Food, drink and a little literature, just outside Quebec City.
I’m settled in at Casa Mona & Filles, a restaurant on L’Ile d’Orleans, just down the St. Lawrence River from Quebec City, Canada. The salad before me is almost too pretty to eat. Bright red, juicy strawberries, baked brie, homemade dressing with cassis and crisp fresh greens and crusty French bread on the side. I admire it for a minute, sip my kir—white wine with cassis—and realize, no, it’s not too pretty to eat and I dig in.
The salad is especially tasty because most of the ingredients come from the island, famous for its bounty, its French culinary tradition and a bit of heaven for a foodie— or a history buff, or a lover of beautiful scenery.
Jacques Cartier named the island after the Duke of Orleans, son of the king of France, in 1536. Of course I can always find a literary connection to a destination and this trip was no exception. In a lesser known novel, Shadows on the Rock, Willa Cather depicts life in early Quebec. she perfectly describes the island and it’s role as the farmland that supported Quebec City in the 1600s. She says, “It was only about four miles down the river, and from the slopes of Cap Diamant she could watch its fields and pastures come alive in the spring, and the bare trees change from purple-grey to green. Down the middle of the island ran a wooded ridge, like, a backbone, and here and there along its flanks were cleared spaces, cultivated ground where the islanders raised wheat and rye. …..” All the best vegetables and garden fruits in the market came from the Ile and the wild strawberries of which Cecile’s father was so fond.”
Now, it’s a quick trip over a bridge to get there, but the produce, especially those strawberries remain the same. L’Ile d’Orleans makes a great and relaxing day tour from Quebec City or stay overnight at one the the islands many B&Bs.
One of the myths of the area, is the tragic story of The Lady in White Lady, whose fiancé, a soldier, died in battle. She then put on her wedding dress and threw herself over the Montmorency Falls. Her body was never recovered but to this day there are some people who claim they have seen the Lady in White through the mists of the Montmorency Falls.