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Olives et Epices: Jean-Talon Market

Posted by Amie / January 25, 2010

Indian Spices.jpg

Olives et Épices
7075 Casgrain Avenue, Jean-Talon Market
●●●●●●●●●○ 9 out of 10

I needed 2 dried New Mexico chili peppers. I've been here a year and a half and by now I'm a devout believer that any culinary problem can be solved by Jean-Talon. For example, I want to make a Spicy Sweet Potato Soup. I knew I could wander up St-Laurent and find an Epicerie specializing in Latin American products that may or may have exactly what I'm looking for, or I could stumble upon a wall of dried chilis at Jean-Talon's Olives et Épices.

I'm going to start my 2nd Montreal food post by talking about Toronto...maybe I can get away with it if I call it a shout-out to BlogTO, Midnight Poutine's sister blog? They've definitely done a few posts on their own St. Lawrence Market.

When I lived in Toronto I went every Saturday to the St. Lawrence Market, the home of an enormous collection of butcher stalls, fishmongers, cheesemongers, a farmer's market, and specialty shops like Kozlik's Mustards (24 kinds to sample, from spicy to savoury to sweet), Moustachios (sellers of the biggest veal parmiggiana sandwiches in the city) and St-Urbain Bagels. Moving to Montreal I figured Jean-Talon would be about the same. I also figured I could wander up St-Urbain and find the best bagels in the city.

I was a little wrong on both counts, but let's please leave the bagels out of this for now.

Yes, both St. Lawrence and Jean-Talon are huge and have some of the freshest meat, produce, and cheese in the city, but where I loved St. Lawrence Market for the samples of pasta I saw cut 5 minutes before, my first cabbage roll, the slightly creepy old man who taught me to shuck an oyster, and the nice Japanese young man who gave me one for free while I waited for sushi, I love Jean-Talon for the fact that the sea of tantalizing flavours overflows into streets surrounding the market itself, so shops like the Marché des Saveurs du Quebec and the Fromagerie Hamel can actually be called part of the market. St. Lawrence is overwhelming, but Jean-Talon is...well, beautiful chaos.

Wall of Spices
Olives et Épices is actually two stores in one. It's a collaboration between Épices de Cru and Olive et Olives. Épices de Cru, run by Philippe et Ethné De Vienne, specializes in importing "location specific" spices, a label that classifies spices by the area and conditions in which they're grown, in the same way that AOC refers to French wine classifications and DOC to Italian. Only wines of a certain quality can qualify. You can expect to pay a little more, but you pay for quality.
Bouquet Garni
One of the best things about Olives et Épices is that, like the name implies, most of the spices are brought to Canada whole, so freshness is preserved. That means the walls and walls of ground spice mixes are much fresher than what you can find at grocery stores. You can choose from Mediterranean lamb rubs, tandoori blends, fish masalas, and pre-assembled bouquet garni for whatever's getting roasted, baked or grilled.

VanillaDid I mention the make-your-own vanilla vodka (or rum...or extract)? A wall of glass bottles invites you to choose between specialty exotic vanilla sticks like Madagascar or Tahiti. Buy a bottle and fill it with vodka or rum. Three months later you have either the most aromatic vanilla extract for the next time you make panna cotta...or a cocktail party. Your choice...

...and that's just half the store.

Olive Oils
Olive et Olives also deals directly with producers and growing cooperatives, and imports only high quality (AOC) cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oils. The standards are all controlled by the International Olive Council. Seriously, that's a real council. All they do is think about olives and olive products. I suppose they're less alcoholic than the AOC wine people, but personally, I'd want to start a Vanilla Council.
Olive Oil Tasting
Like the Olive Council, you get to sample the oils before you make a decision. Certain oils are recommended for salads, some for cooking grilled meat or fish, some for vegetables, and some as a finishing oil. This shop is the best opportunity to taste the difference, especially since a good bottle (and they're all good bottles) will cost you anywhere from $12 for Andalusian Boromeo to $56 for Nectar, and will hopefully last you longer than it takes for you to forget which other kinds you sampled the first time, and therefore need to go back and try them again.

For the convenience of being able to find that one bizarre ingredient when you really want it, this is a wonderful and unique shop. The only disappointment is that it can be expensive, but the pricing is pretty fair for the high quality of the products.

Expect to Pay: $13-$25 for olive oil, $8 for a container of spices, $3-$8 for chili peppers

Hours: Mon, Tues, Wed, Sat: 7am-6pm, Thurs-Fri: 7am-8pm, Sun: 7am-5pm

Olive et Épices
7075 Casgrain Avenue



Sarah / January 25, 2010 at 02:20 pm
I love those shops! great review!!
S Lloyd / January 26, 2010 at 10:23 pm
I always go to Jean-Talon Market, and feel bad to have always ignored anything else outside of the usual veggies and fruits. Next time, I will pay more attention to it's full potential: I love spices and completely forgot that I could find them right there
huguette sirard / February 27, 2011 at 09:04 am
J'aimerais savoir si vous avez cette épice

Amie / February 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

Épices de Cru n'a pas cette combinaison d'épices. Ils ont de l'origan provenant de pays et de régions divers mais dans une recette cèest plus typique ajouter du jus de citron frais ou du zeste du citron frais que du citron en forme d'épice.
phone number lookup / December 3, 2011 at 06:39 pm
this is really nice
Joe / March 24, 2012 at 11:01 am
Oregano-citron n'est pas une combinaison mais une variété d'origan.
Matias Cruz Feresin Estaje / December 30, 2012 at 02:04 am
Dear Madam/Sir,
In times where the main producer world of olive oil (Spain produces 50% of the world) supports a strong drought that minimize at 50% production, over the same previous period, will cause a severe adjustment in the international price, at least until March/April 2013.
This change in the market since we all are attentive to properly supply to our customers.
In any way and to have us as an alternative, we inform you that we have one of the best Spanish oils, made in Mills in the province of Castellón, which has special characteristics, compared to the rest of oils, such as:
- Soft and fruity taste, unique in its type, by the special conditions of the soil in the province of Castellón (Comunidad Valenciana) that gives especially the nutrients from a soil rich in iron, also makes citrus fruits as one of the sweetest in the world.
- Has special and unique virtue of maintaining, if the oil is stored away from heat and light, the physico-chemical conditions that allow you to retain the Extra Virgin category, for a considerably more than the 2 years period.
- The guarantee that the exporter is a centuries-old cooperative.
Waiting your great comments about this matter.
Best Regards,
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