Food Court @ Foodlab, trying to get Street Food to Montreal

Staying on the theme of street food from my previous post, did you know street food in Montreal is illegal? Apparently there is a municipal by-law banning the sale of street food has been on the books since the 50s. I always enjoyed having my NYC hot dog or roasted peanuts when I went down to the Big Apple for a long weekend but I have to admit I was pretty happy Montreal was free of a hot dog cart on every corner. Back then street food was junk food.

But now street food is the new chic dinner outing amongst the big cities foodie world. Parks have dedicated weekends where the best street food vendors sell their tasty small sized treats in a group. Cities that allow street vendors have seen the quality of the dishes rise, it’s a dog eat dog cut throat competition now to impress your customers and have them come back.

But not in Montreal, or are the times a changing? Queue the entrance of Grumman ’78, a taco truck that can operate during events when hired by the event organizers. This suggested loop in the law was allowed by City Hall. So if you want to hire Grumman ’78 for an event and have them sell their tacos on the street…that is OK. I have enjoyed their tacos twice: once at a cookbook launch event and once at the Food Court @ Foodlab, an event that was organized by Grumman ’78 of course.

Setting up shop on the now deserted stretch of Saint-Laurent street between Sainte-Catherine and René-Lévesque (due to a business offices/condo political fiasco), at the Place de la Paix urban square,  the Food Court @ Foodlab took place on September 30th 2011. I went there with another wonderful foodie friend of mine, Johanne. Here is a sampling of what we enjoyed…

A Grumman ’78 taco of course! The menu changes all the time and today it was curried goat. It was so finger liking good. With this taco we ordered each a hibiscus juice and we shared a gooseberry cheese cake. Who else would think of gooseberry for a cake! I love the white picnic tables set up to eat our goods.

L’Expérience Kangourou is run by these 2 wacky dudes! I first hear about them about 3 years back when the dinner group went to the Mondial Gourmand. Back then allt hey served was exotic kangaroo meat. If you have not tried it I urge you to taste this succulent meat. They had kangaroo on the menu but we decided to try the other 2 meats….

muskox on the left - seal on the right

The first was seal, double verdict: gross! If you like liver you will adore it, if you hate liver don’t even try. It had a strong iron taste with a meat texture. But the second meat oh so made up for it, we had muskox which is also an Arctic animal. Now this was heavenly meat, a perfect marbling of fat and muscle nicely grilled up. I wanted a full steak after.

Next we shared a very nice pulled turkey sandwich from Pas d’cochon dans mon salon, which translates into No pigs in my Living Room, what an awesome name.

no comment!

We followed it up with delicious meatballs from Nora Gray. I just love to witness to what extent my friends will go to make a good pic for the blog when I make a request!

Still sometime a challenge for me when it comes to acquired tastes, Curtis Vargo did not disappoint with wonderful fresh oysters. Oh Curtis, LOVE the apron!

After all these small dishes I think a dessert is well deserved. From la Dinnette Nationale we tasted 3 shortbread cookies: white peaches and anise seeds, goat cheese and hazelnuts, and both our favorite chocolate and black olives. I know it sounds like a weird combo but I was quite a revelation…just make sure to use only dark chocolate.

And the finale of our foodlab experience were soft and addictive homemade caramels: one honey flavored the other fleur de sel. Fleur de sel was the winner but it was a close call!

Our mini street food event was declared a big success, Johanne and I had a blast exploring the various food here. I hope there is many more such event to come in Montreal. Do you have street vendors in your city?

18 comments to Food Court @ Foodlab, trying to get Street Food to Montreal

  • Kai
    The only street food I've had here (besides at street fairs, which don't really count, because they're really just the restos oozing out onto the street for a day) is the crepe wagon @ the Marché Fermier (that summer market at the park on St. Laurent between St. Joseph & Laurier.) Oh, and the chocolat chaud at the same locale in Dec. when they have the little outdoor scene setup with a fire you can sit around. I'm guessing the main loophole is being associated with a farmer's market or temporary expo. Which rules out things like the taco wagons of the SF Bay Area & LA, or the falafel trucks of Cambridge. Mass. well known by Harvard & MIT students, as well as those NYC pushcarts & trucks. (When I was in NYC last winter & spring, I saw a kimchi taco wagon (a panel truck) near Washington Square - Korean-Mexican fusion, I guess.) Was this one of Drapeau's bugaboos like the old housing stock he wanted to clear completely out in the name of modernization but fortunately did not?
  • Tony Storm
    thats one gigantic sammich, i wish i could have one of those
  • I had no idea street food was illegal in Montreal, but looks like it's finding it's way after all :) We have places in LA and here in Orange county during events and at some the farmers' market, nothing quite as exotic a seal of course...since I don't eat meat I would have the perfect excuse ;)
  • Is that pulled turkey sandwich as big as it looks??? I WANT IT
  • I never really thought about it, but I don't think there are street vendors in Ottawa either, except on campus. In Toronto there are hot dog vendors on every corner. The only time I've tried seal is in Montreal at Au 5eme Peche (I know that is probably spelled completely wrong and without accents--sorry). Oh, I didn't much like the seal either.
  • Maya@Foodiva's Kitchen
    Wow, look at all these wonderful street food selection...they're definitely NOT junk food. I like what those two wacky guys served up the best - kangaroo, muskox and seal meat - yeah, that's the street vendor for me! I've really got to start looking around at our street food more...they're mostly so greasy it puts me off :(.
  • Liz
    We do have street food, but I've never tried any! You are much more adventurous than I am...I would have steered clear of both kangaroo and seal. And your description of the seal is enough to swear it off for a lifetime. Sounds like a fun foodie experience...thanks for bringing us along on your adventure~
  • les huitres me font bien envie !!pierre
  • Ev...I'm so enjoying reading about all the awesome fodie adventures you've been having! Everything looksamazing! I can't believe street ood is illegall in Montreal!! I wanted to visit, but OK, guess I'll just get things to go and eat them 'on the street'! It definitely won't be seal, though! I mean, seal? Don't we have enough meat without cute seals? LOL
  • The food was quite interesting as well as the whole event. In Brazil, my favorite "street food" can be found at "Festas Juninas" (meaning June parties). Can't wait for next June, I will be in Brazil by then. Here in Korea street food is also very popular even though I haven't explored it much. Great post!
  • Food trucks have been very popular and there is a huge event in SF too, but I have never had a chance to go yet.... It's one of my to-do. Now it's getting too cold to eat outside and line up with the kids. I should have done that in summer time. I love the look of all kinds of street food. Definitely it's fun activities for foodies!
  • 5 Star Foodie
    Interesting that the street food in Montreal is illegal. It's fun i bet to find these trucks at the events though. I would so love to try that yummy looking pulled turkey sandwich.
  • I hate liver but I'll make an exception of seal just because I'll be able to say I've eaten seal. :P
  • Interesting that there is a law but loopholes to circumvent it is allowed:) I wonder if a politician owns Grumman 78:)
  • Miss Susan
    I'm loving the theme of Cheap Street Eatz. In Toronto this past July, we did have our first inaugural "Food Truck Eats" festival in the Distillery District. I missed it this year but aim to attend next year if I'm available. :-) Other times, we have so many food festivals, as I'm sure is the same across other cities.
  • Johanne
    Yum! Yum! Yum! That was such a great lunch! But I must say the fleur de sel caramels were NOT the winner. The honey caramels were the most divine! I've been dying to have them again. : )

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