I spent seven weeks of my childhood in l’Islet, one week every year from the age of 7 to 14. During these weeks, I attended Camp Trois Saumons. I LOVED it. Best adventures of my childhood. As I write these words, I have flashes of canoeing, learning to start a fire, throwing myself in the lake at 6am for the Polar Bear challenge and great cafeteria food. Yup, great cafeteria food exists.
When the Chaudière-Appalaches tourism agency invited me for a night at l’Auberge des Glacis in l’Islet, I had a thought for Camp Trois Saumons. I hadn’t been in l’Islet in such a long time. I often drive by l’Islet, every time I go see my grandparents in Pohénégamook. But, for what felt like a really long time, l’Islet was my destination.
L’Auberge des Glacis is located in the municipality of Saint-Eugène, about an hour east of Quebec City. Marie-Eve and I left after work on a Friday and decided to take the ferry across the Saint-Lawrence River to reach Highway 20. Best decision ever! And consider the option, because you can easily loose an hour stuck in traffic between 3 and 5pm any day of the week, on either bridge.
We arrived at the Auberge after dark. Thankfully, blue signs indicate the Auberge’s location along the highway and onto the country roads. Great big pine trees and a river surround l’Auberge. A comforting pine scent greets us in the parking lot. It’s quiet, very quiet. Relaxation is definitely on my menu.
Our room is splendid, and located in the older part of the Auberge des Glacis. They call it the Section Moulin, because it used to be a flour mill. These rooms, like ours, have rustic charm with carefully selected antique furniture. Every room has its own restroom and ours, the Chevaline, was recently redone.
The first thing I noticed when I opened the door to our room is the imposing stone wall. Very charming! The high ceiling along with the apparent wooden beams also catches my eye. L’Auberge knows its clientèle is from the city and in dire need of earth tones and nature’s textures.
Dinning with Quebec’s Terroir
We started our evening at the bar with a glass of Glacis, the Auberge’s exclusive beer brewed by Martin Vaillancourt from the Corsaire brewery in Lévis. The Glacis is a white beer with subtle notes of pear and tarragon.
I chose the chef’s signature menu. Chef Olivier Raffestin is from France and trained at the renowned Paul Bocuse Institute in Lyon. It explains why l’Auberge des Glacis’ menu has traditional French gastronomy adapted to Quebec’s terroir. Chef Olivier believes it’s the only place in the province where one can eat quenelle, a typical Lyon dish made from flour.
I decided to eat this exclusive dish, especially because I know nothing about it. My quenelle was cooked in a Provençal veal broth with cep mushrooms and a slight touch of acid from tomato paste. It’s smooshy, but sooooo delicious. I have rarely seen so little attention given to texture. The dish is brown, soft and terribly ugly, but oh-so-good. It’s audacious! I like it and highly recommend it.
I chose quail as my main course. Chef Raffestin stuffed the quail with pork and cheddar from the Isle-aux-Grues and served it along with a potato Gratin with St-Aubert salted herbs, Vieux-Cheddar de l’Isle and Tomme de Grosse Île in a Val-Amber sauce. A well-balanced dish, both in quantity and in textures. We took the wine pairing and enjoyed every single proposition. The service was impeccable, exemplary even and always done with a smile. Service of this quality is quite impressive.
l’Auberge des Glacis’ dinning experience is cloud nine! At the forefront of l’Auberge’s menu, an impressive list of all of the region’s producers with whom Chef Raffestin collaborates. I’m a huge supporter of Quebec’s terroir (check out my gourmet tourism project cagoutebon.ca to be launched in the Spring of 2015) and l’Auberge makes it their philosophy! 90% of the restaurant’s menu is composed of Quebec-farmed produce primarily from Chaudière-Appalaches.
Everything on the menu is homemade. From the beans (OH MY GAWD the beans remind me of my grand-mother’s!) to the jam, everything offered for brunch tastes like real Quebec food! When was the last time you cooked traditional Quebec cuisine? The spices, the sincerity and authenticity of the meals served at l’Auberge is remarkable.
This is exactly what makes l’Auberge des Glacis a worthwhile gastronomic experience. I ate exclusive local products, relaxed in nature, re-charged my batteries and renewed my vows with l’Islet. What more can a foodie ask for?