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An Apple Lunch Menu Featuring a Tartare of Marinated Trout and Smoked Salmon – And a Book Giveaway

In Quebec City right now, the leaves have fallen and temperatures have already dropped to zero degrees Celsius (that’s in the low 30s for those speaking Farenheight!). Over the weekend, E and I were joining my parents to their cottage in a little village called St-Férréol-les-Neiges, which is located about 45 minutes out of the city. My parents have owned this charming little haven of peace for 10 years now but we have just recently become co-owners, after a couple of their friends, which were the previous co-owners, decided to sell their half. Because my parents have been taking such meticulous care of the place, and because it is ideally located (for us snowboard lovers!) less than 15 minutes away from Quebec’s most important ski resort (the Mont-Ste-Anne), we jumped at the opportunity to make this place our own. We didn’t celebrate this happy event with my parents yet and this weekend was the moment we had set in our agendas to do so.

Every time we go to the cottage, my Mom and I share cooking tasks. This time around, I chose to prepare lunch for the four of us. Inspired by the colors of fall and wanting to bring the last warm rays of the sun on our plates, I decided to create an all-apple lunch menu.

Apples from l'Île d'Orléans

On the St-Lawrence River, halfway between Quebec City and St-Férréol, is an island called l’Île d’Orléans. Measuring 34 km long by 8 km wide (21 by 5 miles), it is mostly rural and considered to be Quebec’s pantry. From early June to late October, most fruits and vegetables that are found at Quebec’s farmer’s markets come from this historic island and in September, the apple is star. Over a dozen varieties are harvested on the island and when I went to the market to choose the apples that I wanted to use in my menu, I was surprised at how many varieties were available. Of course, I recognized the MacIntosh and Cortland, but the Honey Crisp, Jonamac and Royal Court were less familiar to me. With the kind help from the owners of the Verger Viateur Turcotte & Fils, I matched apples varieties to each of my courses and selected 3 more apples I wanted us to taste.

Le Marché du Vieux-Port, Quebec City’s downtown Farmers’ Market.

Le Marché du Vieux-Port, Quebec City's downtown Farmers' Market

Different apple varieties from the Verger Viateur Turcotte & Fils

Quebec's apples are the best!

After buying these colorful apples, I figured I would go the extra mile and decided everything on my menu would be homemade or from Quebec. Everything I made myself was inspired by local chefs and I selected three of our most delicious cheeses to go with the apple tasting course. Finally, because honey goes so great with apples, I decided I would serve a cheese-matching honey set I brought back from New Zealand (the only exception to my made-in-Quebec rule). This weekend, the air was crisp and cool but the sun was out to warm our hearts. I prepped all my dishes in advance, packed everything in a cooler and we were on our way.

My cooler packed with my Fall-Inspired Apple Lunch Menu

A Fall-Inspired Apple Lunch Menu

Tartare de truite marine et saumon fumé aux pommes et cheddar vieilli
Tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

Tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

Boulettes de porc tièdes aux canneberges et parmesan
Porc, cranberry and parmesan cheese warm meatballs

Assiette de dégustation de pommes, accompagnées de figues fraîches et confites et pacanes
Apple tasting plate, accompanied by fresh and confied figs and pecan nuts

Apple tasting plate, accompanied by fresh and confied figs and pecan nuts

Selected award-winning Quebec cheeses:

  • Le Riopelle (soft cheese, nutty flavor, made with raw cow’s milk, from l’Isle-aux-Grues)
  • La Tomme du Kamouraska (semi-soft cheese, washed rind, delicate and slightly zesty flavor, made with raw sheep’s milk, from Kamouraska)
  • Le Cendrillon (ash-covered soft cheese, semi-strong taste similar to that of a blue cheese, made with goat milk, from Portneuf)

Selected award-winning Quebec cheeses: Le Riopelle, Le Cendrillon, La Tomme du Kamouraska.

