Tour de Quebec

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Tony Bad
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2010/09/03 14:49:19 (permalink)

Tour de Quebec

With the summer flying by and my guilt at having taken my kids nowhere this summer reaching new heights, we decided to take an old fashioned car trip north to Quebec.
 

 
We decided to make an express trip north, waiting until we reached Montreal to eat. Arriving in town just as it began to rain we headed to Schwartz's Deli only to find a huge line of folks standing in the rain. Not wanting to wait we headed up the street a short way to a place rumored to have the best poutine in Montreal.
 

 
Patati-Patata at 4177 St Laurent did not disappoint. Despite the fact there are only 13 seats in the place, our timing was great, and we got 4 seats immediately.
 

 
The menu was surprisingly big for such a tiny place. Our meal choices included a burger, a fish sandwich, a crepe, and my poutine. 
 

 
Son's burger. The burger was small by US standards, but I noticed that there was a bit better portion control up in Quebec than we have here in states. It was well seasoned and garnished, and you were offered a choice of fries or a salad. The salads were good, with a good variety of greens.
 

 
My Poutine
 
Now I am far from expert enough on this subject to judge if this is truly the best poutine in town, it was quite good, with the thin fries covered in a very flavorful sauce. The cheese pieces were smaller than what I have had before, but had the squeak of fresh cheese curd. 
 
After this meal we strolled about the old portion of town...in the rain. There are many beautiful sights in Montreal. Among my favorite...
 

 
Dinner was at a place called Lamaska. No pictures were taken as it was raining and I was so wet, I left camera in hotel. I had a meal I found on almost every menu I read while in Quebec, Steak and frites. A small, 6oz sirloin and some good fries...oh...and a nice Canadian beverage. I found the quality of potatoes to be very high throughout my trip.
 
The next morning...still raining...we went to a place close to our hotel...
 

 
Turns out this is a chain of places. If I am to judge the chain on this example, I'd recommend going elsewhere. The breakfast was quite ordinary and mine arrived just lukewarm.
 
We snacked on a few unremarkable items as we toured about...in the rain...and then had dinner at a place called Jardin Nelson at 407 place Jacques Cartier. This was a unique place that was built in a courtyard behind some buildings. Entering you seemed to be heading into an alley only to find yourself in this huge space which was sheltered from the elements by a neat looking combination of awnings and gigantic umbrellas. The specialty here was crepes and we all had one. At the recommendation of our server I had a crepe filled with slices of pork tenderloin, fresh tomato, red onion, Kalamata black olives, cheddar, mozzarella, feta and tzatziki. It was quite good, especially the crepe itself, which had a wonderful sweetness that complemented the saltiness of meats and cheeses perfectly. The crepe was so good that it left me disappointed when I tried another one in Quebec City. The latter crepe was solely there as a carrier of the ingredients that had taste, while the one here added a wonderful touch to the meal. I regret not having my camera at the ready, but again, we were all very soggy.
   
As day three dawned we were delighted to find...SUN!!!  We strolled about a bit, and had breakfast at a nice little Montreal version of the Greek Diner.
 

The Plaza McGill at 488 rue McGill had a diverse menu, not terribly different from diners back home. The food wasn't outstanding, but it was fairly priced and quite good. There were several tables with regulars. It reminded me a lot of the coffee shop where Jerry, George, and Elaine spent their time...except everyone was speaking french.
 
We strolled about some more, then had to check out of hotel and get car, so we decided to drive about. First stop was the famous St. Viateur Bagel Shop at 263 St. Viateur West. This place has been written about here on roadfood, and I can even get their bagels now in Brooklyn, but a trip to the original is always worth while.
 
The people who run this place are remarkably friendly and accommodating and make some of the best bagels on the planet. They are different from NY bagels, having a slight sweetness, and a lighter, airy interior, but they are wonderful. 
 

