9 Foods to Try in Quebec City

July 28, 2014 at 3:09 pm (Adventures and Travel, Life, Photography) (, , , , , , )

Whenever we travel, our plans are centered around food and must-see sights. Before setting off, we choose everywhere we want to eat and organize which restaurants to visit based on the locations of museums, historical sites, nature trails, etc.

One of the best things about Quebec City is that great restaurants and things to see are within easy walking distance from one another. The only trouble is that there are so many great restaurants marked in our guide book but only so much time, meals, and money. Oh well. Good excuse to visit again.

While everything is delicious, here are some culinary delights that you have to try.

 

9. French onion soup

Since most people in Quebec are French, is it just onion soup?

Since most people in Quebec are French, is it just onion soup?

Just as there’s that notable difference between a Hershey’s Kiss and Godiva chocolate, there’s a notable difference between French onion soup in America and in Quebec. More onions, richer cheese, tastier broth… It might seem cliché, but don’t pass it up.

Bonus Tip: Want to wash up before eating? Most of the very small bathrooms are in the basement of the buildings.

 

8. Croque-monsieur

Ham and cheese with a culinary twist

Ham and cheese with a culinary twist!

This open-faced ham and cheese sandwich would make Julia Child proud. Covered in a thick, cheesy sauce, this ham on toasted bread makes a great late lunch. (Check it out at Cochon Dingue!)

 

7. Caribou 

Caribou and bison pâté with a carrot chutney and garlic toast. It's better than it might sound.

Caribou and bison pate (excuse the lack of accents) with a carrot chutney and garlic toast. It’s better than it might sound.

Caribou isn’t a stranger to the menus in Quebec City. A great example is this caribou and bison pâté appetizer at Aux Anciens Canadiens. While I’m not normally a pâté person, it’s surprisingly good!

Bonus Tip: At this fancier restaurant, a meal typically includes a drink, an appetizer, the main course, and a dessert. Most restaurants have this deal, though, if you order one of the specials of the day. (And the specials aren’t the most expensive meals on the menu.) Great bang for your buck!

 

6. Old fashion hot chocolate

Old fashioned hot chocolate... or, as my brother called it, the easiest way to get diabetes.

Old fashioned hot chocolate… or, as my brother called it, the easiest way to get diabetes.

Forget Swiss Miss powder. This hot chocolate is thick, creamy, and not obnoxiously sweet.

Bonus Tip: Most breakfast places include coffee or hot chocolate with a breakfast plate.

 

5. Meat pie

A Quebecois

Ground meat in a flaky crust. What more could you ask for?

Self-explanatory but not to be underestimated. The best one we found was at Aux Anciens Canadiens.

 

4. Café au lait

Drinking it from a traditional bowl is a must!

Drinking it from a traditional bowl is a must!

The Quebecois seem to love their coffee. For an authentic experience, try café au lait (coffee with milk) served the traditional way: in a bowl. This half-coffee, half-steamed milk mixture is a frothy delight. Need a little sugar? No one will look down on you for including a packet or two… or three.

We loved café au lait served this way so much that my mom ordered bowls as soon as we returned home. Can’t wait to drink from them tonight.

 

3. Bacon covered in crepe batter

Add bacon to anything, and it just gets better.

Add bacon to anything, and it just gets better.

Yes, it’s as delightful as it sounds! It’s a breakfast of champions at Buffet de l’Antiquaire.

 

2. Maple pie

If you like pumpkin pie and the taste of maple,

Consistency like pumpkin pie, but it tastes like maple heaven.

This is a delicacy. It’s very sweet, but with a dollop of fresh, unsweetened whipped cream, it’s perfect. We love it so much that we brought the recipe back to the States with us.

 

1. Poutine

Chic Shack's mushroom poutine is a meal in itself!

Chic Shack’s mushroom poutine is a meal in itself!

When we decided to visit Quebec City, this instantly hit the top of my list of foods to try. While the combination of fries, cheese, and gravy makes it sound like glorified gravy fries, the description falls short in so many ways. Most restaurants use cheese curds, which melt yet maintain some shape. The potatoes involved aren’t always fries (like the thinly sliced potato wedges used at Chic Shack). And gravy isn’t the only topping. The Quebecois make all sorts of combinations: mushrooms and Parmesan, smoked meat and Swiss cheese, and even chicken with a red wine sauce and shallots. And all of them are amazing.

Bonus Tip: If you visit Chic Shack for its variety of poutine, be sure to grab a salted maple caramel milkshake. You won’t regret it (and the walk back to the hotel should burn off most of the calories… unless you’re staying at le Chateau Frontenac).

View from a cafe right next to le Chateau Frontenac. (It really can be seen from anywhere!)

A view of le Chateau Frontenac from Chic Shack.

Want my quick overview of Quebec City? Click here!

 

Have you tried any of the foods on this list? Have other Quebec delicacies you would add? Visit any must-try restaurants lately?

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The Silmarillion Recap: Quenta Silmarillion (Part XI)

July 23, 2014 at 5:11 pm (Literature, Nerdiness) (, , , , , , , , )

Fëanor’s lust for revenge has driven him into Middle-earth, where Morgoth/Melkor has returned to his old fortresses. It’s time to get even in “Of the Revenge of the Sith.” Wait. I mean, “Of the Return of the Noldor.”

Part I (Chapter 1)
Part II (Chapters 2-3)
Part III (Chapters 3-4)
Part IV (Chapters 5-6)
Part V (Chapter 7)
Part VI (Chapter 8)
Part VII (Chapter 9)
Part VIII (Chapter 10)
Part IX (Chapter 11)
Part X (Chapter 12)

Quenta Silmarillion: First part of Chapter 13

Last time we saw Fëanor in chapter 9, he stood overlooking a burning fleet of stolen ships In the gleam of the fire, his face must have seemed more like that of the Roman emperor Nero than one of the noble Elves. He had abandoned half of the Noldor — his own people — on an icy wasteland on the other side of the sea. Among those betrayed were his half-brother Fingolfin and his niece Galadriel (yes, the Galadriel) as well as anyone else he didn’t think was fully loyal to him. Fëanor’s sole focus was retrieving the Silmarils (three magical gems he had made) and making Morgoth pay for stealing them and lying to him.

S.B. Roberts 2013

S.B. Roberts 2013

Now, Fëanor is ready to find his foothold in Middle-earth and launch a barrage against Morgoth and his forces. But what Fëanor doesn’t know is that his people and Fingolfin’s people across the sea aren’t the only ones who noticed the flames and smoke from the blazing ships. Morgoth’s Orcs have spotted them as well and have reported it to their Master.

When Morgoth hears that Fëanor has come, he is unimpressed. The last time he saw the Noldor was back in Valinor. Fëanor had been pouting at a festival that the Valar ordered him to attend, and his father had remained at home since he was miffed at the Valar too. Fëanor’s father had been an easy target for Morgoth, who killed him before stealing the Silmarils. Morgoth never could have guessed, though, what sort of weaponry and passion the Noldor, especially Fëanor, possessed.

Morgoth’s and Fëanor’s forces go head to head, and Fëanor presses into Angband (Morgoth’s current stronghold) without too much trouble. But Morgoth is ready for him, and Fëanor is too blinded by his emotions to realize his foe’s strength.

Fëanor stands with only a handful of his men amid a throng of Balrogs. He fights valiantly, ignoring his wounds and how badly outnumbered he and his men are. But his wrath isn’t enough to save him. The Lord of the Balrogs, Gothmog, takes Fëanor down. Fëanor’s sons immediately rescue him from the battlefield, but he dies on the way back to their camp. Before he does, though, he orders his sons to avenge him, which will only be the cause of more grief.

It’s not long before word arrives from Morgoth. His messengers claim that he wishes to treat with Fëanor’s sons and the Noldor. After all, surely they can come to some sort of agreement that allows all of them to live in peace instead under the oppression of this endless, pointless war. Morgoth is even willing to return one of the Silmarils! Fëanor’s sons, particularly Maedhros, know that it’s a trap, but they agree anyways, thinking that they might be able to exploit the situation. Instead, Maedhros and his men find themselves outnumbered and surrounded by Balrogs again. All of them are killed but Maedhros, who is captured and used as a bargaining chip. What Morgoth still doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that Fëanor’s sons aren’t the type to bargain. They will gladly draw swords and kill even their own kin to get what they want. Besides, they know that Morgoth will betray them anyways and that they will never see their brother again if they don’t take matters into their own hands.

