Follow Me Foodie to l’île-d’Orléans, Quebec!
Corking cider, eating cheese, dining at the duck farm and sipping on Cassis!
If you’re in Quebec City, and you want a culinary tour that’s off the beaten track, then you should consider visiting l’île-d’Orléans! It almost felt like touring Kelowna and it was a real treat to meet some of the local artisans in the area. It’s only 5km away from Quebec City and it’s the largest historical district of Quebec. I’m no history buff, but when you throw food into the equation, sign me up!
I was invited to explore the culinary side of Quebec City and I must say that this was one of the most exciting things on the itinerary. “A country side tour of l’île-d’Orléans”? What? We’re going to New Orleans?! No, not quite. I didn’t even know what or where l’île-d’Orléans was, but it sounded like something different, and it was!
It is kinda of a “touristy” thing to do, but it’s also a very “foodie” thing to do, and the places you visit are one of a kind. The area is full of local artisans and family owned farms and we planned to visit four. A lot of them close for the Winter too, so it’s best to put this on the summer itinerary. For more details on l’île-d’Orléans or their tours – see here.
I started the morning corking cider at the apple farm! Actually, I was just having fun, but the apple farm was our first stop. The Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau is the first cider house on l’île-d’Orléans and apparently they’re known for the best apples. Of course that’s what every farm would claim, but to be honest, these apples did come up often even outside of this tour context.
I got to sample a few apple products including their apple ciders, apple chutney, apple jam and apple butter and they also offer apple pies. Everything was very pure and simple to showcase the quality and natural flavours of their apples. It was interesting because it was here when I learned that apple pies in Quebec City don’t use cinnamon, but instead maple syrup. I saw cinnamon being used in apple pies in Montreal though.
The second stop was at Les Fromages de l’isle d’Orléans frommagerie. The costumes are exactly that, costumes, and not their everyday wear. Yes, it was the country side, but also 2011. The lovely couple Jocelyn and Diane specialize in Le Paillasson, which is a 3-4 day old cheese that is grilled upon serving. Grilled cheese for breakfast? Yes please!
It was a delicious cheese! It doesn’t have to be grilled, but it’s how it’s meant to be eaten which is a bit rare for an artisan cheese. It’s a pasteurized raw cow’s milk cheese and it was squeaky like a fresh cheese curd, and almost tasted like one too. It was somewhat comparable to mozzarella, but saltier.
The last stop was a visit to Cassis Monna et Filles, which is famous for their internationally recognized blackcurrant liqueur. They offer everything black currant, but the Crème de Cassis was the highlight. It’s a family owned winery, gift shop and small cafe that is now operated by the two sisters, Catherine and Anne.
Restaurant: Au Goût d’Autrefois
Last visited: November 10, 2011
Location: Ste-Famille, Quebec City (l’île-d’Orléans)
Address: 4311 Chemin Royal
Price Range: $50+ ($45-75 for 3-4 courses, $95 for 5 courses)
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
- Organic, free range meats
- Famous for duck/foie gras
- Dining on the farm
- All natural
- No spices/seasonings
- Home style cooking
- Small gift shop
- Very casual
- Bring your own wine
- Limited/Set menus
- Dinner service only from 6:30pm
**Recommendations: Trio of Rillettes (especially the wild turkey one), Duck anything, Foie Gras
Tada! See, I told you I’d get back to stop 3! I’m not going to say I was saving the best for last because all of the artisans were unique in their own way, but this was my personal favourite! Of course it was the lunch stop too! The restaurant was literally on the farm.
Old McDonald had a farm, E-I-E-I-O! And on his farm he had some organic free range all natural chickens, E-I-E-I-O! The site was covered with well taken care of feathery friends… which were also for consumption. So who was the king of this farm?
Owner, chef and host Jacques and his wife organically breed geese, ducks, pheasants, guinea fowl and wild turkeys on their small farm. They sell them locally, at their gift shop and use them at their restaurant. These animals are his babies. It may sound wrong to eat your babies, but as a farmer doing this for a living, I don’t think I’ve met anyone so in tune with his animals. Honestly. Watching Jacques interact with his animals was like watching a Fido commercial. I’ve met many passionate people, but he took it to a whole other level that I could only admire.