 

 

 

 
After feeling like we had made some new friends, we bought a bag of bagels and some drinks, and headed over to Mont-Royal Park for an overview of the city and our bagels.
 

 
My all dressed bagel...outside...
 

 
and inside. A real delight! I would recommend this as a don't miss stop if you head to Montreal. You won't regret it.
 
The next stop on our tour was a visit to some of my wife's family near Drummondville, QC. We drove east and checked into our new hotel. Without any knowledge of the area, and precious little info available about this area, we asked the hotel clerk for a recommendation. He asked what we wanted to eat, and when I said poutine, he immediately directed us to a place called Le Roy Jucep, the fabled birthplace of poutine! How had fate led me to this holy grail of poutine joints? Clean living I guess.
 

 
As their web page indicates, Le Roy Jucep at 1050, boul. St-Joseph, Drummondville, claims to be where this dish was invented. As best I can determine from the google assisted translation, this place started as a drive-in in 1956. It has now evolved into a family style restaurant, with an interior that resembles a Denny's, but a menu that is FAR more unique.
 

 
The page of poutine choices alone was overwhelming. 
 

 
I had a smoked meat sandwich, and found it to be every bit as good as sandwiches I have had in Montreal. 
 

 
As one would expect from a place that invented the dish, the poutine was delicious. It was very different than any other version I have had, with the sauce having a bit of sweetness and a color more orange than the usual brownish gravy. The cheese curds were large, fresh, and delicious!!
 
Breakfast the next day was VERY early, as we had places to go. I brought my left over St. Viateur bagels to the "free breakfast" bar and drew some jealous stares as I toasted up these delightful bagels for my meal.

  to be continued...
 






#1

25 Replies Related Threads

    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 15:11:57 (permalink)
    Yaaaay!  I've had St. Viateur bagels--in Denver, from a friend who flew them in with her from Montreal.  They are delightful, and really not very much like the traditional dense NY bagel.  Those fries look unbearably good, whether doused or not.  I hope your kids enjoyed the trip!
    #2
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 15:16:57 (permalink)
    Jardin Nelson sounds like a very interesting place.  I have a friend in Montreal; I 'll have to send him a link to your report.
     
    Although I shudder to think what your Brooklyn-accented French must sound like...
     
    Brad
    #3
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 15:25:31 (permalink)
    Brad_Olson

    Jardin Nelson sounds like a very interesting place.  I have a friend in Montreal; I 'll have to send him a link to your report.

    Although I shudder to think what your Brooklyn-accented French must sound like...

    Brad

     
    No French from me Brad. I have a hard time with English. My wife speaks French and did most of the talking. I did a good job at ordering my meals though!
    #4
    Greymo
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 15:34:27 (permalink)
    I love Montreal  so  am enjoying this report  very much.
     
    You were  very kind in your assessment of  Eggspectation.   We have one  just  nine miles from us.  My  daughter in law took me there  last summer  and  I could not believe how  overpriced it  was  besides  the food being  served  cold  and  very poor  service.
     
    However this place is always packed  with  business people  and  soccer moms  out  enjoying  a late breakfast.............go  figure!
    #5
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 15:38:56 (permalink)
    My wife's family is originally from a couple of towns very near Drummondville. One branch of the family came to the US, while another stayed in Quebec. The latter are successful farmers and one cousin runs a bakery with her husband. Despite the language barrier, the warmth and generosity of these folks was overwhelming.
     
    Tuesday morning was, quite literally, time to make the donuts...
     

     
    The Boulangerie Henault makes some out of this world baked goods. Most are delivered to local stores and restaurants, but a few are kept in case someone stops in for some treats. This bakery has been run in a small shop attached to an old house for at least 100 years. As I wrote above, Tuesday was a day to make donuts, and make donuts we did!
     

     
    The "dough" phase
     

     
    Into the fryer
     
     

     
    Then into the glaze/syrup
     

     

     

     
    Cooling off getting ready to be packaged...
     

