Thursday, September 24, 2009

You Wanna Pisa Me? Wise Guy Burger at Red Robin

The limited time only Wise Guy Burger at
Red Robin. Savory seasoned burger, spicy pepperoni, zesty marinara, cheesy mozzarella sticks, and tangy banana peppers…how could I resist?

Hubby Kris tried the limited time only Chicken Caprese burger, charbroiled chicken breast, balsamic-marinated tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, romaine lettuce, and pesto aioli on ciabatta bread:

My parents split a Sauteed 'Shroom Burger (mushrooms, swiss cheese, garlic parmesan butter):

Signature ‘bottomless' steak fries accompanied every burger. Check out this giant mutant fry:

And a visit to Red Robin is not complete without an order of Towering Onion Rings (oink!):

You wanna pisa this? The Wise Guy Burger and the Chicken Caprese Burger are available at all U.S.
Red Robin locations until November 8, 2009.
(Canadian locations are not offering these specialty burgers at this time)


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chocolate Honey Cakes from Bee Desserts!

A couple weeks ago, Heavenly Housewife sent me a link about these tempting chocolate covered honey cakes. So I swung by Bee Desserts (located inside La Palette restaurant in NYC's Greenwich Village) before meeting friends for dinner on Friday night.

Bee Desserts' chocolate honey cakes are handmade from a family recipe, contain no preservatives and are baked with honey instead of white sugar - YUM!

So lovingly packaged:

The smell of sweet honey seduces you as carefully unwrap the golden parcel:

Moist, cakey, with a mild honey flavor (and literally gone in two bites):

Hubby Kris says they're like a gourmet Ring Ding (or Ding Dong) with the flavor of a Honeymaid graham cracker. Can't wait to try the marshmallow and liqueur versions :)

Bee Desserts
94 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10001


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Poutine-Palooza Part 1: Festival de la Poutine 2009, Drummondville QC

"Fact: Poutine is from Drummondville, a pee stop town just between Montreal and Quebec City. -"

This comment was left a couple months ago by an anonymous reader on my post on
12 Poutines in 12 Days (Vancouver Poutine Showdown).

A festival devoted entirely to poutine?! Where can I sign up?

The 2nd annual
Festival de la Poutine was taking place on September 4th & 5th in Drummondville, Quebec and would be featuring 6 different 'poutiniers' (4 local restaurants, 1 invited guest chef from Sherbrooke, and 1 famous poutinier from Montreal).

I immediately started pestering hubby to take me on a road trip to Montreal over Labor Day weekend, with a stop in Drummondville for the Festival de la Poutine, of course!

Would we survive a 7 hour drive each way? And could we eat that many poutines in one day?

(Sept 4th and 5th, 2009, Woodyatt Park, Drummondville, QC)

Before we left for our trip, I'd done some research on the regional differences of poutine. Unlike the more savory light brown gravy commonly found in Montreal (and other parts of Canada), poutine sauce in Drummondville is sweeter from the addition of tomato sauce. To get familiarized with this sweeter style gravy, we made a pit stop at the famed
Le Roy Jucep restaurant, "L'inventeur de la poutine", to try their signature 'L'authentique' poutine (more details about our visit below).

We arrived at beautiful Woodyatt Park on Friday Sept 4th just after the festival gates opened at 4pm. When we stopped by the press booth to say hello to Amira, the festival's press officer, we were both given press badges to wear :) Hubby and I felt pretty smug as we walked around with our fancy badges, but they really just gave us exclusive access to the VIP concert seating area which we didn't even notice till we were leaving. Most of the locals seemed to be there for the entertainment (concerts starting later in the evening featuring Quebec artists Daniel Bélanger, The Lost Fingers, and many other local bands).

We made a bee line straight for the poutine stands...

1. Restaurant Du Boulevard

small poutine (petit régulière):

The gravy was a reddish orange and kind of looked like ketchup, sweet and super tomato-y, tiny bits of carrot pieces, well seasoned, not too salty. Generous amount of fresh squeaky cheese curds (this is Drummondville, after all). The fries were a little soggy, but overall this was a delicious poutine.

Restaurant Du Boulevard
1645 boulevard Lemire
Drummondville, QC J2C 5A5
(819) 472-2122

Restaurant Auguste

reversed poutine (poutine inversée):

Featuring official guest chef of the second annual Festival de la Poutine, Danny St-Pierre, who was introducing his 'reversed poutine', cute little potato croquettes filled with melted cheese curds and gravy. Kris said it reminded him of Burger King's cheesy tots. Tasty, but we still prefer poutine the original way.

Here's a video showing how the poutine inversée is made (featuring Chef Danny St-Pierre):

Restaurant Auguste
82 Wellington North
Sherbrooke, QC J1H 5B8
(819) 565-9559

3. Fromagerie Lemaire

small poutine (petit régulière):

Fromaerie Lemaire, a family run cheese factory, offers warm freshly made cheese curds (right out of the basin) at their two locations daily. After we got a chance to taste their delicious fresh cheese curds at the St-Cyrille location, we had high expectations for their poutine. And it did not disappoint, crispy fries which tasted so good I could have sworn they were fried in beef fat (nope, they're fried in vegetable oil). The gravy was initially a bit salty but became addictive as I kept eating, especially as the flavor soaked into the fries. Not really sweet, but carrot-y, with a hint of onion and celery (mirapoix flavor). And gigantic fresh squeaky cheese curds! (More on our visit to Fromagerie LeMaire below)

