Story and photos by Barbara Angelakis

Quebec Boreal Vegetable plate

French Cuisine with a Québécoise Accent

Quebec City has long been known for its innovative and inventive cuisine. Since my early traveling days, visiting Quebec was always a go-to destination for beautiful vistas… old-world charm… support of local craftspeople… and great food. On our recent trip we were invited by Destination Québec Cite to meet several of the talented young chefs specializing in the distinctive boreal cuisine.

Boreal - from Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind – as it relates to cooking, refers to the bounty nature provides in the northern forests that are dominated by conifer trees and indigenous plants, berries and ferns that are native to a specific area - in this case the Provence of Quebec.

pickled herring roll

Nordic cuisine uses lean fish such as cod, which are especially rich in proteins, or fish — salmon, mackerel, herring and trout – that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. They also use game meat that is very rich in proteins and almost completely without saturated fat. The vegetables and berries from the region are rich in antioxidants and in vitamins B and C. Nice to know, especially as all these are also delicious.

Boreal cooking in Quebec was developing during the period when the territory was known as New France, before the conquest by the British in the mid-18th century, and ingredients that were the bases for French cooking became not readily available. The native peoples taught the French settlers about the abundant source of food in the forests and introduced them to the local animals and the best ways of preparing all of these indigenous products. Once the British displaced the French, boreal cuisine was further developed and became a totally new cuisine in Quebec where only locally sourced seasonal ingredients are used.

Each of the chefs we spoke with, told us that boreal cuisine is an ongoing creative process demanding constant and extensive seasonal experimentation to discover nutritional and flavoring alternatives to lemons, olive oil, and traditional spices since these items are not native to the area.  Like any constantly changing cuisine, it is necessary to suspend ones prior training and expectations and be willing to experiment with new unfamiliar ingredients. All of the chefs we spoke with enjoyed the challenge and were excited about the health benefits of seeking out locally sourced seasonal ingredients and creating delicious, nutritious dishes from their serendipitous finds.

Bouley Foie Gras

My first experience in boreal dining was at Chez Boulay Bistro where Chef Jean-Luc Boulay and his associate, Arnaud Marchand have developed a menu using regional ingredients harvested seasonally at their prime. The physical plant was a traditional looking French Bistro with a bar along one side and an open kitchen at the rear. Friendly, knowledgeable waiters described each dish but, as with most boreal dishes, I was unfamiliar with many of the ingredients outlined. I began with nougat of Foie Gras, with berries and yellow birch syrup. It was delicate and savory and good to the last succulent drop. The menu that day offered a Walleye fish chowder and a Rabbit Rable along with an unusual dish of Jerusalem artichoke Patia with willowherb tea, Viennese herb crust and black Jerusalem artichoke. Throwing caution to the wind, I went with the artichoke and I am so glad I did, it turned out to be an absolutely divine dish, beautifully presented with wonderful flavors complimenting each other. I must admit I was not as thrilled with the desert selection but after two wonderful dishes, my companions and I left raving.

Fiddlehead Fern Fritters

Another impressive Chef Dereck McCann, is one of the co-chefs heading the kitchens at Le Monastere des Augustines, called Le Vivoir Restaurant, with a total hands-on approach making sure his guests are well-fed and knowledgeable of the health benefits of boreal cuisine. Serving three meals a day, he oversees an impressive daily array of salads, entrees and desert’s as well as offering ala carte menu selections all locally sourced. He has a personal relationship with all his providers securing only the best, freshest meats and poultry, vegetables and fruits at their prime. Since our group was staying at Le Monastere, Chef Dereck went all out with a tour de force dinner of organic mushroom ravioli, fresh octopus with dried peppers and tomatoes, sturgeon with creamed corn mélange, barbeque ribs with caramelized carrots, Portuguese herbed chicken and souse-vide carrots. He complimented the meal with wines personally selected from Muldova and ended with a variety of tasty treats and a small harvest cherry liquor from his private cellar.

First Nations Food on Plank

A short drive outside of Quebec City in a spectacular setting in the woods took us to the First Nations Wendake Hotel-Musee Premieres Nations and dinner at Restaurat La Traite. Chef Marc de Passorio introduced us to his vision of boreal cuisine after our visit to the amazing Sound and Light show Onhwa Lumina set in the forest a few minutes’ drive from the hotel. Elated after the experience in the forest we sat down to a late three-course dinner with a choice of selections. Chef de Pasorio is a classically trained chef but became captivated by boreal cooking and had to re-learn how to select unusual ingredients and combine them in unique ways. Example: Oushata Salmon was served with watermelon radishes, corn puree, sage and Gaspesie seaweed vinaigrette and his Butternut Squash Puree with star anis confit, green alder pepper, black garlic cream, pear and lime. The entrees were Lake Walleye with forest tea, corn, braided cabbage, winter apples and ice cider beurre blanc and my selection of dinner entrée of Deer medallion, root vegetables with cedar salt, mushroom and candied lemon. Again desert was unremarkable but the mixologist at the bar kept us all well hydrated and happy.

We had three more outstanding dinners which are described in Culinary Fireworks!

For information on Quebec visit:




© July 2023 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.


LW-sub_dropshad 2

In this issue: