(As first seen on JewishJournal.com) Scenic drives are nice, but how many vistas can you pull off for and go, “ooh, ahh”? It gets old after a while. For foodies/gourmands, a new route is sure to be their travel heaven: Quebec Province’s Circuit du Paysan (translates to roughly, “the Circuit of the Countryman”). This driving circuit is north of the New York State line, south of Montreal and easily accessible to those in Vermont and New Hampshire. Instead of bluffs, this route focuses on the artisan delicacies produced in this bounteous area! You’ll definitely want to bring a cooler. The circuit is a rather a well-kept secret, because even knowledgable people in Montreal seem to have never heard of it.
With stops clearly marked by the special sign, the sites run the gamut from little unassuming shops to large boutiques to wineries, farms and restaurants. Don’t overlook the “ordinary” looking businesses! Fromagerie de Metayer is in the corner of a strip mall and very easy to miss . . . but that’s where you’d be amiss! They carry regional and hard to find Canadian cheeses, including those from Prince Edward Island, as well as their own made-on-site fresh cheese.
I noticed several of the businesses had German and Swiss names, as well as foods. Sure enough, there’s a stretch around this circuit that welcomed German immigrant settlers. Boutique Bon Boeuf would make a fortune if they sold t-shirts, I think.
One of these shops is rather a super-store of cheese, packed with customers in the know: Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser puts out cheese samples that the customers set upon like piggies at the trough. They have a couple of little tables with stools for immediate snacking. Along with their huge selection of cheese, they sell European accoutrements, candies and things to put together a gift basket.
Ciderie du Minot is was the first ciderie in Quebec Province to receive a permit, still family owned. They provide free tastings of their award-winning ciders! There’s antique equipment to check out on site.
The thing to keep in mind with these artisan sites is that they’re working places. Their hours and open seasons may vary, according to growing seasons. If you have your heart set on one location or another, it pays to call ahead of time! But really, there’s a wide selection of places to go to, so you can easily keep driving to another gem.