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Poutine Will Keep You Warm Throughout Winter (page 2 of 2)

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A Canadian stop on my tour of world street foods of dietary interest.
Page1  2  

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Fried fries are kept on a hotplate until the client walks in ...

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...then shovelled into the container.

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As every nutritionist worth her salt will tell you, French Fries do not make a proper meal on their own. To achieve nutritional balance, fresh cheddar curds are mixed with the hot fries ...

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... then a ladleful of gravy.

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And if you are not a trucker but a gentleman of some standing, they will serve you on a plate with the same healthy combination of fries...

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... fresh cheddar cheese ...

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... and as much of that bought gravy sauce as you can afford to eat.

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You are now ready to face the rigorous Canadian winter.

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Despite its Québec location, this place is called 'The King of Ontario'. In Frédéric's book they make the best poutine in Montréal and are very friendly. But when it comes to poutine, every Québécois has a favorite poutine haunt!

Roi d'Ontario
3991 rue Ontario
Montreal, Québec
Canada

For more details on poutine, you can visit www.montrealpoutine.com.

Thanks to Frédéric Mahieu for his pictures!

Published 28/03/2008
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72 Comments

  • #1
  • Comment by Peter
  • on: 28/03/2008
Xavier, poutine is so delicious despite the artery-clogging properties.

I should also note, it's a gravy made from beef drippings that it used. Your readers might get confused thinking there's beef in it (when there's none).
  • #2
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 28/03/2008
Where can I get fresh cheese curds ?I feel a heart attack coming on....Aaahh. It  was worth it !Paul
Peter, I'm glad you cleared up the gravy there.  When FX mentioned barbecue sauce I first assumed he meant the BBQ sauce we in America enjoy on ribs and other meaty delights...which sounds terribly overpowering if poured over poutine.  My first reaction was that this sounds terrible, but now that I know it is a thinner gravy, it sounds much better.  Thanks for your insight!
Great spotlight on poutine.  I live with a poutine addict.  He goes for some of the more adventurous varieties of poutine (e.g., topped with ground beef, onion, bacon, etc.).  Just incase poutine on it's own doesn't ensure that his arteries get clogged.
  • #5
  • Comment by constantins
  • on: 28/03/2008

 very very vicious
  • #6
  • Comment by Luci
  • on: 28/03/2008
Hi Francois,

Many thanks for your nod to authentic Canadian cuisine!  Merci beaucoup!

Luci
  • #7
  • Comment by Ross
  • on: 28/03/2008
A few years ago I read a newspaper story about a man in England who had eaten fish & chips every night of the week for dinner for all of his adult life. This was considered so surprising that he was asked to undergo a battery of medical tests. They found that he was in perfect health. Go figure.
  • #8
  • Comment by giz
  • on: 28/03/2008
Be still my arteries!!!  A great play by play!
  • #9
  • Comment by Valmi
  • on: 28/03/2008
I share my compatriots' chauvinist enthusiasm at having our poutine featured on your great blog. There has been a survey recently to find Quebec national dish and the result was pâté chinois, a typical, but not very exciting shepherd's pie with maize--what a disappointment!

It's obvious that we're very peculiar about our poutine. I like my gravy from a chicken base, not beef, the chips should be double-fried to have this crisp golden skin with a heart that melts in the mouth, and the curds (still warm from the udder) should be only slightly melted.

