Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ooh La La! La Belle Patate

When someone asks about my favorite comfort food, I usually answer some sort of variation involving potatoes. Mashed potatoes alone have so many delicious variations to choose from - but I love potato salad, potato soup, scalloped potatoes and of course, French fries. So when we were in Vancouver during the Olympics, I couldn't contain my excitement over the chance to try "poutine." 

Poutine: A dish of French fries, fresh cheese curds, and brown gravy that originated during the 1950s in Quebec.

Research from new friends in Vancouver, food reviews and multiple places on the internet have prompted me to recommend the following guidelines:
  1. French fries: These should be medium thickness - no shoestring fries allowed! They should be fried so crispy on the outside but the insides should still be soft.
  2. Cheese curds: All you need to do is remember one word, "fresh." The curds cannot be more than one day old. A poutine expert in Vancouver told us when you bite into the curds they should go, "squeak, squeak" in your mouth. I thought she was crazy when she said this but when I tried it at La Belle Patate, it was hard not to laugh because the melodic (and insanely delicious) squeaks were there.
  3. Gravy: This where I get into trouble because there is all sorts of gravy controversy. I've been told it should a light chicken, veal or turkey gravy and that heavy beef or pork-based gravies are not used. I still need to test these gravy choices and I will report back to you on what I find. It might just end up that personal taste plays a larger role... Anyway, things most sources can agree on is that the gravy should not soak the fries. Our expert told us it should also be thick - almost like a dip, making a layer around the fries.
Ooh la la! Now I'm thinking it might be time to find some fresh cheese curds and start making dinner. Oh, and if you are ever in Vancouver, make sure you stop at La Belle Patate on Davie Street.

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