Fromagerie Lemaire
2 locations:
2095 Route 122
St-Cyrille (Quebec) J1Z 1B9
(819) 478-0601

182 Industrial Blvd
(exit 170, Highway 20)
St-Germain (Québec) J0C 1K0
(819) 395-5327

4. Chez Louis Poulet et Pizza

I was almost tempted to try the poutine aux doigts, the first time I'd seen poutine with chicken fingers on top! You couldn't help but notice the giant banner announcing "Goûtez à notre toute novelle poutine aux doights!" which means "Try our new poutine with fingers!" (notice the actual human fingers with the scissors in the photo):

We ended up sticking with the regular poutine (small poutine/petit régulière). The crinkly fries were a bit dense and not really crispy enough. The sauce was a translucent orange color, reminding me of Roy Rogers barbecue sauce. Interesting flavor but I tend to like the milder poutine sauces sans barbecue spices. Cheese curds were generous and squeaky fresh:

Chez Louis Poulet et Pizza
2815 boulevard Lemire
Drummondville, QC J2B 8E7, Canada
(819) 474-3494

5. Horace Poutine

small poutine (petit ordinaire):

The staff at Horace Poutine get the prize for the coolest uniforms, complete with tall white chef toques. Unfortunately, my order of fries was slightly undercooked and the gravy had a bit of a strange aftertaste (again with the barbecue spices?) But the cheese curds were still super fresh and squeaky.

Horace Poutine
1000 110e Avenue
Drummondville, QC J2B 7T9
(819) 478-2516

6. La Banquise

small poutine (régulière classique):

The self-proclaimed 'la meilleur poutine aux Québec' (the best poutine in Quebec) and the only Montreal poutinier at this year's festival. Have to admit I was a little disappointed. Fries were pretty good, nicely browned and crispy in parts, gravy was decent (savory without tomato), but the cheese curds weren't super squeaky or as fresh as the others we'd tried that day. Perhaps they'd been refrigerated or previously frozen? (gasp!) To be fair, La Banquise did have the disadvantage of having to schlep their stuff 100 km from Montreal, so maybe some of the quality suffered during the trip. I'll definitely give them another shot on my next visit to Montreal, would love to try some of their 25 varieties of poutine.

La Banquise
994 Rue Rachel E
Montreal, QC H2J 2J3
(514) 525-2415

Overall, our favorite poutine of the festival was Fromagerie LeMaire, closely followed by Restaurant Du Boulevard.

But none of them could top the poutine we had at Le Roy Jucep!

Le Roy Jucep

A visit to Drummondville is not complete without stopping at Le Roy Jucep to try their famous poutine and an orange jucep (a frothy orange juice similar to an Orange Julius with less vanilla flavor, described on the menu as 'mousseux et savoureux' or 'sparkling foamy and tasty'). The original owner of the restaurant, Jean-Paul Roy, claims to be the original inventor of poutine. We realized how proud Drummondville residents are of Le Roy Jucep and Jean-Paul Roy's contribution to Canadian cuisine after we received several appreciative honks from passing cars as we posed for photos in front of the restaurant!

We ordered the L'authentique (the original poutine) and 2 orange juceps. After reading so much about the tomato based gravy, I was surprised to see that their sauce was brown just like the poutines I'd had in the past. But the difference was in the taste - wonderfully sweet amd tomato-y, making me nostalgic for spaghetti-os. Hubby said it reminded him of cream of tomato soup, which he loves. The cheese curds were very fresh and squeaky, with a lovely mild creamy flavor.

After asking our friendly waitress where they sourced their delicious cheese curds, the current owner, Daniel Leblanc, came out carrying a sack of fresh curds to show us. "See the milk inside? That's the sign of freshness!" They get shipments daily from a local fromagerie and keep the curds at room temperature for the ultimate squeakiness. Le Roy Jucep's poutine was better than any of the poutines we had at the festival and one of the best we've ever had! And I couldn't leave without buying a souvenir t-shirt:

Le Roy Jucep
1050 Boulevard St-Joseph
Drummondville, QC J2C 2C6
(819) 478-4848

Fromagerie Lemaire

We also were lucky enough to taste some freshly made cheese curds at Fromagerie Lemaire (one of the participants at this year's poutine festival) in nearby St. Cyrille. You can get freshly made cheese curds every afternoon at both locations of this family run cheese factory. Fresh curds, straight from the bin:

We purchased the smallest sized bag of cheese curds to try for $3, but while we were tucked into a booth enjoying the squeaky goodness, we noticed that most customers were buying several bags of the largest size!

Look at the size of this cheese curd compared to my thumb:

Fromagerie Lemaire
2 locations:
2095 Route 122
St-Cyrille (Quebec) J1Z 1B9
(819) 478-0601

182 Industrial Blvd
(exit 170, Highway 20)
St-Germain (Québec) J0C 1K0
(819) 395-5327

We had a fabulous time in Drummondville and at the 2nd Annual Festival de la Poutine! Thank you all the wonderful people of Drummondville for making us feel so welcome (even when I butchered all my French pronunciations!)

After consuming 7 poutines in one day, you'd think we're finally done with poutine, right?! Au contraire, this was only Part I of Poutine-Palooza. Stay tuned for Part II: Poutine Crawl in Montreal! (Et oui, nous avons mangé le foie gras poutine à APDC!!)

2010 update: After procrastinating for several months (bad blogger, bad!), have decided to save Part II until after our next trip to Montreal .