What sets Montréal apart from other Canadian cities is not just dazzling skill in the kitchen. Most of all, this French-speaking city shines gastronomically because it is blessed with provenance. It is surrounded by rich agricultural lands and heritage, a supportive Québec government, and ingredients that encourage artisan food producers to blossom.
Nowhere is this more evident than in local cheesemaking, which began in earnest when Trappist monks first produced world-famous Oka in the region in 1893. Today, there are about 100 artisan and farmstead cheesemakers in Québec—more than in the rest of Canada’s provinces combined. The acclaimed quality and remarkable diversity of les fromages d’ici, “local cheeses,” are best tasted out in the countryside, where the cheeses originate, and in Montréal, among dedicated retailers and chefs. Here are some places to start your cheese-happy tour of Montréal:
It’s important to cook the eggplants completely through before scooping out the flesh and filling the shells. You can do this step hours ahead if desired.
In a large pot fitted with a steamer basket, bring 2 inches of salted water to a boil. Add the eggplants; cover and steam until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.
Karen Weinberg, cheesemaker at 3-Corner Field Farm in Shushan, New York, makes a luscious sheep’s milk Camembert, Shushan Snow, that inspired this not-just-ham-and-cheese indulgence. Another fine New York producer of this style of cheese is Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, which produces the award-winning Nancy’s Hudson Valley Camembert.
Heat oven to 350°F. Brush both sides of the bread with the oil and arrange on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden around the edges, about 10 minutes.
Wide ribbons of grilled zucchini and yellow summer squash, tossed with a simple olive oil dressing, are served with peppery arugula, nuts, and tangy goat cheese.
Heat, a grill over medium heat (or a grill pan over medium-high). In a medium-size bowl, combine the olive oil and lemon juice; season with salt and pepper. Add the squash and zucchini ribbons, tossing
Working in batches, grill the squash and zucchini until lightly charred and tender, about 2 minutes per side.
Robiola cheeses from Italy come in a variety of shapes, sizes, milk types, and ages. But they all have in common a soft, edible rind and creamy, moist richness that make this dish steal the show.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the vinegar and tomatoes; cook, tossing, until the tomatoes begin to burst, about 5 minutes. Set aside the tomato relish to cool.