn’t know that a street vendor called Tomekichi Endo invented it in 1935. I enjoy learning new facts.
Thus, you had the choice between octopus or mushroom (didn’t even know that option existed). There were four little pieces for 4 dollars, super cheap. You could also have the option of having 2 octopus and 2 mushroom. I took the octopus takoyaki and they were delicious. It’s mushy, but the octopus is a bit more firm but still soft. The best comparison I could give is that it’s close to the texture or crab but not the same the taste at all. The mayonnaise gave it a more salty and heavy feel. I had to wait a couple of minutes as it was burning hot. I made the mistake of biting into one too fast and burnt my tongue a bit, but how could I resist when it smells so good. Also they look so cute and adorable; it’s almost a crime to eat them!
I even had a couple stop me once and ask me where I got them. They also asked what it was and I nicely explained it to them. When they asked if it was good, I said yes but everyone has different tastes and you have to try it to see if you like it or not.
I returned there again and this time, I went to La Mangeoire and ordered a gourmet sandwich. I chose La Cocotte, a roasted garlic chicken with bacon candied tomatoes and pesto. It was 9 dollars for just the sandwich or 11 dollars with some chips. The chips are made of sweet potatoes and they are flavoured with lime and chili. I was curious about the chips so I took the combo. It was served in a large plastic container. The cashier had trouble closing it, it was jam-packed with the sandwich nicely cut in half on the right side and a load of chips on the left side.
I loved it!!! The sandwich was delicious and those pieces of bacon candied tomatoes added a little crunch and spice to it. The chips were spicy, acid and crunchy. Very different compared to your regular chips with potatoes. The flavours hid the sweetness usually found in sweet potatoes, an unbelievably original idea. I didn’t even finish my entire meal, it was too heavy. For someone with a small appetite, you could eat half during lunch and the other half during dinner. Yes, it is quite expensive, but it’s healthy and original street food. Besides do I need to mention that they’re gourmet sandwiches?
Thankfully, I had space for a small treat. I stopped by Dada, a catering service by Daren Bergeron. There was another counter where they had interesting salads served in cones like an ice cream. Original idea, but I didn’t think they were as eye-catching as their sweet counter. You had the choice between milkshakes or ice cream sandwiches. I opted for a milkshake, the vanilla strawberry one. I did not regret my choice at all. I haven’t had a milkshake in a very long while, but this one seemed like the best I’ve ever tasted (bias much?). I simply adored the sprinkles of candy over the foam of my milkshake with the cutest shade of pink. It was light and tasteful. I wish they had a store where I could get their milkshake in the summer, but the employee told me they were working on it and to check out their website.
I was extremely satisfied with my experience at the Souk. I even got offered some tickets to a comedy show of Zoofest as I was eating the sandwich from La Mangeoire on the last Friday, the 27th. Thus I saw some nice British humour with Dave Gorman. The Just For Laughs festival was a success for their 30th anniversary, especially thanks to the street food. I can’t wait for next year’s edition, hoping they’ll be new stands.
p.s. Tomorrow Friday the 3rd of August, will be the 3rd and last edition of First Fridays at the esplanade of the Olympic Park near Pie-Ix metro. I will definitely be checking it out again, still a couple of food trucks I haven’t tried and I suggest you do the same, it’s from 4pm to 8pm! : )