Longueuil Christmas Market: Santa, Chocolate, and Mulled Wine; December 17-20
The Longueuil Christmas Market is about the quaintest Montreal Christmas activity ever. A 5-minute bus ride from Longueuil metro drops you off in front of a little wooden Christmas village filled with home-made caramel, ice ciders, Quebec chocolate truffles, tourtiere, pear cider, goats milk cheese, mulled wine, a big choo-choo train and a Santa Claus. Did I mention the alcohol? Isn't that what Christmas is all about?
The sign says "hot wine", but I'm willing to bet this is mulled wine full of cloves and cinnamon. If you're not a fan of spice, stick with the Christmas Market's reds, whites, and portsOr try the white or rose honeywines from Les Trois Acres. They're not actually sweet, so don't be scared off by the word "honey". the white, La Musicale, will fit right in with any musical evenings you're planning during the holiday season. You could also just try the un-fermented honeys from the farm.You may recognize these wines from the Plateau Farmers' Market. You may also recognize some of the Ruban Bleu cheese. At the Longueuil Christmas Market, however, they have a lot more options, including spreadable things and frozen tourtiere that you don't even need to worry about spoiling or melting on the way home in the summer heat. It's so cold outside that you could grate this stuff (the essentially frozen cheese, not the tourtiere...)! I wouldn't, but I'm just saying it's possible.If your interests are meaty, you've got a few other purchasing options including the lamb (antibiotic and preservative-free) from Ferme Lochette and 'everything duck' from legs confit to breasts to fois gras from L'Artisan
The fois gras was even affordable, as you could buy two small pieces of duck fatty joy, say, to top your steak in pure gluttony for about $7.50. All you do is dip them in cornstarch and saute them (in duck fat, of course) for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side, said the friendly man. There are recipe sheets for those in need. Also info on how to grill the duck breast and how to heat the confit legs. Basically Lochette has you covered duck-wise, and you can feel free to ask about how the ducks were raised as the man at the booth will actually be able to tell you.
Moving into sweets, you've got to try the caramel with fleur de sel. There are also jams of local berries (blueberries) and less local fruits (figs), marmalades, jellies, mint sauces, marinades, vinaigrettes, and everything sweet that your little heart could desire...
...including cranberry shortbread cookies and dark chocolate covered cranberries......and hot crossed buns from my all-time favourite LaPerle and Son Boulanger. We were reunited again! Well, the hazelnut sourdough and I were reunited for a short affair, but my usual vendor was not there. The (relatively) new, younger generation had taken over the selling of cranberry chocolate sourdough and olive fougasses. As it should be, I guess.The chocolate truffle and fudge Christmas gift bags: A La Truffe...local, beautiful, etc. You can even get hot chocolate made from their melted chocolateThen there were the muffins, packaged in steamed up containers so they didn't dry out in the cold. I wished I was as well-insulated. So for insulation you head back to all the alcohol vendors. The pear cider doesn't hit you with a hammer of booze; instead it's a mild, sweet flavour that warms you up from the inside. After you've sampled a few spirits, make sure you watch out for the train that gives free rides to kids through the little Christmas village. It'll knock you over if you're not careful. This thing is chugging. It doesn't take the kids to the North Pole, unfortunately, but the view is scenic and the ride ends at Santa Claus.Finally, watch the kids sit on Santa's lap. You're probably a bit old for the sitting yourself, but it's pretty cute to see all those little ones lining up. There's music, it's festive, there are Christmas lights everywhere. I'm not reconsidering kids, though. I'll stick to my laurels and say that as long as the kids are lining up for Santa and riding the speedy little train, there's less competition for you for the caramel samples. I'm always looking out for you, Poutiners and Poutineuses.
Longueuil Christmas Market
When: Thursday to Sunday, December 17-20, 2010
Where: Parc St-Marc, Longueuil (take the 8, 88, or 17 Bus from Longueuil Bus Terminal on the yellow Metro line. It costs $3 one-way for the bus in Longueuil, but it's better than wlaking the 20 minutes over the kind of confusing highway, even though the bus really goes straight down the main road. Get off when you see little kiosks with Christmas lights on your right. It really is a wooden, multi-coloured Christmas village (about 5 minutes on the bus)
How much: Free! (plus $6 round-trip bus fare from the end of the yellow metro line)
Why? Because it'll put you in the Christmas spirit??