Thursday, June 25, 2009

Celebrating St-Jean with Quebec Food

This St-Jean we spent a lazy--and hot--day at home. I enjoyed some time in my garden. I also headed down to Atwater Market to pick up some yummies to enjoy with friends later in the day. My main stop was Fromagerie Atwater. They have a great selection of cheese, beers and local charcuterie products, as well as a helpful and knowledgeable staff.

The last few times I've visited, I've been eyeing their selection of organic "bâtons" from Fou du Cochon, an artisinal sausage-maker in Kamouraska. The bâtons look like pepperettes, and are all organic, low salt and made without nitrates. This time I indulged. Being a bit of a spice freak, I chose the "bâton piquante." Although my dining partners found it a bit greasy, we all agreed that it had just the right amount of chew and a fabulous flavour. None of us found it exceptionally fiery, however it was subtly spicy and worked beautifully sliced thinly on a piece of baguette. A little went a long way. The bâtons don't require refrigeration, and I plan on picking up a few next time I go canoe camping or backpacking!

Of course, being in a cheese shop, I couldn't leave without a piece of cheese. I asked for a firm Quebec cheese with a strong flavour, and was offered a taste of "Alfred, Le Fermier," a raw-milk, washed-rind organic cheese from the Charlevoix region (Fromagerie La Station de Compton). One bite and my taste buds were doing the happy dance. Alfred, Le Fermier is produced with milk from a single herd and ripened over eight months. It is described by the producer as having a flowery and nutty flavour. I found it less nutty and more earthy.

My shopping trip was rounded out with a trip through their truly diverse beer section. I almost always come away with at least one beer I've never tried before. This time it was La Blanche à L'Absinthe, a absinthe white beer brewed by Le Micro du Lièvre in Mont Laurier. This is definitely a summer sipping beer! The absinthe herbs give it slightly bitter and lemony taste. Also, it may have been the hot day, but I found the alcohol really going to my head quite quickly with this brew. I found it paired really nicely with the cheese, sausage and bread.

We rounded off our backyard picnic with local strawberries, which are just starting to arrive in the markets. They were red, sweet and succulent. I haven't found any one grower at Atwater market to have consistently better strawberries than another, but do ask if the strawberries are indeed from their own (or a neighbour's) farm.

1 comment:

A. Hiscock said...

Oh, wow; now you've got me planning a trip to Atwater as soon as possible. Yum!