Poutine -- 10/15/11

While I was visiting in Ottawa last week, Jill and Chris introduced me to poutine. This is a Canadian dish of French Canadian origin. There are innumerable variations on it, but basic poutine is usually French fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds. If you want to get fancy, you can add extra ingredients to this basic poutine (usually either green peas or meat) or replace the brown gravy with another variety or perhaps sauce. Although it apparently originated in Quebec, it has since spread across Canada (with regional variations, such as some places using shredded cheese rather than cheese curd) and I have been told that many fast food restaurants in Canada offer an option of cheese and gravy on the French fries part of your combo meal.

You can find poutine in parts of New England -- including Rhode Island. Although I have never noticed it on a menu, apparently I was just not looking hard enough. (There is a significant French Canadian influence in Rhode Island, including a number of locals -- especially in the northeastern quarter of the state -- who put vinegar on their fries.)

We went to Smoke's Poutinerie (a restaurant chain with about 18 outlets in eastern Canada) -- at their place on Dalhousie (just off Rideau) in Ottawa. That's it in the picture below -- with the neon sign reading "HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR POUTINE?"

They have an extensive menu of standard variations you can apply to your poutine. For example, they have four chicken variations -- basic poutine plus -- country style (chicken, bacon, mushrooms, onions), curry (chicken, spicy curry sauce), peppercorn (chicken, mushrooms, peppercorn gravy), and Mama's (chicken, baby green peas). And I couldn't resist taking a picture of their poster for a special Thanksgiving Poutine with roasted turkey, stuffing, baby green peas, and cranberry sauce mixed in.
Jill (who is essentially a vegetarian except for chicken, turkey, and fried calamari) opted for a basic veggie poutine plus sauteed mushrooms. Chris and I each ordered what you see at the left -- a Triple Pork Poutine. That's a basic poutine (fries, gravy, cheese curds) plus pulled pork and sliced Italian sausage and bacon. (Hey, you know what they say, everything is better with bacon on it!) I enjoyed it -- this is one of those things to classify as comfort food.

Jill says maybe she and Chris will make poutine for Thanksgiving here. We have a tradition of having a gathering here the night before Thanksgiving for all of the family members who arrive early (which is quite a few because so many are coming considerable distances)

Tiger continues to improve. He got his insulin shots yesterday morning and evening and again this morning. I had bought him a heated cat bed (a while ago -- maybe a year?) that he used a few times and then totally ignored. Nancy set it up in our room and Tiger has taken to sleeping and napping in it (although he is also fond of going under our bed as well -- we call it a "cat cave"). He seems to enjoy the warmth. He still isn't eating as much as he did before getting sick, but he is doing much better than he had been -- appetite is seeming to come back.

Taking advantage of having Jill in town for a few days, we all (Nancy, Jill, Jeremy, and me) went out to dinner at the Mews Tavern last night. After dinner Jeremy had to dash off to gather with friends to watch televised kick boxing -- the sensei from the dojo where Jeremy takes lessons and works out was being featured. (I have to say, Jeremy is in absolutely awesome shape -- and he keeps improving. He thinks I should sign up for lessons there but I think that is a bit more strenuous than I could handle... besides which, I do not have any spare time.)

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