Foodlab full of flavours, surprises

August 29, 2011

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Foodie alert! Attention all epicureans! Get set, gourmets: the Marché du Foodlab has arrived. Every Thursday to Saturday, from now until October 1, organic producers are setting up shop at Place de la Paix to tempt your tastebuds.

By Catherine Vermette
Foodlab director Frédéric Gauthier and his team are returning this downtown park, the site of the 19th century Marché Saint-Laurent, to its original function.


Photo credit | Frédérique Ménard-Aubin
Today, with the public markets sited for the most part on the periphery, Foodlab aims to put the art of cooking back into the heart of the city. "Our first mission is to reach the people who live and work downtown" explains the director. The idea is to create a real connection "between the urban and the rural", and to "get closer to producers". "We want to move beyond a vision of the market as a place merely to buy and consume", Gauthier continues.

To foster this interchange, Foodlab is focusing on activities that are a little bit out of the ordinary. For example: the Culinary Bingo, scheduled for September 2 and 3. Born in the fervent imagination of film producer Nicolas Fonseca, the concept links a purchase at the Marché to each bingo token. The chef then takes the five ingredients represented by the five tokens that make up the winning bingo -- whatever they turn out to be -- and has to improvise a dish with those five ingredients on the spot, for the winner to eat and pass around. Sound crazy? Maybe it is. But above all it's a fun way to shop for your fresh fruits and vegetables, and another good reason to skip your supermarket. If you're interested in participating, sign up at the Foodlab web site.

The Marché has so many activities on offer that everyone can find something to suit themselves. The curious can learn about organic agriculture and get advice on choosing and preserving fresh vegetables, while the merely gluttonous -- such as, for instance, certain people who happen to be writing these words right now -- can binge on local treats presented as part of "locavore" tasting sessions. They haven't forgotten wine lovers, who can participate in "natural" wine tastings. Private importers will be present to give you the lowdown on wine that respects ecosystems.

To bring the market to a festive close, Foodlab will offer a wild "Rond de soupe". On September 30, 120 cooks will whip up a pesto soup to a techno soundtrack. We think it'll be like a rave in Provence. Whatever the mood, this activity -- masterminded by Marc Brétillot -- promises to wake up all five of your senses and bid you farewell with a fond Marché memory. You won't even have that long to savor the remembrance -- Foodlab is already planning next year's version.