Article originally published in the May-October 2018 edition of the Atmosphere magazine. Read the latest edition here.
This weekend, hit the road and set off on Vézina’s taste trail. Who knows, it might even awaken the chef in you.
Renowned Quebec chef Daniel Vézina knows local. His menus are like bread-crumb trails to discovering regional flavours, from potatoes from Montérégie to halibut from the St. Lawrence River. So we asked him to create a taste trail of his favourite haunts in Quebec. What we discovered was, much like his own restaurants, Laurie Raphaël, and health-food counter, LA SERRE, they’re all family-run.
So set off from Montreal and tag along as Vézina takes us through the culinary regions of the Eastern Townships, Île d’Orléans and Charlevoix in pursuit of the homemade and delectable. Hang on to your taste buds!
Fromagerie Nouvelle France
Cow and goat cheese are so passé. Make way for sheep milk cheese and meet some of its pioneers in Quebec at Fromagerie Nouvelle France in the charming little village of Racine in the Eastern Townships. “Brother and sister team Jean-Paul and Marie-Chantal Houde have transformed cheese making into an art form, creating some of the finest and most innovative sheep milk cheeses in Quebec,” says Vézina.
Try the Zacharie Cloutier, a firm cheese with sweet aromas of caramel and coconut; or Vézina’s favourite, La Madelaine, a soft cheese with delicate aromas of dry hay, which pairs nicely with Quebec sparkling ciders and blackcurrant jelly.
Fromagerie Nouvelle France, 154, route 222,Racine, Quebec
Follow the grapevine to Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille on Île d’Orléans. Run by Nathalie Lane, Louis Denault and their three children, this is the kind of place where you dawdle, sipping on fine wine while soaking in the beauty of the vineyard. Try the whimsically named Voile de la Mariée (Veil of the Bride), a dry white wine with citrus and green fruit flavours, or the Sainte-Pétronille Reserve, a charming red with flavours of cherry brandy, cranberry and toast.
Feeling hungry? Stop by the Panache Mobile, a gourmet food truck at the vineyard. “Order the lobster roll and avocado purée, local grilled cheese and pulled-pork sandwich, head to the vineyard’s terrace and savour your meal paired with just the right wine,” recommends Vézina.
Vignoble Sainte-Pétronille, 8705, chemin Royal, Sainte-Pétronille, Quebec
Cassis Monna & Filles
“This is a must-stop on Île d’Orléans, where sisters Catherine and Anne invite you to their country table in their blackcurrant vineyard,” says Vézina.
These fifth-generation distillers grow blackcurrant to produce sumptuous wine, liquors, jellies and just about anything you can make with this tasty berry. Their classic crème de cassis alone is worth the drive.
Don’t leave without trying their famous duck confit poutine with blackcurrant wine sauce at their restaurant, La Monnaguette, and wash it down with their Kir de l’Île. All while soaking up the stunning view of the St. Lawrence River from the restaurant terrace. Hit their dairy bar before you go and grab their popular blackcurrant-vanilla “softie” for the road.
Cassis Monna & Filles, 1225, chemin Royal, Saint-Pierre, Quebec
La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix
Wing it to La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix, a duck farm run by husband and wife Jean-Jacques Etcheberrigaray and Isabelle Mihura from, you guessed it, the Basque Country. The ducks are raised the traditional way, roaming freely in the fields, surrounded by the couple’s two daughters.
You haven’t tasted succulent until you’ve tasted their foie gras, duck breasts, duck confit and rillettes, all of which display the hallmarks of their Basque origins. You’ll love the foie gras mousse perfumed with the mistelle La Grande Glace from nearby Cidrerie et Vergers Pedneault.
La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix, 813, rue Saint-Édouard, Saint-Urbain, Quebec