Local Flavors: A Foodie’s Guide to the Must-Eat Dishes and Restaurants in Quebec
Ice cider photo by ©TQ/C. Bouchard
Ice cider photo by ©TQ/C. Bouchard
Poutine photo by ©TQ/D. Lafond
So many bagels photo by ©TQ/C. Savard
Jean-Talon Public Market photo by ©TQ/Vlan Communication
Dining in Quebec is an interesting mix of haute cuisine and historically traditional recipes that early settlers prepared with game meats, corn and fish, which forever shaped the culinary landscape.
Inspired by their French roots, dishes were primarily comfort foods designed to keep them warm throughout the long, harsh winter. Today, Montreal and Quebec City are on the forefront of fine dining and boast some of the best restaurants in the whole country. If you enjoy eating like a local, here are some dishes to try and the must-make foodie stops in Canada’s largest province.
Signature Drinks and Dishes
Ice Cider or Apple Wine
A popular sweet wine made from frozen fermented apples, ice cider is available at many local restaurants to pair with your cheese or dessert course. Christian Barthomeuf, head cider maker at Clos Saragnat is typically credited with the creation of the product.
French fries topped with a thick gravy, cheese curds, and any number of creative concoctions, poutine is one of the most famous exports to come out of Canada. Originating in Quebec in the 50’s, if you’re a lover of the snack plate, there is actually a festival in August in Drummondville dedicated to the messy French fry dish.
A meat pie made of finely diced pork, veal or beef, tourtière is typically served as part of a traditional holiday meal at Christmas or New Years time, but is available to purchase year-round. One particularly popular and delicious variation comes from the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of East Quebec with cubed wild game meat and potatoes as filling.
A cold pork spread made of ground meat, onions and seasonings, cretons is fatty in texture and resembles a French rillette. Served on toast as part of a traditional Québécois breakfast, it’s milder than a pate and a bit of an acquired taste.
Must-Eat Restaurants and Stops
New York bagels may be known the world over, but Montreal was also colonized by Eastern Europeans and has a bagel scene that has gained international acclaim. Prepared slightly different than in America, Canadian bagels are boiled in a sugary honey water before crisping in a wood-fired oven, giving it distinct char marks and an almost caramelized flavor. Both St-Viateur and Fairmount Bagel claim to have the best bagels in Canada so you’ll have to decide for yourself who’s most deserving of the golden ring award.
The world-famous smoked meats emporium, Schwartz’s name has been synonymous with deli sandwiches since the 20’s. The oldest deli in Canada, to be a true local, order the overstuffed smoked meat sandwich, which is similar to pastrami, corned beef and British salt beef on rye bread. Trust us, you will be craving it months later.
The oldest grocery store in North America, J.A. Moisan in the heart of Quebec City is part old-world general store, part snack bar, and part bed and breakfast. Unlike anywhere else in the world, it’s a charming showcase of local and international gourmet goodies that feels like a unique cross between a European and American storefront.
Jean-Talon Public Market and Atwater Public Market
Who doesn’t love a good farmer’s market? Both the Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Public Market have been around since the 30’s, making them two of the oldest markets in Montréal. Located in the heart of Little Italy, Jean-Talon is a great place to pick up artisanal gifts and peruse regional produce, while Atwater claims notoriety for it’s butchers and delicatessens set in a beautiful art-deco building.
Sponsored by Tourism Quebec.
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