I once heard that people were petitioning to make poutine Canada’s national food. That seems a bit ridiculous but as Canadian’s we cannot deny the cultural significance of our beloved dish. And also the fact that we can’t call very many dishes “Canadian” – as an article in Toronto Life says, “Canadian bacon is more of a side dish, maple syrup isn’t really a meal, and Timbits are just doughnut holes,” so we are left with poutine.
The official definition of poutine (for those of you living under a rock-or under Canada), pountine is a “French-Canadian dish traditionally made of French fries and fresh cheese curds, covered with gravy.” It is said that poutine was born in rural Quebec in the 1950’s, not sure specifically where or by whom, but we can probably assume someone got lazy and put all of their food in one bowl – too many potatoes, leftover juice from the meat, and some soured milk…a man’s gotta eat. Turns out some mistakes go on to define Canadian cuisine.
Calgary is having their first ever poutine week for you to stuff as many fries into your face as possible in seven days. Food festivals are always great: try out new restaurants, eat the most amazing food, and spend quality time with fellow foodies (or friends). What is even better then a regular food fest is when it is all about poutine. Yes, you can eat poutine everyday to justify your “foodie” status as you participate in Calgary’s first Poutine Week from April 18 to 25.
There are 48 restaurants participating with their own take on the classic fries, gravy, and cheese curds combination, such as Below Deck Tavern’s East Coast Donair Poutine. To see the whole list, click here.
Over the week I will provide a review of the poutine that I try. Unfortunately I will not be trying all of them, but I hoping to get in three or four restaurants. If you find a poutine gem that I MUST try, let me know! Let’s take on this poutine adventure together.
“East Coast Donair Poutine: Hand cut russet skinny fries, quebec cheese curds, hand cut donair meat, gravy diced onion, tomato, house donair sauce”
This was a solid start to the week; the donair meat and sauce definitely stepped up the flavour and they added enough sauce so that no fry went dry. My parents were a little skeptical being brought to a tavern instead of any of the above ground restaurants on 8th ave but they were proven wrong when they got a taste of the specialty poutine being served up.
Overall Rating: 7 out of 10
“Ultimate Beer Poutine: Hand cut russet fries, Quebec cheese curds, Guinness cheddar, beer braised onions and pulled short beef rib with stout gravy”
This poutine proved the importance of quality fries, I also prefer the thicker fries because they don’t get as soggy as fast from the gravy. There was a good helping of meat; the serving didn’t look big but I was definitely stuffed by the end.
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10
“The Great Canadian Poutine: Baked and fried russet potato, Alberta cheese curds, candied pork jowel”
So here is my only problem with this poutine-it isn’t fries. To me baked potatoes and fries are definitely not even close to the same thing. But other than that this was hands down the best gravy, especially with the sweetness from the candied pork.
Overall Rating: 6 out of 10 (flavour and pork is 9 out of 10 but you lost me with the potatoes)
“Greek Poutine: Chicken, Tzatziki, Red Onion, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Feta Cheese”
Switching up the classic poutine and adding a Greek twist – not a bad idea. It still included the gravy and cheese curds with the hand-cut fries, it was a delicious choice – highly recommend. It is served on their regular poutine menu, so if you missed it this week, you can still give it a try.
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10
If you are not in Calgary, or can’t make it out to try some of the great poutine. The Huffington Post has a great list of recipes for you to make poutine at home (photo credit above goes to HP). If you try any of them out, send me your favourite!