An affordable “European” vacation
-Francine Segan, Betty’s food+home Editor
Quebec, the gorgeous region in Canada, has all the charm of France without the jetlag or hefty price tag! I just spent a magical week in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, and even though I’ve only been back a few days, I’m already planning a return trip.
Quebec has spectacular inns and hotels. I especially liked the 26 inns that are all members of a special group of independently owned facilities. Log on to book or learn about special packages and local activities. The prices are pleasantly budget-minded.
A stand-out in the Eastern Townships is:
–Auberge Ripplecove & Spa, the height of elegance and luxury. The Inn has 32 rooms and three private adorable cottages, including one that is over a hundred years old. Ripplecove sits on 17 acres with two beachfront areas on lovely lake and received a “5-Star rating” by the Quebec ministry of Tourism, a double 4 Diamond Award for both its outstanding cuisine and luxurious accommodations by the American Automobile Association and a “Best of Awards of Excellence” by Wine Spectator Magazine for having “one of the best restaurant wine cellars in the world”.
There’s so much to do there – cycling with bikes available free of charge, tennis, swimming (either in the lake or their pool), hikes, water-skiing and boat rides. I’m going back in the winter for their horse-sleigh rides, ice-skating on the lake, snowshoeing and ice fishing!
There is also a full-service spa that offers the full gamut of all sorts of facials, foot reflexology, and massages to get the kinks out after all that exercise!
Two other amazing inns that are a nice change from the cookie-cutter chain hotels, but with affordable price tags, are:
–Victorines du Lac is a cozy Victorian-themed homey bed and breakfast nestled on a lovely lake.
–Estrimont Suites and Spa has 91 suites with a working fireplace and kitchenette in every room! There is an indoor and outdoor pool, Finnish sauna, soothing salt-water hot tubs, and a full range of spa treatments like facials and massages. They had the best pillows I’ve ever in my life slept on!
Estimont does a great breakfast and Sunday brunch buffet. I tasted something there I’ve never had before – “Creton.” It’s a sort of pork paté that the French Canadians spread on toast for breakfast and snacks.
Quebec Breakfast Creton
1/4 pound bacon, cut into small bits
1 pound ground pork
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1-In a large sauté pan, fry the bacon and ground pork and cook about 4 minutes.
2-Add the onions and garlic, and cook for a few minutes until the pork is no longer pink. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3-Add the cream and bread crumbs and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring to break up the meat.
4-Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour.
5-Remove the lid and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and all the liquid is evaporated, about 15 minutes.
6- Transfer to a serving bowl or ramekins, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
7- Serve with warm toast.