DINE and Destinations - - QUEBEC -

We did not ar­rive at Quintessence by wa­ter plane, or set down our he­li­copter on the front lawn, as do the czars, stars and ty­coons. We drove up in the late au­tumn, be­tween Thanks­giv­ing and Christ­mas, be­fore the fam­i­lies con­verged from the US, Canada, Brazil, Rus­sia and Mex­ico. While ev­ery room has a lake view (which is a treat in sum­mer), ours is of Mont Trem­blant, the world-fa­mous ski re­sort in the Lau­ren­tians. We would call it ex­tremely up-scale-ca­sual—suit­able for those for whom five-star is the norm. The decor is mar­ble, wooden beams and leather, with a colour scheme of cream, white and caramel that thumbs its nose at stains and spills. Each room has a fire­place and the ne­ces­si­ties to get the fire started. Spa Sans Sabots sug­gests an in-room mas­sage, and since we’ve been sit­ting in a car for sev­eral hours, it sounds like a great idea. The masseur has the right at­ti­tude, a mix of warmth and pro­fes­sion­al­ism, as he lights the fire­place and sets up his ta­ble. The hour passes quickly. Din­ner is set up in the lounge at a sub­stan­tial wood ta­ble with leather arm­chairs. Que­bec chef Jean-luc de la Bruere has cre­ated a menu that is pure mod­ern Que­be­coise, and fo­cuses on fresh, lo­cal prod­ucts where pos­si­ble. His dishes are com­plex and his sea­son­ings cre­ate a hearty depth of flavour that is cer­tainly much ap­pre­ci­ated on a cold win­ter’s night. The kitchen roasts black cod and part­ners it with puréed shi­take mush­rooms and truf­fle pota­toes. Que­bec lamb gets a lus­cious crust of pis­ta­chio and goat cheese en­livened by spicy Feu Sacre juice. Fam­ily din­ing is taken into con­sid­er­a­tion with roasted beef loin, pota­toes mashed with Mon-lau­rier Brie and a juice made with Caber­net Sauvi­gnon. Quintes­sance looks after its guests, and the com­pli­ment is re­turned.


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