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Last week I got a pleasant surprise delivered to my office when a cooler arrived packed with some of the most delicious and fresh radishes and tomatoes I have tasted in some time. 

This came from Leciel, a company based in Mirabel which has taken on the challenge of competing with foreign radish growers by supplying Quebec grocers (IGA, Metro, Super C, Adonis, Maxi and Provigo) with fresh, local radishes year-round, a first for the Quebec market. This makes Leciel the largest greenhouse radish producer in North America.

It was during a trip to Holland that founder Stéphane Bertrand and his son, newly appointed General Manager Steve, stumbled across a radish greenhouse. They quickly saw the potential for bringing such production back to Quebec. Since the taste of greenhouse radishes is very different from field radishes, they must be seen as a new vegetable in their own right. Sweet, mild and not very pungent, the possibilities are endless. This may explain why Europeans eat three times as many radishes as Quebecers.

Formerly known as Les Serres Bertrand for its production of pink tomatoes, the company branched out into the cultivation of cannabis five years ago. Last year, its partner, Canopy Growth, terminated the production agreement, due to a lack of demand in Canada. The Bertrand family wanted to get back to their roots and bring their state-of-the-art facilities to Quebec families in search of nutritious, affordable, local products. The company is back in the market-gardening business with a vengeance, producing 300 million radishes a year on five hectares of land. 

“Our mission with this crop is to restore a classic vegetable to its former glory,” said Steve Bertrand, “By offering four varieties of radish in a wide range of colors and tastes at an affordable price, we hope to diversify consumption opportunities and integrate radishes into family routines.”

Leciel markets four types of radishes in three different packages: red radishes (sweet, crunchy and not very spicy), French breakfast radishes (elongated shape, white tips and very mild taste) and three-color radishes (combining red, white and purple radishes for an explosion of color and flavor). The products are offered in bouquets and leafless packaging in an innovative ready-to-eat format. Grocers are already catching on – some stores have seen their sales almost double since the products became available.  

Foe Leciel, the environment is at the heart of every decision. With initiatives such as the use of LED lights and a biomass heating system derived from the circular economy, the company’s reduction in GHG emissions is equivalent to taking 3,000 cars off the road for a year. As soon as they are grown, the vegetables are transported to Quebec grocery stores in less than 24 hours. They are all free of pesticides and preservatives. Leciel also recovers 100% of the water not consumed by the plants, filtering it and reintegrating it into the greenhouses. Finally, all packaging is made from recycled materials without rigid covers to reduce the ecological footprint. 

In less than a year, the company has distributed its products on most of Quebec’s major banners. It aims to continue innovating in the world of radishes but also to diversify its large-scale vegetable production. Already, Leciel has reimagined the former cannabis drying chambers to house an equally innovative crop: lion’s mane mushrooms and pink, blue, yellow and grey oyster mushrooms. Leciel is still a producer of specialty tomatoes, growing several varieties including rose, cherry and grape. Today, with almost 10 hectares under cultivation, Leciel aims to triple its production in the medium term by adding another 20 hectares of greenhouses to its existing infrastructure, thus consolidating its position as an industry leader. 

Go to www.serresleciel.com

Benny&Co. products available exclusively in IGA grocery stores

    Benny&Co. is proud to announce the launch of its products available exclusively in the 296 IGA grocery stores across Quebec.

    Many consumers live in the age of convenience. For some families going to a restaurant can be a tall order. Sometimes restaurants such as Benny&Co. are not located close to their homes. Quebec is the rotisserie chicken capital for food lovers. Benny&Co. a family-run business is expanding to meet demand the appetite for chicken. Culturally, chicken is a safe food for many ethnic groups. The chicken business is growing stronger in the past year in the USA as well as in the Quebec market. There are many cooking options with chicken. The chicken line is great economically. There are many supper ideas and time-saving recipes that will keep everybody happy.

    By Mike Cohen

    Marché de l’Ouest (https://marchedelouest.com) features indoor and outdoor shops, with a large variety of horticultural products, meat, chicken, fresh fish, cheeses, tea, breads and pastries.

