Friday, June 4, 2010

Last meals in Quebec

So I'm back in Vancouver -- 15 pounds heavier -- after nine months of living, working, and, of course, eating in Quebec. I've already shown you the foods I think you should try in my previous post on 15 things you must eat in Quebec. Now here's a peek at what I've spent the last few days (and literally my last few days in Quebec) eating:

"Quebec pizza" with pepperoni, onions, and bacon; and a side of italian poutine -- which uses meat sauce instead of gravy -- (see above photo) at Restaurant Chez Marius in Chambly. Its presentation expressed my sentiments exactly -- I "heart"ed it. :)

Ice cream at Dairy King, just beside Restaurant Chez Marius in Chambly. The flavours I chose (see below) weren't so great, so I can't really give the best review. One scoop maple walnut tofu ice cream (bleh! -- tasted like So Nice's version, which in turn tastes like eating soy), one scoop crème brûlée (which tasted nothing like crème brûlée, though I asked the vendor if it did and she said yes), and passion fruit granita, which was really yummy.

I recommend sticking with the sorbets and granitas here, which my friend, K, did (see below for her picks -- lime, apple cranberry, and dark chocolate sorbets). I didn't try them, but I think they were probably better than what I got.

The best part about this place is that you get three scoops of ice cream/gelato/sorbet/granita regardless of the size you choose, which meant we were able to buy smalls and yet try three flavours. Not bad for $3.75. If only I had chosen better flavours *sigh*.

Maple-butter-swirled soft-serve ice cream at an ice cream shop in Saint-Jean-Baptiste. My friend told me they had delicious sucre à la creme (sugar cream fudge)-swirled ice cream at this shop, so I was expecting to order one of those. The ice cream here turned out to be maple-butter swirled instead.

This was way better than the one I tried in Vancouver from Annie's Dairy Bar in New West (see here for my Eat Me post). It had way more maple butter swirled into it, so much that I was able to enjoy a pool of maple butter at the bottom of my cone.

Even better, it offered the option of dipping cones in either milk or dark Belgian chocolate for $1.25 more. I had milk chocolate, and my friend, L, had dark. I think the cones would have been just as good without the chocolate.

"Maple Explosion": Maple, maple, and more maple! One scoop maple ice cream with maple taffy and maple sugar pieces, one scoop maple walnut, and one scoop caramel maple (the former two made by Coaticook, the latter by Bilboquet, two of the best ice cream brands in Quebec) topped with maple syrup and maple butter.

The best-tasting scoop by far was the one with maple taffy and maple sugar pieces by Coaticook. All the flavours were so pure and delicious. I'm not sure if you can find this flavour in Quebec grocery stores, as I've only ever seen maple, maple sugar, and maple walnut.

The other two scoops, I could have done without -- especially the maple walnut -- though my first taste of the caramel maple was actually very good.

I had my maple explosion sundae with extra maple syrup (against the advice of the vendor, who said it would be too sweet), and you know what? I wish I had gotten even more maple added, because maple syrup and ice cream make a truly heavenly combination -- though maple syrup mixed into cold milk is still my favourite maple treat!

I actually had this explosion specially-made for me -- the original "Explosion d'Erable" (maple explosion) comes with one scoop of vanilla and two scoops of maple, topped with maple syrup and maple butter. To be honest, I don't know if it might have been better to go with the original, as I never tried the plain maple scoop.

You can try it for yourself at the maple products cart in Old Montreal.

"Grandma-style" hot chocolate (with marshmallows and cocoa powder) from the Chocolaterie du Vieux Beloeil. It looks good, but didn't actually taste all that amazing. I don't think it was made from real chocolate, or at least it didn't taste like it. The marshmallows melted into the drink after a few minutes, which was kinda cool.

I've tried their trio (made with a mix of dark, milk, and white chocolate) and white chocolate hot chocolates before as well, and they were also just okay.

Hot chocolate, cakes, and chocolate from La Cabosse d'Or.

No pics of the hot chocolate, since it just looked like any old coffee cup, but it was actually the best hot chocolate I've had in Quebec, and I've had quite a few. I've had two versions (at two separate occasions, of course): the Vienna, which is made with 70% dark chocolate topped with whipped cream), and the Aztec (I think that's what it was called), which is made with the same chocolate and added spices. Both are reeeeeeeeeeeeally good.

