Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quebec City - The Pedant's Experience, Day 1

This narrative will be slightly duplicative of The Sherbs's, but
hopefully in a Rashomon sort of way where the different perspectives
combine to form a more complete narrative.


1) La Nouvelle France - a cute bistro that is evidently sending,
unbeknownst to the management, telepathic calls to all Japanese
tourists in the region as the restaurant was full of them and the
proprietors were a little confused by the resulting ideosyncratic

The meal was sort of a Venn diagram of meat, cheese, and French bread.
Both The Sherbs and I ordered the "trio du bistro" (if I've gotten the
French wrong, it's because a certain member of my family likes to make
fake French words like "foe du souf" for the ALREADY French word
"soufflé."), which was garlic bread, French onion soup, and Caesar
salad. We shared a poutine, which is the way French Canadians make
cheese fries so they can call it a point of national pride instead of
just another competitor for Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins, &
Dives." The garlic bread was the same bread as the table bread and the
croûton in the French Onion soup, the cheese in the soup was the same
as in the poutine, and, because I must tie everything together in
threes, the poutine's brown gravy was meaty, sort of like the soup but
not really.

Salad was fair; the dressing was nothing to write home about but the
lettuce was tasty (why can't we get tasty lettuce on a regular basis
in the US instead of celery's less crisp cousin?). The soup was good;
despite not having Gruyere, the broth was just beefy enough and not
too salty, a common failing of French onion soup.

Poutine will kill you. But it is awesome.

2) "Beaver Tail" with maple butter - the Sherbs and I shared one of
these bread confections at a little stand behind the Chateau
Frontenac, near an outdoor vendor who was pouring hot taffy onto snow.
You cannot go wrong with maple butter, and even better, the wheaty but
not sweet beaver tail acted as a superb vehicle for the mapley

3) La Vendome - we were lured into this restaurant by the prospect of
live jazz, and while many of the pieces played had their origins in
more staid Gershwin numbers, they were performed jazzily and with

Dinner was fabulous. I had the prix fixe:

A) duck terrine. I love me some charcuterie, and duck besides. But
this went from sure thing to being knocked out of the park by the
accompanying vegetables - caramelized carrots, onions, and beets,
along with fresh olives and endive, that provided premium
accompaniment to the pate.

B) lobster bisque. Almost painfully lobstery, in my opinion; I was
hoping more for a creamier, possibly tomatoier soup. Well done, but
not my cup of tea.

C) beef with red onions. Delicious. A perfectly cooked rare steak
(and, like a good French restaurant, they try to shame you into
getting your steak rare - the only doneness where you can really taste
the meat) covered in tasty, tasty caramelized red onions, which I
believe were cooked in some sort of red wine. Served with frites, of

D) mint chocolate mousse cake. Mousse was good; cakey part only fair.

Tomorrow, we shall visit at least one patisserie. And maybe that
confectioner with the molded sugar figurines.

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