But they won’t be the ones to make the next move against Morgoth. Enter Fingolfin and the first rising of the Sun!

Next week, Fingolfin and his company give Morgoth a run for his money, the Eagles have their first big moment, and Thingol finds out what happened to the rest of his people in Valinor. (You know, the ones who were slaughtered for the ships that were subsequently burned by Fëanor…)

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Getting in Touch with My French Side (or A Weekend in Quebec City)

July 18, 2014 at 5:25 pm (Life, Photography) (, , , , , , , , , )

Last Friday, I was stepping out of a taxi — one of the few taxis I’ve ever been in — and into the heart of French culture in North America. I suppose sometimes I’m too easily enamored with anywhere that’s foreign, but it’s hard not to be with somewhere as charming as Quebec City. My family and I had come to explore the old part of the city over a long weekend. And, honestly, there’s so much that I want to share that it’ll definitely require another blog post. (And that post will mostly be dedicated to food — namely poutine — and must-see places.)

Our little hotel sits between the St. Lawrence River and the fortifications that still surround most of old Quebec City. Winding hallways lead to beautiful rooms that combined a sleek, modern style with stone walls built by the French in the 1700’s. And, as icing on the cake, there is even a small kitchen with a cook top (which came in handy every evening).

Looking out the window of our hotel room

Looking out the window of our hotel room

Cafés, shops, and hotels are nestled together throughout the old part of the city. Most cafés are small — a cluster of tables outside and as many as can fit inside — and sometimes it’s hard to know where one ends and the next begins, but all of the ones we tried were filled with friendly people and incredible food.

View from a cafe right next to le Chateau Frontenac. (It really can be seen from anywhere!)

View from a cafe right next to le Chateau Frontenac. (It really can be seen from anywhere!)

From our hotel, we walked everywhere. It’s easy to do since the area is only a few miles, though there’s plenty of walking uphill and on rough cobblestones. But none of us minded since there’s something new to see around every corner and the cobblestones are charming (even if you trip on them once or twice, like me).

The narrow streets are lined with beautiful, old buildings

The narrow streets are lined with beautiful, old buildings

There are three major historical sites: la Citadelle, le Chateau Frontenac, and Parliament. Each of them are old (though most of their structures are from Quebec’s time under British control — the only exception are two buildings in la Citadelle) and have quite a history behind them. More on that later, though. But one of them is hard for any visitor to miss: le Chateau Frontenac — the huge hotel atop the hill — is visible from everywhere in the city. For that reason alone, we have countless pictures of it.

Le Chateau Frontenac (from one angle)

Le Chateau Frontenac (from one angle)

Among its many claims to fame, this hotel was a meeting place for Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and W.L. MacKenzie King (the Canadian prime minister) during WWII.

A plaque on the side of le Chateau Frontenac commemorating Churchill and Roosevelt's meetings during WWII

A plaque on the side of le Chateau Frontenac commemorating Churchill and Roosevelt’s meetings during WWII

My favorite part, though: speaking and listening to French. After two years of it in college, I haven’t kept up with it nearly as much as I should have, but I was impressed by how much I remembered (even though some of the Québecois vocabulary is a little different from proper France French). Most of the signage and people are bilingual, but there’s something wonderful about overhearing conversations or reading plaques in another language and understanding the gist. It certainly rekindled my love of the language. Needless to say, I plan on adding reading French into my weekly routines.

There’s also something special about immersion in a culture that’s part of your heritage. My French Heugonaut ancestors came to America in the 1700’s for religious freedom. They lived on the frontier, were killed in raids, and fought in the Revolutionary War. Since Quebec City is the heart of French culture on this continent, it’s a little piece of that part of my heritage.

Have you visited a place related to your heritage? Have you been to Quebec before?

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