How do you turn poutine into $1266 to fight cancer?
You find a great cause. In this case, Isabelle Rivard’s (@spoonsie) Give to Live challenge (isaonabike.com) to cycle from Vancouver, BC to Austin, TX (a 4300 km trek) and raise $10,000 to fight cancer.
Proceeds go to The Lance Armstrong Foundation, Craig’s Cause for Pancreatic Cancer, and The Canadian Cancer Society.
You find seven generous restaurants who make specialized takes on the dish that normally tops crispy fries with squeaky cheddar cheese curds and veloute-style gravy.
You sign up 35 poutine enthusiasts to join you in a tour of Ottawa’s ByWard Market, including Mark Warburton (founder of Ottawa Foodies), Kaitlin (Ottawa food blogger behind Heartful Mouthful), and Jodi (Ottawa food blogger behind Simply Fresh).
You split the group in two and take everyone on a 2 km walking tour of downtown Ottawa.
The result: 7 very generous restaurants. 37 happy p0utine enthusiasts. 2 km of walking tour. $1266 raised to fight cancer!
Poutine crawls are not unheard of. Earlier this year, Toronto food bloggers organized one. Theirs was not a fundraiser, just poutine enthusiasts, trying the various takes on poutine their city has to offer. The dish that has been long derided, often referred as “fat lumber jack food”, has slowly colonized the city.
With the help of friends, the bloggers behind Endless Simmer organized a “Tour de Poutine” in New York City. In total, they visited 7 eateries and sampled 7 takes on poutine. As Rebecca Marx of the Village Voice blog wrote about the poutine crawl, it revealed Brooklyn to be an unlikely poutine paradise. The most interesting to me was the one that came from a lunch counter in the Essex Street Market, Shopsin’s. Dubbed the “Last Supper Poutine”, it was topped not with cheese curds, but three poached eggs.
Well, Ottawa neighbours Quebec, the province that gave poutine birth. This is a city that knows good poutine. Here’s what its ByWard Market produces.
The Courtyard Restaurant (21 George Street)
Jenn and I unfortunately did not get the opportunity to try Chef Hay’s poutine. Sous Chef Arleigh Martin assembled the poutine to order. According to one of Chef Hay’s earlier tweets, the sauce involved “French fry consomme.” The torchon looked like it was frozen with liquid nitrogen and “smashed.”
Zak’s (16 ByWard Market Square)
Home fries, cheese curds, hollandaise, and paprika.
Murray Street Kitchen, Wine, and Charcuterie (110 Murray Street)
Hand-cut German her spaetzle, shredded duck confit, roast duck gravy, and Glengarry “Fen Squeaks” cheese curds
Garlic Corner (321 Dalhousie Street)
Fries, cheese curds, gravy
Dunn’s (355 Dalhousie Street)
Island Flava (409 Dalhousie Street)
Fries, cheese curds, Jerk chicken, Jerk gravy
D’Arcy McGee’s (44 Sparks Street)
Fries, cheese curds, Guinness gravy
Between tastings, attendees took a stroll through a sunny ByWard Market. The guides, Paola, Chef Riffou, Jenn, and I imparted some information on the various eateries. And, our group got an impromptu art interpretation and history lesson thanks to Kaitlin.
When we reached D’Arcy’s, we discussed the tastings. Both groups weighed in. The favourite and most original was Chef Hay’s from The Courtyard Restaurant. Close seconds, Chef Mitton’s from Murray Street Kitchen and Chef Antoine’s from Island Flava.
- It take two people to give a tasting tour, one who leads the group and another who warns the next eatery the group is coming.
- You need a runner to co-ordinate a pair of tasting tours (touring simultaneously) to keep them in sync.
- Live tweeting a tasting tour generates a lot of retweets.
A heartfelt thank-you goes out to the chefs, owners, and restaurant managers who donated their dishes; Paola and Chef Riffou from C’est Bon Cooking who worked out the logistics of the Poutine Crawl and lead the larger of the two tour groups; and everyone who attended, bought tickets, and donated to the cause.
Here are blog posts drafted by Kaitlin and Jodi on the poutine crawl:
- Heartful Mouthful (teaser): this weekend
- Simply Fresh: Give to Live Poutine Crawl in 7 Pictures
- Heartful Mouthful: poutine crawl
- The Adventures of Ecogeek: Poutine: Classing Up Your Palette
Do click, they are fun reads.