The above photo shows a favorite Quebec food: the iconic poutine. For those of you unfamiliar with this dish, it consists of just three ingredients: french fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. Because there are so few components, each one must be perfect. The fries have to be thoroughly cooked, the gravy can’t be too spicy, and the cheese curds must be fresh, with a slightly squeaky texture when you bite into them.
Cheese curds are sold in plastic bags in grocery stores throughout Quebec. In addition to using them in poutine, people enjoy them as snacks straight out of the bag.
The poutine at the St. Albert dairy co op in St. Albert Ontario, which we visited during the holidays, was the best we had ever tasted. We already knew St. Albert cheese curds were delicious, but this dish, with its slightly sweet fries and melting cheese, blew us away.
The restaurant is in a new building that replaced the facility lost in a fire a couple of years ago.
The gift shop sells the cheese curds, of course, but you can also buy all kinds of Quebec specialities like Tarte au Sucre (maple sugar pie) and Tourtiere (a French Canadian meat pie).
We also bought some of St. Albert’s award-wining cheddar, which is aged for five years. Coming from Canada, I miss their good cheddar. The cheeses in RI are usually too creamy and mild for my taste.
All this food, especially the poutine, is hearty winter fare that tastes great and keeps you warm on a day of skiing or working outdoors in the cold. It’s not stuff you’d want to eat if you were spending the day on the couch, and one serving is enough for two people to share.
The St. Albert dairy co op is well worth a visit if you’re in western Quebec. They have amazing ice cream, too.