Before attempting the trail, Bryson does some research to get to know what he is up against. His list of creatures to be wary of include rattlesnakes, water moccasins, bears, loony hillbillies (his words), fire ants, blackflies, poison salamanders; even moose lethally deranged by a parasitic worm that burrows a nest in their brains and befuddles them into chasing hikers. The loony hillbilly comes up several times in the book, as Bryson imagines meeting genetically-challenged hill people named Zeke and Festus, and recalls the book and movie Deliverance with horror. However, he was excited to see the plants and animals of the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, which include giant salamanders, tulip trees, and eerie jack-o-lantern mushroom which glows at night with a greenish phosphorescent light called foxfire. The United States is so large, I forget that it covers so many climate zones and corresponding flora and fauna.
This is the real stuff. There is no instant brown mystery powder in authentic Colombian hot chocolate. And the best part is that is served with a little surprise – cheese cubes. Yes, cheese. The first time Donatello told me about this local specialty, I was just confused. Really, chocolate and cheese? Both are two of my top favourite ingredients of all time, but together? The answer was yes, and the combination is a sweet, rich drink with a salty little treat. It sort of goes along with the trend – caramel and sea salt, chocolate with pretzels – you get the idea. Skeptical or not, you must try hot chocolate with cheese before you decide.
After a couple days on the road on our Quebec Culinary Adventure, Tomiko and I made it to Tadoussac! Tadoussac itself is a town that is popular for tourists to go whale watching in the St Lawrence River. It is located at the convergence of the Saguenay and St Lawrence Rivers, where the mixing of fresh and salt water make it a superb environment for marine life.
Tomiko and I almost didn’t stop at La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix. Luckily, two roads lead past the farm, so we turned in at the second sign and backtracked a bit on La Route des Saveurs de Charlevoix. I’m so glad we did! La Ferme Basque de Charlevoix is located at the bottom of the Parc des Grands Jardins in the village of Saint-Urbain. The owners, Isabelle Mihura and Jean-Jacques Etcheberrigaray, are originally from the Basque Country and settled in Charlevoix in 1999 to raise ducks. The fields were full of live ducks, the barn smelled like live ducks, while the farm shop smelled deliciously of cooked duck.
Maison D’Affinage Maurice Dufour is a fromagerie in the Charlevoix region, along La Route des Saveurs de Charlevoix. Back in the early spring when we were busy at work and tired of the frosty winter, we dreamed of our next vacation. Our original inspiration for this foodie adventure was actually a cheese-eating tour of Quebec. Luckily, we found plenty of cheese here and here along the way, but this one may have been the best of the trip.
The Maison D’Affinage Maurice Dufour is located up a short drive off the highway 138. After getting out of the car, we heard a field of sheep – the very sheep that are milked to make some of Maurice Dufour’s famous cheese!