Thursday, 27 December 2012

Marché Atwater

Sunday, a couple of days before Christmas, I wasn't feeling very well. I was mentally exhausted because of recent unfortunate events. I needed a change of scenery, so I went out for a walk. This time I decided I would get off the Atwater metro station and go south to Notre-Dame and walk around that part. It's quieter there and there's always something new to discover in that area since Griffintown and Little Burgundy have been under heavy development.

On my way there I saw the Atwater Market and saw all the Christmas decorations and the people there. There was music and it seemed like there was lots of stuff going on. I heard about that place many times, but never actually went. The Atwater Market is a kind of farmer's market or local food market where they sell fruits, vegetables, meats, coffee, cheeses, heck all sorts of stuff that's produced locally, mostly. There are also some foods that are imported from Europe as well. I thought I'd go and take a look. Maybe I would find something interesting to bring home.

In the parking lot they were selling small Christmas trees to the sound of Christmas raggae music. This already seems like an interesting place. As I walked along the entrance, there were kiosks that sold wreaths made from the branches of fir trees, maple products, flowers, etc. Then I opened the entrance door and went it. The place kind of reminds me of the ByWard Market in Ottawa, but bigger. And instead of restaurants, it was mostly produce and specialty grocery stores.

The place has two levels. A lower level with the grocery stores and a few stands selling fresh vegetables and fruits and other stuff and a higher level where they have all the counters for the butcher shops, deli meats and cafés. On the lower floor I found a couple of places that sold fine cheeses. One for local products and another that had imported French cheese.

I also noticed a sign that advertised a local brand name of home made soda called Marco. They make the most amazing spruce beer as well as maple, birch and I can't remember what other tree-based beers they make. Oh wait. What's that? You never heard of spruce beer? That's probably because it's something you only find in Québec! (As far as I know.) Basically, it's a spruce-flavoured soda. I absolutely LOVE that stuff. It's my favourite soft drink. And apparently, this drink is based off the infusion that the North American natives made to save Jacques Cartier's men from scurvy! I don't know if modern spruce beer has the same effect, but if it does, it should be choc full of vitamin C. As a bonus, it tastes like you're drinking a Christmas tree!

Moving on, I went to the second level where I found a couple of coffee shops where they sold coffee and some snacks, sandwiches and some warm meals. I also found a immense selection of deli meats, home made sausages, fine cheeses, meats and even fresh home made pasta!

The sausages looked really good. I bet they would go really well with some local beers. They also sold sauerkraut and deli meats like pancetta, proscuitto, ham and even home made farmer's bacon! Hot damn!

Further along, I found a couple of butcher shops that had the most delicious looking pieces of meat I've ever seen. Ribs as big as the one in the Flintstones! They also sold some delicious looking terrine and paté, which I bet would go very well with some baguette, fine cheeses and white wine. In fact, not to far there was another counter that sold more cheese. It all looked and smelled delicious, as far as cheese can smell and look delicious anyway. There was another place that sold actual wild turkey! Not the domesticated kind. No! Wild, man! And of course it's organic!

Yaba daba delicious!

Yes, that's a pig's head up there. It's a cochon de lait!

Pee-u! That smells delicious!

Gobble gobble!

And it's a little further down that I found the place that sold fresh pasta. I was tempted in buying a pack with some of their sauce just to try it out. I never had fresh pasta before. Only the box kind. I bet it's delicious. Maybe sometime after Christmas I'll make some with a delicious sauce.

On my way out, I came across this gentleman who had a table filled with glass bottles. It looked like blue wine. I took a closer look and it was actual wild blueberry juice from Lac Saint-Jean! The homeland of the Tremblay! That's true Tremblay blood in a bottle right there folks! And with his thick Lac Saint-Jean accent, he explained to me how they collected the wild blueberries and made the juice themselves and how it reminds him of his mother's blueberry pie. I had a taste from a sample and it's true. It does taste like his mom's blueberry pie! How do I know that? Well... Anyway, I bought a bottle and took it home. Thought it might be a good idea to give to my parents.

After that, I left the Atwater market and kept on walking along Notre-Dame and stopped at that antiques store that had the Buck Rogers Atomic Pistol. I've been looking for a cool clock to hang in my living room and I thought that place might have something good. Unfortunately they didn't have anything that really grabbed my attention, though the place was jam packed with pop culture memorabilia. It was simply amazing the kind of stuff they had in there. I had a chat with the lady who owns the place. She told me how she recently lost her husband who used to run the place. She inherited it and started to manage the place. She loves old things and working with old rusted objects and caring for them. She was super sweet. But, you could see that she was sad that she lost her husband. After a while, I asked her about the Buck Rogers atomic pistol since it was removed from the window. She had it somewhere locked behind a glass shelf case. She took it out and handed it to me and let me hold it! Jesus H. Christ! That thing dates back to the 30s! It looked in mint condition! It was made of metal and didn't even have a single spot of rust on it. It was pretty expensive, but for a piece of science-fiction memorabilia, it is totally worth it. She told me she was thinking of getting it framed. That's exactly what I thought. A nice deep frame with a glass front and a Buck Rogers comic book cover from the 30s as a background. That would be freakin' awesome!

I said goodbye to the lady and left the antique store when another customer came in and started to talk to her. I kept on going East on Notre-Dame. After a long while I came across a giant picture of this guy:

There's a sign on the side walk on Saint-Denis at the corner of Rachel with this same guy on it, in front of the restaurant Le Hachoir, which I wrote about before. A restaurant that specializes in burgers, tartars and wine. It looks like a great restaurant, especially if you love meat. And look at this guy's face! He's pretty fucking serious when it comes to meat. As it turns out, another branch of that restaurant opened up in Griffintown and they called it Grinder, the English translation of Le Hachoir. I guess it's a slap in the face to the law 101, which is Quebec's charter of the French Language. Basically, here we have French language Nazis that run around the streets of Montreal and fine whoever doesn't doesn't have French signage for their commercial establishment or have a French name for their business and this guy is evidently showing balls of steel to so blatantly ignore that law. It also gives the picture a whole new feel where the guy isn't so serious about meat than he is pointing his finger at those French Nazis and telling them to stick that charter where the sun don't shine.

You can just shove it!

Anyway, the Grinder looks like a damn fine establishment. It's beautiful in there with walls and floors made of wood and stainless steel frames and columns. The menu seemed a little different than it's cousin on Saint-Denis too. I would definitely like to go try this place out some time.

Eventually, I reached Peel street and walked North, all the way to the Cours Mont Royal shopping centre and went underground for a little while to warm up. My cheeks were starting to hurt from the cold and I had trouble warming up. I got out at the McGill metro station on DeMaisonneuve and kept on going East until I hit Place Des Arts and I took this shot because I though the view was awesome.

Finally, I just kept on walking and crossed a few parks until I got to the Saint-Laurent metro station and went home because I couldn't bear the cold anymore and my legs were just hurting from walking on the snow and ice. When I got home, I made myself a nice hot cup of extra rich cocoa and played some games to relax the rest of the evening. That was a good walk and it felt good to discover a new place I've never been and to walk a different path. I totally needed that since I was feeling down in the dumps. Until next time, I'll keep walking solo around town and write about what I find. Smell ya later!

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