     
    They also made cream filled and jelly donuts. While hard to choose, I think the cream were my favorite. I did a LOT of sampling trying to decide.
     

     
    Before filling...
     

     

     
    I was too busy sampling and neglected to get a shot of the jelly donuts before they were all packed up.
    These are not some factory made baked goods. They are made the same way they have been made for many, many years. It is hard work, with a lot of very early wake-up calls, but the difference between these and store bought stuff is like night and day.
     
    While it seemed like it was late afternoon because of all that had been done already, it was still early in the day. We visited some other family, exploring farms where they grow corn and raise pigs. My kids (and myself) learned a lot about where our meals come from and how much work is involved in bringing our food to market.
     

     
    These little pigs, marked when they weighed in at 225lbs, were heading to market the next day.
     

     
    This handy little device, which costs more than a Rolls Royce, stands in front of just one set of silos for corn. Starting in September these guys will have little sleep and their machines will run 24 hours a day until November or December. We really should all spend some time on a farm to see what is involved in making our meals so convenient.
     
    We were invited to a wonderful lunch at the home of my wife's Aunt, mother of the bakers, farmers, and cheesemakers. She prepared a feast of what I think was local ham and roast pork. She also prepared several wonderful desserts. I couldn't communicate well enough to understand the exact type of cake, but it has a syrup made with brown sugar that was just outstanding. 
     

     
    The afternoon also included a stop at St. Guillaume Fromagerie where another family member worked. They recently opened an interpretive center that explains the cheese making process, allows you to make some cheese, and finally, purchase some cheese.
     

     
    The cheeses we sampled were wonderful, but a new favorite was one called Tortillon...
     
     (picture borrowed from fromagerie web site)
     
    It is a salted cheese curd snack that would be great with a cold beer. I didn't save enough to get to a beverage. Perhaps because this is dairy country, I noted that small bags of cheese curd or tortillon were available in all stores, and people snacked on them like folks around here snack on bags of chips. 
     
    to be continued...
    post edited by Tony Bad - 2013/07/02 16:21:35
    #6
    joerogo
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 16:07:34 (permalink)
    Nothing like a good old fashioned family vacation!

     
     
    #7
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 16:15:53 (permalink)
    The next morning was "bread day" at the bakery. The bakers had been up since 1AM, first heating the oven, then preparing all the dough, pans, and then actually doing the baking. Many varieties of bread were made, from raisin buns, to white bread, to wheat rolls, to hot dog buns. As Yves, the baker, removed things from the over and turned them from their pans, he seemed to be depositing them on various racks and counters in a haphazard method, but later as he organized things into orders that would be brought here and there, I understood he was organizing these orders from memory as he worked. The smells of the baked goods was intoxicating...
     

     

     

     

     

     

     
    The huge brick oven...
     

     
    Yves used massive, 100 year old, 15' long paddles to remove the pans from deep in the oven.
     
    As if all the baking wasn't enough, Yves and Brigitte prepared us pizza made with the bread dough and cooked in the brick oven as a lunch surprise. It was made with local cheese, with a layer of meat beneath the cheese. 
     

     
    After helping to pack and deliver the days baked goods, we had a wonderful lunch, toured some more farms, saw some more impressive and expensive farm equipment...
     

    and then said goodbye.
     
    As I wrote, the bakery isn't really set up to do a huge retail business, but the baked good are available in most local stores.
     
    to be continued...
     


    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/03 16:20:25
    #8
    The Travelin Man
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 16:19:02 (permalink)
    So, let me get this straight.  You've now decided to take your fake wife and kids on a fake vacation to a fake country called Canadia?
     
    And people wonder why some tin foit hat wearing folks doubt the lunar landing.
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    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 16:33:55 (permalink)
    We left Drummondville and headed east toward Quebec City.
     
