Back to Quebec City again - oddly enough, seems just as cold in November as it does in spring. Do they get summer at all? This time around, I had the best guide (and hostess) to show me the sights outside of the rampart walls.
Le Jardin Mobile - sub-street-level grocer crammed with brilliantly fresh produce, Quebec cheeses (mmmm ... cheese curds) and wine. I love this province. They have WINE at the grocery store. And the corner store. And you can bring it with you when you go out to dinner. Between that and a little patisserie called Aux Delices de le Picardin, we hauled home a dinner of fresh bread, olives, Portneuf's St-Andre and Swiss Gruyere cheeses, proscuitto and the makings for fresh guacamole. We were pleasantly stuffed after grazing our way through that feast.
47e Parallele - I envied Pruttah's trio of tartare: beef, salmon and scallop. I snuck a minuscule bite and needed a moment while the flavours and delicate texture overwhelmed me. I recommended a Carneros Chandon Brut to go with the diverse flavours and it was a hit. (Sparklers go great with everything!)
My entree was divine: medallions of wapiti (elk), done bluish-purple medium rare with a giblet reduction and served alongside creamy sweet potato mash with a small forest of radish sprouts growing out the top. I admit to sneaking in a few sips of a Cotes-du-Rhone (a Maurelle Vielles-Vignes whose vintage escapes me); all velvet and muted tannins, with the subtle fruit and earthiness famous for that region.
Dessert? L'assiette au chocolat (chocolate plate - doesn't everything sound better in French?): a truffle of white chocolate and raspberry creme; a tiny, edible pot crammed with mousse and caramel; a "spring roll" oozing with lava-like goodness; a warmed brownie; a bowl of gelato and Mayan-spiced hot chocolate. Dear gawd in heaven.
Le Cochon Dingue for Sunday brunch. CALL AHEAD FOR RESERVATIONS. Even then, we still had to wait for 20 minutes before a table opened up. Not that I can blame anyone; we did our share of dawdling over Belgian hot chocolate and café au lait once the plates were cleared. Fulfilled my craving for eggs Benedict, chock full of so much butter and cream, I needed a nap afterwards.
But I have to say, sometimes all it takes is a homemade meal of spaghetti, with slices of fried proscuitto tossed in jarred sauce, with a crisp, cold salad on the side. Followed by an evening spent in jammies, maxed out in front of a movie marathon of Sex in the City, Ocean's Thirteen and The Holiday. Yup, that's a great way to spend a weekend.
PS - If you go Via1 from Montreal to Québec, DON'T have the beef tenderloin. Oy. 'Nuff said.