or… what I fed my family in Quebec City (Part 1)…
In the grand scheme of international cuisine, the French are up there with their Michelin stars and their Zagat bias… Now Quebec City is a little slice of Paris with plenty of charming cafés and elegant bistros, but when you’re feeding a family (that includes a sometimes fussy preschooler), you don’t always want charming or elegant. You need fast, you need fresh, and you need healthy – at least most of the time. Notice I said “most”…
Now before I get into the decent restaurants we ate at during our stay, I want to get into the good stuff – the junk! As much as the French are known for their fabulous food, the French Canadians are also renown for their comfort food. So we had to seek out poutine and tourtière.
If you’re unfamiliar, poutine is a glorious combination of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds. True poutine is all about the curds – don’t be fooled by wannabes with their grated cheddar. They may melt better, but the test of an excellent poutine is the squeakiness of the curds. Our horse & carriage driver (the groomsman?) recommended Chez Ashton on Grand Allee, and it did not disappoint. Daughter had the bebe size, and we finished hers off anyway. I’ve always been such a stickler for nutrition where she’s concerned but somehow I leap off the wagon when we go away. I guess that’s a whole other post!
Chez Ashton is basement level with a few stairs going down and then a few more to where you order. A little tricky with a stroller but more than manageable for us. It’s one of the few places where English wasn’t widely spoken, but do not fear as there’s not much on the menu besides french fry related items, with big pictures to point out what you’re after. I was tempted to get the poutine with peas to try and alleviate my mother’s guilt, but really that would have just resulted in uneaten peas left glumly in the leftover gravy. Leave the guilt at home and enjoy your poutine!
In our quest for tourtière, we ended up at a little boulangerie on Rue Saint Jean, just behind our hotel (The Delta).
Tourtière is a French Canadian meat pie that is usually a combination of ground pork and beef, always served at Christmas but often for special occasions all year round. Ours had little chunks of potato in it, which apparently means it is a recipe from Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean – Thanks Wikipedia!
The tourtière was super-cheap ($7.00 for the whole pie) as was everything at this little spot. The atmosphere was somewhat lacking, but we wanted fast and close-to-home and this place fit the bill. I like to smother my tourtière with ketchup, which I know irritates purists to no end – je suis desolee!
Last, but certainly not least, the chocolate. My 3-year-old daughter is an outright chocoholic. When I have to resort to a bribe, chocolate is my weapon of choice, and it never lets me down. But a treat is a treat, and when a preschooler is a good sport about traipsing along cobblestone streets and looking at castles, she deserves a reward. A chocolat château in Vieux Québec fit the bill!