    Not being a fan of the super highways, we headed north to drive the back roads along the St. Lawrence river. The scenery is beautiful as are the small towns. While I suppose I shouldn't be surprised in an area where 95% of the towns are names St. Something, the size and grandeur of the churches in these small towns was staggering. In one small town called Sainte-Croix, which I was told has a population of about 3000, this was the church...
     

     
    We stopped for lunch at a small park along the St. Lawrence in a town of Lotbinière.
     

     
    The place...
     

     
    The view
     

     
    The burger, with a great toasted roll, and nice fresh lettuce and tomato
     

     
    Burger with the optional salad. I noted that salad was a popular choice instead of fries at most places. Yes the dressing is pre-packaged, but the salad was very good!
     

     
    The poutine, with a nice fresh, squeaky cheese and the darker, gravy like sauce like I am used to on my poutine. The name "cheese curd" seems to be a turn off to some, but you have to try it if you have the chance. It is just wonderful!
     
    to be continued...
          



    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/03 16:35:35
    #10
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 16:51:15 (permalink)
    We arrived in Quebec City in the early afternoon, and at the advice of the hotel clerk, went on a walking tour. We leaned more about the history of the city and Canada in two hours than we would have in a week! We also got some hot tips on where to eat! History, schmistory, show me the food!
     
     Le Cochon Dingue at 46, boulevard Champlain came highly recommended. I am told the name means crazy pig.
     

     

     
    Did I mention it was RAINING again!
     
    It was VERY dark here and in most restaurants in Quebec City, so the pictures suffered a bit.
     

     

     

     

     
    As we waited for our table we were right in front of the dessert area. Our tour guide had said the sugar pie was a specialty here, but all the desserts looked good!
     

     
    I sampled a very nice beer from a Quebec brewery. It was a light tasting beer, perfect for a hot humid day.
     

     
    Pork filet mignon kebab,with mushrooms and apples with basmati rice and vegetables. This was really good. The quality of pork in Quebec was high. 
     
    When it came time for dessert I had to go with the Sugar Pie, labeled on the menu as "best in city".
     

     
    The pie was great. Not as sweet as one would expect from the name. Yes, it was sugary and sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It was like a good pecan pie, but without those pesky nuts. The vanilla cream served on top really added to the taste.
     
    My son had a piece of chocolate cake and I almost lost a few fingers holding him back so I could take this picture...
     

     
    The following day we had some yogurt and rolls from a store just outside the hotel and set out on a day of walking. Quebec is truly a unique city in North America. The history of the place is interesting, and the fact so many old buildings remain is remarkable.
     
    As we walked about we stopped for a few snacks...
     

     
    This place, in the lower town, had remarkable choices in Gelato and also a marvelous maple soft serve ice cream.
     

     
    We decided to have a late lunch/early dinner at another place our tour guide recommended.
     
    Aux Ancienes Canadiens at 34, rue Saint-Louis is in the oldest house in Quebec, built in 1675. They had a lunch special which included soup, an entree, dessert, and a glass of wine or beer.
     
    I chose my meakl at the recommendation of the tour guide and enjoyed pea soup followed by Quebec meat pie...
     

     
    The meat pie is uniquely spiced, and it is a lve or hate kind of meal. I love and was surprised how much this tasted like the version my mother-in-law makes.
     

     
    My wife enjoyed her Salmon in pastry. The french name sounded quite grand, but I can't remember what it was.
     
    For dessert I had a Maple Pie, which was good, but not as mapley as I would have liked. In general, I found the taste and quality of Quebec's maple products a distant cousin to those found in Vermont, Mass, and parts of Upstate NY.
     

     
    Following our big early dinner, we really didn't need to eat much. We were told that the Cirque du Soleil puts on a free show in the summer so we hunted down the location. The show was amazing and the fact it was free made it even more amazing! The Cirque Du Soleil started in Quebec, so perhaps this is a training ground for new performers. After the show we walked the steep hills back to our hotel and stopped for a small snack at a place called Ashton, which is a small chain in and about Quebec city. They are know for...anyone care to guess?...yes...POUTINE.
     

