Montreal poutine



So it's late and you've had a long day exploring the city, discovering the français-side of eastern Canada and realising your half-remembered school-days French that you thought would see you through is no match for the heavily-accented Quebeçoise that the locals rapidly chatter. But no matter, everyone speaks some kind of English anyway, so after hitting the Pointe-à-Callière museum and marvelling over the cool history-of-the-city film and maybe bumping over the cobbles of the old town on a bixi share-bike or snowshoeing in the Mont Royal park during winter, you hit the Dieu du Ciel microbrew pub. Talked to the locals. Had a pint or two... or three of whatever the bar guy recommended. And now you're hungry and a little tipsy and you've got a big day planned tomorrow and if you're not mistaken, there's a hangover in the post, so what to do? One word: poutine.


There's a reason why the eastern Canadians have a fiercesome party reputation. Look at the Winter Carnival in Quebec City for instance, a month of festivities, late nights and outdoor dance parties all in sub-zero temperatures, fuelled only by exuberance and a few belts of an unholy brew called Caribou; mulled wine spiked with brandy or vodka or more likely, both. Then back to Montreal, a city with 108 different festivals  each year, how do they find the energy to keep going in winter temperatures that would make most of us crawl into a cave and hibernate? Again, the answer: poutine.


What is it? Well, it's a devilish melange of french fries, gravy and curd cheese; and before you recoil in horror, trust me, it is delicious beyond words and has the heroic super-power of blasting away any hangover, leaving you fresh as a daisy to play the next day.  For a poutine to be authentic the gravy needs to be made from scratch from roasted bones to give it depth and it needs to be thin enough to trickle through to the bottom layer of the fries - which need to be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Finally, the curd cheese needs to 'squeak' when you bite into it. Again, trust me; squeaky cheese is so much better than it sounds. Only when those three elements combine will you have a true poutine.


So where to go to taste this life-saving carb fest? Well, you could keep it classy and hop to Au Pied de Cochon for their famous foie gras-topped version, but hey, it's late and you're a little broke, so keep it classic instead and make for the locals' favourite, La Banquise. A place of a million up-all-night tales, this is where you'll get to make a story of your own. Open 24 hours, serving up heaped plates of steaming, squeaky poutine; there are 28 different varieties from the T-Rex with a meaty mix of ground beef, pepperoni, bacon and hot dog sausages to the excellent L'Obelix which comes with local smoked meat. Stay late, mop up that gravy and join in with the discussions around you, or just chow down and enjoy the atmosphere. Go home with the dawn, safe in the knowledge that you'll feel great when you (eventually) wake up...


Find out more: Tourism Montreal 

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