Browsing "Quebec"
Jul 8, 2012 -

On the Shores of Lake Champlain

Yesterday (Saturday), I met up with my sister and her family at Camping Plage [Beach] Kirkland, in Venise-en-Québec along the shores of Lake Champlain, for a day of frolicking in sand and surf. I decided to spend the night so that I could visit a nearby attraction today.

The last time I played on a Lake Champlain beach was in the early 1990’s when my dad rented a cottage in the area for our summer holidays. My sister doesn’t remember this, but I do because it’s the only time I remember my father taking us on a proper summer vacation.

With taxes, a dry spot in the campground was $30, an average amount for this part of the province. It would have given me access to the beach till 1PM today, but I left at 9 to give my planned activity, subject of my next post, all the time it would need.

I was on my own by about 5:30 Saturday evening, so I decided to get the truck bed set up for sleeping and then head out in search of dinner. It was really hot in the truck, but the outside temps were going down steadily. I cracked open the windows, set up the curtains, and then took off on foot to explore the dining options.

To my surprise, there aren’t many restaurants in Venise-en-Québec despite it being a very hot tourist location. To the left of the campground, I found a snack bar offering poutine, hot dogs, smoked meat, and the like. To the right, there are a few ice cream parlors and the only real dining option, Papa Suzie Pizzeria. Besides pizza, it offers fast food items like hot dogs and poutine, but also some sandwiches and full dinner options like pasta, fish and chips, and chicken. Nothing gourmet, but definitely a step up from a snack bar.

I ordered the chicken breast dinner. It was modeled after the meals served by Quebec’s quintessential St-Hubert restaurants, an absurdly popular rotisserie offering insipid yet strangely addictive food. So that meant I got a quarter all-white meat chicken, French fries, colesaw, half of a toasted hamburger bun, and gravy.

The chicken was moist and flavourful (St-Hubert’s is dry and bland), the fries were brown and sweet (St-Hubert’s are frozen, what?!), the coleslaw was okay (St-Hubert offers an oil and vinegar slaw that is more to my liking than the kind with mayo), the hamburger bun was of better quality, and the gravy was thicker. I wasn’t able to finish everything and the bill came to less than $15 with tip!

It was going on 7:00 when I got back to the truck and the interior was nice and cool. I laid down with the iPad and wiled away the evening playing games and reading.

The night was very comfortable, but without shade, the truck became an oven very early this morning. Note to self: park in the shade when the temperatures promise to be torrid!

While the campground was adequate for my needs in the truck, I would not have wanted to drive through its narrow streets with Miranda. This is the second campground I’ve visited this summer where people are packed in really tightly. I don’t know if that’s the norm out here or if it just happens at the primarily seasonal campgrounds, but I would not find a stay there too relaxing.

My sister and her boyfriend are thinking of moving their travel trailer to this campground next summer. Like many other Quebecers, they use their trailer as a cottage set on a seasonal lot in a campground, probably because, as in Alberta, registration on a towable RV is a one-time fee. So this option is much cheaper than owning a cottage and you can move the trailer when you get bored with the scenery (or get annoyed with the neighbours!).

I enjoyed my time on the shores of Lake Champlain this weekend. Let me get some sleep and I will move on to my adventures on the Richelieu River in my next post.

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Boondocking/Dry camping, Campgrounds, Canada, Quebec, Travel    1 Comment
Jul 5, 2012 -

Au Pied de la Chute Restaurant, Richelieu

Today, my uncle treated my grand-mother and us to lunch at the charming Au pied de la chute restaurant in Richelieu. It is so named ‘at the foot of the falls’ because it is on the banks of the Richelieu River right across from the dam. It’s a fine dining establishment that favours local products (produits du terroir).

We ate out on the terrace, so I did not see the interior, which must have been charming since the restaurant is set in a traditional Quebec home made of field stone.

Au pied de la chute

The very affordable lunch menu includes soup or salad with your meal, bread, and a hot beverage. The potage (smooth vegetable soup without cream) was apparently very good, but I opted for a lovely salad with a dressing that apparently smelled Japanese.

For the main course, my mother opted for the deer and Brie burger with frites while the rest of us all went for the lightly breaded perch with rice and roasted vegetables. Very, very delicious! There wasn’t that much on the lunch menu that had inspired me (the rest was red meat or mussels with curry or a pasta dish with artichokes and sun dried tomatoes that sounded good), but I don’t need much choice when something stands out so obviously! I especially liked the leek confit served over the fish.

We all had the German chocolate cake for dessert, a sliver of goodness served with some fruit pieces ($2!). The coffee was delicious.

Needless to say, I was very impressed with Au pied de la chute!

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Canada, Quebec, Travel    3 Comments
Jun 29, 2012 -

Prato Pizzeria, Montreal

When I got in from errands today, my mother asked me what I had planned for dinner because she was in the mood for thin crust pizza and there was a well-reviewed restaurant in Montreal she wanted to try out.

So off we all went to downtown Montreal to Prato Pizzeria, located on the iconic Saint-Laurent Boulevard, known as ‘La Main’ (as in the English word main, not the French word hand!). The restaurant is nestled between chic boutiques, European-style cafés, big name fast food joints, and is just a couple of doors from the world famous Schwartz Deli.

Pizzerias like Prato are a dying breed because of environmental laws forbidding charcoal ovens. All existing restaurants are grand-fathered in. This restaurant was listed as one of the top three places to eat pizza in Montreal.

We ordered a pitcher of beer since it was super hot out and we had parked several blocks from the restaurant so we were feeling rather parched! A pitcher contains six small glasses of beer, so we had two each. We started off with the arugula salad, which had cherry tomatoes, Parmesan shavings, and a nice lemon vinaigrette. Very tasty!

They shared a pizza that had olives and anchovies (shudders) while I ordered my usual for this type of pizza joint, a Margherita, with Parmesan, bocconcini, tomato sauce, and fresh basil. The pizzas are considered to be sized for one person and are served on a paper-lined baking sheet:

This was pizza perfection. The edge of the crust was crunchy, the base was flexible, the edges were charred, the tomato sauce was smooth, the cheese was stretchy, and the basil was piquant. Yuuuuuum. I wouldn’t have been able to eat the whole thing, but had no leftovers since they took one slice to try it out.

For dessert, my mother and I each had an espresso (macchiato for me) and their Skor-chocolate mousse (excellent) while my step-mother tried the tiramisu (very good). The coffee was particularly good, being extremely strong and flavourful without being bitter.

We all agreed that the next time we’re craving good pizza, we’re going back to Prato!

On the way back to the car, we stopped at a Viennese-style bakery for bread and pastries for the morning. I don’t eat sugar first thing anymore, so I opted for a plain croissant even though the chocolatines were calling my name!

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Canada, Quebec, Restaurants, Travel    7 Comments