La Cabosse d'Or is famous even outside of the Monteregie region of Quebec. I advise you to stick with the chocolate products, however. I was lucky enough to come on a day when their freezer was broken and they were offering a buy one get one free deal on their cake slices, and I can't actually remember what I thought of any of the cakes (which is not a good sign).

I think their maple one and their wildberry with white chocolate slice were good. I didn't like the sachar cake. I don't remember what I thought of the one with hazelnut and chocolate, nor the raspberry mousse one, nor the chocolate bombe. They were nothing remarkable. But that's just my opinion.

Their white chocolate with vanilla creme chocolate mouse (see below) was quite good.

Definitely stop by for some hot chocolate!

Seven of July plate (French toast, two crepes -- one buckwheat and one plain -- topped with fresh fruit) and fruit cocktail (made with a mixed variety of fresh fruit) at Chez Cora

I was very pleasantly surprised by this meal: the first time I tried Chez Cora, I was very let down by my meal (a cinnamon brioche cooked in French toast batter) with fresh fruit. The brioche tasted stale.

This time around, everything tasted fantastic, especially the french toast. The crepes were so good they didn't need maple syrup -- which was good, since Chez Cora only offers fake syrup, or "electric pole syrup", as Quebecers like to call it, free of charge -- real maple syrup is extra. I was pleased that they agreed to make my crepes both ways, since they tasted quite different and are both worth trying.

So now, rather than giving Chez Cora a negative review, I am going to say that it is a hit and miss place -- when you get a hit, it's a home-run. Just try to avoid the misses. :P

Waffle ice cream sandwich
at a brand-new little resto in Mont-Saint-Hilaire. I know it has "Gaufres" (waffles) in the name, but I don't remember it in full.

This was no ordinary out-of-the-box ice cream sandwich. We're talking vanilla ice cream sandwiched between made-to-order waffles, and, in my case, topped with fruit cocktail. I love Quebec fruit cocktail. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think it's just defrosted fruit. It tastes super-good though.

I also came back another time and had a meal complete with a crepe stuffed with asparagus, ham, and bechamel sauce, a side salad with miso tofu dressing (yum!), and a glass of fresh lemonade. These were all good, but nothing fantastic.

Crêpes bretonne (Bretagne crepes) at the Crêperie du Vieux Beloeil

These crepes were the best I've had during my entire stay at Quebec (and I've had A LOT).

Two kinds of buckwheat crepes (one stuffed with emmenthal cheese, chorizo sausage, tomatoes provencal, and black olives (see left); the other with homemade apple sauce and strong cheddar (see right) -- two of the specialty crepes from the Creperie du Vieux Beloeil, one of the best creperies in Quebec). My dining partner, M, told me that the quality of the sarrasin (buckwheat) is top-notch, because it is more finely ground than those you would find at most other creperies.

... and then came dessert!

This was made with sweeter batter and filled with chestnut cream and freshly sliced pears, topped with whipped cream.

This is a must-try. The chestnut cream tastes incredible and homemade -- nothing like the stuff you can buy in glass jars from the supermarket. We didn't ask to verify, but I'm pretty sure it was homemade, as they used homemade apple sauce in their apple and cheese crepe. This combination isn't actually on the menu, but was recommended to us by our server.

Note that you can choose whatever combinations you would like for your crepes here, if you are prepared to pay for the extra ingredients.

It is very hard for me to enjoy a restaurant a second time around (it's just never as good), so I give this creperie props for delivering such an enjoyable meal during my third visit. My first two visits were in fact just okay, since I ordered a ham and egg one the first time (not much filling in that), and a banana, caramel, ice cream, and rum flambeed dessert one the second time (forgetting I don't like the taste of rum).

This lunch was my last meal in Quebec. And what a meal.

And so ends my posts about Quebec foods, for now...

Yum! (Or, as they say in Quebec: Miam-miam! =9).

UPDATE: After returning to Vancouver from Quebec, I wrote a quirky children's novel loosely based on my experiences in la belle province. The plot: a girl likes apples so much that she decides to become a teacher, because everyone knows that being a teacher is the best way to get free apples. The setting: Mont-Saint-Hilaire, the apple-craziest town in Quebec. Find more on the novel and new stories I have written at