Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cheap Eats in Quebec City: 3 Must-Do Stops

Quebec City is one of my all-time favourite cities. How can I not love a city that offers stunning architecture and landscapes, chocolate and croissants galore, and an opportunity to jazzer en français?

We made time to admire Quebec City on our road trip to Percé Rock. On our first morning in the Old City, we took a stroll along the cobblestone streets up to the Château Frontenac hotel. It was around 8 in the morning and the streets were just waking up. I desperately needed my morning java.


We found Café-boulangerie Paillard. It was easy to see why the place was voted "best croissant in town" by a local magazine. I ordered a double espresso allongé and sampled one or two (or four) sweet treats. I couldn't decide on my favourite, although I did need to steal another bite from my daughter's pear almond dark chocolate pastry.

Poirier at Boulangerie Paillard
We walked up to the landmark Château Frontenac and took in the views of the St. Lawrence River... just long enough to work up an appetite before our next food stop.


The Chien Mechant, or Bad Dog, was three weeks old when we stumbled in at 46 rue Garneau. (Their website was still under construction at the time.) Their specialty is European sausages and waffle potatoes.

Waffle potatoes with curry dijon mayonnaise.
Owners Christian Trudel and Irina Severin told me that they offer "good, delicious food. Nothing with junk. Just good value and good food." We certainly got that; lunch for myself and six-year-old Alexander cost under $10. Alexander enjoyed the Puppy Dog, a mini-sausage on a bun.  I had the Bad Cat chicken sandwich. 
The "Bad Cat:" chicken with a mango curry mayonnaise.
Saving the best for last, our final food stop for the day was just outside the Old City, down rue St. Jean. We were in chocolate heaven at Choco-Musée Érico.

You can learn all about the history and preparation of cacao. You can check the time on the chocolate clock. You can sample fine dark, milk and white chocolate chips for only a quarter for a handful. We gladly emptied our pockets of our spare change.


My favourite indulgence was the "Erico espresso," a version of affogato using a demi-tasse of rich   melted dark chocolate with a dollop of homemade ice cream. I brought home bags of exquisite Tanzanian chocolate so I can experiment at home.

Erico espresso: warm chocolate with a dollop of coconut ice cream. 
I was thrilled to have found three delectable eateries. On the downside, I lost my waistline. I'm pretty sure it's somewhere between Boulangerie Paillard, the Bad Dog and the Choco-Musée Érico.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Pierced Rock

Mother Nature is an amazing artist. Her awesome work of le Rocher Percé and l'Île-Bonaventure sidetracked me from my regular preoccupation with food.



I'm back from a breath-taking road trip along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, to the Gaspé region of Quebec. Our final destination was le Rocher Percé, "the Pierced Rock," the legendary limestone monolith, 450-million years old and 88 metres high.





Just across le rocher Percé, we spotted seals frolicking on l'Île-Bonaventure.  



We watched the delightful dance of tens of thousands of northern gannets. Bonaventure Island is the largest bird sanctuary in North America.


 The natural beauty left us exhilarated and grateful beyond words.



We did take time to appreciate the food. But for this vacation, Mother Nature's palate trumped anything on a plate.

More on the food in my next post. Stay tuned.