12 October 2010

1st Anniversary Road-Trip Day 5

Oh Day 5, how you will always hold a special place in my heart. This day was sheer nuts. Mr. Planters ain't got sh*t on Day 5. When I think about how much stuff we crammed into it, I'm not sure whether to smile or blow lunch. Why? Well I'll tell you. (He's going to tell! He's going to tell! He's going to tell!...) I'm not really sure why I put in such obscure nerd references into my writing, I seriously doubt anyone gets them. Self-amusement I guess.Contrary to what you may think, Day 5 did not start out with a three-course breakfast at our B&B. We had to be on the road early so I chomped down a Clif Bar and the Mrs. had her leftover super cookies and we bolted out the door. The destination? Canyon Ste-Anne.

We had signed up for the EXTREME package (complete with complimentary Extreme Cheddar Doritos and were in for roughly 4 hours of canyon-hopping mayhem. We did a little via ferrata assisted rock climbing out to our first "pratice" rapel of a mere 60 feet (I think).

I wear a helmet so I don't hurt myself
And of course I was the first one to go. This experience starting off as being completely and utterly terrifying. Why? Well because not only had I never done this before, but our guide had been on hiatus for a while and this being his first day back, forgot to untie my safety line, causing my entire harness to squeeze the life out of me as I tried to lower myself down the canyon wall. I finally convinced him to pull me back out and flat out said "I can't do this". He finally realized his error and after MUCH convincing I decided to give it another shot, and was glad I did because it was infinitely easier to do when I wasn't struggling to breathe. I spotted a beautiful solitary flower jutting out of the cliff face so I had to take a picture of that while basking in the joy of watching my wife come down towards me.
Ain't dat reel perty?
Excellent view, yes?
We did much more climbing and eventually got back up to our big 200 ft. rappel. I wasn't scared at all, but unfortunately this one wasn't nearly as fun as the practice. I understood exactly how to feed the rope through my harness in order to make my way down, but this time the rope wouldn't feed through without me doing it manually, causing me to descend in short abrupt bursts. These short bursts made it extremely difficult to maintain my footing and it also caused me to swing from side to side, increasing my frustration. Eventually I made it to the bottom, expressing my concerns to our guide who just shrugged it off and lead the group onward.

That doesn't look very high, you say?  Alright, here's another view:

Yeah, it's pretty high
After more climbing we made our way across an awesome cable bridge, which I crossed effortlessly, surprising even myself considering my notoriously horrendous balance.

We made our way back up and did our little zipline fun ride across. Since we'd already done a much longer and much more epic zipline in Haiti on our honeymoon, this was cake.

Good perspective of how high we were
For some reason my wife wanted me to pose this way...
That concluded our day so after taking a few more pictures we made our way back to the visitors center for some refreshments before heading back to Quebec City. Now, onto the food!

I was hellbent on returning to Erico so that's exactly what I did, this time opting for the gorgeously colored black currant-blueberry which tasted exactly like fruit rollups.
Scoop rollup
The Mrs. wanted to try something new so we walked down rue St-Jean a few blocks to Tutto Gelato and chose amaretto and cafe flavors. She said it wasn't anything special.

I was chatting with our tour guide at the canyon about food and drink and he recommended La Barberie as a great Quebecois microbrewery. His sentiments were mirrored by our host Clement, so we decided to check it out for pre-dinner drinks. Boy, am I glad I did.

We took our time getting down to Lower Town, yet another section of the city that was completely unlike any sections previous. I really liked this section because, while it did look much more like any other modern U.S. city, it was cleaner and much less crowded. After asking a few nice people for directions, we arrived at La Barberie, taking in their huge terrace, which happened to be quite lively. I wasn't really feeling like drinking in a crowd so we opted for the more secluded, smaller terrace along the side.