    With over 36 retailers, the Marché De L’Ouest is the go-to place for the ultimate shopping experience and is considered a one-stop-shop in Dollard-des-Ormeaux. In the summer, you can visit the beautiful outdoor farmer’s market with fresh fruits and vegetables.

    I recently spent a few hours at the place, starting off with a great breakfast at Rôtisserie Gicanu. Owner George Housakos, working with his wife Bozica and son Nicholas, is on the job seven days a week from 9 am to 6 pm. It has been a labor of love for 15 years. The first thing he does is get those trademark chickens spinning on the rotisserie and prepares for all the regulars to order their club sandwich and other favorites from the menu. I was impressed with how quickly and expertly he made me some bacon and eggs, with a pair of sausages, two slices of toast and tomato. “We do catering as well,” said George, who was a furrier before he got into the food business. I will be back to sample the chicken.

    George at Rôtisserie Gicanu.
    George at Rôtisserie Gicanu.

    Next door I went to say hello to Antonio Russo at Piada. The specialty here is an authentic “Piadina,” an Italian flatbread sandwich that comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. I am also told he makes a mean cappuccino. At Coucou Café baristas Lina Jin and Suhan Shi specialize in latté art. 

    Antonio makes a cappuccino.
    Antonio makes a cappuccino.

    No time to cook?  Eatz Chez Vouz offers healthy prepared meals! I chatted with Michele, who guided me through the wide array of appetizing side dishes.

    Michele at Eatz Chez Vouz.
    Michele at Eatz Chez Vouz.

    The Marché even has a new concept store specializing in the “Keto diet” called “Ketotteria.” Check it out!

    What a pleasure it was meet to Franco at Hansel & Bagel. “We are the oldest bagel store on the West Island, dating back to 1981,” he said while watching employee Nathan pull some piping hot bagels from the brick oven.

    Nathan at Hansel & Bagel.
    Nathan at Hansel & Bagel.

    Boulangerie Patisserie MDO had some pretty yummy items in the display window.

    Looking for delicious sausages? Saucisser de L’Ouesthas over 60 types of sausages to choose from– they also have gluten-free options!

    Boucherie La Préférence always has the freshest meats! They can truly “meat” your needs! Cavallaro is always ready to serve you – whether it be Italian pizza, various cheeses, cold cuts and many more Italian imported products.  Yannick Fromagerie offers a variety of specialty cheeses. Boulangerie

    Le Marché de L’Ouest offers an array of flavours and multicultural dishes from various countries; Japan (Japango Sushi), Lebanon (Feuille de Vigne), Hong Kong (Szechuan Supreme), Thailand (Thai Noodles & Sushi), Greece (Marché Pêche Pêche) Peru (Enjoy the experience of Peruvian flavours at the new concept restaurant called “Passion Ceviche”. where Chef Jose will serve you as you are in a cozy place of his beloved city of Lima in Peru!)
    and Italy (Boulangerie & Patisserie MDO).  From the latter were told that Alfonso Salvo’s cannolis are THE talk of the West Island!

    Première Moisson (www.premieremoisson.com) is also a part of the Marché retailers! Did you know that they are the first bakery to use local flour without any chemical input in their bread?  Check out Bulk Barn for every kind of candy and chocolate you can think of!

    Delicacies from Première Moisson.
    Delicacies from Première Moisson.

    You can even make your own wine at “Vin Go.”

    Find everything you need at the Dollarama! There is also a specialized pet store that is ready to help you with all your needs: “Bailey Blu.” Need flowers? Head to the florist.  Looking for jewelry?

    Take your family and friends out for dinner at our various restaurants: Madison’s Bar & Grill, Dunn’s, Guaca & Molé, Restaurant Panama, Ben & Florentine’s, Mandy’s, Paradise Kosher, La Verita and Jukebox Burgers! Seasonally, the outdoor fruit and vegetable selection is superb! And yes, there is even an IGA.

    Marché de L’Ouest is indeed the ultimate gourmet destination, located at 11600 De Salaberry, in Dollard-des-Ormeaux in the heart of West Island. Log on to get the complete list of merchants and much more. https://marchedelouest.com or call 514-685-0183.