     
    It was a great example of the dish! It is a good meal before bed, as it does tend to make one a bit sleepy.
     
    Our last meal in Quebec was breakfast at a place that came highly recommended by hotel staff, Casse-Crepe Breton. The crepes were okay, but lacked the flavor of the marvelous ones I had in Montreal. What was good was the Cafe Au Lait that could be ordered by the bowl...
     

     

     
    Not a bad place, but nothing outstanding.
     

     
    to be continued...
     
     


    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/03 17:17:01
    #11
    Tony Bad
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 17:31:04 (permalink)
    As we left Quebec I decided to head south thru the back woods of Maine rather than the major interstates. The road from the Canadian border through Jackman and Skowhegan follows the Kennebec river and has some beautiful scenery.
     
    As we hit Skowhegan we came across one of my favorite Maine spots, Giffords. This is a small Maine chain, but their ice cream is great...
     

     

     

     
    My Maine Wild Berry, one of several Maine centric flavors...
     

     
    Also in Skowhegan we came across an example of that dry Maine humor...
     

     
    A bit down the road, in Winslow, we went to the famous Big G Deli.
     

     

     
    The sandwiches here are HUGE! I saw some folks with sandwiches that were big, and figured they were whole sandwiches when in reality, they were half sandwiches. We ordered a variety of sandwiches, turkey, Italian cold cuts, and I can't recall others. The menu, is HUGE, much like the sandwiches.
     

     
    This is a HALF sandwich.
     

     
    This is a whole sandwich. Sadly, you can't guage from this shot just how big it is. I am guessing it is about 10" square.
     

     
    We also got a hubcap sized whoopee pie to take home. It was one of the best whoopee pies I ever sampled. We made an express run home from Winslow, stopping only for a lousy cup of rest area coffee to stay awake. It was a great trip. Quebec is a place of great beauty and history, and the people were all very nice. I only ran into a couple of impatient folks in Quebec, but coming from NY, they didn't even register on the irritating scale. I realize not all the places mentioned are typical roadfood joints, but other than a few places, there was very little info for eastern Quebec, prompting me to add these offerings as a "something is better than nothing" option.
     
    Well...that is the end of my Summer Odyssey...or...as the french would say...
     
    Fin
     
     
        
     
     

    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/03 17:42:38
    #12
    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 22:33:34 (permalink)
    What a lovely report! Mrs. Roadhouse and I visited Quebec city and points east along the St. Lawrence a few years back.  We've been wanting to go back and expand our trip to include Montreal.  Now I've got extra incentive.
     
    Thanks for the excellent words and pics.
     
    Buddy
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    Nancypalooza
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 23:22:07 (permalink)
    (clapping)  Merveilleuse Monsieur le Bad!  Quebec stays on our short list of places to explore and it just might have to get bumped up after this.  I might order one plate less poutine than you, but I'd probably make up for it with more of those great looking donuts.
    #14
    mr chips
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/03 23:45:09 (permalink)
    Tony, this is one of the best reports ever. For a taste of true Quebec, I don't think you could have done better. Trudy and i spent a wonderful five days in Montreal and ate well and cheap, eating smoked meat, bagels, poutine abd visiting a huge farmer's market next to a divine cheese shop in lttle italy. One of the great experiences of my life. And rural Quebec sounds even better.
    #15
    Ralph Melton
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    Re:Tour de Québec 2010/09/04 08:47:34 (permalink)
    This was a great report. Thank you very much!
    #16
    Tony Bad
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    testing 2010/09/06 11:14:52 (permalink)
    Stephen figured out that the "forbidden access" issue was the result of an accent mark in "quebec" in original post title. That is what I get for cutting and pasting from the google translate!
     

