I was first exposed to poutine as a wee lad growing up in the deep east of Montreal. Once in a while, my dad would take us all out to Anjou Patates, which at the time was a little more than a truck stop with a lunch counter that served classic steamies, fresh cut fries and basic poutine. You know the kind. Served in a white Styrofoam container with a generous amount of squeaky curds atop those fries, all soaked in chicken gravy. It was a simple time.
Today, poutine is everywhere. You can find the comfort dish in a variety of restaurants, from casual diners to hip and trendy eateries. And during Poutine Week, which comes to and end on Feb. 7, Canadians have the chance to discover dozens of original takes on the dish at restaurants across the country.
The Suburban was invited to sample an especially unique poutine at Le Centre Sheraton (1201 René-Lévesque Blvd W.), which is participating in this tradition for the third time after taking home third place for their entry last year. Known as the Bleu Parisienne, this $22 poutine was the creation of a cook who works in the Sheraton kitchen.
“We held an internal competition amongst the cooks so they could be inspired,” says head chef Walter Cruz Morales. “The winner was Émile Tran. He’s from Vietnam. He grew up in Paris then he moved to Quebec six or seven years ago. His inspiration was the small streets and cafés of Paris, but using local products from here.”
And despite the colourful name of this dish, don’t expect to find any blue cheese.
“It has a mix of regular and blue potatoes, which have a different texture and tend to absorb more of the sauce,” says Morales. “You’ll notice more of a creaminess when you bite into one. The Yukon potatoes are a little crispier. It also features local boar and blueberry sausage – something you wouldn’t normally find in a poutine. But the mix of all the ingredients together is really pleasant.”
The Bleu Parisienne also features balsamic caramelized onions, green apple, Guinness cheddar, honey black beer sauce and veal stock. More like a fully rounded meal than something to eat alongside hotdogs, this spin on the classic poutine is decadent and definitely delicious.
If all that sounds a little too fancy for your liking or you’d just like to try another poutine, there’s a wealth of varieties to get your hands on right here in Montreal during this limited time. You could dig into a Shepard’s Pie Poutine at La Bêtise Rosemont or a Chik’N MacWaffle poutine at Dirty Dogs. Meanwhile, Five Guys is offering a Cajun Poutine with Sausage, while Burger de Ville has added Mimi’s Pulled Duck poutine to their menu. The list just goes on and on.
And while none of this might sound especially healthy, you can take solace in the fact that this year, for its 7th edition, Poutine Week has partnered with Anorexia and Bulimia Québec which means that for every poutine sold, $1 will be given to the organization.
For a full listing of participating restaurants and more information, visit www.lapoutineweek.com