Charlevoix, A Region To Please All Tastes

By on March 26, 2017

Where else can you drink the world’s only one-of-a-kind tomato wine, and venture into a true bootlegger bar with hidden chambers and concealed bars then be whisked away in a jaw-dropping helicopter ride to the top of a mountain to enjoy a postcard scenery? The answer my food and travel loving friends, is the beautiful Charlevoix region.

The beautiful Charlevoix region.

Charlevoix should be synonymous with all things locally sourced and exceptionally delicious!

This UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve located at the heart of the Canadian Shield has become internationally known as a food lovers’ destination and how can it not be? Food lovers will be delighted to hear that Charlevoix has its very own Flavour Trail.

Admire the beauty of the landscape as you travel The Flavour Trail, discovering the region’s signature products and sampling a full panoply of native edibles. – Charlevoix Tourism 

With local farmers and producers at practically every corner, it’s no wonder that Charlevoix’s restaurant scene – a beautiful melange of quaint romantic bistros and fine dining establishments – reaping the bounty of the land and thus creates mouth watering dishes!

Baie-Saint-Paul (Photo credit: Bertrand Lemeunier)

I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing Charlevoix’s varied pleasures by foot, air and train. Discovering any part of Charlevoix is truly magnificent.

Nestled between the St. Lawrence River and the majestic Laurentian Mountains, tourists flock in droves to discover the flavours that has placed Charlevoix on the ‘foodie map’. The region offers flavours that scream fresh and local while bursting with creativity from the creative minds of the chefs at hand.

The culinary voyage that one can have in this Quebec region is like no other, as Charlevoix has proved to be one of Quebec’s ‘most innovative regions for agrotourism’. Everything from local cheese factories with award winning products to wild game meats to the sweetest of chocolate factories can be savoured and devoured to a food lover’s delight!

My flavourful excursion started with the remarkable world’s only aperitif wine made from organic ancestral TOMATOES!! I had no idea that there existed such a product.  Located in Le Domaine de la Vallée du Bras, Omerto has been producing a tomato-based elixir which has been a Belgium family secret for generations.

The world’s only tomato wine, Omerto. Their products range in complex flavour notes as some of their products resemble the flavours found in a refreshing Pinot while others are very similar to that of a fine aged cognac.

Guests will enjoy themselves as they visit the Omerto boutique while they take in the beautiful scenery of the region. Omerto’s products range in complex flavour notes as some of their products resemble the flavours found in a refreshing Pinot while others are very similar to that of a fine aged cognac. Definitely worth experiencing such a unique elixir!

From tasting tomato wine to eating locally made cheese my culinary voyage had the making for a perfect day. Visiting the Laiterie Charlevoix Cheese Economuseum, known for their exceptional tasting cheese made from their Jersey cows, was both a culinary treat as well as a fun historical activity.

Laiterie Charlevoix

Laiterie Charlevoix has become a museum where visitors can be part of a tour to see firsthand the yummy cheese-making process. Who doesn’t want to see that?!

Visitors can also take a walk down nostalgia lane as they visit the interpretation centre, where they have the rare opportunity to see the ‘ancestral production methods’ that are still being used.

Discovering products that are savoury and addictive could only be accentuated by visiting one of my favourite products…mushrooms! Champignons Charlevoix now gives visitors the rare pleasure of a guided tour to showcase how they grow and cultivate their treasured oyster mushrooms.

I have never seen oyster mushrooms, let alone any mushroom, be cultivated in such a unique manner. Champignons Charlevoix reproduces the natural environment of oyster mushrooms being ‘raised’ in its natural element of the forest. It is that process that gives this fungus its distinguished flavour profile.

Champignons Charlevoix reproduces the natural environment of oyster mushrooms being ‘raised’ in its natural element of the forest.

With the use of reusable plastic containers, these pesticide free delicacies are grown in the most optimal of climates all year round.

With a full day in, it was time to relax at the charming Auberge des 3 Canards Inn. This century-old house, now converted into a gastronomical awarding winning inn, has everything one could possibly desire to relax and take in the delicious French food that their restaurant has to offer. And I do mean DELICIOUS FRENCH FOOD!!

Years ago I had the opportunity of staying at l’Auberge des 3 Canards and I was impressed then with their caliber of hospitality and culinary offerings and nothing has changed since!

