The Marché Branche d’Olivier has resided on Verdun’s main strip, Wellington Street, for over 20 years now, becoming one of the neighbourhood’s best-loved shops. Before gentrification brought hip restaurants and specialty cafés to the areas, the owners of Branche d’Olivier were offering a panoply of items from the Middle East, North Africa and South America, including some of the city’s first organic, sugar-free, and gluten-free products. They made these things available before most people even knew to ask about them.
Their unique assortment of bulk products (dried beans, peas, rice, lentils, couscous…), preserved goods (chipotle peppers, olives, pickles, jams…), spices (everything from turmeric, sumac, and za’atar to cinnamon, cardamom, curry, and beyond…) gives you the impression you’re visiting a neighbourhood souk. They’re also renowned for their wide variety of oils, vinegars, teas, dried fruit, nuts and baking products – all the essentials for a well-stocked pantry.
Owned by the Haidar family, Branche d’Olivier is run by a father, his two sons and son-in-law. I recently met with Ammar, the son who operates the shop on Wellington with his father, who explained that having a family-run establishment allows for closer relationships with the clients, enabling him to better understand and anticipate their needs: “We learn a lot from our clients and we often feel like a part of their day-to-day”. While Branche d’Olivier has offered some of the same products for over two decades, Ammar emphasizes that they’re constantly evolving to meet the needs of an ever-increasing food-savvy clientele interested in expanding its culinary repertoire.
Two and half years ago, the family opened a second location in St-Henri, under the helm of son Ali. A third store was opened in the Plateau just this past December, managed by Ammar’s brother-in-law, Munaf. These two newer shops were opened in part to meet the demand of loyal clients, who, after moving away from Verdun, would make special trips to the location on Wellington to get the products they loved.
Being family-owned, the service at Branche d’Olivier is unlike that of most specialty shops. The Haidar family is approachable and knowledgeable, always available to answer questions. Aside from their incredible selection of products, they offer service without pretense. From the moment you walk in, you know you’ll be in good hands.
Find the shop closest to you and make the trip out. You’ll be happy you did. Stay posted for two recipes using Branche d’Olivier products, coming next week.
Marché Branche d’Olivier – 3 locations :
4342 Rue Wellington
3437 Notre Dame O
1376 Mont-Royal East
Website : http://www.mahifa.com/
Julia Dawson – juliachewsthefat