Craquelins salés à l’huile d’olive et aux noix, pain maison
Savory olive oil and nuts crackers, homemade bread

Savory olive oil and nuts crackers, homemade bread

Verrines de pommes cuites dans le miel, pain d’épice et mascarpone
Verrines of apples cooked in honey, spice cake and mascarpone cheese

To drink: Moët & Chandon Brut Champagne

A Fall-Inspired Apple Lunch Menu

I have to humbly admit that this was an outstanding meal, perhaps one of the best I ever put together. Dishes complemented each other and their light flavors were perfect for midday. The cheeses, served at room temperature, were outstanding and a few drops of honey made them even dreamier. The pork and cranberry meatballs combined salty and sweet flavors, the crunchy olive oil and nuts crackers echoed some of the cheeses’ flavors and the honeyed apple verrine was the perfect not-too-sweet ending to a meal that none of us will soon forget. To drink, we had a beautiful Moët & Chandon Champagne that my Mom brought back from France for us to drink together.

A colorful lineup of Quebec's apples.

Cheeses and honey; a late afternoon at the cottage in St-Férréol-les-Neiges

One of the stars of the meal was the very first dish we had, a trout and smoked salmon tartare served in a verrine (a clear glass). If you’re suffering from tartare fatigue, rest assured, this one will wake you up. It’s dead simple to make, but each and every element plays an essential role in the bright, crisp, zesty and creamy flavors found in this dish. The recipe was created by the chef from one of l’Île d’Orléans’s great auberges (inns). It is an elegant dish that would look wonderful served at cocktail hour in white chinese spoons.

Tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

The ingredients to make a tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

Tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

From the book Farmers in Chef Hats

If you can find it, use salmon that has been smoked in its filleted form, not the kind that’s sliced thin. It adds a better texture and subtler flavor to the dish.

Makes 4 appetizer servings

¼ lb (115 g) trout, finely diced
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ lb (115 g) filleted smoked salmon, finely diced
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon capers
½ finely chopped garlic clove
½ lime, zest and juice
1 tablespoon finely diced Cortland apple
2 tablespoons aged cheddar cheese, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Dash of Tabasco

Marinate the finely diced trout in the cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

When the trout is ready, mix all the ingredients together. Serve the mixture in small bowls or in short transparent glasses. Decorate with a slice of lime, a slice of apple, a leaf of parsley or arugula and serve with toasted bread.

Tartare of marinated trout and smoked salmon with apples and aged cheddar cheese

BOOK GIVEWAY

The book “Farmers in Chef Hats” is a labor of love. The author, Linda Arsenault, toured the Île d’Orléans, enlisting one of its chefs, Philip Rae, from the inn Le Canard Huppé, to create 50 recipes based on the best products harvested and created on the island. Recipes are divided in seasons from March to October and each one of them showcases one of the island’s farms. They are elegant while also being accessible and they can be made with ingredients that are readily available around the world. It’s a bilingual book (text and recipes written in French and English) and it won the “World Best Local Cookery Book” at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. It is a great book to get to know this bountiful island and its artisans. To learn more, visit the book’s website.

After I met the author back when I was managing my cooking school, I bought two copies of the book, carefully saving one brand-new copy, promising myself I would give it to someone who would really show an interest in Quebec’s terroir cuisine. I think this post is the best opportunity to do so!

To win a copy of the book, please leave a comment telling me in a few words if you ever visited Quebec or if you plan to do so. Or just tell me whatever this post inspires you to. I will randomly select one winner on Monday November 1st 2010 at 12PM (noon) EST. Don’t forget to leave your email address in the comment form or I won’t be able to reach you. Good luck!

UPDATE: The lucky winner is Lisa, congratulations! I hope the book inspires you!

Here are a few pictures of the book, they should whet your appetite!

