Dîner Butiné (Quebec)

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I drove to Quebec from Cambridge to have dinner- about a six hour drive, unless you plan beer detours (see forthcoming post about crossing Vermont). But this wasn’t just any dinner. It’s a once-a-day seating at Les Jardins Sauvages, where François Brouillard forages the ingredients and chef Nancy Hinton works her magic.

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At the border the passport agent was skeptical. “You’re coming to Canada for a meal”? I described the meal I anticipated with passionate enthusiasm- which no doubt came out sounding ridiculous.

Finally he crossed his arms. “What?” I asked. “Is it really so hard to believe?” Then he sat back and laughed. “Bienvenue”

And that warm welcome en français après les dernière trente kilometre dans les États-Unis ont les signes avec les deux: exit et sortie, et avec française sur la radio- la langue de Proust était sur moi encore. Le prochain obstacle était chercher un chambre pour la nuit. J’ai eu un invitation à une fête à Montréal et à rester avec les amis que j’ai rencontré à Tampa à Cigar City Brewery (voir Long Bridges and Super-Hero Mermaids, Oct ’12) mais peut-être trop loin après des heures de boir et de manger. Donc- j’ai cru que je prendre une chambre a près de la restaurant et leur voir le prochaine jour.

Le seulement hôtel que j’ai vu a eu un signe avec une grande version néon de cette femme couchée qu’on voir sur des rabats de camions. J’ai arrêté de toute façon. il y avait un vieil homme qui avait besoin de se laver sur le porche extérieur.

«Avez-vous une chambre pour moi?»

(homme sale rire) «Les chambres sont pour les hommes et les danseures!»

Mildly offended that I couldn’t pass for une danseuse and nearing the reservation time I went to the restaurant knowing I’d be drinking a lot of water in between the beers I brought (LJS is BYOB) as I’d be driving into the city afterwards to stay with my friends.

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When I arrived, the late summer sun was still warming. I sat by the water that flows by the restaurant and opened Fritz Briem’s 1809 Berliner Weisse. Perfect. The menu is posted online, so all the pairings can be done ahead of time. (see below, and note that the date is really for the entire month) I was the only one drinking beer, and the only one dining solo. All ten tables were taken, which is usual.

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I was shown the location of my table (with my name on it) and encouraged to hike around the property until the 7pm dinner hour. They put me at the perfect corner location where I could see (and listen to) the river going by and also view the entire dining room. As a solo diner who prefers eating at the bar it was the next best thing.

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Everything, except for the meat, is foraged near the restaurant. In between courses the staff describes where the flavors are coming from- including the cattail broth. (See plate below, which refuses to remain rotated.) There are clever signs around the property next to edible plants explaining how they’re used in cooking in French only, so I didn’t learn much- but I appreciated the idea.

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The other beers I brought, a soft-sour from Trois Dames Brewery in Ste Croix Switzerland called L’Amoureuse and a special bitter from Mont Saleve in France (Hand carried from my visit to the brewery- see Hop Maestro in October ’12), were perfect. As I left I made a reservation for the nearly-sold-out mushroom menu in November. It was that good- so I can’t even imagine what they’ll do with one of my top-five foods. I asked them to speak French with me next time to help me practice- I will be studying mes deux tomes Mots de Cuisine.

I really hope I get the same guy at the border.

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