I had a great trip to Quebec recently.
I highly recommend this jaunt as a relatively easy place to reach while having an authentic feeling of being in a foreign country. The city is beautiful, clean, friendly and accessible.
Although there is a thriving food scene, some excellent museums and lots of culture, there is not a significant Jewish community in Quebec. According to my guide, commerce historically moved up the river. As many Jews were merchants and business owners, they followed the economic opportunity to other cities, such as Montreal and Toronto, where there are larger Jewish communities today.
I had several excellent meals during my trip, one at a trendy restaurant called Don Vegan (donresto.com) — a trendy, hipster place where I was one of the very few guests over 30. But I did not hold that against them; the cocktails were excellent, and I very much enjoyed my “beet tartare.”
I also had a fantastic meal at Chez Boulay, (chezboulay.com) a farm-to-fork (the French Canadian jargon for farm-to-table) place that focuses on hyperlocal ingredients prepared with a French flair. There I enjoyed some spectacular carrots. The chef roasted them “in their soil,” which, full disclosure, generated an eye roll from this food writer, then cleaned them, shaved off a few bits which became crispy carrot chips, and pureed the green
carrot tops with mustard to create a delicious sauce.
My version is far simpler — I skip the soil and use parsley for the sauce, although when the farmers market offers carrots with their greens, I will likely give the Chez Boulay version
This version, created in my kitchen, is not vegan. It uses Worcestershire sauce, which contains small amounts of anchovies. If a vegan dish is required, there are vegan versions of the sauce available at some markets or from online vendors. Failing that, you can use soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or miso paste mixed with water (1:1 ratio).
I prefer to boil the beets whole for about 20 minutes, until soft, then peel and cube them. Some more patient cooks roast the beets, wrapped in foil at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes, and that’s fine, too.
This dish is best served chilled, so make it a few hours before you plan to serve it. I like it on a bed of lightly dressed arugula with some toast points or Melba rounds. Don Vegan served it garnished with a giant caper, which was aesthetically pleasing but not necessary if your home kitchen does not have a spare jar lying around.
2 beets, cooked, peeled and diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons finely minced scallion, white and green parts
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1½ teaspoons capers
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Chill until ready to serve. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Quebecois Roasted Carrots with Mustard Sauce
1 pound carrots, whole
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
½ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup grainy mustard
Additional fresh parsley
Heat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and place the carrots in a single layer on it. Toss the carrots with 1 tablespoon of the oil to coat them lightly, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Roast the carrots in the oven for 30-40 minutes until they are cooked through and beginning to turn golden in places.
While the carrots roast, puree the parsley with the mustard and the remaining tablespoon of oil. Taste and, if needed, add salt and pepper.
When the carrots are done, place them in a shallow bowl, and drizzle them with mustard sauce.
Serve garnished with a few sprigs of fresh parsley, hot or at room temperature.