12 FOODS YOU NEED TO TRY IN “LA BELLE PROVINCE”, A.K.A. QUEBEC
While exploring the underwater life of Les Escoumins lies at the top of our Canadian bucket list, we can’t help but smile with content when we get to visit a city with some serious culinary chops. Known for its burgeoning food scene, “La Belle Province” -a.k.a. Quebec- is home to a plethora of finger-licking-good dishes, and poutine is just the beginning. If you want to enjoy the province’s authentic flavors firsthand, these twelve Quebecois foods will make it impossible not to #foodgasm.
1. Fèves au Lard (Baked Beans)
Loosely translated into “beans with fat,” fèves au lard are always present during an authentic Quebecois breakfast. But, don’t let the name fool you. The favorite side dish tastes anything but greasy as it sports a unique smoky-sweet flavor thanks to -what else?- maple syrup which is one of the key ingredients. Rumor has it that fèves au lard dates back to the days of fur trappers when a hearty, protein-packed meal was just the thing to keep them going all day long.
Where to Score the Best: Located in Montreal, La Binerie Mont-Royal is the place to enjoy fèves au lard like a true Quebecer.
Sporting a texture that varies from smooth to chunky, creton is a popular Quebecois spread that’s often described as pate’s distant cousin. The Canadian treat is a mixture of ground pork and onions with a touch of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In some cases, locals add garlic, allspice, and ginger for an extra flavor punch. While creton is considered a must for a traditional Quebecois breakfast, you can also enjoy it throughout the day, at lunch, supper or dinner. PS: Top it with a drizzle of maple syrup before serving, and you won’t regret it.
Where to Score the Best: Creton is so popular in Quebec that it comes in disposable containers just like butter or hummus. That said, you can find it in almost every fromagerie, including Le Marché des Saveurs in Montreal which is by far your best option.
If there’s one food that you must try when you visit Quebec, that’s poutine. Thanks to a delicious combo of crunchy French fries, thick gravy, and chewy cheese curds, the iconic dish is everyone’s first choice after a night out in the city. While most restaurants serve the treat in its classic form, some go the extra mile and add other flavorful ingredients to the mix such as foie gras or even caviar.
Where to Score the Best: Even though Smoke’s Poutinerie is the fastest and most accessible way to get a taste of the comforting dish (even in the U.S.), Quebec City’s Poutineville is definitely worth the drive.
4. Artisan Cheeses
From creamy blues to Oka, Quebec is home to some of the tastiest cheese varieties in the world. The beautiful province boasts more than 50 small-scale fromageries, all of which produce their own artisanal versions of the salty snack. The most popular Quebecois variation is the raw-milk cheese which is aged for less than 60 days and is supposedly healthier than its peers.
Where to Score the Best: Go off the beaten path and create your own “Route de Fromage” by visiting local producers and sampling their artisanal cheeses. To make your trip a tad easier, use this interactive map created by Fromages D’ici.
5. Soupe aux Pois (Yellow Split Pea Soup)
A go-to choice during the colder months of the year, soupe aux pois -a.k.a. Quebec-style pea soup- is a hearty dish that’s made with yellow split peas, pork, herbs and ham hock broth. Thanks to its comforting taste, the protein-rich meal is perfect for those days when you want something filling and warm to feast on after a long dive in the cold waters of Canada. For an extra crunch, serve the soup with a side salad or a slice of toasted bread.
6. Tourtière (Meat Pie)
Pronounced “tor-tee-air,” tourtière is a delicious meat pie that’s made with minced pork, beef, veal, and potatoes. The winter-friendly dish is an integral part of a traditional Quebecois holiday meal, both on Christmas and New Year’s feasts. Each region in Quebec comes with its own variation of the dish, but the one you should get your hands on is tourtière du Lac-St-Jean. Unlike the regular version, this one contains various types of meat (often from wild game) which are cut into cubes and slow-cooked to perfection.
Where to Score the Best: Nestled inside one of the oldest houses in Quebec City, Aux Anciens Canadiens is a go-to restaurant for tourtière enthusiasts.
7. Pouding Chômeur (Poor Man’s Pudding)
Not to sound biased, but the Quebecois pouding chômeur is hands-down one of the yummiest desserts you’ll ever get to taste. The syrupy, cake-like treat dates back to the Great Depression era when Canadians had very limited resources to work with, hence the humble ingredient list (think flour, sugar, milk and maple syrup).
Where to Score the Best: The Jardin Nelson restaurant is known for serving the best pouding chômeur in Montreal.
8. Grands-Pères (Quebec-Style Maple Syrup Dumplings)
Since dumplings are a treat for all reasons and all seasons, Canadians found a cool way to incorporate the world-famous dish into their lives. Boiled in maple syrup, the Quebecois version of the meal is slightly sweeter than most and doubles as a gourmet dessert any time of the day. Pro tip: If you happen to visit Quebec during summertime, make sure to order a scoop of vanilla ice cream to match those maple syrup dumplings.
9. Paté Chinois
Another Quebecois staple that’s often compared to shepherd’s pie is paté Chinois. Much like the OG version, the oven-baked dish includes a tongue-tingling mixture of ground beef and sauteed onions at the bottom, canned corn in the middle and a layer of mashed potatoes on top. Paté Chinois is usually served with sliced beets, pickled eggs or a few tablespoons of ketchup (preferably homemade).
Where to Score the Best: Offering six different takes of the Quebecois classic (from traditional to all-veggie), Restaurant Mâche! in Montreal will turn you into a true paté Chinois fan.
10. Tarte au Sucre (Sugar Pie)
French for “sugar pie,” tarte au sucre is a Quebecois favorite that’s especially popular around the holidays. As the name implies, the Canadian-French specialty contains lots of sugar (usually brown). Some of the other ingredients include butter, flour, cream, vanilla and maple syrup. Much like most sweet pies, tarte au sucre is served with whipped cream.
Where to Score the Best: With more than 15 shops in the greater area of Quebec, Premiere Moisson is your best shot at enjoying a slice of the Canadian dessert.
11. All Things Maple Syrup
Accounting for more than 70% of the global output, Quebec is -without a doubt- the largest producer of maple syrup in the world. So, it’s no wonder the sweet treat has made its way into almost every Canadian dish, from sides to main courses to desserts. However, if you want to enjoy maple syrup like a true Quebecer, tire d’érable (also known as tire sur la neige) is where the money’s at. The soft, chewy snack is formed by pouring hot maple sap onto fresh snow and is available at most sugar shacks during springtime.
Where to Score the Best: Just 45 minutes away from Montreal, Sucrerie de la Montagne is open to the public year-round, offering you the chance to enjoy the maple-licious treat (and its place of origin) whenever the mood strikes.
12. Cidre de Glace (Ice Cider)
Originating in Quebec, ice cider is a subtly sweet liqueur that is made from frozen apples. The delicious beverage is favored by Canada’s naturally low temps which freeze the apples while they’re still on the tree. This way the fruits become sweeter as their sugars are being concentrated. So, once the apples have dried, locals harvest them and extract their juices, producing the yummy liqueur we know and love. For those of you who want to get the most out of the Canadian drink, make sure to pair it with savory entrees such as cheese or pâté.
Where to Score the Best: Situated in Hemmingford, Quebec, Domaine Neige is the best cidery to get a taste of the tasty drink.
Have you ever taste-tested any of these treats? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section down below!