Foodie Adventures, Random Meals

Tasting Quebec Favorites

Every time someone visits from home (usually, my mom), I quickly come up with a list of goodies I miss and want to eat.

On one of her last trips, she very much delivered, with many good treats that I slowly savored in the months following her visit.

Vachons Cakes: Joe Louis, Mae West, Ah Caramel, and Swiss Rolls

Whenever I hear Americans debate between Little Debbie and Hostess, I can only give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume they never tried Vachon Small Cakes.

Here’s a break down:

  • Joe Louis: Chocolate sponge cake, vanilla cream filling, coated in chocolate. When I was growing up, we always had a box but everyone knew they belonged to my dad. It was a special treat when he agreed to share one (or when I managed to sneak one out!).
  • Mae West: White Sponge cake, vanilla cream filling, coated in chocolate. I didn’t have these very often (usually at a friend’s house) but every time I did, I loved them. The description sounds simple but it is so good. You just have to taste it to understand. 🙂
  • Ah! Caramel: Ah! My favorite! White cakes with caramel and pastry creme, coated in chocolate. Dessert is always better when it comes in a pack of two. I eat them now the same way I did as a child: removing each layer, one at a time, to make the treat last as long as possible.
  • Swiss Rolls: While everyone knows what a Swiss roll is (chocolate cake with vanilla cream filling, coated in chocolate), I cannot stress enough how much better these are, compared to their US equivalent. I was able to confirm this as my mom accidentally bought Little Debbie Swiss Rolls as well as the Vachon ones. It just doesn’t compare. The flavors is much softer and smoother. No weird after-taste, like too many American small cakes have. And, of course, similarly to the Ah Caramel situation, the only way to fully enjoy a Swiss roll is to eat the thin chocolate coat, and unroll the cake. I couldn’t eat it any other way. It is also the best way to gross out my husband who doesn’t understand why I don’t eat small cakes like a normal person.

Maple Everything: Maple syrup, maple sugar, maple whisky

Of course, I can’t go long without maple syrup. Jeff used to joke that my blood is mostly maple syrup. A few years ago, my mom also introduced me to maple sugar. I like to use it instead of brown sugar in some recipes. It also became a tradition for my parents to offer Jeff a bottle of maple whisky whenever they get together. Sortilège is his brand of choice.

Nestlé Chocolate: Aero bubbles and Mirage bar

As it turns out, Aero and Mirage are very similar. Both are milk chocolate full of tiny air bubbles. Let them melt on your tongue for the perfect experience. I still haven’t found the best way to compare Hershey and Nestlé chocolate but I know I prefer Nestlé. The texture is creamier, the flavor is milky, sweet and smooth. On the other hand, Hershey tastes overly sweet to me, and leaves an odd after-taste.

Snacks Galore: Party Mix, Ketchup Chips and Ringolos

I used to always ask for All-Dressed chips and Ketchup chips. Now that Ruffles introduced all-dressed to the US (yay!), I get to ask for different options. This time, I asked for two childhood classics: Party-Mix and Ringolos.

  • Humpty Dumpty Party-Mix: I associate Party Mix with family parties as well as summer camping outings. The mix includes Cruncheez (little cheese puffs similar to crunchy Cheetos), Ringolos (potato chip rings…see below), corn chips, nacho chips and pretzels. Of course, the best part is to look for your favorites. That would be the Cruncheez in my case. 🙂
  • Humpty Dumpty Ringolos: Ringolos are small BBQ-flavored potato rings. I have a very specific memory of eating them at soccer tournaments when I was 7 or so. Of course, the best part is to put them on your fingers like rings…which was much easier as a child…or did the rings get ridiculously small? 😉
  • Ketchup Chips: My all-time favorite type of chips. They are a little sweet, fairly vinegary…they are just perfect.

Dry Mixes: Poutine gravy and Chinese Fondue

  • Poutine Gravy: My mom used to bring me cans of poutine gravy until we moved to a small apartment in Atlanta and figured I needed to save some space. The envelope version is just as good and only take a few minutes to make. To anyone unfamiliar with poutine, it consists of French fries, beef gravy and Cheddar cheese curds. It is heaven. If any fancy restaurant is offering a twist on poutine that involves anything other than these 3 simple ingredients, back away. Poutine is meant to be simple comfort food, not some weird snobby dish from an expensive restaurant.
  • Chinese Fondue: This is a beef broth with onions and dried herbs, in which you cook raw meat. Ideally, you buy super thin beef slices (while this is very common at Quebec grocery stores, it is usually found in Asian grocery stores in the US). You can also cook pieces of chicken, shrimp, and vegetables like mushroom and broccoli florets.

Of course, the moment my mom leaves, I’m already thinking of the next things I want her to bring us. On her last trip, I went a different route and mostly asked for Canadian food I wanted to compare to their US equivalent…Kraft Dinner, Kraft Peanut Butter, Cheez-Whiz… Stay tuned to read more about how their compared!

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