A colleague recently remarked that anyone traveling to Montreal must seek out and try “poutine,” a dish whose basic form is moderate-sized french fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. The concept is not unlike the “Martian Landscape” I used to savor in Austin, only with that, it’s shredded cheddar and salsa.

Another recommendation came Wednesday afternoon from my coworker, Dave:  Spruce Beer (“bière d’épinette”).  The Google says this concoction has been around longer than The Internets, apparently even used in the 1700s for prevention of scurvy – I’ll keep that in mind for talk like a Pirrrrrrrate Day.  Best of all, it’s available in nonalcoholic form, perfect for the teetotaler that I am.

While plying through Montreal’s awesome gridlock to drop off a colleague, we discussed iPhones, my not getting a traffic citation for making an illegal left turn (a tourist misunderstanding the interpretation of arrows in a green circle), and poutine. She’d eaten it the night before and described it as “good, but rich.” On the voyage back, I started getting really hungry. I stopped back at the “dorm” room on campus and consulted The Google for help finding poutine place that was not too far from where I’m staying.  It leading contender was Maamm Bolduc on 4351 AVENUE DE LORIMIER. Google claimed I was only a mere 14 minutes away. It was a bit optimistic.

(Oh… my… god are the roads bad here.)

The waitress spoke approximately as much English as I do French, but was familiar with this seemingly bizarre tourist request: a petit poutine and a (San) Marco’s Spruce Beer. The Spruce Beer came first. The aroma makes you feel like you’re right up against the tree, looking for that hidden geocache. After I finished pouring the bottle into my glass, sediment formed on the bottom of the glass. Mmm…. unfiltered arboreal goodness.  It was good.

I was glad I brought a puzzle book with me, because it took nearly half an hour until the poutine was ready – it is apparently made on the spot. Upon seeing the plate, I was glad I’d ordered the petit-sized and without any accompanying food – it’s a huge dish.

(Image source)

In contrast to the “Martian Landscape,” these pom frittes remained lightly crispy. The cheese curds held firm rather than congealing onto the potato base. The gravy was mildly flavored, I’m told it’s vegan-friendly.

Although I enjoyed my poutine, it’s not something I would want to eat very often. (In fact, this morning I counter-acted it with fruit and muesli for breakfast.) Should I crave poutine next trip, I’d try a variety with a spicier sauce, and maybe topped with bacon. Maamm Bolduc had a lot of other interesting looking offerings, including crêpes and thin hamburgers served on a coleslaw.

3 thoughts on “Spruuuuuuuce!”

  1. Dave Taflin

    Merci for scoping out the spruce beer. I wasn’t 100% certain my friend from Montreal wasn’t pulling my leg.

  2. Heh. Every reference page on The Internets should tell you how long something has been around compared to The Internets itself.

  3. Now I know what to eat if I’m ever in Montreal or Austin! Just out of curiosity: why does it matter if the gravy is vegan-friendly if you’re eating cheese? Sincerely: do you think those curds were made out of soy?

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