The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region is renowned for its hunting and fishing
. Those who are so inclined travel from far and wide to take advantage of the opportunity to catch their own food. I, on the other hand, am not that industrious. Although I was amazed by the gorgeous greenery and the unbelievable number of lakes that could be seen from the air when I flew up to North Bay to begin my trip, I prefer to order my local food from a menu, or choose it in a shop. Luckily for me, there were plenty of opportunities to do just that. Here are my five favourite food discoveries in Témiscamingue.
During my time in Témiscamingue, I stayed at Eugène Auberge/Bistro
. Both a B&B and a restaurant that is open to the public, the food here was delicious. Each morning, I got a great start to my day with a big and beautiful breakfast that incorporated local foods, such as crunchy, fresh sprouts from, quite literally, down the street. But what really won my heart – in addition to the lovely owners and their adorable little boy – was the Carbonara that I chose from the constantly-changing menu one evening. With decadent cheese from a local fromagerie and crisp sprouts from the neighbouring grower, I could have eaten this dish every day of my trip.
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The Carbonara at Eugène Auberge/Bistro was spectacular. Thank goodness the menu changes daily, or I might never have left.[/caption]
Les Chocolats Martine
If you weren’t paying attention, you could walk right past this chocolate shop on your way to visit the marina in Ville-Marie. What a shame that would be! There is magic happening inside this building, beneath the retail floor. Local women prepare chocolate delights in a wide variety of flavours, shapes, and sizes, then painstakingly package and decorate them for sale. Have you ever noticed all of the folds that are required to wrap a nice bar of chocolate? Ever wondered how that is done? Well, at Les Chocolats Martine
, it is done by hand, one-by-one. That’s how everything is done here, and you can take a tour to see it for yourself. Then, climb the stairs and just try to stop yourself from leaving without a big bag of happiness in hand.
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Fromagerie Le Fromage au village
After tasting a couple of local cheeses at Eugène Auberge/Bistro, I was very eager to go to the source in Lorrainville: Fromagerie Le Fromage au village
. Not only did I taste just about every single thing they produce, but I also took a peek behind the scenes. From a window in the retail shop, you can see fresh curds being made. And if you ask nicely, you might get to step inside the refrigerated space where the other cheeses are aging. But what you really want to do, in my humble opinion, is try everything that is available to sample, then load up with more to take home. My personal favourite, at least on this particular day, was the 2-year-old Cru du Clocher, a raw cow’s milk cheddar. The squeaky-fresh curds are also not to be missed, especially if you prefer something a bit milder.
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Verger des Tourterelles
Because of the time of year that I visited, this farm and its retail shop were a big surprise. I was in Duhamel-Ouest in early June, before the fruits of the many trees in this orchard were visible. From the road, it just looked like a farm with a lot of trees. But upon entering the tiny little shop and meeting the young couple who own Verger des Tourterelles
, everything changed. Their enthusiasm for the farm, purchased from a man who had decided to retire from the business, but who took the time to teach them the wisdom gained from his experience, was infectious. As they showed me around, pointing out where each fruit would grow and sharing their plans for expanding the crop, I could hardly wait to get into the shop to taste the – pardon the pun – fruits of their labour. I’m just going to say this: if you don’t want to develop an obsession with caramel apple butter with fleur de sel or gorgeously-hued crème de cassis, you probably shouldn’t stop by. But if you do, you can always get more, as they now sell their products online.
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L’Eden Rouge and Table champêtre
Anyone who knows me knows that I love tomatoes. Irrationally. So, when I walked into the greenhouse where tomatoes are grown at L'Éden Rouge
, I was in heaven. There were thousands of tomatoes growing in orderly rows. The next greenhouse was packed with cucumbers, and the next with lettuce. L’Eden Rouge supplies local restaurants and stores, as well as operating a farm stand in St-Bruno-de-Guigues. I recommend taking a tour of the farm. I’m sure that you will ask more intelligent questions than I did, as I just could not take my eyes off the tomatoes.
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Where the vegetables are truly showcased is just steps from the greenhouses at Table champêtre, the on-site restaurant. Here, the philosophy of “de la fourche à la fourchette” or, from the farmer’s fork to your fork, is on display. The menu changes with the seasons and the greenhouse vegetables are supplemented by summer herbs that are grown in a garden behind the restaurant. Meat, dairy, and other products come from nearby farms. This isn’t just down-home country cooking, though – this is beautifully presented, thoughtfully prepared cuisine that allows the ingredients to shine, with flavours that can only come from freshly-plucked produce, treated with the respect it deserves.
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Without a doubt, this was the best pork dish that I have ever eaten. At Table champêtre, the ingredients are the stars.[/caption]
Témiscamingue was a delicious surprise. If you are planning to visit, August would be a great time to go, as the Foire gourmande
of Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Northeastern Ontario takes place from the 14th
to the 16th
in Ville-Marie. Attracting thousands of attendees, this festival highlights local food, producers, and chefs and includes entertainment, exhibits, competitions, and gourmet fare. I will definitely work it into my itinerary the next time I visit.
- Tracey Nesbitt
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