Mmm foie gras. Okay, stop. I know it’s a touchy subject, but these are sustainable foie gras. They are not force fed or living in poor conditions. If anything, the ducks probably eat better than the owner! He treats them like people. They were happy ducks and he loved/loves (?) them to death… uhhh or is that too literal?
Since Jacques naturally feeds his geese (wheat, barley, oat, corn) it takes up to 8 months before he can sell his foie gras, whereas non-organic or non-sustainable places take only 2 weeks to meet the demand. I 110% believed him when he said he would rather shut down his farm than force feed his ducks just to make a bigger profit.
This is really farm to table. More than 90% of what they serve is organic and sustainable and prepared on the farm. It’s also eco-friendly because he uses no motors. Don’t expect anything fancy besides the classy French music. The recipes are simple with very minimal ingredients and no spices, but that’s the style. Au Goût d’Autrefois is really about the high quality of the pure ingredients and showcasing the natural flavours.
Sure the whole experience and story probably made for an ultra-orgasmic meal, but the farming techniques and quality of the ingredients speak for themselves. Even if they didn’t, we had Jacques at the table explaining every little detail of how he raises each animal and prepares each dish. He almost sounded like me! Lol! He loves what he does and it shows. It wasn’t just a business, but his life, and it was a place that had heart.
On the table:
It’s a “Bring Your Own Wine” restaurant which is always nice. We had a William 2010 Vin Blanc, Quebec to start, a Domaine les Brome Reserve Baco, 2008, Quebec and a Isle de Bacchus Réserve Alexandre, 2009, Quebec to follow.
- Goose, wild turkey, duck with Ste-Famille croutons. $55 for 3 courses.
- Omg. If god wanted us to eat rillettes, it would be like this. Heaven on Earth!
- I thought the duck or goose would be my favourite, but surprisingly it was the wild turkey that I loved! It was almost the same for the whole table too.
- The rillettes are cooked in their own fat for 12 hours at a low temperature.
- Duck and goose fat is actually healthy for you, and he adds no other animal oils or grease to make his rillettes.
- He uses only a pinch of salt and it’s all really natural to showcase the high quality and flavour of his birds.
- Goose – He uses the legs of the goose. It was creamy, oily and tender fine shreds of meat and the flavour was very mild.
- Turkey – It was oily and moist and tasted saltier and just had a bit more flavour than the rest. It was surprising, but back to back it was obvious that this had the most flavour and it was the best for me.
- Duck – This one was super buttery, oily and creamy. It was probably the oiliest, but it didn’t have as much flavour as the turkey still. I’m not sure if the turkey just had more salt because usually duck would have more flavour.
- All 3 of his rillettes were available at his small gift shop at the restaurant.
- Farm style breast of goose marinated in Island maple syrup and apples gently smoked with applewood, served with seasonal organic vegetables from our garden $55 for 3 courses.
- See, it’s really simple food and presentation.
- The quality of ingredients are premium, but it’s very homestyle cooking with basic recipes and flavours.
- The potatoes were super creamy and cooked in duck fat and infused with flavours of garlic and celery to the point of almost tasting like celery root. They were delicious!
- The broccoli and carrots were almost unseasoned and a bit overcooked, but you almost forgive that kind of stuff at a place like this. It was part of the charm.
- It was marinated for 12 hours in maple syrup and apple cider from The Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau, which was also the cider house we visited on the tour.
- He slowly smoked it for 12-14 hours over applewood and it had a natural sweetness and a slight smokiness, but it was mild.
- You had to really breathe it in to taste the syrup and smoke, and if he didn’t say, I’m not sure if I could tell there was maple or apple in it.
- It didn’t have much of a fat layer and the skin was chewy and not crispy or tender, but the meat itself was very tender.
- Mine was a bit overcooked and I prefer medium rare, but it was still tender and moist with good flavour.
- The meat itself is likely one of the best tasting, but overall the dish is very simple with no jus and little spices and seasonings.
- The quality of ingredients is undeniable, and I appreciate it for what it was, but it was a bit simple for my tastes.
- $55 for 3 courses
- This is the standard and only dessert, but I can’t say I loved it.
- The cranberries were just frozen and it was made with duck eggs which followed the theme.
- It was an airy light foam instead of a mousse and it just tasted like maple flavoured whipped egg whites.
- It was like a warm foamy marshmallow bubble bath in my mouth.
- I expected it to be creamy like a real mousse and it just seemed like an unfinished dessert that was missing a step or ingredient.