Hi Frugalistas! Regular readers will know that I love exploring food when I travel. One of my favourite ways to explore food is to take a food walking tour. You get to spend a few hours with a local, eat food you wouldn’t dare taste otherwise (anyone remember my sheep’s head or chicken pudding in Istanbul?), and go into food places you definitely wouldn’t find on your own. So when I was organising my visit to Canada a food walking tour in Quebec City was definitely on my agenda.
Starting my food walking tour in Quebec City
Meeting my fun and interesting guide, Simon from Tours Voir Québec, we headed to our first destination, La Cremaillere in rue Sainte-Anne. Our first tasting is dessert, yep, dessert. An Italian pannacotta. Not very Quebecois, but made with local cream it’s delicious. The word cremaillere is a new one for me. It turns out to mean two things: the cross bar used to hang pots over a traditional open fire stove, but it also means a housewarming. So warm and welcoming when you know that.
Heading into rue St-Jean
Rue St-Jean is one of the foodie centres of central Quebec City. Regardless of where you stay in Quebec City, it’s definitely worth checking out. So that’s where we focus the rest of our visit. And it’s here Simon really hits his straps as a guide. Turns out he’s a real wine connoisseur, and with a couple of exceptions, we are going to be enjoying paired wines and dishes for the remainder of the food walking tour in Quebec City. Heaven! My own personal wine critic to escort me through the maze of Canadian wine…..
Our first stop on rue St-Jean is Tournebroche. Featuring all local ingredients (including beehives on the roof and their own vegetable garden), and a menu made entirely on the premises, this is exactly sort of restaurant I love. We try a wild boar and duck fat terrine, paired with a local white wine. The wine is made from the vandal cliché grape, a local hybrid. We discuss food, wave to the chef/owner (hard at work in the open kitchen) and explore the cellar.
At Les Delices de l’Erables they specialise in everything maple syrup. Not just the syrup mind you, but tarts, pastries, cakes, drinks and even sorbet. In addition to tasting a range of maple syrups. Yes, we taste maple syrup. In fact we taste lots of different styles of maple syrup. But for me the biggest highlight is getting to roll (and taste) my first snow taffy. What’s it like? Apart from being very cold, it’s a bit like treacle, but reminds me more of the Australian golden syrup (a lighter version of treacle).
After our maple syrup tasting we head to the very groovy Ninkasi micro brewery for a complete change of pace. I’d heard micro breweries were big in Quebec, so I’m delighted we are going to one. On a sunny Sunday afternoon the outdoor terrace is definitely the place to be – it’s full. So what are we tasting? Gingerbread. Yes, a ginger bread flavoured beer called “Resolution” that was created for winter and new year. It takes me back to German Christmas markets. Even if you don’t drink beer, this one is a winner. I drink it all…….
We haven’t eaten for at least 20minutes now, so it’s just as well our next stop is Le Moine Echanson Boite a Vin. Yes, it’s a wine bar. But it’s a wine bar with a difference. Specialising in wine and food pairings, you could easily spend an afternoon just trying little share plates with accompanying wine.
The young waiter takes us on a tour of the (tiny) wine bar. They are particularly proud of their cellar, and I’m not surprised. It takes up a whole room of the bar and customers are free to browse the shelves and choose something rather than relying on the usual wine lists. Both Simon and I are super impressed with our cod fritters paired with a white wine from near Montreal. The fritters are so light they almost float into our mouths and are a real highlight of my stay in Quebec City.
We’ve had wine (twice), we’ve had micro brewery beer, so what’s next?
Cider. And if you are of French heritage, what would you have with your cider? Well, if you are from Normandy, the cradle of French cider, it would definitely be crepes. So it’s off to Billig for cheese and ham crepes and cider. Cider is quite a trendy drink now, but I don’t drink it. Too many memories of rough and ready cider in seedy pubs in my youth. I’m also not a huge fan of savoury crepes.
How wrong can one Frugalista be?
The buckwheat crepe is feather light, almost like lace. And oh so tasty. But the cider is the big surprise. It’s light and sparkling, refined, and dare I say, sophisticated. It reminds me of a light sparkling wine (a bit like the cremant I tried in Alsace). Definitely not rough and ready, and definitely no thoughts of seedy pubs here.
It’s getting late in the afternoon by this stage. Even though we’ve been walking and only sampling small dishes, I’m also quite full. So we finish our food walk the only way possible – with a tasting plate of chocolates at Erico. Yum. The great thing about Erico is they also have a “sweet” little display of chocolate making equipment. I’m very taken with a cute little tray of Easter bunny moulds.
Final thoughts on my food walking tour of Quebec City
On a sunny afternoon I loved walking and eating my way around rue St-Jean. The neighbourhood itself is quite edgy the further you delve into it. That means the food is great, and the vibe is fun. Everyone we met was truly passionate about their offering, and loved sharing their knowledge with us.
Simon was tremendous fun and great company. His experience and knowledge of wine really added to my tour, and I think we talked and laughed as much as we ate and drank.
I’ve done a number of food walks, and this one ranks right up there.
As they say in French “Sante!”
If you are looking for some other great things to do in Quebec City, there are plenty of other activities to tempt you.
You can check out guide books for Quebec city here.
Author’s note: I was a guest of Tours Voir Québec and Quebec Tourisme on this walk. Simon and I genuinely had a ball, the food was great, and yes, I’d definitely do it all again. This post also contains some affiliate links – if you make a purchase I do earn a small commission, but it won’t cost you anything extra.