This month in Montreal there were quite a large number of different food events happening:
A Taste of the Caribbean – a festival promoting Caribbean culture
Le Grand MacN'CheeseFest – a festival showcasing some of the city’s most unique mac and cheese recipes
La grande foire culinaire Haiti en folie – a festival celebrating Haitian culture and gastronomy
Yatai MTL 2018 – a Japanese street food festival
Bouffons!MTL – a street food fest where over 40 different restaurants showcased specialty foods from Quebec and around the world
Having plenty of events to choose from, I decided to attend Bouffons!MTL. It’s an event that has ran for quite a few years now and after reading an article about it on Nightlife.ca and learning that there would be plenty of vegan options to choose from, I was sold!
On Saturday evening, I met my brother, Luc, with an empty stomach and a camera in my hand, determined to make the most of this experience.
As we strolled by all the different vendors, I was so impressed by the variety of offerings: fish and chips, paella, fresh pressed juices, beers from local microbreweries, delicacies from the Reunion Island, sloppy joes, all kinds of poutines, churros, tacos and much much more!
One thing that really surprised me though, is the number of vegan options; there were so many! Almost every booth had a vegan dish or a dish that could be veganized! Two booths were 100% vegan though: GUSTA & MONK SOCIETY.
I decided that, on Saturday night, after a busy week, I deserved a chunky burger and a side of decadent poutine! For those of you who are not familiar with poutine, poutine is a traditional (and deliiiiiicious!) French Canadian dish that consists of fries drenched in a gravy sauce and topped with squeaky cheese.
Monk Society’s poutine was a little different than the traditional one though. They call their poutine “dirty fries.” The base of the dish, I am sure you guessed is fries. But not any fries – Monk Society’s fries were crusted with spices, which gave them the PERFECT texture – crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. They were topped with vegan melted cheese, a spicy and smoky secret sauce, and rich caramelized onions. These dirty fries sooooo tasty! You know, the kind of tasty that after every single bite, you are already looking forward to the next... yup, it was THAT good.
Because I do not attend thaaat many culinary events, I must say it was pretty much impossible for me to say no to Monk Society’s veggie burger. It looked so beautiful, with those perfect slices of tomato and lettuce, the melty vegan cheese and not to mention the bean and mushroom patty. I don’t think I ever had a veggie burger that was made up of beans AND mushrooms. I found the combination to be delicious – earthy, rich and super filling! ✔️WIN!
!With our bellies full, my brother and I decided we would check out the other events that were happening around Bouffons!MTL. At the time, there was the Just for Laughs Festival as well as the Festival des Nuits d’Afrique (Nights of Africa Festival). Because I never attended the festival des Nuits d’Afrique, we decided to stop there and walk through the different booths. Merchants from all parts of Africa were selling all kinds of unique products: colorful traditional clothing, jewelry made with repurposed items, sculptures, wood pieces, and of course FOOD!
The highlight of this festival for me was the Afri Cans booth. I discovered a product I had never tried before: fermented probiotic garlic! When I tasted it, I felt like I was eating something that was from another planet, honestly! It had the texture of a jam, but was salty and had a funky note to it that fermented foods typically have. The owner of the company (the lovely lady in the image below) went on to tell me that it was also one of her personal favorites, which I mean, how could it not be?! Of course, after tasting this spread's deliciousness, I had to get myself a jar. Since I bought it, I have spread it on baked potatoes, which I ate along with fresh dill. I have also mixed it with a touch of lemon juice, which I drizzled on top of steamed bok choi : #divinecombination!
If you live in Montreal and would be interested in trying it out. The owner told me that she sells her products at Yasolo, a specialty shop specializing in exotic foods. At Yasolo, you will also be able to find more of Afri Cans products including probiotic mango jam, watermelon jam, tomato salsa and, brace yourself, caterpillar pesto! Yep, for all the adventurous foodies out there, this one might be for you!
On that note, I am really looking forward to attending a couple other food festivals in Montreal this summer. A big one on my list is YUL, a festival that aims to highlight Montreal’s culinary scene through tastings, live demos and masterclasses (including one on the topic of gluten-free vegan dessert!!). I've heard many great things about it but never had the chance to attend it; I think this year will be my year ;)
Are there any food festivals you love to attend in your area? If so, I’d love it if you share them with me in the comments – I love to keep a list of culinary events around the world, just in case one day my travels could match up with one!