Dur­ing its rau­cous Car­naval, Que­bec City is a win­ter wonderland. Plus, Best New Chef alum Nina Compton shares her fa­vorite spots in New Or­leans.

Dur­ing Car­naval, head to Que­bec City for a week­end of ice ca­noe races, epic sled­ding, and rich, rus­tic cui­sine.

Food & Wine - - CONTENTS - By Taras Grescoe

TO VISIT QUE­BEC CITY IN THE WIN­TER, when the mansard roofs in its old city drip with ici­cles, is to court dis­ori­en­ta­tion. A fourhour drive north from Burling­ton, Ver­mont (or an hour-and-forty minute flight out of Ne­wark, New Jersey), puts you in a 400-year-old city ap­par­ently air­lifted, cob­ble­stones and for­ti­fi­ca­tions in­tact, from pro­vin­cial France. For years Que­bec City’s food scene has played Lyon to Mon­treal’s Paris, con­cen­trat­ing im­pec­ca­ble haute cui­sine and down-to-earth din­ing based on lo­cal in­gre­di­ents in one com­pact, easy-to-nav­i­gate des­ti­na­tion. Lately, in­no­va­tion has been added to the mix, thanks to “bo­real cui­sine” (think red deer, maple cream, and marine plants and fungi for­aged from lo­cal forests and shores). And a new wave of open-kitchen restau­rants staffed by re­laxed servers is in­ject­ing some fun into the din­ing scene. A week­end visit around the time of Car­naval, Que­bec City’s win­ter-themed fes­ti­val (Fe­bru­ary 8–17, 2019), of­fers a taste of the Old World in the new. Book your trip now, while rooms and flights are still rea­son­able.

FRI­DAY

Have your first meal at Bu­vette Scott (bu­vette scott.com), on a slop­ing side street off rue St.-Jean, for an in­tro­duc­tion to the chill spirit of the bu­vette, the Que­be­cois take on the wine bar. As vin­tage vinyl spins, bar staff serve cock­tails mixed with house­made ton­ics while wait­ers, switch­ing ef­fort­lessly be­tween English and French, talk you through a well-cu­rated list of bio­dy­namic wines and chalk­board menus that al­ter­nate be­tween the com­fort­ing (fish cakes and pa­prika gnoc­chi) and the ad­ven­tur­ous (boar’s tongue and boudin).

SATUR­DAY

Le Buf­fet de l’An­ti­quaire (lebuf­fet­de­lan­ti­quaire.com), set amidst a row of an­tique shops, is the place to start the day, with Que­be­cois break­fast sta­ples: thin crêpes driz­zled with maple syrup, or beans and toast slathered with cre­tons, a chilled pork spread. Pay a visit to the quirky bou­tiques of the St.-Roch district, home to L’Af­faire est Ketchup (face­book.com/laf­faireest.ketchup), the orig­i­nal HQ for a trio of restau­ra­teurs who shook up the lo­cal food scene by tabling re­fined in­gre­di­ents in a bustling, el­bow-to-el­bow am­bi­ence. Equally fun spin-offs in­clude raw bar Kraken Cru (190 rue St.-Val­lier Ouest), the bu­vette Le Ket’Chose (1138 3e Ave.), and seafood-themed Al­ba­core (819 Côte d’Abra­ham). If you can’t snag one of the 20-odd ta­bles at sought-af­ter Bat­tuto (bat­tuto.ca), where chef Guil­laume StPierre and pâtissier Paul Croteau have pulled off an al­chem­i­cal mash-up of a French bistro and a su­pe­rior Ital­ian trat­to­ria, book a Satur­day night spot at the more spa­cious Lau­rie Raphaël (lau­rie raphael.com), whose star chef Daniel Véz­ina of­fers en­cy­clo­pe­dic tast­ing menus of in­gre­di­ents, from floun­der ce­viche to smoked pork loin, sourced from Que­bec’s top ar­ti­sanal pro­duc­ers.

SUN­DAY

Fin­ish the week­end at the 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar at Château Fron­tenac (fair­mont.com/fron­tenac-que­bec), where the menu in­cludes an ex­trav­a­gant Saz­erac made with co­gnac from pre-phyl­lox­era vines. The cir­cu­lar bar is a toasty perch from which to view the Car­naval ca­noe races across the icy St. Lawrence River, or just won­der at the panorama spread out be­low: a snow-dusted vi­sion of his­toric France, mirac­u­lously trans­ported to the Amer­i­cas.

WHEN TO GO

Car­naval takes place Fe­bru­ary 8–17, 2019. Visit car­naval.qc.ca for more in­for­ma­tion.

WHERE TO STAY

The re­cently over­hauled

Château Fron­tenac is a hub of such Car­naval ac­tiv­i­ties as the break­neck, wood-framed to­bog­gan run es­tab­lished in 1884 (rooms from $258; fair­mont.com/fron­te­nac­que­bec). A room at the nearby Art Deco Ho­tel Claren­don

(rooms from $118; ho­tel claren­don.com), which boasts the res­tau­rant Le Charles Bail­lairgé, which will cel­e­brate its 150th an­niver­sary in 2020, is a well-priced op­tion. Or opt for a room at the Hô­tel de Glace, a ho­tel made of ice (rooms from $495; Jan­uary–March only; hoteldeglace-canada.com).

Twin­kling with hol­i­day lights, Petit-Cham­plain in Que­bec City is one of North Amer­ica’s old­est shop­ping districts.

Fair­mont Le Château Fron­tenac over­looks the semifrozen St. Lawrence River, the set­ting for ice ca­noe races dur­ing Car­naval.

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: Bistro Le Sam at Château Fron­tenac has river views; tiramisu at Bat­tuto; in win­ter, vis­i­tors may sled down Que­bec City’s triple-chute to­bog­gan run.

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