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From Farm to Table in Quebec City

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It stands to reason that a destination like Quebec City with such a vibrant social ambiance, outdoor activity scene, and grand historic and cultural presence would also offer a wealth of fantastic gastronomic adventures. It turns out that the culinary landscape here is an integral part of the livelihood of its denizens, ranging from its basic agricultural roots to A-list restaurants, and everything in between.

Like many cities around the world, the farmer’s market is where it—“it” being its literal sustenance—all begins. The Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec (Quebec Public Market) is no exception.

Being the foodie that I am, I started getting the shakes the moment I entered this expansive market situated in the heart of Québec City’s Old Port. From basic fruit and vegetable stands to more elaborate mini-store fronts, the indoor market—which is open year round—is brimming with the sights, sounds and aromas of fresh herbs, colorful produce, pungent meats and seafood, tasty wines, flaky pastries, fresh cheeses and savory spices and sauces, all fresh from the farm. This, in addition to a bevy of vendors selling multihued plants and flowers, fragrant body oils, lotions and soaps, and craft and gift items, plus a restaurant and outdoor café with awe-inspiring views of the marina

Almost every booth offered samples and I did my best to try them all—fresh goat cheese, duck pate, blueberry compote, real maple syrup, and artisanal breads and chocolates. I was almost on sensory overload, a feeling that speaks to every fiber of my wanderlusting (a new word I just made up) and gastronomic-focused being—body, mind and spirit.

The market is every bit one of the city’s culinary treasures, which feeds into, literally, the city’s many amazing restaurants that combine basic staples with imagination, expertise and love, transforming them into outstanding edible creations. 

Île d’Orléans

A culinary adventure in Quebec City would not be complete with a visit to Île d’Orléans (Orleans Island). Situated between the Appalachian Mountains and Laurentian Plateau with stunning views of the majestic St. Lawrence estuary, and surrounding natural landscapes, the island is just as short drive from the city and described by the locals as “the “microcosm” of traditional Quebec,” and “as the birthplace of Francophones (primarily French speaking people) in America.”

For centuries it has been a big draw for every population beginning with the early Native Americans for its lush soil, wild game and plethora of fish. Its extensive horticultural diversity and long-standing agricultural practices are still alive today and play an essential role in the economy here.

In each of the six parishes–Sainte-Pétronille, Saint-Pierre, Saint-Laurent, Sainte-Famille, Saint-Jean, Saint-François, and Saint-Jean—visitors will find a bevy of roadside stands and mom-‘n-pop shops offering the freshest local produce which the denizens here cultivate into excellent regional specialties including wines and liqueurs, terrines, pies, breads, fruit butters and compotes, confits and pates, sauces, spice blends – you name it and you can enjoy it here.

Many Quebec City residents have vacation homes here, or come on the weekends to enjoy the many picturesque and relaxing B&Bs and inns, coupled with the small town feel (the island has approximately 7,000 year-round residents) offered at the numerous artisan boutiques, chocolate factories, cheese shops, gift stores, bakeries, gardens, art galleries and more.

You will also find a wide variety of delicious local restaurants that offer a true taste of the island, as well as several “homegrown” establishments for sampling great wines and beers.

Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin

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