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When the hot days of summer beckon, our family predictably takes to the road. Food trails that invite you to cruise the back country, breathe in the scenery and fill your stomach (while emptying your wallet but don’t they seem to go together) count among my favourite summer activities. And my men are kind enough to indulge me, even if Monsieur has been known to complain bitterly about the amount of little jars piling on the back seat from one stop to the next. You know, devoted foodie here.
So when the invitation came to tour Circuit du Paysan, one of Québec’s best food trails exploring the Montérégie region south-east of Montreal, I convinced my eight-year-old foodie apprentice to tag along one whole Saturday. So off we went on the media tour bus to visit some of the new destinations for 2014.
Created 25 years ago or so, the Circuit du paysan food trail offers 137 stops where you can eat, drink, explore, learn or just relax. As well as many farms and producers, the Circuit features B&Bs, historical sites, antique shops, etc. In other words you’ll need a few days if you even attempt to visit all. There are no actual guided tours on the programme; the idea is to let the road and scenery guide you according to your personal interests.
At one of my favourite stops, Au gré des champs Cheesemaker and Farm in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, you are free to visit the farm, meet the happy cows and taste many of the spectacular cheeses which I already knew and liked. Cheese fans may want to note that I left with Péningouin, a fresh cow milk cheese with the texture of goat cheese, sold only on the premises.
I was also quite thrilled to discover La chèvre gourmande Goat Farm in St-Philippe, which has been open to the public starting this very spring. We were able to play with the kids… then eat the homemade goat sausages mere minutes later. You need to be at ease with the farm-to-table concept for that one, I’ll concede.
Finally, you may want to stop at La Cabine Rouge in Saint-Paul-de-l’île-aux-Noix, where kids will devour the really good fish sticks and popcorn shrimp. The kind of fast-food stop that spells summer to me, calories be darn.
Expect kids to drag you next door to Les Trésors de l’Île, a candy shop that has lost most of its celebrated décor when the previous owners sold the premises but kept their vintage treasures. That said, kiddo went crazy at the thought of filling up his little brown bag, much like I did as a child. It’s worth noting that kids are allowed to make their own cotton candy on the premises…!
Adults on the other hand definitely want to explore further down the road, where the La cigogne gourmande Alsatian pastry shop sells amazing Flammekueche tarts. My men went crazy over the one I brought home, to the extent that Monsieur asked when I’m planning to go back. That’s what I call picky-husband approval of the highest order, given the obligatory road trip.
I did discover many other gourmet products, including one which will be starring in my next New Year celebrations and which I decided to reserve for the winter issue of Véro Magazine maybe. Exceptionally, this mom would like to publicly thank her son who kept smiling throughout and agreed to taste a bit of everything (ahem, when not asking for seconds!). He charmed our adult travel companions with his eagerness to please and discover. Now it’s your turn to take to the road and explore this ambitious food trail and its many treasures, where this city girl and her son found much to enjoy. No doubt we’ll be hitting the road again, privately this time, for many more gourmet stops.