Sunday, July 12, 2009

Ooey-Gooey Soul Satisfying Goodness... it a sin, in this low-fat, low-carb, eat-healthy world, to admit that I love poutine?
It probably isn't politically correct, but then I'm not usually one to go with the conventional thought of the day. I eat what I like, when I want, and if that means meatloaf for breakfast, cereal for dinner, or poutine for lunch, then I'm really the only one who has the right to complain.
I also admit (only this once) that I don't mind a cheese burger every now and then, as a matter of fact, I sometimes crave that beefy cheesey flavour. It reminds me so much of good times growing up. I will also admit that you will never find me inside that "family restaurant". I will be the one in the drive-thru, secretly pleading that no one I know can see me, while I salivate at the perma-smell coming from the cashiers window.
Back to poutine.
The best place I have discovered in Ottawa/Hull, to enjoy the French-Canadian guilty pleasure, is La Pataterie at 311 boulevarde St Joseph, in Hull. It is one of those tiny, out-of-the-way places, that unless you know what you are looking for, you might drive right past it and not give it a second thought.
My love affair with the greasy goodness started almost ten years ago when I arrived in Ottawa. I was sharing a house in New Edinburgh, had a few too many cocktails one night, feeling worse for wear the next day, I definitely needed some grease to line the stomach.
Before then, a simple egg and bacon brekky would have done wonders, now, only the poutine from La Pataterie can cure the dullness of over-imbibing.
Driving on the Quebec-side of the Ontario border is quite the challenge, and when you are not 100% focused, it does take a while to familiarise yourself with your surroundings. Everything, and I mean everything, is in French. No English. Nothing. It is quite the experience, not having French under my belt and navigating to a place I've never been. Rather than the 15 minutes it might take someone to drive, it took my girlfriend and I close to 2 hours to find our way there.
Oncce there, the smell of fried potatoes draws you in. There's absolutely nothing to compare to the ooey-gooey soul satisfying goodness of the combination of freshly cooked, hand peeled and cut potatoes, fresh salty cheese curds and lashings of warm gravy.
The great "poutine chefs", are the ones that layer the fries with curds and gravy all the way from the bottom to the top. By the time you make your way to the bottom, the squeaky curds are stretchy and warm, mingled with gravy and fries, and just perfect.
I order a Pogo as well, but it's really only because I love the combination of La Pataterie's sweet mustard with the deep fried hot dog. And, of course, a Pepsi to wash it all down with.
These people know poutine. I have sampled a lot of poutine in my ten years in Ottawa, and nowhere comes even remotely close.
A word of warning though, when making the trek to La Pataterie, you may want to visit during off-peak times, as the parking lot only holds about 6 spaces. Otherwise, park your car about 8 blocks away, so afterwards you can walk and feel good about eating the best poutine in the city!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

This is my first post EVER. It's the first thing I have written for public consumption, and it's a bit scary. I am not a writer, I am writing for the pure pleasure of remembering great food moments in my life, and hopefully sharing them with other people who feel similar.

I write and talk as I think, which sometimes gets me into trouble, no doubt. The intent is not to offend anyone, just offer an opinion of which will hopefully interest some people, but perhaps it might not be to everyone's liking. Oh well, what can we do?

Most of all, I love to bake. My day job sees me nowhere near a pastry kitchen, you know they say "the grass is always greener". Perhaps if I had to bake every day for a paycheck, I might not enjoy it so much.

We just celebrated a wonderful Canada Day, finishing with this pie. The strawberries I picked myself, on hands and knees out at Proulx Berry Farm earlier in the week. I go there every year only because that's where I went my first time, and the berries are so good that I have no need to try anywhere else. I was lucky the first year I picked, as raspberries were ready for picking too. My car smelt wonderful on the way home, the strawberry daiquiris were refreshing and my berries seemed to last a really long time in the refrigerator before I had to freeze them. The same holds true every year.

Come on, what could be better than fresh berries picked (almost) right in your back yard?