Abroad, I'll use grated Gouda cheese, Belgian chips, and any thick chicken gravy.
  • #10
  • Comment by Stephani
  • on: 28/03/2008
Mmmmmm!  Fantastic = )
Poutine and Harvey's hamburgers are some of my favorite Canadian foods.
Thanks as always, FX.
  • #11
  • Comment by d.Jole
  • on: 29/03/2008
I first had poutine over in Newfoundland. It is certainly meant to warm you up and keep you warm in those long, cold winters of Eastern Canada.
So, FX, when are you going to tackle seal flipper pie, or cod tongues with scrunchions?
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
D.Jole, is the 'seal flipper pie' really made with seal flippers? Where can it be found in Canada? I would be very interested of course, as well as cod tongues with scrunchions. Thanks for the tip!
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Valmi, thanks for your appreciation! I think poutine definitely belongs to those dishes that are part of a nation's identity - identity food.
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Thanks Giz, I think a gallon of poutine will still any arteries for good!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Ross, fish and chips every night sounds like hell on earth! Maybe a long life was part of his sentence for bad karma. Just joking of course!
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Luci thanks for visiting and let me know if there are any other authentic Canadian dishes that are part of what makes people feel Canadian or Québécois.
  • #17
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Psychgrad, you need to take him out for foie gras poutine on his birthday!
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/03/2008
Kyle, you are right of course it's gravy from a gallon pot, not the sugar-and-vinegar American barbecue sauce.
My favorite thing to do here in the states is to go to KFC which is often paired with an A&W - buy the A&W fries with a side of KFC gravy...it's so good.  I'll have to hit the cheese factory down the street and pick up some fresh cheese curds as well...
  • #20
  • Comment by relusegrrl
  • on: 29/03/2008
Seal flipper can be purchased in Newfoundland.  The season opens Monday so in about two weeks, trucks will appear selling flippers by the side of the road. Our local version of poutine in Newfoundland is fries, dressing (think stuffing) and gravy.
Drowned broccoli was excellent.
Thanks for your beautiful site.
  • #21
  • Comment by Allen
  • on: 29/03/2008
I love poutine and get it every time I visit my cousins to the north :-)  They also have a wonderfully sweet dessert found in many cafes called the 'nanaimo bar', common more to the western side of the nation.
  • #22
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 29/03/2008
Poutine is a great fast food to be sure, but the Canadians can keep it Canadian. Mom n' pop shop chili cheese fries are hard to beat. They keep you warm in the winter, keep you cool in the summer (with hot sauce, of course), clog up the arteries of young and old alike, AND keep your bowels churning. Truly, it is the Swiss Army Knife of greasy fast food. Alas, poutine and chili fries alike are nigh impossible to get here in Central Europe. A guy can have only so many kebabs, mantaplatten, and zapiekanki.
  • #23
  • Comment by SC
  • on: 29/03/2008
The poutine at RdO does not look bad but many people seem to prefer the poutine at La Banquise in terms of their variety. In my opinion, the prize for the best poutine definitely goes to Au Pied de Cochon for their foie gras poutine, granted it is a lot more expensive than the other poutine joints.
  • #24
  • Comment by Alys
  • on: 29/03/2008
St Hubert's chicken gravy is the basic - not bbq sauce, that is a special case.

