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. - http://www.festivaldelapoutine.com/"

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 .



OysterCulture said...

What fun, and I am so glad I got to see a post from you before I take off. You've been too quiet, but I guess it was all the eating poutine.

I have to say, the one with the fingers was a real turn off from a marketing perspective. Unless someone has cannibalistic tendencies, I do not understand the appeal of the finger picture. Chicken fingers I get but the human fingers, well that's another story.

Heavenly Housewife said...

Oh my god, this made me laugh. Look at all those greasy poutines. This looks so fun, and very much reminds me of one of my piggy rampages. What an awesome festival!!!!!!! Its going to take a few days for your bellies to deflate now :D

doggybloggy said...

oh how I wish I could be there - as you recall I attempted this dish and since I only have mine to go by I dont know how the squeaky goodness really squeaks.....

Jenn said...

Sounds like a fun time. I wish there was a festival like that over where I am. I'd be all over that in a second. I still have to try poutine for myself, too. It just looks so tempting right about now.

Chow and Chatter said...

i love your blog and your love of food is infectious keep up the good work girlie

Dave said...

An annual poutine festival!! I love poutine, and this festival is now on my Grail List.

Phyllis said...

OysterCulture: Haha, things have been a little quiet lately. Needed all my concentration for the poutine ;) And yeah, those human fingers in the banner were pretty bizarre, I would think that most of Chez Louis' target demographic are not actually cannibals, LOL.

Heavenly Housewife: I'm glad it made someone laugh, hubby says reading this makes him want to cry, especially when he's looking at his poutine gut LOL. I can't wait till we finally get to do a piggy rampage together - imagine the carnage!!!! :D

doggybloggy: Oh man, it was all about the cheese curds. Fresh squeaky giant cheese curds. So squeaky I could hear other people eating them from across the table. Now I know why people snack on them like popcorn. Currently experiencing major curd withdrawal. Thanks for leaving me a comment, I've been away from your blog for far too long and I just watched that crazy hot dog video and laughed my self silly.

Jenn: Don't worry, poutine is slowly making it's way through the US. It's bound to arrive in LA soon :)

Chow and Chatter: Thank you so much - you are too kind. As a dietitian and personal trainer, are you sure reading my blog doesn't make you cringe?! ;)

Dave: Hey Dave, thanks for visiting! Definitely worth a trip to Drummondville just for the cheese curds but make sure you try all the famous poutiniers in Montreal while you're out there.

egirlwonder said...

My god - what an amazing trip! And while my hubby made a delicious looking pork roast for dinner, all I want now is poutine...

Did you go to Quebec fast food chains during your adventures, like Valentine?

BTW - I think "mousseux" actually means "foamy" - not a particularly good adjective in my books for a drink ;)

Phyllis said...

egirlwonder: LOL! 'Foamy' makes a lot more sense than 'sparkling'! Obviously my Gr 10 French just doesn't cut it! I've corrected it now in my post - thanks :)

We had limited time in Montreal so the only chain we tried was Frite Alors. There's only so much poutine a person can eat in 2 days before going into cardiac arrest! Also had to make sure we saved some tummy room for the decadent foie gras poutine at Au Pied de Cochon - more details next week...

Anonymous said...

How fun! Well, since I've never been to Quebec, I have never had poutine either :( We keep postponing the trip, maybe it'll happen one day and then I'll get to try it.

Phyllis said...

5 Star Foodie: We'd been postponing our trip to Montreal for years! I just couldn't wait anymore and the Festival de la Poutine was the perfect opportunity to finally go. But very soon I'm going to start missing poutine and I'll have to make some kind of substitute at home (probably with non-squeaky cheese curds, sigh!) but luckily I brought home some packaged poutine mix (let me know if you are interested and I'll send you some!)

KennyT said...

Bring me there bring me there!!!!

Ravenous Couple said...

those poutines look nothing like we've ever had...they look decadent!

high low said...

You had me at Annual Poutine Festival! Love poutine and despite a few places opening up in NYC, it's not the same as the real poutine in Quebec. Great recap!

Karine said...

I did not know there was a festival all about poutines! :)

Mathieu said...

WOW! I'm currently living in vancouver, but i'm from Drummondville! Your post made me so proud haha :) I have this wild dream of opening a Poutine place in Vancouver, but the only problem is getting the real authentic cheese curds. Anyways, great stuff!! First time i read you blog. I was actuall craving poutine and search "Real poutine in Vancouver" on google and ended up on your blog somehow.

Phyllis said...

Mathieu: Hi, thanks for visiting! Fresh cheese curds are indeed difficult to come by. Nothing really compares to the squeaky specimens in Quebec. Good luck finding poutine in Vancouver (give Brado Pizza a try if you haven't already!) :)

Blogger said...

Anybody else needs a FREE BURGER KING GIFTCARD?