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Traditional Quebecois foods in Montreal: pate chinois, tourtiere, pouding chomeur

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Hi there,
I'm headed to Montreal this weekend to cover as many regional/traditional/locavore-type foods as possible for my website, Eat Your World, and I'm finding limited places to try such cuisine familiale as tourtiere, pate chinois, and pouding chomeur. (Please forgive my lack of diacritics.)

So far La Binerie Mont-Royal is definitely on the list (for feves au lard, as well), but I've heard its tourtiere leaves much to be desired. Where else? Just crossed Chez Claudette off after reading about frozen meat pies and "not what it used to be" reports. La Cantine?

This 2009 thread was helpful--http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6578... I'm not necessarily looking for modern takes on the old stuff, just good, relatively accurate versions of them.

Any advice? Thanks so much!

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  1. For pouding chomeur, you could try getting in at "Au Pied de Cochon" for a late dessert (it will probably be full-packed this week-end, but you never know if you go late or early).

    At the risk of getting flamed to oblivion, the only good thing about eating Tourtière is the Heinz Ketchup (or if you are lucky, home-made ketchup).

    Anyawy, a quick googling foud :

    Restaurant Mâche (http://restaurantmache.com, rue st-denis) that serves Paté Chinois (don't know if it's good or not or traditional or not) and Pouding Chaumeur.

    M.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Maximilien

      Thanks! We do have a reservation for APDC, so that could be an option. Will look into Mâche as well.

      1. re: Maximilien

        APDC sounds like a good idea but I would go early rather than late - the one time I dined there, they had sold out of the pudding chomeur (and numerous other desserts) by the time we wanted to order it
        EDITED TO ADD: since you already have a reservation, perhaps pre-order any desserts that you are interested in at the beginning of the night, to make sure you don't miss ou!

        Premiere Moisson sell tourtieres that you could reheat if you are staying somewhere with an oven. They also sell their own ketchup maison (tomato or fruit), which is not like American ketchup but is more like chunky though watery chutney (and I agree with Max, you should really try to have them together!)

        1. re: unlaced

          I am not a huge fan of premier moisson pies. But, if you want store bought, the saussage shop at Atwater Market has a delicious cerf et canard tourtiere (deer and duck)

      2. I'd suggest adding patte de cochon (pig knuckles) and ragout de patte de cochon (pork stew usually with chunks of pig knuckle and pork meat balls) to your list.
        For the pig knuckle, I'd suggest Capri: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/809156
        For the ragout, I'm not sure...I think the Binerie has it, but don't know the quality.

        6 Replies
        1. re: porker

          Great idea--our list encompasses about 18 foods/drinks at this point, so it's definitely longer than these three! But I didn't have either of these cochon dishes. While I have you: any suggestion for where to try/buy cretons? Maybe within Jean-Talon market?

          1. re: loumarie

            the Binerie will have Cretons to go with your breakfast.

            1. re: loumarie

              Cretons is many times offered with bacon&eggs style breakfasts, but the amount is usually so small, it hardly dirties your mouth. You could order more, but for a more substantial taste, pick some up at a grocery as Plateaumaman suggests.
              Like pate, I've been known to simply eat it out of the container with a knife or fork, but I also like it as a sandwich, sliced and spread on white bread.
              Just a note: there are a few brands and usually a no-name, bulk-type in the grocery stores, some smoother, some coarser, some with fine herbs, some with veal, etc etc. Price isn't necessarily an indication of taste either (more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better). I'd suggest a simple, semi-coarse, traditional pork creton to start.
              The Norel "grand-mere cretons" is pretty good
              http://www.plaisirsgastronomiques.com...
              I also like the grocery bulk-type as well. It'll look like this
              http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:AN...
              Ifn you taste cretons and say "oh-ohhh, how are we going to survive in Queens without it? Are we going to make monthly trips to Quebec and smuggle cretons back?"
              Maybe pick up a coupla jars of El Ma Mia creton seasonings
              http://www.recipes-for-perfectly-spic...
              It makes a pretty good home version. Let me know if you do; theres some steps that aren't so critical and makes it much easier to do.

              1. re: porker

                Thank you! We have an apartment, so this will be perfect to try there (and likely bring home).