Canadian food, eh?
How about some of our West (and East) coast specialities:
fresh oysters and scallops,
dungeness crab, lobster,
grilled salmon,
fresh corn (green maize to you I think) grilled in the husk,
salmonberries (they are blooming right now on the West coast), saskatoon berries, blueberries, and more.
:-) All good
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
B. Pitcher, thanks for visiting! Who would have thought that Canadians and Americans would unite over their love for French fries? Let me know how the cheese curds work for you.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
Susie, thanks for visiting and for trying to drown broccolis. I hope I'll see those seal flippers one day!
  • #27
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
Thanks Allen I'll try the nanaimo bar with my next gallon of poutine!
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
Luke, where is the Mecca of Chili Cheese Fries? Is this a regional specialty?
  • #29
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
SC you are right that there are many good places to eat poutine in Montréal and most people will never dream of eating it anywhere but at their favorite shop. I think the Foie Gras Poutine might warrant another article someday!
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
Alys, you are right that there is more to Canadian food than poutine, of course! I am myself a fiend for maple syrup since you mention the many fine produce made in Canada. But which other spectacular recipes are there such as poutine that is uniquely canadian and which people consider part of their identity?
  • #31
  • Comment by Jacq
  • on: 30/03/2008
Thrilled to see Poutine featured here. As a Canadian living abroad it's something I miss a lot! When I was living in Bristol, UK, one day I spied a new dish on a local greasy-spoon menu, chips with cheese and gravy! While they didn't do it with curds, it was a satisfactory substitute (the gravy was homemade so that was a plus)! I asked the owner and he said he'd discovered Poutine in Montreal and it had been selling well. Now in Ireland, my kitchen in the only place I'm ever served Poutine, but when I go home, I make a bee-line to the fish and chip shop!
Thanks so much for this article, and all your articles, I enjoy them so much.
Jacq
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/03/2008
Jacqui thanks for visit and for your article about Canadian food! I spent half an hour looking through flipper pies and oreilles de christ. Sounds amazing! Hope to see you back on my blog!
  • #33
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 30/03/2008
Oy, there is no Mecca that I am aware of. The chili cheese fry is something of an underdog, as far as North American fast food goes. It does, however, enjoy a wide cult following. Large cities, university towns, and popular beaches are good bets. They're also not uncommon among smaller fast food chains, but it's seldom as good as the mom n' pop variety. Of course, long gone are the days when one actually had to mingle with the locals; Google can hook you up on your next trip across the pond.
  • #34
  • Comment by Martin
  • on: 31/03/2008
Some other typical Canadian treats: butter tarts (a bit like Southern U.S. pecan tarts without the pecans), Nanaimo bars (a very sweet layered bar cookie), fiddleheads (young fern fronds), and some  very local specialties like hawberry jam from Manitoulin Island. And dill-pickle potato chips. To me, though, the hallmark of Canadian food is mixing and matching ethnic comfort food. That's a product of our wide-ranging immigration, and results in such interesting hybrids as perogies stuffed with kimchi.
  • #35
  • Comment by Michael
  • on: 31/03/2008
Fresh cut fries are something that is so very special. Restaurants that go that extra mile to prepare the fries at a moment's notice is the mark of a good meal. Poutine is something that everyone should have at least once in their life... and for health reasons... ONLY once!
  • #36
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 31/03/2008
Luke, I'll have to try to make a home version using my own chili and some homemade fries. Do they add any cheese on top?
  • #37
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 31/03/2008
Martin, thanks for your tips! Did I mention I love Canada and of course especially Québec. The show with Josée di Stasio and Daniel Pinard is one of the my favorite food shows in the world. Lovely people and lovely accent!
  • #38
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 31/03/2008
Michael, I'm glad my choice of poutine meets with your approval. But check my deep-fried atrocities section if you feel poutine is unhealthy!
  • #39
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 31/03/2008
Cheese on top? Oh hell yeah! Cheaper places slather on canned nacho cheese, but nothing compares to a stringy mound of melted cheddar or colby. As for the chili, most anything works provided that it's just a bit on the saucy side. The fries need to be thick enough to handle the chili, but at the same time can't hog the spotlight. Any potato that has a buttery character and fries well from raw will do. Many variants and alternatives (like bacon cheddar ranch fries) do exist, so feel free to get creative.
  • #40
  • Comment by Luke
  • on: 31/03/2008
Y'know, going through these comments, a lot of Canadian specialties mentioned parallel food you'd find in New England. Go figure.
  • #41
  • Comment by Alex
  • on: 02/04/2008
You have made all of Quebec proud by not trashing poutine the way you did deep fried hamburgers.
  • #42
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 03/04/2008
Alex, it is the sorry fate of deep-fried cheeseburgers to have no constituency, so I could give them a tongue lashing without fear of retaliation. But poutine is so essential to the Québecois identity that I would never have dreamed of saying anything disrespectful about it!
  • #43
  • Comment by Toasty
  • on: 10/04/2008
A plea to the Quebecois: please emigrate and export this to the backwoods nation south of your border.
  • #44
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
Toasty, thanks for your visit! I am sure some Québécois must be selling poutine in the US somewhere already ...
  • #45
  • Comment by James
  • on: 11/04/2008
Great article, reminded me of something we in the north of England have been eating for many, many years - Cheesy chips!

