Wednesday, February 12, 2014

a day in québec's eastern townships

Instead of taking the straight and most efficient route from Montréal to Québec City, we decided to spend a day exploring the eastern townships instead. First we went for a duck brunch at Le Relais in Knowlton. The nearby Lac Brome is famous for its ducks.

Being the first customers, service was slow to start, though the meals came out quickly afterwards. The cold weather must have stimulated our appetite, because we demolished our meal of soupe du jour, magret de canard, ravioli au canard de forestière, rondelles d’oignons, not to mention the free bread with creamy Québécois butter.

The soup of the day was called ou jus de légumes -- tex mex -- a hearty, slightly spicy soup, perfect for the cold weather. Contained within were these divine thumb-sized pine nut meatballs, onions, and red, yellow and green capsicums.

Tex mex soupe du jour - $3.75

Magret de canard - $19.95
The magret de canard was the famous Lac Brome duck that’s been cooked until meat was faintly pink in the middle, drizzled with some sweet sauce. The side was a bed of fluffy rice -- that I wished could’ve been larger in portion because I was starving -- with crisp carrots and snow peas.

The ravioli dish had a creamy mushroom sauce. Being a ravioli dish, the duck meat inside was barely discernible, it can be beef for all I know.

Ravioli au canard de forestière - $12.75
Rondelles d’oignons - $4.25
One thing I didn’t expect were their onion rings, a side dish that is usually abused and neglected, their version was the best onions rings I’ve had in a long time, crispy on the outside, with onions that meltingly soft on the inside.

Le Relais Restaurant Bistro on Urbanspoon
Le Relais Restaurant Bistro
286 Knowlton Road
Knowlton (Lac Brome) QUÉBEC

After brunch, we drove to Abbaye de Saint-Benoît-du-Lac, a monastery that observed the order of Saint Benedict. We spent a few hours wandering the halls and the chapel. I was hoping that we could attend the mass usually accompanied with the Gregorian chants, but we came too late for that.

We then spent a few hours simply sitting at the pier of North Hatley, staring at the water of Lac Massawippi. When we couldn’t take the cold anymore we moved on to our next destination.

We raced -- and promptly got lost on -- our way to the Musée J. Armand Bombardier in Valcourt. Bombardier is pretty famous in Canada known as the inventor of the snowmobile. The museum isn't large, but a lot of information is contained within it. It’s worth a visit if you’re into machines and history. At the time of our visit, it was almost closing time, we were the only ones there other than the museum attendee, who saw my camera and informed us that we can take pictures inside the museum but not of the new display of the aerospace technologies. Being pressed for time, I didn’t question and moved on with our speed reading of the Bombardier history.

When we finished with the museum, we drove to our accommodation in Orford for the night, and promptly got lost again. The GPS hasn’t been updated in five years. We used google maps partially whenever there was phone signal, which was not that often. Added to the confusion was my feeling poorly since the night before, with chills and an awesome sore throat. I was powering through it, but I was clearly defeated. By the time we got to the hotel, I was a shadow of my former self, I can barely speak, my temperature was soaring. The husband had to find me some Tylenol (from the hotel’s vending machine), I forced myself to eat a forgettable dinner in-room (burger & fries?), I didn’t even take a shower and went straight to bed. The next morning my temperature went down slightly and I was feeling well enough to continue on our drive towards Québec City. I slept the whole way and also rested some more once we’ve gotten our hotel.
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