    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/06 11:27:07
    #17
    mar52
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 12:01:13 (permalink)
    Bravo!  ( Or French equivalent )  Thank you to Stephen and WOW Tony!
     
    To think I almost missed this!  Montreal is now on a list of places to go.
     
    Serious question....  Do I need a passport to drive in to Canada?
     
    Poutine always sounded icky to me, but now I must have some.
     
    The only part of your post that I didn't like was donuts under plastic.
     
    So interesting to see things done "the old way".
     
    Thank you!
    #18
    mr chips
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 12:58:58 (permalink)
    Yes, you do need a passport to drive into Canada.
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    BuddyRoadhouse
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 15:33:35 (permalink)
    Tony,
     
    I went through my old receipts from our Quebec trip and confirmed what I suspected all along, that we had indeed visited Casse Crepe Breton.  Our experience was perhaps better than yours.  We loved our dark chocolate crepes and also the fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  Also, it was a cool late summer night, so they had the front windows opened out onto the street, bringing the ambiance of old world Quebec right into the dining room.  It was a lovely evening, one we will never forget.
     
    Thanks again for the fine report.
     
    Buddy
    #20
    quijote
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 16:06:07 (permalink)
    This report is a fantastic tribute to Quebec and backwoods Maine--thank you! Montreal is one of my all-time favorite cities, and your comments and pix make me want to go back very, very soon.
    #21
    MilwFoodlovers
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 16:32:52 (permalink)
    I love Quebec too and our short visit to Montreal had me wishing we'd had more time there to visit. We did manage Ben's for smoked meat. Quebec though stole my heart. Thanks so much for bringing back some wonderful memories.
    #22
    Sundancer7
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 18:30:51 (permalink)
    Look out Al, here comes Tony and he did a super job.
     
    Roz and I were in Montreal a couple of years ago and as we were going south to Vermont, we stopped at poutine place on the side of the road.  The guy cooked the frites fresh with the brown gravy and they were very good.  I think it is pretty obvious that Tony enjoys poutine .
     
    Tony,  a outstanding write.
     
    Paul E. Smith
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    mayor al
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 18:51:08 (permalink)
    Tony, This is an outstanding Travel Journal ! Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
    #24
    Tony Bad
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 20:35:18 (permalink)
    mar52
    Serious question....  Do I need a passport to drive in to Canada? 

    Poutine always sounded icky to me, but now I must have some.

    The only part of your post that I didn't like was donuts under plastic.

     
    I know what you mean about the plastic packed donuts. I can't imagine they tasted as good as the fresh baked, but the town has gotten so small that they couldn't survive by just having a retail shop, so to bring to retail outlets, things had to be packaged....including ingredients, nutritional data, freshness dates, etc.. I am sure they are good bought in the store, but hot right out of the syrup couldn't be beat!
     
    ...and as Mr. Chips said, yes on the passport. They kept pushing it back...saying this year, no, next year...but they finally went through with it!
    BuddyRoadhouse 

    Tony, 

    I went through my old receipts from our Quebec trip and confirmed what I suspected all along, that we had indeed visited Casse Crepe Breton.  Our experience was perhaps better than yours.  We loved our dark chocolate crepes and also the fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  Also, it was a cool late summer night, so they had the front windows opened out onto the street, bringing the ambiance of old world Quebec right into the dining room.  It was a lovely evening, one we will never forget. 

    Thanks again for the fine report. 

    Buddy 
     


    My kids had the chocolate...for breakfast...with milk shakes...and loved them. I had eggs and bacon in mine, and it was okay, but the crepe itself was just bland. Not bad, but didn't add anything. Perhaps the young lady at the crepe station was new.
     

    post edited by Tony Bad - 2010/09/06 20:38:04
    #25
    mar52
    Sirloin
    • Total Posts : 8075
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    Re:testing 2010/09/06 20:39:35 (permalink)
    Thanks for the info.  Guess I'll have to get one, one of these days.
    #26
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