I spend the last week-end in the Eastern Townships, with our base being in Ayer's Cliff (lovely B&B). Here's a little summary..
We tried the Wood's snack bar poutine on the first night, since it's located in Ayer's Cliff, as recommended by a post on this site; it has a green pepper sauce which is interesting. I'm not a huge poutine fan (I eat one every 5 years or so!), so I can hardly compare, but it had a good amount of cheese curds (Coaticook ones I suppose, they're very close), and fries were good. Gravy felt a little heavy for me. My Wood burger had a surprising distinct McDo aroma, perhaps coming from the mayo type sauce??. Much better bread and meat patty at least, quite tasty in fact :) Cheap place, where locals line up, worth a stop if you're in the mood for greasy classics :-).
The next day, we went to Plaisir Gourmand for dinner, between Ayer's Cliff and Massawippi, http://www.plaisirgourmand.com/. It seats about 30 people, in a lovely old house, with the owners living upstairs. A friendly golden retriever and her puppy greated us when we stopped by earlier that day to make a reservation, which I found pretty cute! Appetizing menu with a lot of local produce; they change it every season. Foie gras au torchon was OK, but overwhelmed by the other flavors in the plate. But the thyme/(green?) apple compote that came with it in a tiny jar was amazing! Gravlax of local trout (truite des bobines) with caviar was excellent, and it's smoked and marinated on site. As mains, we chose the lamb shank and red deer tenderloin with port sauce. Both arrived hot in warmed plates (nice touch), with a pretty presentation. Lamb was very tasty, silky and almost falling apart - generous serving. Red deer was requested medium/bloody (medium saignant) and was slight underdone, but still good.
For dessert, both the lemon mousse and carrot cake were great. Lemon mousse was creamy, refreshing and tart, with toasted meringue and red fruits; the carrot cake was very moist with a delicious cream cheese frosting. The chocolate mi-cuit and crème brulée duo that we saw going to other tables seemed like a solid choice too, and a huge portion!
The table d'hôte was about 40$ each, with a mise-en bouche, app, main and dessert. Quite reasonable for the quality of the food. We had a glass of local cider with the apps and one of Chateau la Bellevue red wine (a bit too chilled but it warmed up), which went well with the red meats. But then I saw that this wine is under 15$ at the SAQ, and one glass was charged 10$. I don't remember which year it was, but such a markup is quite steep!!
Anyhow, a very plesant place that's not snobbish at all, and more affordable than Ripplecove and other high-end options in the area.
During the week-end, we of course went to the Laiterie Coaticook to get an ice cream fix (they have over a dozen choices that are not available elsewhere). 2 huge scoops in a wafer cone for about 3$ - so big it served as our lunch!! We tried maple / caramel, cherry cheese cake, double chocolate and a mix of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet. Yum!! You can see part of the plant from the ice cream counter (glass wall), and get cheeses there as well. Their ice cream is one of the few (or only one?) commercially made in QC with real milk and cream, not modified milk ingredients, and is really delicious.
We picked up a few cheeses from the Station in Compton; http://www.fromagerielastation.com/, super friendly service, with a taste of everything. We already knew their products but got to taste 2 "special" cheeses which are trials not meant for mass production; aged Alfred and Comptomme (up to 2 years), quite surprising with hints of blue cheese almost for the oldest one.
We made another stop at la Beurrerie du Patrimoine (aka Ferme Groleau), where we missed the week-end once a day tour (10h30), but chatted for at least an hour in the small shop with both owners and another visitor. They are very proud of their products, rightly so. The cottage cheese is out of this world; nothing like the over salted grainy stuff made of lactoserum we're used to. Their 45% fat cream à l'ancienne and butter are also great picks, but wouldn't have survived the ride home, so I only took their Caprice d'Or cheese (3/4 cow milk, 1/3 goat milk). Their products are found all over Mtl and the province in specialized stores, the list is on their web site (although currently being updated from what I can see, http://www.fermegroleau.com).
Last but not least, we discovered a tiny "charcuterie", nested in a small general store near Fitch Bay, "Marché Gaudreau" on the 247/Chemin des cantons (right next to the Witch house, no kidding!).
836 chemin Sheldon
Canton Stanstead, QC J1X 3W4
It's the 4rth generation of butchers (father and son), and we were offered great ham and a pork "smokemeat " to taste that were very good. The highlight was their delicious sausages; they usually made 20 varieties at a time (twice a week), but about 5 were available that day. We tried the "feu de camp" (it does have a campfire taste!), the basil/tomato and wine/herbs. They're very moist and don't shrink (ie no added fat), and were clearly a notch over our usual Walters, which can be drier sometimes.
I really need a bigger cooler for our next trip!!
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