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Food

Hungry? One More Day to Check out the Salon J'ai Faim

Posted by Amie / May 19, 2013

salon-j'ai-faim-marshmallowsHomemade marshmallows, yuzu soda, private chefs, gluten-free, dairy-free dream-worthy chocolate cherry-vanilla frosted cupcakes, buttery, gluten-y cupcakes, mixed spiced nuts, duck and rabbit rillettes, $32 green apple-balsamic vinegar, seaweed fertilizer and worm castings for your garden, farm-to-restaurant online ordering, moka frozen yogurt, Jamaican patties, donuts, better-than-fairtrade dark chocolate from Vietnam...what did I miss? It's all at Montreal's Salon J'ai Faim from 11am to 6pm, Sunday May 19th at Église-Saint-Enfant-Jesus-du-Mile-End.

salon-j'ai-faimDon't know where the church is? It's Laurier and St-Laurent. Officially, Saint-Dominique. Behind some swinging benches/park furniture. There's a big sign outside. It's where the Marché Fermier happens starting June 17th, 2013. If you don't see the big sign you're blind. Bring a friend with eyes. You'll get there. Thank said friend by buying him or her a homemade mango marshmallow.

You remember these marshmallows from the Souk in the Quartier des Spectacles last Festival Juste Pour Rire (Just for Laughs for anglos). Except now you can them dipped in chocolate. And there are still a ton of their homemade macarons if you haven't had enough sugar yet.

salon-j'ai-faim-almond-butterflyClockwise from top left: Chocolate cupcake with brownie bite, strawberry cupcake, chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting and addictive cherries (my name, not theirs), chocolate espresso, chocolate caramel, vanilla-maple, raspberry-lime.

But you're going to want to save that sugar rush for Almond Butterfly. I'm not even going to tell you it's gluten-free because you'd never know by tasting the raspberry-lime buttercream and the heartbreakingly swoon-worthy chocolate cupcake with chocolate caramel frosting. Coffee addicts choose the espresso version that looks like cookies and cream. It's not. It's better. I guess I need to justify that hyperbolic swoon-worthy comment: The chocolate cake base is so smooth and moist and creamy. Melody the baker says it's from the apple cider vinegar and cocoa. It's a different flour blend than the others. What's her secret? She uses mostly almond, coconut and rice flours. And there's no soy. Some cupcakes use oil and some use soy-free earth balance. The frostings are earth balance. If it gets sticky in the basement of the church your friend found for you, the cupcake icing may melt a little, but it'll be gloop-tacular. That's not a word.

salon-j'ai-faim-almond-butterfly-3$3.50 a cupcake or something around $13.50 for 4. Totally worth it. Sampling everything before you buy it (which you can) feels like cheating because it's all so good.

They also do a homemade dairy-free caramel. $5 a small jar (125mL), $8 for 250mL I think. And there are cookies and giant brownies.

salon-j'ai-faim-2I'm telling you though, chocolate caramel or chocolate cherry cupcakes all the way. Raspberry-lime if you're not into chocolate.

salon-j'ai-faim-pickles-savoureBefore your teeth fall out, move on to vinegar. Pickles and homemade soda from Savouré. These guys were at another Expo here last fall. The beets have tarragon in them, which makes them taste like sweet black licorice. They have some new soda flavours - grapefruit and tarragon, which tastes again a lot like citrus black licorice, and geranium, rose and yuzu. Try little samplers and then buy a large drink to oxidize the remaining sugar from your poor mouth.

salon-j'ai-faim-homemade-soda

salon-j'ai-faim-urban-seedlingThen it's on to two of my favourite urban gardeners. Urban Seedlings does entire garden installations, planting and upkeep. They use heirloom varieties of seeds they've started themselves (it's a bit late to start some of their seeds but not all, and you can buy the seeds at the booth) and sell as seedlings. They have a bunch of gorgeous tomato seedlings for sale. To go with it, eco-friendly kelp fertilizer and worm castings. Healthy soil = delicious vegetables.

