If you’re from Montreal, chances are a close friend moved to Toronto sometime in the last few years.
Whatever their reasons, they’re gone. And now you — the devoted friend you are — trek down the 401 now and again to see them, bringing iconic Montreal food as a gift.
We all know that if you are visiting a friend far away, a gift for the host is in good taste.
It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive, but it’s nice when the gift is a food associated with your hometown.
But what should a Montrealer bring to a Torontonian?
Even I, a proud Toronto-hater, have to admit that our neighbours to the southwest have a lot going for them both food-wise and otherwise.
They’ve got Dundas Square, which is just like Times Square but nicer, and the only Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament location in Canada.
There are white squirrels — and purple raptors, their championship-winning NBA team.
But believe it or not, we here in provincial Montreal have some tasty treats that you just can’t find over there.
So, here are some gift ideas for your best friends in Toronto.
Sure, some seem obvious. But just try showing up in Toronto without a few dozen bagels and see what happens!
There are also other less obvious gifts for your friends down in the 6ix.
To my knowledge, most of the bagels in Toronto were machine-rolled at Tim Hortons and taste like the absence of love. (I'm kidding but my taste buds don't know that.)
That’s not the case here where they’re hand-rolled and baked in a wood oven, with love.
Buy them, stick them in those plastic bags, and place them by your feet on the bus or train on your way to Toronto like little edible foot-warmers.
There are a number of very fine delis in Toronto — and a lot of them serve "Montreal-style smoked meat." So maybe your friends over there would like to sample a few of our meats.
Schwartz's is certainly the most famous place in this city for delicious, nutritious (I wish) Montreal smoked meat.
I’m not here to debate the ethical considerations around foie gras, and I’m not saying you can’t find it in Toronto, because you can.
I’m just saying that in Montreal, we appear to be awfully fond of this deliciously controversial food — the best of which can be found in shops and restaurants across the city.
To make authentic poutine, those squiggly, squeaky chunks of young cheddar are absolutely essential.
But their brief shelf-lives mean it’s practically impossible to get them fresh in Toronto.
Cheese curds lose their squeak mere hours after they’re made due to increased moisture, even if you stick them in the fridge.
So, buy a few sacks and head down the highway in a hurry. Your friend in the Big Smoke is sure to thank you.
Minced Ham Sandwiches
If you’re a connoisseur of gas station sandwiches, as I am, then you'll agree those little morsels of minced ham between slices of white bread are an underappreciated delicacy.
Are they good for you? Certainly not. Are they good? You bet! And you cannot get them in Toronto.
You’d be able to find a fine meat pie somewhere in Toronto but for real, authentic French Canadian tourtière, why not get it directly from the source?
Tarte Au Sucre
You can taste the joie de vivre in this unapologetically decadent dessert made with sugar, cream, flour, eggs, butter and maple syrup.
They’re similar to butter tarts, which are very popular in Ontario, but they have their own Quebecois flare.
Hot Sauce From Ma Poule Mouillée
There are many places to enjoy Portuguese chicken in Toronto, but the hot sauce from Ma Poule Mouillée — a spicy piri-piri made from a secret recipe — is something special.
So special, in fact, that people line up to get in.