Sep. 12th, 2008

figarofigaro1: (Mont Blanc)
We drove up to Québec City in the rain. B had done both Mapquest and Google Maps directions. We opted for the Goole Maps one since it was a markedly different route: not going so far toward Montréal, taking back roads more to the main road. There were lots of turns to keep going in an essentially straight-north direction. It was fun looking for the next road each time and since there wasn't anything to be seen in the misty foggy rain, it kept us amused for the first part of the Canadian drive. We had to wing a detour around a blocked bridge, notable because the signs were all en français and we do not have a Québec road map (duh!).

We arrived in Québec City for our first-ever visit there. Our hotel was the charming Auberge Saint-Antoine right on the waterfront. We had to take the bikes off the top of the car for them to get it in the garage, and we got a little bit wet doing that. The hotel itself is elegant, and the decor is a mix of truibutes to nature (tree branch wrought iron chandeliers with birds on them) and artifacts found when they were building the hotel embedded in the walls in museum-esque windows. B likes to get pictures of the rooms, so here are a couple.


We changed clothes and went out for a stroll. We found a wonderful café, Bistro Sous le Fort, where we enjoyed a plate called "un plaisir pour deux (one pleasure for two)": duck rillets, baked Brie, some Camembert, Cheddar, and salad. We drank red wine and watched people in the rain and listened in on conversations around us. The waitstaff was nice and I ventured into a little French speaking. But it was the first hours of the first day and I was feeling not very confident and I get confused easily at the start.

After a little shopping, we returned to the hotel for a nap. The ride up, about 4.5 hours, had been tiring, trying to see on the highway with all that blowing rain and mess. We woke, dressed for dinner, and had a drink in the bar of the hotel (our usual gin martinis). At cocktails there was an odd event. We'd seen this group of two couples several times during the day. They were meeting up at the bar to go to dinner, obviously preplanned. One of the women was missing. We kept overhearing snatches of conversation about how she wasn't in the room, maybe she'd stepped out to a shop, and so on. They ended up with one couple going on to dinner and the man waiting behind to keep searching for the missing woman. We never did see any of the four of them after that and I still wonder if she was ever found. Eerie.

Dinner was at Laurie Raphael, a short walk from our hotel. The menu was intriguing, and minimal. They would have the main item and then list three flavors that would be prominent in the dish, but absolutely no description at all. The link should take you to the example dinner menu, but it looks something like this:

Foie, Canard Goulu Farm

The presentations were elaborate and each dish was a mini-masterpiece of cuisine. To start, B had the foie gras prepared four different ways. (This was to become something of a theme for the trip... how many times and ways can we eat duck/goose foie gras?) I had Québec tomatoes prepared five ways: a salad, an aspic with relish on top, a big glass of layers of tomato with sweet pistachios between, stuffed with shrimp salad, and a Chinese soupspoon with goat cheese and green tomato on top. For the main plate, B had tuna and I had duck. Mine was a seared breast and shredded leg with mushrooms and a reduction sauce. We had a lovely Pinot Noir from France, Côtes de nuit Saint-Georges, 2003. (I'm trying to get better at remembering wine. I think this is the only one I remembered and wrote down.) For dessert, we asked the waiter what was the best, and he said without any hesitation at all, "The Chocolate Passion." At times, we're not stupid, and so we had that. There was chocolate mousse, lava cake, chocolate sorbet, and other things that were so rich and each just one or two bites. It was a perfect ending for an intense dinner.

After all that food and wine, we walked back to the hotel and slept through the night.

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