This is skipping ahead in our journey but …. we once again have van problems and so we ended up in Belfast, Maine thanks to Vanagon Rescue Squad. The VRS helps to locate the closest VW Vanagon-friendly mechanic. So… we are here in Belfast which is simply beautiful and a really lovely coastal town. We probably wouldn’t have come here had we not been having van problems (more on that in the actual Maine post!). Tonight we had dinner at this great BBQ restaurant called Pig Out BBQ. It’s not that we are tired of fish and seafood. We are not! And we definitely are not tired of being by the ocean. Won’t think about that just yet! Anyway, it smelled good, the reviews were good so we thought why not… To start our server, Kim, was just lovely, like most people here in Belfast. We sampled the BBQ chicken, brisket, pulled pork, turnip greens (though traditionally collard greens, turnip greens are what is local up here in the north! we like that), baked beans and mac and cheese. Whew! and because we couldn’t resist and because Kim was so accommodating we shared a single serving of half servings of blueberry cobbler and pecan pie that we sooooo delicious very likely made better because we shared them. If you are ever in Belfast, Maine do stop in at Pig Out BBQ and order one of everything.
Where do we find the food culture in the towns and villages of North America? It is easy in places like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Chicago, etc. But what about La Malbaie or the Gaspésie? We have been driving along both sides of the St. Lawrence River and all we can find are miniature frozen shrimps, the odd cooked lobster and farmed fish from the near coast, the far coast and beyond including tilapia in big stores like Metro and Provigo. The restaurants seem to specialize in quantity rather than quality. We visited a Visitor Centre in Grande Vallée yesterday and the woman working there gave us a copy of the Gaspésie Gourmande Guide. We were so excited to finally have the ability to find local specialties and products. So we stopped in each town or village listed in the guide on our way to Forillon without much success. We did however eat the best lobster and crab rolls this side of Maine at a little place called Cantine de Pêcheur in Cloridorme which was not listed in the guide. The Boutique du Havre directly across from this place was listed and barely had a food product in sight. We still have hope for the other side of the Gaspé but we think we have our work cut out for us.
Food is one of the most important components of our travel experience. We are interested in discovering what is available on Canadian and American roadways and highways; where to stock up on good, healthy, local food. If you are following us and have tips we’d love to hear from you.
Our expectations are based on our experiences on highways in Italy with stops at Autogrill and on the island of Okinawa in Japan. At Autogrill you can expect the best cup of cappuccino in a ceramic cup for a euro, a selection of hot meals such as roasted chicken and potatoes, salad, pasta, pork chop and of course, a glass of wine, oil and vinegar on every table. Alternatively you can buy wedges of pecorino, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto, dried pastas to picnic on or cook at home. In Okinawa every roadside stop includes a full market with fresh produce, fish, prepared foods all of the highest quality. They even have pull-offs on the highway to purchase homemade ice cream (kind of like an emergency stop). Our friend Nobuyo grew up in this environment, so accustomed to good, healthy, quality food everywhere. She has lived for a long time in Ontario and to this day never leaves home without rice balls and snacks for the two hour drive between her home and Toronto as she knows the likelihood of going hungry is high.