                1. re: loumarie

                  I second the vote for the bulk grocery store cretons pictured there by porker. It's better than the Norel brand and tastes more like something we'd get at the butcher in a countryside shop. I've made my own creton, basically pork boiled with onions and salt and the traditional Quebecois tourtiere spices, nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon.

                  I just visited the Eat Your World website and it is really interesting, lots of great information there! I think it's wonderful to document local food traditions and it is quite amazing to realize how hard they are to find already in Montreal. Perhaps it is easier around Quebec City. Sugar shacks are great places for traditional Quebecois food but the season is over. One place I've experienced a restaurant that really reminds me of how my in-laws cook is in Val-David, called Au Petit Poucet. They smoke their own ham and make tourtiere, feves au lard, cretons, homemade ketchup. It's out of the way though, about an hour north of the city.

                  1. re: Plateaumaman

                    bulk grocery cretons varies a lot from store to store, at the IGA next to my place, the bulk cretons are simply Norel Cretons but not served in their usual packaging.

          2. The pouding chomeur at St-Hubert Chicken is very authentic and they also serve sugar pie. The paté chinoise at La Binerie is also a good representation. As mentioned cretons are also important, available at any supermarket near the cold cuts, or else from La Binerie or at the market. Another traditional food is a chicken bouilli, not sure if that's easily found anywhere.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Plateaumaman

              I had the sugar pie yesterday at St Hubert, tasty and very sweet, I liked it but preferred the one I had at Chez Leveque on Laurier. Why cover oldstyle quebec foods when that is what is not preferred by restos or clients? Seems to me it would be more accurate to represent the marketdriven bistro foods wtih french flair that have popularity here.

              1. re: mangoannie

                @Mangoannie: We'll have a little bit of that thrown in too. For the website we define "regional" as native, traditional, or locavore, so we get to add some modernity in the latter category (http://eatyourworld.com/about_us). But the old-school foods are really important to us; we try to document them everywhere we go. Trends come and go but the traditions are here forever (or should be), and they're the things that really convey something about a place, past and present.

                Thanks for the sugar pie rec! Noted.

                1. re: loumarie

                  many families prepare traditional dishes for family holidays, perhaps saguenay area of quebec or other areas of quebec have such food available year round. I look forward to your report on what your find in Montreal.

            2. Ma'amm Bolduc has a lot of good QC comfort food - including the best tarte au sucre (sugar pie - a must-try) I've ever had in my life. They also have pouding chomeur. Funky, cozy place.

              http://maammbolduc.com/

              1. You might also want to peruse this thread
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/849616

                Then depending on what your definition of regional/traditional/locavore is, there are also Pig's Knuckles at Briskets on Beaver Hall and La Mere Clavet (open only for lunch) on de la Gauchetiere. Some of the prepared foods at La Maison du Roti would also fit your bill.

                1 Reply
                1. re: EaterBob

                  Yep, Maison du Roti has amazing tourtiere etc.
                  http://www.lmdr.net/

                2. La Cantine has a menu inspired by old Quebec peasant fare, but obviously with some twists (because, really, who wants to eat exactly the kinds of inexpensive heavy food your grandma prepared when you go out? Pas moi en tout cas.)

                  212 Avenue du Mont-Royal E
                  Montréal, QC H2T 1P3
                  (514) 750-9800
                  http://www.lacantine.ca (oops.... their website is down, looks like someone forgot to renew their URL). There's some info on Yelp: http://www.yelp.ca/biz/la-cantine-mon...

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: TheSnowpea

                    "La Cantine has a menu inspired by old Quebec peasant fare"

                    I wouldn't call it peasant fare as much as diner food. It's not based on home cooking, but on "Mets Canadiens" classics from the 50'S, 60's and 70's.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      Yeah, you're right in a way, but I'm sure some of those dishes are pretty old, older than Mets Canadiens. Pâté chinois (anybody remember the Petite Vie sketch about that dish? HAW!) was a regular staple of my childhood suppers, and tourtière was a holiday dish only when the entire family got together and a few meat pies would get baked (and served with plenty of ketchup). But I wonder how old Pâté chinois is, since it's been suggested it's a modification of the words 'shepperd's pie.' Tourtière is peasant fare for sure (and its cousin cipaille = sea pie... that's an awesome transposition that came from the British Navy and was brought back by Quebec sailors.)

