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Outside the box in old Montreal

Email|Print| Text size + By Patricia Harris
Globe Correspondent / May 27, 2007

MONTREAL -- Once the weather warms there's hardly a better picnic spot than the riverside park of the Old Port. And there's hardly a better place to pick up your meal than Europea Espace Boutique , the Old Montreal gourmet shop opened by one of the city's top chefs, Jérôme Ferrer .

No sub shop here, as the elegant minimalist decor and racks of museum-quality coffee sets and boutique condiments attest. Although Europea sits in the heart of the tourist district, you're likely to encounter bankers, lawyers, and government office workers coming in for the box lunches ( boîtes à lunch to the French-speakers). In case it rains, the shop even has a few tables and a bar with high stools for dining in.

The box lunches feature a choice of sandwich (prosciutto and Benedictine blue cheese with grapes and figs, for example, or sliced lamb with onion confit and grilled vegetables on ciabatta ) or salad (marinated vegetables with smoked duck and shaved Parmesan, or tiny greens with gravlax , fresh dates, and slices of mango) and choice of soda, juice, or water.

An exquisite little pastry is perhaps the clincher. There's something downright decadent about concluding a picnic with a lemon and chocolate cream tart or a miniature chocolate mousse cake. The chocolate indulgence needn't end with the meal. Europea also sells dessert-inspired body products, such as crème brûlée hand lotion, dark chocolate bath oil, chocolate orange perfume, and white chocolate massage oil. Sweets for the sweet, indeed.

Europea Espace Boutique, 33 rue Notre-Dame Ouest. 514-844-1572. europea.ca. Box lunch $8.10.

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