DINE and Destinations - - DRINK -

Culi­nary iden­tity for Que­bec be­gins with the First Na­tions hunt­ing and gath­er­ing, and teach­ing the set­tlers about the land. The Euro­peans bring the tech­niques, sea­son­ing and pre­serv­ing meth­ods. Hearty recipes from early set­tlers pro­vide warmth and sus­te­nance dur­ing the win­ter, like tour­tières, and in­clude game meats such as veni­son, wapiti and cari­bou. Charlevoix lamb and Brome Lake duck are ex­cel­lent qual­ity. Foie gras is ex­cep­tional, and con­sci­en­tious Que­bec farm­ers pro­duce the best qual­ity in North Amer­ica. The nu­tri­ent rich St. Lawrence River and Gulf pro­vide seafood and shell­fish like snow crab, sea urchin, eel, scal­lops, goose­neck bar­na­cles, ra­zor clams and lob­ster, as well as sea as­para­gus, sea spinach and fresh sea­weed.

Known as “the king of cheeses,” there are more dairies and greater va­ri­ety in Que­bec than in France. Ar­ti­sanal cheeses here are the best in the world, rang­ing from sharp ched­dar to semisoft/creamy Oka. Wild berries from blue­ber­ries to sea buck­thorn pro­lif­er­ate. Que­bec pro­duces 70 per­cent of the world's maple syrup, and cel­e­brates it in maple syrup pie and maple whisky, to su­gar shacks serv­ing maple taffy and boiled maple tree sap driz­zled over snow. Rouge­mont ap­ples are prized, as are the ciders, ice ciders and sparkling ciders pressed from them.

Din­ing in Que­bec City re­flects tra­di­tional hearty recipes, re­fined and el­e­vated. Mon­treal's cul­tural di­ver­sity en­ables a dis­tinct din­ing cul­ture of chic restau­rants and bars with Euro­pean charm and style, as well as bistros, cafes, choco­late shops, foundueries, bak­eries and del­i­catessens. Im­mi­gra­tion from the Mid­dle East in­tro­duced cous­cous, tas­sot, and shish taouk, a Mon­treal sta­ple that is a vari­a­tion on the Le­banese chicken shawarma. Steaks are sea­soned with spice blends of Mon­treal Sea­son­ing. Jewish im­mi­grants in­tro­duced Mon­treal smoked meat and wood-fired Mon­treal bagels. Pou­tine, the most pop­u­lar sig­na­ture Que­bec dish, pro­lif­er­ates menus. “Ap­ples, veni­son or trout can be found every­where in Canada, they're not con­fined by our pro­vin­cial fron­tiers.” Chef Nor­mand Laprise (To­qué!

Res­tau­rant) tells me. “What makes the dif­fer­ence is the peo­ple who do the cook­ing—their eth­nic back­ground, cul­ture, pref­er­ence and phi­los­o­phy.”

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