Like the poutine, it uses those utter travesties of a 'chip' that are known as french fries, smothered in grated cheddar cheese, then blasted in a microwave to create a gooey, sticky, artery furring mess of starch and fat. We only eat this after enough alcohol to kill your taste-bud's has been consumed. Usually at about 2 a.m on a friday night/saturday morning.
  • #46
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 11/04/2008
James, thanks for this enlightening parallel with the cheesy chips!
  • #47
  • Comment by william pociengel
  • on: 14/04/2008
Well the best cheese curds come from Ellsworth WI in the US. They have the best curds in Wisconsin and Wisconsin has the best curds in the US. I think my colesterol has gone up just looking at those photos. Yumm ;-)
  • #48
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 14/04/2008
William, thanks for visiting! This may sound like a curious question from a Swiss living within eyesight of France, the self-professed 'land of the 360 cheeses', but what is a European equivalent of the poutine cheese curd?
  • #49
  • Comment by Luci
  • on: 20/05/2008
Hi again FX,

Just got back from Montreal and remembered to answer your question re:  national Canadian dishes for the next time you're in the country:

Montreal Bagels - boiled in honey water and baked in a wood-burning oven
Maple Syrup, especially frozen on a bed of snow and rolled up on a popsicle stick!
Donuts - a national dish easily accessed from a favourite Canadian chain, Tim Hortons

Hope you enjoy!
  • #50
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 22/05/2008
Luci, thanks for your tips, I hope I'll find some Canadian foodie with a camera that can send me good pictures for another article!
  • #51
  • Comment by Michelle
  • on: 22/07/2008
Fabulous to see poutine on your site - yum! Just be sure to pronounce it poo-tsin, not poo-teen as many do.
Add the Beaver Tail to your list of Canadian specialties - a treat here in the Ottawa area, especially during our winter festival. It's basically a deep fried whole wheat dough shaped like a beaver tail, slathered with butter and a variety of toppings (my favourite is the one topped with cinnamon sugar and freshly squeezed lemon). Serve hot.
  • #52
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 25/07/2008
Michelle, I'd love to have pictures of beaver tails like those of poutine, let me know if you can arrange this! Oh, and could you send me a hot beaver tail by email?
  • #53
  • Comment by Ruth Yancey
  • on: 25/07/2008
Grew up in Montreal and when I left some 50 years ago I had never heard of poutine.  Sounds good.  I think the Nanaimo bar is what my mum called Dream Cake, which I've been making for years.  Good food:  Habitant pea soup (in a can, unfortunately), Oxo, maple sugar candies, spruce beer(Is it still available??) Nothing like that in San Diego. Thanks for the memories.

Ruth
  • #54
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 26/07/2008
Ruth, I think you might be able to revive these cherished memories in a less virtual manner. Pea soup is easy, just look at my article, you can make a better soup than at any restaurant right in your kitchen. As for poutine, you could make your own curds in under an hour, and serve fries with homemade gravy and fresh curds - where in the world could you buy that? Good luck and thanks for visiting!
I can't believe that I missed this article!!  It may look vile and calorie laden (which it is) but there is NOTHING like poutine.  The chewy, melting curds....salty thick gravy, slightly sweet fresh cut fries...mmmmmmm
  • #56
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 02/10/2008
Tina, I think poutine made from proper potatoes and real gravy, not some crap out of a gallon jar, is very serious food indeed.
  • #57
  • Comment by Geoff Ball
  • on: 27/11/2008
Great Article and photographs as per usual.

Poutine should and must be made with cheese curds, or it will be just cheesy-fries. Many fast food restaurants offer it but very, very few will use actual cheese curds, or real gravy.

If you are in Canada, you might want to ask what the place you are in uses to make poutine. Could be that liquid nacho cheese goop with pre-made vegetable gravy.