Auberge des 3 Canards

Guests enjoy award-winning meals accented by the picture-perfect scenery of the St. Lawrence River…what could you possibly want more? 

Indulging in Escargot cassolette with Ermite blue cheese and garlic flower cream paired with grilled Quebec deer served with seared foie gras is enough to make any food lover swoon with delight!

Waking up breathing the crisp air from by the St. Lawrence River, it was time to start the day. What better way to explore the scenic Malbaie region than by train as it carried you by the St. Lawrence’s shore.

The Train de Charlevoix provides its passengers with a picturesque view of the Quebec region, traveling between Quebec City and La Malbaie while making stops in quaint towns and coastal villages.

Taking the train was very relaxing as it gave me the perfect opportunity to take in the scenic view of the land; a view that is otherwise inaccessible by any other means of transportation.  From river to mountains to farmland, the stunning landscape creates an atmosphere that is truly impressive.

So that being said, I did what I could to make the train experience even more memorable. I sat back and enjoyed a glass of wine and took in the moment, as I highly recommend one should in this type of setting.

And for something different, adventurists and thrill seekers will love this exciting and heart pumping way to REALLY see the beauty of Charlevoix. Héli-Charlevoix spoiled me with a breathtaking and magnificent view of the region as we flew to the peak of the awe-inspiring Mont du Lac à l’Empêche. 

As if it wasn’t enough to fly over mountains and have a delectable assortment of local cheeses and wine waiting at the summit for me to enjoy, but then came the adrenaline!

Being the thrill seeker that I am, I was giddy as one could be when the helicopter pilot manoeuvered this beautiful bird to plunging degrees! A heart-pumping thrill like no other!

Enjoying the amazing helicopter ride provided by Héli-Charlevoix at the peak of Mont du Lac à l’Empêche where local cheese and wines were consumed while taking in the awe striking view of the mountains.

After a full day of exploring and experiencing varying levels of excitement, it was time to replenish our energy and feed our tummies with more delicious culinary creations.

Located in the heart of Baie-Saint-Paul, near one of the stops that the scenic Train de Charlevoix makes, Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix, is an ideal hotel to rest at with its warm hospitality and delicious food offerings from their dining establishment, Les Labours.

Comprised of five pavilions, Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix’s architecture is very modern yet rustic at the same time. Not your typical hotel-feel at all. Feelings of tranquility and serenity come to mind as you don’t feel the hustle and bustle of a city-like hotel since it’s nestled in its vast green landscape.

The unique design of the rooms varies from one pavilion to the next. The uber-plush bed and old-school deep bathtub and insanely high ceiling of my room made me feel like a princess in my very own fairytale quarters.

Hôtel Le Germain Charlevoix (outside photo credit: Stéphane Groleau). Warm hospitality and delicious food offerings the hotel’s dining establishment, Les Labours.

At the beginning of my article, I had made reference to a bootlegger bar that I had the opportunity of discovering. La Maison du Bootlegger is the house that the walls could actually talk.

La Maison du Bootlegger looks like a typical house from the outside…and in the inside…their hidden chamber, secret doors, concealed bars, all that are protected by an astonishing maze.

During the height of prohibition in 1939, La Maison du Bootlegger was rebuilt in La Malbaie as alcohol was banned in that area by the church – much like what was happening to their neighbours in United States.

The owner of the house decided to change the layout of the historical establishment and created an elaborate labyrinth-like design to trick the ‘morality squad’ from finding out about their Speakeasy ways.

La Maison du Bootlegger

Now locals and tourists alike get to enjoy not only the history of this interesting landmark, but also enjoy the delicious food that they provide. I must admit, I was baffled and shocked with awe as to how this house was created. With every corner and with every turn you find yourself in a different part of the house…All the while completely hidden to anyone or anything…if you so choose to be!

As you enter the region, Charlevoix captures guests with its lush green landscapes and its magnificent mountains.  And its plethora of activities to experience and places to visit, the trip is well worth it.

But it goes without saying that for any true food lover, it is the fact that Charlevoix has endless delectables to satiate your inner foodie needs with the warmest of receptions. And this is how Charlevoix keeps people coming back year after year.

 

 

 

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