Tuesday, February 16, 2010

La Belle Ville

From my window on the 9th floor of the Quebec Hilton, I had a perfect view of Vieux Quebec, Old Quebec, a walled city so historic and beautiful that it has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Across the street from the hotel stands the Parliament Building built in the late 1800s in Second Empire style. Though outside the old city, the architecture blends perfectly with the gray city walls and the distinctive French flair of the city.

One of the reasons I love Quebec is that it is so French but it's chic without the cheek. Quebecois are proud of their heritage and language -- by law they must speak French to their work colleagues. One man told me that Canadian French may be more authentically French than the French they speak in France. Some old French words which are no longer used in France are still used here -- kind of the equivalent of remnants of Shakespearean English which can be found in some Appalachian expressions.

French Canadians, however, are unfailingly gracious to those of us who attempt the language. In every store I was greated with "Bon jour" and I politely responded "Bon jour." The next words out of the clerk's mouths were inevitably "May I help you with something?" Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and had to ask "Is it my French or do I just look American?"

Gently, the clerk replied, "You have an accent. But don't feel badly, I have an accent when I speak English." And I thought I was doing so well! How badly can you mangle "Bon jour?"

Don't answer!

The first evening we had cocktails and dinner at the Chateau Frontenac, the iconic castle-like hotel that rises above the Old Town. This was the first of many amazing meals we enjoyed in Quebec -- innovative sushi at Yuzu; dishes featuring local products prepared with such style that Le Patriarche has earned a Four Diamond rating from AAA; great Italian food at Restaurant au Parmesan and our last dinner at the charming Franco-Italian Graffiti.

Below is the dessert we were served at Graffiti. I don't know if you can see the spun sugar garnish but the presentation was beautiful -- and I loved the hearts for Valentine's Day. On the plate is a piece of apple tart, ice cream in a crispy cup and a heart-shaped meringue cookie filled with jam. I loved the food and I HEART Quebec!


Michelle said...

Such beautiful pics! I am so jealous! This really looks like a great trip Elaine. I've always wanted to go to Quebec.

Charlene said...

Looks like a fun time. We've not had any snow despite the el nino winter.

laxmi aruzil said...

Tell me more about the dessert sushi!