Farmers in Chef Hats by Linda Arsenault

An excerpt from the book Farmers in Chef Hats by Linda Arsenault

An excerpt from the book Farmers in Chef Hats by Linda Arsenault

Yum

17 Responses to An Apple Lunch Menu Featuring a Tartare of Marinated Trout and Smoked Salmon – And a Book Giveaway

  1. What an amazing-looking meal. I'd be all over that cheese plate in a second, especially since I think that Quebec's artisan cheeses are among the best in the world… in fact, Riopelle is one of my favourites.
    It's been years since I've been up to Quebec City and L'Ile d'Orleans, but your photos make me realise I'm long overdue for another visit. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    • I think I could go so far as to say that the Riopelle really is my favorite. It has been for a while and even though I always try new cheeses (there are so many made in Quebec!) I always come back to it – it's especially good on walnut bread. I do hope you'll find some time to come back to Quebec City someday!

  2. Oooh, I love the sound of that tartare! Apples and cheddar are wonderful together, and the Pacific Northwest girl in me loves some smoked fish!

    I have yet to visit Québec, but I would love to see it someday, and try out the local cheeses. When I move back to the States it will be nice to have a more accessible place than France to keep up my French skills! And I would definitely love to learn more about Québecois cooking.

    Great post!

    • Very happy to read you Camille! Like many others, I'm also addicted to Paris. I'm going in December and will maybe go for a few months next year. It's such an inspiring city! Do you plan on moving back to the States any time soon? When you do, it will be a pleasure to have you in Quebec. Keep me posted, I could show you around!

  3. I've only been to Montreal in Quebec, so not a very extensive traveler of the area. I enjoyed it though, reminded me a bit of when I was in Normandy staying near Caen in college. Both had this comforting feel.

    As a Wisconsinite, all the cheeses you have on display make me smile. There is no replacement for local and fresh cheese.

    • It's great that you've been to Montreal! Few people coming to the province venture out of our biggest city, but it's a start! Montreal is very approchable, there is a French flair but still an important English-speaking community. Also many great restaurants, beautiful parks, amazing shopping… It's a great place to visit!
      I have heard of Wisconsin's cheese reputation, I think I may have tasted some during a visit to the States (never been to WI though). I'll try to learn more about it! Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Oh my, these photos and the food look absolutely stunning, especially that tartare! A perfect fall menu, if you'll allow the phrase from someone who never experiences fall. :) I've never been to Quebec although for the past few years, I've kept saying I will since one of my very good friends was living in Montreal (she's now back in the States – shame on me). I still hope to get myself there one day… especially now that I know there are awesome farmers' markets there! :)

    • Ha! A part of me is so jealous you live in San Francisco, but another part of me would probably miss the colors of fall and the snow in winter if I moved away. I guess the grass is always greener! :) You should really come to visit sometime, if you do, please tell me I would love to show you around.

  5. It's rarely that a post will inspire on such a great level, but this one did! I am a native Washingtonian and adore every aspect of apples. Your trout and smoked salmon tartare will haunt me until I make it. Thank you for such a captivating story.

    • The tartare would be absolutely AMAZING with Washington smoked salmon! And Washington apples… dreamy! You make me realize that I absolutely have to make this next time I visit my brother who lives in Seattle.

  6. When I was a kid we lived in Detroit, MI. My mother was the original Foodie and my parents would often sneak of for a mini vacation (ohh la la) to Quebec as my mother loved all things French and loved to use her French language skills whenever she could! However, I have never been there and it's the memories of how happy that city made my mom that make me long to visit! Sadly she passed away in 1993 (way before her time). But it's funny how little things like this bring her back in my mind. Thanks GREG

    • What a nice story! I'm touched that you're sharing this with me. Happy this nice lunch brought back fond memories of your Mom. Quebec is indeed rather different and somewhat exotic in our North American continent! Like many people say of Quebec City, it's "a little taste of Europe in America".

    • Quebec's reputation in cheese making is really growing, I think we are making really fine products. It's probably our French heritage helping us! If you ever have the chance to taste them, please do, I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed.

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