                      Admittedly, pudding chômeur was not a household staple for me, and more of a cafeteria thing for me... tarte au sucre happened often enough. However, I'm pretty sure those dishes are as old as sugar, butter and flour... And fèves au lard? That's totally your classic hearty and cheap peasant food! (my great grandfather had such a fondness for lard, he's eat a plain slice of it each morning. Ooof)

                      1. re: TheSnowpea

                        I thought paté chinois was so called because it was what they fed the Chinese who built the railway? Oh, wiki says Chinese cooks working along the railway were the ones making it and the railway workers returned to Quebec with the recipe. My mother-in-law can still make a pudding chomeur with her hands tied behind her back but usually found someone who was selling tourtieres or sugar pies. My husband says the paté aux 3 viandes at Co'pain d'abord most resembles what he ate as a child, being kind of crumbly in texture on the inside. I once ordered a big tourtiere for 12 from my son's daycare chef at the time and it was very moist inside, with much of the meat in large chunks and still pink. While I was very startled my Quebecois friends assured it was authentic and safe. Btw, I do think it is important to document and preserve these recipes as we can already see how hard it is to find the food when it is out of fashion.

                        1. re: Plateaumaman

                          Oh good golly no, Pâté chinois has got nothing to do with our Chinese immigrants. That's an 'after the fact' story. I wish I could find another source than the wiki.

                          1. re: TheSnowpea

                            I've hunted around for my old Quebecois recipe book but can't find it. I did learn something new from my worn out Laura Secord Canadian cook book - tourtiere was originally made with passenger pigeons or "tourtes", hence the name. In any case, Wikipedia in French agrees with you that the Chinese railway workers had nothing to do with it, but no other explanation has been found:
                            http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A2t...

                            1. re: Plateaumaman

                              It's just a variation on shepherd's pie/cottage pie and/or hachis parmentier featuring corn instead of ingredients like peas and carrots.

                              The only real mystery is where the "chinois" in the name comes from. I like the version that says it's a reference to Lachine (presumably because Irish canal labourers brought the dish there), but that's just as unverifiable as any other. I've also heard that it was originally (une) pâtée, as in a mash, not (un) pâté as in pâté de campagne.

                              If the OP wants to sample some, IMO the best bet is to make their favourite shepherd's pie recipe, substituting corn (IMO frozen is best) for whatever vegetables are called for in the recipe (and using beef if that isn't the meat called for). Voilà, pâté chinois. Very hard to mess up and arguably just as authentic as any other.

                  2. Hey everyone, just want to give a quick report on what we wound up eating in Montreal (well, there's too much to write here, but as it applies to this thread!). We tried just about everything discussed at La Binerie--the owner was so sweet, and once he saw our interest he insisted we at least taste his wife's tarte au sucre in addition to the pouding chomeur (we'd already tried the tourtiere, pate chinois, ragout de boulettes, and feves au lard; he insisted we leave with some cretons as well). The desserts & beans were quite good at La Binerie; the pate chinois was tasty, but needed the ketchup. They use whole corn kernels instead of creamed corn; he said that's how he grew up eating it. Here's a picture: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi...

                    We loved the tourtiere we bought at La Maison du Roti and heated up in our apartment--it was beautifully flaky and more flavorful than La Binerie's. (Here's a pic: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbi...

                    )

                    We also had a delicious sugar pie from Premiere Moisson and a maple pie from La Fournée Des Sucreries de L'érable in Jean-Talon Market. Wow. So sweet and impossible not to love! Also brought home some cretons from Marche Atwater. I did get a bit hooked on the stuff. ;)

                    Within a few weeks (hopefully) I'll have a full report up in the form of a Montreal section on Eat Your World (broken down into at least 20 foods & drinks); I'll be sure to post it here. But man did we have a good time eating in that city, from the Wilensky's Special and 3am hot bagels to duck confit poutine and an unbelievable meal at Le Comptoir--and lots of local beers in between. Fortunately the bike-share program let us be active between bites!

                    Thanks again for everyone's help; I really appreciate it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: loumarie

                      Nice to hear you liked Wilensky's. I sometimes recommend this place with a warning that its mostly a nostalgic stop and not necessarily a food destination. Even with the warning, plenty of locals stomp all over it.