The Mrs. wasn't up for drinking just yet, which left the sole responsibility to me. I was more than capable of getting the job done. I knew what I wanted. They have their beer line-up written on a chalkboard on the door, and are well known for their tasting carousels so I ordered a 5 oz. carousel of every beer they had. Let the drinking begin.

If that isn't a picture of supreme joy, I don't know what is. That picture should be in the dictionary next to "giddy". I was like Jojo the idiot circus boy with a pretty new pet. I soiled myself, and I liked it. Here's the lineup:

Hypnotic spiral of beers
As I said in day 4, my least favorite of the bunch was the Rousse Legere et Fruitee (#7), but I also didn't care for the Sangri-biere (#4) which was a 9% abv sangria-beer hybrid.

After much tasting, re-tasting, and getting my straight up crunk on, I decided that my favorites were the Cuivree au the (#3) and the Stout Double Chocolat (#8), with the Brasse Camarade (#2) rounding out my top 3. The cuivree sat on my tounge really well, and I detected a sort of sweetish tomatoey-basily floral note from it and I thought it would pair amazingly well with a margherita pizza. The brasse was just a really smooth drinkable beer which I could envision myself drinking well past the wee hours. The double chocolate stout wasn't too heavy and it had a wonderful smokey cacao flavor to it.

After relaxing for another moment or two we paid our check and hauled ass back to our dinner destination: Cafe du Clocher Penche. Clement said that this was his favorite restaurant in the city, so that only heightened my already fairly high expectations.

We both ordered a Rouge Bulle to start and they were quickly brought out along with a complimentary dish of warm olives and fresh herbs. This was the first time I'd ever had warmed olives as a starter, chilled olives have been the norm, but after one bite I wished all restaurants served them this way.

Oooh, sparkly
The cocktail wasn't on the same level as the L'indecis I had at LPB the night before, it tasted mostly just like sparkling wine with a very subtle raspberry note on the back end. The complimentary bread was also fantastic, light and tender with notes of rye, sourdough, and some multigrain thrown in there for good measure.

For our first course we chose the Salmon Tartare and the Grilled Vegetable Presse with Fried Zucchini Flower stuffed with Goat Cheese. Looking back at this I'm not sure what prompted us to order those two specific appetizers. I think the words "goat cheese" sealed the deal for me on the veggies, and the salmon tartare because I wanted something light since I had a feeling this was going to be a knock-down drag-out meal.

I swear they stuffed a whole pureed goat in there...
At this point I really think the alcohol started taking hold. After listening to my voice memo about what appetizers we ordered the next memo went a little something like this:

"Both appetizers were just f*cking stupid good. I don't even want to take any notes, I don't even give a sh*t. You have fried zucchini flowers stuffed with goat cheese and once you cut into it, it just ooozed out and a little cube of f*ckin' grilled vegetables covered in... something. I don't even care it was just f*cking delicious."

Funny, ain't it? Needless to say, I liked the dish and pronounced it my favorite appetizer of the trip. Now how much of that rave review was due to alcohol, I'll let you be the judge of that. I also don't want this rant to take the spotlight away from the fabulous salmon tartare.

The tartare was served on top of a uberly creamy shredded carrot salad. I would've never in a million years paired raw salmon with carrot and mayo, but this flavor combination is one that will stay with me for a long time to come. Served up on various fried breaded things, my favorite being the crunchity light waffle chips.

Ruffles ain't got shit on this
GD it to hell I wish I had this dish in front of me right now. I just finished my lunch (a mix of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and protein-fortified granola if you were wondering) and would still tear up a bowl of that tartare. My only complaint about the dish was my very last bite contained an extremely bitter piece of grapefruit. Bring on the main course!

I expressed interest in trying blood pudding to the waitress and she said that CdCP's version was up there with some of the best, so I decided what the hell, it was my last day in the country and I wanted me some coagulated pig's blood gulldernit! It came on puff pastry with leeks, cranberries, and a little pouch thing of fingerling potatoes and shitakes. The Mrs. opted for the Cappelletti with Nordic shrimp, smoked salmon, spinach, and basil. We also requested a glass of red each to go with our entrees. She brought me out a glass of 2009 Jean François Mérieau Touraine Les Bois Jacou which I thought tasted of pepper and strawberries and a Pinot Noir for the Mrs.

