Residents of Montreal with big appetites will rejoice at this summer’s platter of upcoming food festivals. While Montreal’s cuisine is certainly not lacking in diversity or selection, food festivals are unique in that they often feature variations on a certain dish or type of cuisine, allowing patrons to indulge in a dish’s spectrum of taste.
One of the most anticipated food festivals is The Great Montreal PoutineFest, which will take place in Old Port from July 3-5. Poutine is a dish native to Quebec, which in its simplest form, consists of french fries and cheese curds, doused with hot gravy. At PoutineFest, however, restaurants will have the opportunity to showcase their creativity by infusing poutines with different influences and ingredients. Macaroni and cheese poutine, duck confit poutine, and poutine with foie gras, are just a few of the variations expected to be on display
The Great PoutineFest will consist of 16 food trucks and booths from different restaurants. Among those attending will be the Montreal-based restaurant and bar, L’Grox Luxe, serving up both pulled-pork poutine and tofu poutine for vegetarian poutine-lovers. Planète Poutine will also be there, boasting their official seafood-themed lobster poutine. Finally, for patriotic poutine fanatics, Heart Attack Poutine will have an authentically Canadian poutine garnished with bacon and drizzled in maple syrup. While forty Montreal restaurants participated in the annual Poutine Week earlier in the year, Le Smoking BBQ is bringing the poutine craze back for by organizing PoutineFest, which will will no doubt be a great way to satisfy deep-rooted potato cravings.
A second food festival is the annual RibFest, which is set to occur from August 14-16 at the Pierrefonds-Roxboro City Hall Fairground and is hosted by Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Island, a charity dedicated to empowering and inspiring children. The different rib vendors will serve up their award-winning ribs while also catering to the West Island community.
“The Montreal RibFest will have a great community feel to it as families and friends come together to enjoy delicious food and listen to fantastic live bands,” Martha Beltran, an organizer for the festival, said.
Highlights will include Jack the Ribber from London, ON, who use their wood-burning smokers to cook 226 St. Louis style racks at once. Another company to keep an eye out for is Crabby’s BBQ Shack, the only team in Canada that slow bakes their ribs.
More food festivals
Another festival to note is Montreal’s Italian Week running from August 7-16, which will feature a Best Baba Contest. Pastry chefs will compete by baking babas—small yeast cakes saturated in rum, which hail from the Naples region of Italy designed to soothe those with a sweet tooth (or multiple sweet teeth).
Montreal will also host a Polish Week on August 8 and 9 which will include Polish cooking classes, kielbasa eating contests, and most likely mounds of pierogies.
Charlotte Rosen, U2 Science and self-proclaimed food fanatic, enjoys food festivals because they shed a new light on the city.
“As a Montreal resident, it’s always exciting to discover new restaurants and food trucks, and meet fellow food-lovers along the way,” she said.
Similarly, Jonathan Motha-Pollock, U2 Arts, notes how food festivals are enjoyable because they are not just about the food but the atmosphere they foster.
“You can go with friends, there’s always music playing, and tons of people around,” he said. “Everyone is just in a good mood because they’re full of incredible-tasting food. It makes for a really great day.”
One of the highlights of these food festivals, aside from the abundance of delicious food, is that entrance is free! For Montrealers on a budget or tourists visiting the city, food festivals are an affordable and accessible way to explore Montreal’s cuisine in social and lively settings.