As you probably know, I LOVE a food tour! So in Québec, I insisted that we take one! Based on my research, there are two primarily companies: Quebec City Tours (the one we chose!) and Tours Voir Quebec. After being so disappointed with my Tours Voir Quebec walking tour of Vieux Quebec, I very happy that we went with Quebec City Food Tours.
Quebec City Food Tours offers one food tour centered around the trendy neighborhood of St. Roch (pronounced Rock). The tour is more than simply a food tour; it is part food tour and part walking tour of St. Roch. I thoroughly enjoyed it and our guide Emily was very passionate about the food and the St. Roch neighborhood.
The cost of the tour was CAN $48.00 a person, including the tour and all samples, which in total equaled a meal. In addition, Emily gave everyone a brochure with information on the places that we visited, a map of St. Roch, directions back to Vieux Québec and coupons for some of the shops that we visited. This was a nice touch and we actually used some of the coupons! I think the cost was quite reasonable given the amount of food and quality of the tour.
The tour started with a meet up at JEF Poissonnerie in St. Roch. JEF is located right on Rue de St. Jacques and is pretty easy to find, but we took an taxi. The driver knew exactly where we were going.
JEF Poissonnerie – The first stop was at the meeting point, JEF Poissonnerie Fish Shop (poissonnerie means fish shop in French!). JEF is a local store selling all types of fresh seafood from the surrounding area, including lots of whole fish and a solid selection of oysters. Instead of a traditional sign, JEF hangs a red fish from its entrance! Pretty cool, and very Japanese! For food, we sampled a fried fish cake and a rice dish. While I always say that I “don’t like fish,” I loved the fish cake and would have liked to come back for more! If you are in the St. Roch area in the evening, JEF does fried take out of this nature that is apparently quite popular!
Om Prana – The second stop was almost next door to JEF, at a shop called Om Prana. Om Prana is a health food restaurant and boutique offering all things healthy, vegan, paleo…you get the drift. I was not overly excited about this stop until I was told that we would be sampling key lime pie made with avocado. What?! Key lime pie being one of my favorite desserts, I was anxious to try this. The pie was actually really good and I ate the entire slice – as did everyone else! After, we learned that it is made with avocado, coconut and maple syrup! Very creative! I am not sure that I would voluntarily order this dish over full-fat key lime pie, but it was pretty damn good! Om Prana is a good stop if you are on a health kick. It also sells fresh smoothies and offers yoga classes (surprise, surprise!).
Fromagerie des Grondines et ses amis – The third stop was just down the road, at a cheese shop! Yum! Before the tasting, we had a few minutes to walk around the shop and wow, this was like the most delicious looking cheese shop! I wish that I could have brought so much home! We tasted three local raw cheeses and three local charcuteries. This was probably my favorite stop. Emily explained which farm each cheese and charcuterie was from. The farms were all very close by. The cheese and charcuterie were so, so delicious. I really wish that I had had time to re-visit this shop, as they serve cheese-based lunches and the menu looked amazing (think grilled cheese and flatbreads)! Recommended lunch stop if you are in the area.
After the cheese shop, our guide took us on a walking tour of the St. Roch area, including its history, interesting facts and modern tid bits. One of the more fun things that we saw were the “Post It Wars,” where workers decorate their office window solely with Post-It-Notes and compete with neighboring buidlings. This was really interesting, and surprisingly artistic. A lot of popular video game companies are also headquartered in Québec, specifically St. Roch. We saw a lot of their buildings. Dan was quite excited.
After our history lesson, we stopped to try two teas at Camellia Sinensis Tea Shop. This is a famous tea company and in addition to selling tea, they sell a variety of tea accessories such as tea pots and mugs.
After tea, en route to our next stop, we had a bit more of a history lesson and saw where our tour guide used to live. We also stopped in front of Église St. Roch, which may be my all time favorite church. Why? Because St. Roch is the patron saint of the dogs! The church has benches outside for parishioners to leave their dogs while church is in session, has a service dedicated to dogs when you can bring your dog for a blessing and the statute of St. Roch on top of the church also features a dog. Pretty cool!
After the church, back to eating.
Chez Ashton – Stop four. All Québécois have a favorite poutine, but Chez Ashton seems to top many peoples’ list as one of their favorites. Surprising to me, Chez Ashton is not a fancy shop, but a fast food chain in and around Québec. Seriously, it looked like a McDonald’s from the 1980s (and I kind of loved that)! Here, we tried the famous poutine – French fries with gravy and cheese curds! The poutine was really good and really filling, but it is not my favorite all time poutine. However, it is certainly worth a stop to try it out for yourself. This locale in St. Roch is open 24 hours a day and would make a good late night snack!
Champagne Chocolatier – Our fifth stop was for chocolate (seen in the cover photo)! Chocolate shops are quite popular in Québec and Champagne Chocolatier was apparently one of the original chocolate shops in the city. With a small seating area and lots of bons bons from which to choose, Champagne Chocolatier would make a fun stop even if you do not take this tour. Here, we tried the Rubis Framboisine, which was dark chocolate with a raspberry filling. The chocolatier also gave us a lesson on how to taste chocolates. Very interesting – I have been eating bon bons wrong my entire life! We also took a caramel chocolate to pair with our final tasting.
La Barberie – The final stop! La Barberie is Quebec’s oldest microbrewery. La Barberie is very popular in the beer community and I had read about it before visiting, so I was excited for this stop! At La Barberie, we tasted a small glass of their stout and the caramel chocolate from Champagne Chocolatier. The two went really well together and the stout was very good. Emily gave us a lesson on tasting the beer and pairing it with the chocolate. Non-drinkers and under-agers sampled an alcohol-free cider. After this tasting, the tour was over. Emily stuck around to answer any questions and give directions to anyone with questions! Dan and I stayed to use our coupon provided by Quebec City Food Tours – 20% off their beer carousel!
In sum, I really liked this tour. It is not the best food tour that I have ever been on, but it was very good and very fun. The food was enough for a full meal, but not so much that you could not eat another meal later in the day. If you are planning to take this tour, which you should, be sure to wear comfortable shoes, as there is bit of walking involved, and do not eat directly beforehand!
STEAL OUR TOUR
Quebec City Food Tours – T: 1(418) 431-0195. $48 CAN. Tour lasts about 3 hours. You can easily make reservations online. Recommended to make reservations a few weeks in advance, as tours take limited numbers and they do fill up. Note that tours run infrequently in the Winter.