Seal flipper pie, cod tongues, Molasses on toast, fried baloney steaks are all eaten by Newfoundlanders.

Surf and Turf is another luxury eaten on the East Coast on occasion Boiled Lobster and Steak!
  • FX's answer→ Geoff, it is not so common to find cheese curds around here, would it work with freshly made paneer curds?

  • #59
  • Comment by Geoff Ball
  • on: 28/11/2008
I don't think paneer would do it.

A desription from Wikipedia about cheese curds :

"Their flavor is mild with about the same firmness as cheese, but has a springy or rubbery texture.

Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, which some would say is their defining characteristic. Cheese curds are sometimes referred to as "Squeaky cheese." They are sometimes somewhat salty.

The American variety are usually yellow or orange in color, like most American cheddar cheese. Other varieties, such as the Québécois and New York variety, can be roughly the same color as white cheddar cheese"

All the poutine I've had, has had white curds.

If I was going to substitute a different cheese it would be a fresh/soft mozzarella, for it has the same sort of rubbery texture and saltiness.
  • FX's answer→ Geoff, I don't mean to use paneer but paneer curds, which is just curdled milk.

  • #61
  • Comment by Jenny McCullough
  • on: 30/11/2008
This is a heart attack on a plate!
  • FX's answer→ Indeed it is, but they have a seriously cold winter season over there, they deserve it!

  • #63
  • Comment by chas
  • on: 12/01/2009
ayoille ..... :-)
mais...le cholestérol   ..... :-(
  • FX's answer→ Mais c'est le cholestérol qui nous aide à traverser l'hiver!

  • #65
  • Comment by Kai
  • on: 27/01/2009
I think for real cheese curds, you essentially follow the process for making a cheddar cheese up to the point where the whey is drained, and then the un-cheddared curds are salted and eaten immediately. You know they're fresh if they squeak when you bite into them; they lose this after about a day. So if you're set up for home-cheesemaking (wih rennet) you should be able to make these.
  • FX's answer→ Kai, would you use yogurt as a starter culture to make cheddar curds?

  • #67
  • Comment by Biffy
  • on: 11/02/2009
I miss poutine, I miss Montreal!

The best poutine has to be from La Banquise on Rachel, at 2am. :)

  • FX's answer→ Biffy, I hope I can try poutine in Montreal too!

  • #69
  • Comment by Janna
  • on: 13/05/2009
I noticed you have alot of Canadian east coast and west coast specialties. On the prairies of Alberta and Saskatoon we have bannock and prairie oysters. While the praire oysters are common in parts of the western US, I still think they have a large niche in Albertan history. I've been to cattle brandings where families get together and serve these deep fried calf testicles fresh from the calf. Canadian bannock is different from American and Scottish as it is unleavened wheat flour and is fried or cooked over a campfire.
  • #70
  • Comment by Charles
  • on: 27/08/2009
A great honor to see our beloved poutine featured on your website. But, if I may add my personal opinion, I would declare that the best poutine in the northern hemisphere can be found not in Montréal but in Québec city, the capital; particularly in a small restaurant chain called Ashton, which for 40 years has kept our arteries fully clogged and our palates no less enthralled.
  • #71
  • Comment by Valmi
  • on: 30/01/2010
Now living in France, it became urgent that I seriously consider what cheese may be appropriate cheese to use instead of the curds. As of the chips and the sauce, I found that there is no possible substitute for making them at home, but making cheddar curds is trickier. After many tests, my girlfriend and I agreed that the closer we can get in terms of taste is by using a very young grated Cantal cheese. But you lose the texture of curds. Nothing is perfect.
  • #72
  • Comment by Marion
  • on: 27/04/2010
Hi truly great blog! Very inspiring. Used to travel a lot with the same attitude, cook books ALWAYS my preferred souvenir :-) Now with two small kids your blog still allows me to travel. GREAT!  And from my time on Montreal I can assure you: les quebecois aiment leur poutine !

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