Saturday, December 30, 2006

At last!

Assuming you even found your way to this hidden corner of lower Ahuntsic, sandwiched as it is by the Autoroute Metropolitaine and the CP Rail's tracks, it would be easy to miss Poissoneries Carolli amidst the Carosseries Klassics and other semi-industrial enterprises that occupy this fringe area of the Garment District. You might very well notice Poissonneries Carolli's huge sign, its Greek fishing boat that it has parked out front, and maybe even its washed-out coral reef picture window,

Coralli, ext.

but you'd have to be paying attention to know that this place had a retail operation and was open to the public. Otherwise you might just assume that Poissoneries Carolli was just some wholesale enterprise, distribution house, or seafood brokerage like some of the other tenants at 8955 Meilleur Street: Caspian Seafood, European Lobster, and the Canadian Acadian Lobster Company. Enter Poissonneries Carolli, however, and this is what you'd find:

Coralli, int.

Not only is their fish selection great, but their quality is extremely high and their prices are very competitive. We've been checking out some of the city's wholesale/retail seafood establishments for some time now in search of a real fish market, and to date Poissonneries Carolli is the finest we've found. The whole fish selection is everything you'd expect from a premium Greek-owned fish market, so is the quality of their squid and octopus, but you'll also find great deals on lobster and oysters, excellent house-smoked smoked salmon, an impressive selection of salt-packed anchovies (which are otherwise hard to find in Montreal), even live turtles for those with a hankering for turtle soup. We were blown away, but not too blown away to make a few purchases for the weekend, including some cherrystone clams, which we promptly transformed into exactly the kind of linguine with clam sauce meal that we'd been craving for months.

linguine with clam sauce

Linguine With Red Clam Sauce (for two)

5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peelend and chopped
1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, trimmed and chopped
16 cherrystone clams, scrubbed
2/3 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp cognac or good-quality brandy
1 cup good quality tomato sauce, preferably homemade
salt to taste
1/2 lb linguine, cooked according to directions on box

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or medium pot over medium-high heat, add the garlic and the parsley and sauté for one minute. Add clams, cover, and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and the cognac or brandy and cook, uncovered, until the alcohol (not the liquid) has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes. Cover and continue cooking, shaking the saucepan from time to time, until the clams open, about 3 minutes more. Discard any clams that don't open. Uncover and allow the liquid to reduce slightly, another 3 minutes or so. Add the tomato sauce, stir, and bring the mixture to temperature. Adjust the seasoning.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain in a colander but do not rinse. Add pasta to the saucepan with the clams, reduce the heat to medium-low, and mix well. Garnish with extra parsley, if you like.

Serve with a good, crusty bread, preferably a sourdough loaf, so that you can sop up all that amazing sauce, and a nice leafy salad.

Poissonneries Carolli, 8955 Meilleur Street, 381-5623

[many thanks to one of our loyal readers for tipping us off]



Wayne said...

A great write-up of what has become a must-stop each time I'm in town. My only comment would be that their home-made smoked salmon deserves a greater mention. A wonderfully delicate flavor, not heavily smoked, and a freshness that words can only hint at. They also have a spiced version that I've not yet sampled.

I'll also mention that I've noticed it customary to tip the fish cutter a looney or two when having them fillet your purchase.

Anonymous said...

Have you been to Gidney's?

aj kinik said...

Hi Wayne,
the spiced version of their smoked salmon is excellent, though it's subtler than one might expect. Well worth checking out.

Hi anonymous,
Not yet. It's next on the list.