Provender is also on hand. The new start-up is a online link between farmers and restaurants. Restaurants go to the website, view the directory of vegetables and fruits available at different farms around Montreal, and order directly from them using the online ordering system. The farms deliver straight to the restaurants, putting them directly in touch with the chefs. Farm-to-table, -banquette, or -bar stool. It's not just for high-end restaurants (La Belle Province and La Banquise any time soon?) and it's keeping big distributors with international goods out of restaurants by making local eating (and purchasing) more convenient.

salon-j'ai-faim-toasted-nutsWhere to next? Toasted nuts. This lady at Chef à Votre Service is pretty exceptional. Tossed in olive oil, and freshly home-blended spices, there's a little bit a tandoori, sweet and salty flavour to her mixed stack of high quality walnuts, pecans, almonds, corn, and dried fruit. You could live on those pecans and walnuts. But then you'd miss out on dark chocolate from Madagascar and Vietnam. The bars at Miss Choco are better than fairtrade because they're direct to farmer. That means that the farmer (an hopefully the workers) makes more money since there's no middle man. They're small plantations, not big, scary West African plantations known for child labour and sketchy ecological practices.

Who's cooking? Qui cuisine? That would be private chef Cristèle, a graduate of the diploma program at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, known for its devotion to local, seasonal cooking. There's a lot to be said for French tradition, but any school that teaches about seafood sustainability and doesn't put an out-of-season ground cherry or expensive, starchy fresh fig on a dinner plate is exceptional.

And so is Christèle. She'll drive to your house and prepare you a week of food. Or she'll teach you how to cook in her at-your-home classes.

Cooking classes are everywhere it seems, with another affordable option for Indian food coming from the recently launched Cook Caravan. Inspired by their travels through Southeast Asia and obsession with spices (The chef? Guillaume Lozeau, was formerly employed by one of the city's most respected spice importing companies), this team is all about authenticity in their bhel puri and channa masala. Speaking of the Indian puffed rice dish with chickpeas, red onion, tomatoes, a spice blend called "chaat" and a mix of coriander, tamarind and hot pepper chutneys (all oil-free), their booth is set up for you to assemble your own. Removing the bamboo hat reveals a wheel of fortune of ingredients you toss into a paper cone. In India this is street food and it's served in newspaper, like French fries in England or a certain high end eatery in Toronto. Classes are booked at your convenience, they bring everything to your home, explain the ingredients, and get you blending, toasting, chopping, smelling, and finally eating.

Fine herbs. There's a lady who blends herbs from her garden (Les Jardins de Marichat). One blend without salt, one with. There's bison carpaccio from Les Affamés. There's coffee from Dispatch and Jura. There are La Muffinerie's finest marvels matinales. There are handmade maple and walnut cutting boards I wish I could afford from Planète Créations. And there's a selection of balsamic vinegars and olive oils from Maison le Bourdet (plus some quality rillettes and patés - all pork free) that are pretty darn good and very darn pricey. Good for a taste though. And perfect on top of a scoop of frozen yogurt from on top of the stage (

Other notables include Sweet Lee's Rustic Bakery, who will soon be opening a storefront smack in the middle of rue Wellington in Verdun! Savoury scone and white chocolate chip cookie lovers, rejoice!

I'm sorry to say I missed a bunch of great companies with delicious and artistic things. Not everything is food here but clearly I have my priorities. So should you. One of them should be to come here on Sunday before all the raspberry-lime cupcakes are gone...

Oh, and if you've got kids, there are workshops with building vegetables for them. And a bunch of other presentations. As usual, I was just there for the cupcakes.

Salon J'ai Faim
Eglise Saint-Enfant-Jesus-du-Mile-End
5035 St-Dominique
$5, or $10 with three coupons for spoon-sized snacks from Les Affamés, which is ironic. The starving people serving tiny portions. Who thought of that?

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