Now you’ll have to excuse me if details get a little muddled at this point. I am in no way a heavyweight when it comes to drinking (probably due to my 148lb. 6’ frame) so after a massive beer tasting and two rounds of drinks with dinner, my notes became a bit less detailed than normal. Nonetheless, here we go.

Yar, thar be veggies in that pouch!
My first impression of my blood pudding was like a very rich, much less fatty scrapple. The tart fresh cranberries served to cut some of the richness and the earthiness from the shitakes served to round it out nicely.
Not Yo Mama's Blood Puddin'
I don’t really recall too many details about the phyllo dough or what was in it. I swear that the menu was either wrong or failed to mentioned golden beets. I don’t recall any potatoes but there are clearly some golden beets nestled in that little pocket… thing. Nonetheless, all was good with the world. The blood pudding was quite decadent in it’s richness.

The Mrs. proclaimed her pasta to be her favorite entrée of the trip. When I tasted it I was kicked in the nuts by the strong basil, pork, and smoked salmon flavors. The sauce was creamy, yet light. I fished out a single cube of smoked salmon and was amazed just how much flavor was concentrated in that one little bite. The chefs manning the kitchen at CdCP are truly masters of their craft.

For dessert we decided to split the Lemon thing and the Blueberry thing.  I didn't bother taking a picture of the dessert menu as I distinctly remember thinking to myself  that I'd just look at it online.  Well I did that and the desserts are different now... Well shit.  I’m cracking up listening to my half-drunken messages complete with slightly slurred speech but that's all I have to go off. It’s going to be tough sifting through the nonsense to generate something half-way informative. Or maybe it’s time for another verbatim quote to describe our desserts.
Blueberry thing
“…The blueberry tasted like a granola yogurt blueberry (wtf does that even mean?) and the candied basil and the dulce de leche… it tasted like a wonderful bowl of fruit, yogurt, and honey I would make at home, just taken up about 30 notches....
Lemon thing
 The lemon with the bruleed sugar on top and the candied lemon zest and the homemade marshmallow and the candied almonds...”

As you can see, at that point I just started listing everything on the plate as a testament to how good the dish was. Nothing really informative.

CdCP Desserts: Defeated.
I would say that the Lemon dessert definitely gave the dessert I had at LPB a run for its money for the best dessert of the trip. Honestly, right now I’d give the edge to the lemon simply due to the fact that I’ve been on a lemon kick lately. The candied basil on the blueberry dessert really was something special though.

Due to a certain indefinable charm we both agreed that CdCP was our favorite restaurant of the trip. Maybe it was due to the fact that we ate there at 6pm on a Tuesday and had the entire dining room pretty much to ourselves and our extremely accommodating waitress.

They'd better check for lumps
Maybe it was due to the paintings of well-endowed women smoking cigarettes adorning the walls. Or maybe it was due to the fact that I was on a one way train to shit-canned city. Either way, the next time we visit Quebec City, CdCP will certainly be at the top of our list.

After dinner we had front row center tickets to TOTEM, 2010’s travelling Cirque du Soleil show. Unfortunately I was under the impression that it started at 830pm, when it actually started promptly at 8pm. After power-walking/jogging the last leg of the trip, we got there around 8:10 and didn’t really miss anything. After the first act we were quickly shown to our seats and enjoyed the most spectacular show I’ve ever seen in my 29 years on this planet. I got one photo of the performance before I was reprimanded. I thought the guy said no flash photography, but apparently photography of any kind was prohibited.

Great angle, eh?
That's it for Day #5.  I would write a pretty outtro, but I gots some 'The Event' to watch.  Go eat something!

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