After preparing our mugs of coffee and loading our bags into the car, we took to the road in the direction of the head office of Tourism Chaudiere-Appalaches. A friendly lady offered us a binder with all the necessary materials to locate the treasures we would discover as great explorers of gourmandizing.
our stomachs were rumbling when we got to the splendid site of the Bleuets du Vire-Crêpes. The warm welcome from Mrs. Ladouceur made us quickly forget the wet, cool and dull weather that rained down from outside the big windows of the restaurant. My wife and I got the only table that was still available on the wonderful heated outdoor patio, which is surrounded by blueberry fields.
A smiling waitress came and served us a hot coffee and took our order using an iPad fastened to her waist. Carolina ordered eggs benedict and I decided on pancakes and seasonal blueberries. With the help of the iPad, our order arrived quickly from the kitchen and was served swiftly, even though the dining room and the patio were overloaded with tourists enjoying their meals. Our plates were attractively presented and tasted simply divine! The eggs were runny, the crispy potatoes made the perfect bed for the eggs and the fresh fruit had been picked less than 100 metres away. My pancakes were simply delicious. Everything was made in-house, from the succulent pastry cream to the chocolate drizzle to the juicy blueberries. After our delicious meal, Mrs. Ladouceur gave us a tour of the facilities, which are located inside an old barn that’s been updated and renovated but that preserves many of the original materials. Before leaving with our surprise basket, she presented some beauty and hygiene products that are prepared with blueberries and that she makes by hand. Our next stop would lead us in the direction of Canard Goulue…
Le Canard Goulu, specializing in everything related to ducks, is located in an old chicken coop within a beautiful little farm. The farm includes pigs, ponies, geese, sheep and of course ducks. Inside, a charming little store offers a wide range of products that feature duck: rillettes, foie gras prepared in different ways, cassoulet, sausages, pâtés, whole ducks and much more. These products are also available in a variety of formats such as frozen, fresh or canned. We decided on the foie gras pâté, the rillettes and the terrine. With this superb selection, we had everything necessary for a great picnic.
Beautiful Highway 132 runs along the river and leads to a little paradise on earth called La Charloise. This delightful vineyard and small fruit producer is owned by Charlotte Reason and Charles L’Écuyer. As you might have guessed, the name La Charloise comes from a combination of their two names. After the warm welcome from these two wine connoisseurs, we were quickly chauffeured into their private limousine (cleverly disguised as a golf cart) and headed off into the vines with a nice glass of white wine. As we drove through the vines, Charlotte told us their story, about the different varieties of grapes they cultivate and about the techniques they use but especially about the love they put into all their products. Everything is made organically, without pesticides for warding off insects, as she explained so well: ‘’We give back to the earth what the earth has given us’’. Following this wonderful little jaunt, our gracious hosts prepared a delightful meal, the table decorated with fresh-cut flowers from their garden and a bottle of their precious wine in a bucket of ice. We took out all the treasures we had collected around the region from all the local producers and began our tasting in a wonderful setting under a radiant sun…
Following our country picnic, our GPS leisurely drew out the route to our next destination: Verger de Tilly and Microbrasserie La Confrérie. A beautiful orchard with apple trees as far as the eye could see and even an area where they cultivate kiwis! The shop where the brewers carry out their work is on the second floor of the owners’ home. A charming patio has been set up at the back of the house, where you can try out their draft beers, served in small-size format on apple wood palettes.
As the legendary Willie Nelson song says: ‘’On the road again’’. The last stop of the day was purely for rest and relaxation at the Plumard bed and breakfast in Lévis. Our room, assigned by Anne, the charming owner, had everything we needed to relax after a long day: a cozy queen bed, a wood floor, a lovely little bathroom and a wonderful cow hide as a carpet. Let's be straight, sleep was not too hard to come by when surrounded by all this comfort. This relaxing night was very welcome after the gourmet getaway of the day before.
The odour of fresh coffee rising up from downstairs awaked our senses, that would be taxed once again on this beautiful sunny day. Once Carolina and I were sitting down at our table, we noticed the place settings, which reminded us of our grandmother’s, with their fancy design around the edges. As soon as we had enjoyed our first few sips of coffee, we were offered a wonderful porcelain bowl containing a delightful yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and lemon grass leaves. That was followed by a plate of simply amazing eggs benedict. A perfectly poached egg perched on avocado, ham and portobello mushroom. Fresh fruit and roquettes blended onto the plate with grilled potatoes. This bed and breakfast handily deserves all the awards its collected over the years and is truly is a place to discover.
Carolina and I love having fun and so we headed off to play at the Cassis et Mélisse farm. Enormous pastures make room for big herds of goats and offer magnificent views of the Massif du Sud. Guillaume, the jack of all trades of the farm, gave us a visit of the barn and gave some interesting explanations on the process of goat milk production and on their way of life on the farm. He then led us to the boutique to meet with the farmer/cheesemaker/owner Aagje Denys. This passionate lady of Dutch origin transforms the milk into delicious certified organic cheeses. Aagje is the only goat cheese producer who is equally cheesemaker and farmer and who uses only the milk from her own goats. This way of producing products offers a simply divine taste of cheese including our favourite, the strained cheese. This farm-fresh cheese is hand-ladled and made from pasteurized goat milk. In the words of the cheesemaker: ‘’It has a light, mildly acidic, balanced and almost sensual taste and a soft texture’’. This is a stop that’s worth the trip and make sure you take advantage of the occasion to book a stay in the bed and breakfast located on the farm.
All this great cheese made us thirsty for a good pint of beer, so off we went to the Pub de la Contrée and Microbrasserie Bellechasse. The owners have converted this old credit union into a nice quaint place that incorporates a number of recycled articles from the region into the building. The delicious and plentiful plate of nachos that we shared perfectly complemented the tasting palette of their nectar produced with water from the neighbouring mountains.
With our bellies full, we headed off toward our final stop, the renowned Auberge des Glacis in L’Islet. We were going to spend the night within the stone walls of this old seigneurial mill dating from 1841 and try out the unique flavours of their gourmet food. The inn is surrounded by magnificent falls and well-maintained gardens.
After checking into our charming room and a hot shower, we headed to the dining room to start off with an aperitif. We were served the tasting menu, starting with a very warm homemade soup. The starters we chose were also good choices: a sturgeon stew and a bison carpaccio with fiddleheads. For the main course, we opted for two of the chef’s specialties: Lyonnais dumplings with pickerel with a creamy lobster bisque and a plate of cooked meats including pork shoulder, homemade sausages and duck confit. These two choices were simply exquisite, as they were both delicious and well prepared. With all of these delicious salty dishes we were in need of a good sugar fix and so for dessert we chose the crispy crème brûlée with Kusmi St-Petersburg tea and an impressive chocolate layer cake, seasonal fruit jelly and English cream with Chic Choc boreal rum. We’ve talked a lot about the wonderful food that we enjoyed that evening, but we can’t forget to also talk about the impeccable, professional and attentive service that the staff offered during the entire evening. The succulent breakfast buffet was a good way to end our stay in this magnificent place that filled us with great memories.
And so, the time had come to take the road back home and get back to the daily routine and leave this life of luxury behind. Our adventure in the superb region of Chaudière-Appalaches not only gave us a chance to taste some delicious dishes, it also gave us the chance to meet some marvellous and passionate people from the region. Sure, we’d like to travel to the other ends of the earth and take exotic cruises, but more than often the most beautiful of jewels are right before our eyes…