Chocolaterie Raphael: A favourite spot of my special chocolate correspondent, who raves: "I would strongly recommend it. They make Belgian chocolate and serve very good tea." Rating: Very good. Last visited: Mother's Day. Address: 320 chemin Knowlton, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-242-2994.
TAGS: Eastern Townships, Sutton, Knowlton
Boulangerie Owl's Bread (Mansonville and Magog locations): The New York Times says this bakery has "one of the best bistro lunches this side of the Atlantic: salads, foie gras, duck confit, sandwiches." Also available: pastries from the artisanal bakery. Rating: Very good. Last visited: summer 2009. Address for the Mansonville bakery: 299a Principale, Mansonville, Qc., tel.: 450-292-3088. Address for Magog bakery: 428 Principale Ouest, Magog, tel.: 819-847-1987. Website: OwlsBread.com.
Panissimo: Their home-made breads are famous, and so are their baguettes and other specialties. Rating: Very good. Last visited: Sept. 2007. Address: 291a rue Knowlton, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-242-2412.
Saveurs et Gourmandises Bakery & Deli: This foodie haven in cutest North Hatley offers breads and pastries, fine deli meats, local cheese and duck products. Address: 39 Rue Main, North Hately, tel.: 1-819-842-3131.
TAGS: Eastern Townships, Magog, Mansonville, Knowlton, Abercorn, North Hatley, bakeries, Owl's Bread
Alpines Mount Echo: Nursery specializing in alpine, rock garden and woodland plants in a beautiful spot in the foothills of Mts Sutton and Echo. Address:
Les Amies de la Terre du Voisinage de Waterloo: We love these guys. At your beck and command are nearly 600 products from 23 farms around the region - everything from fresh meat and produce to eggs and milk, all at great prices. The products are organic or chosen for their respect of the environment. Why buy from someone thousands of kilometres away when local producers make much of what we need? Rating: Awesome! Last visited: Feb. 2008. Address: 151 rue Lewis Ouest, Waterloo, Qc., tel.: 450-539-4964, website: ATVWaterloo.com.
Beurrerie du Patrimoine: The Groleau family milks 60 cows each morning, separating the milk and pasteurizing to make their famous cheeses and artisan butter sold at outlets across Quebec. They have a store on the premises and also offer cool two-hour guided tours and tasting sessons on appointment. Rating: Awesome! Last visited: May 2008 (ordered through Amies de la Terre du Voisinage de Waterloo). Address: 225 Chemin de Cochrane, Compton, Qc., tel.: 819-835-9373, website: FermeGroleau.com.
Chevrerie Fruit d'une Passion: "Les joyeux fromagers," as these guys call themselves, love goats so much they got their own farm where they produce fine, artisanal goat-milk products, which they supply to gastronomic restos around the province. Address: Saint-Ludger, Qc., tel.: 819-548-5705, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website.
Chiapputo Elk Farm: Elk sausages, steaks, pies and more. Some of the best sausages I've ever had. Rating: Awesome! Last visited: Oct. 2007. Address: 2352 rue Principale, Dunham, Qc., tel.: 1-888-345-2460, website: ChiapputoElkFarm.com.
Ferme de cerfs Highwater: Deer meat products. Address: 52 Rodrique, Mansonville, Qc., tel.: 450-292-4357.
Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser: Locals buzz about master cheesemaker Fritz Kaiser's award-winning cheeses, including Le Douanier Cheese, named grand champion of the Canadian Cheese Grand Prix in 2004, and his Raclette Griffon, which also won a prize. Last visited: not yet, but soon! Address: 459, 4eme Concession, Noyan, Qc., tel.: 450-294-2207, website: FKaiser.com.
Gereli Farm: Organic beef, lamb, veal and maple products from award-winning producer Richard Semmelhaack, whose Hereford, Gereli Rifle, took top honours as grand champ bull in the National Hereford Show in 1981. This bull's mother was the long-time record-holder for highest-selling Polled Hereford Cow. Rating: Awesome! Last eaten: May 2008. Address: 54 Highland, Shefford, Qc. tel.: 450-539-0125, website: Gereli.ca.
Les Petits Fruits Léger: One of the few fruit farms near Bromont, this 43-acre establishment includes apple orchards, strawberry bushes and grapes for red wine - plenty of tasty stuff to help stock their boutique with various ciders and other imbibements. They also offer apple-picking in the fall and occasionally sell goat cheese, fresh lamb and other products from nearby farms. Last visited: not yet, but soon! Address: 331 chemin Brome, Fulford, Qc., tel.: 450-534-2753.
TAGS: Eastern Townships, Mansonville, Mordecai Richler, Owl's Head
Auberge Lakeview Inn: Locals pack into Knowlton's charming 130-year-old Lakeview Inn Friday nights for its tasty, very reasonably priced roast beef special. Rating: Very good. Last visited: June 2010. Address: 50 rue Victoria, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 1-800-661-6183 or 450-243-6183, website: AubergeLakeviewInn.com.
Au Diable Vert: Said to be Quebec's best place to watch the leaves come ablaze with fall colours, this unique 200-acre property in the stunning Glen Sutton valley won the 2000 Quebec tourism grand prix for outdoor adventure attractions. "You want to whistle The Sound of Music, it's so beautiful there," raves my trusty Glen Sutton correspondent. Features include a superb restaurant, a wide variety of lodgings ranging from mountain-view suites to cabins and even prospector tents, plus year-round organized activities from skiing on nearby Mt Sutton to mountain hiking, kayaking, bicycle tourism and mushroom picking. Last visited: not yet, but soon! Address: 169 chemin Staines, Glen Sutton, Qc., tel.: 450-538-5639, website: AuDiableVert.qc.ca.
Café Floral: Great view, super-friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere, tasty food, kid-friendly (including crayons and colouring books). Whaddya want? My special lunching correspondent tells me this "is, in my opinion, the best restaurant in Knowlton. Only open for breakfast and lunch, but the food is divine. View of the Mill Pond from the terrace is very pretty. Not expensive and a great bargain for the quality." I agree. It's our regular weekend lunch spot. Rating: Awesome. Last visited: regularly. Address: 30 Lakeside, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-243-0792.
Café Massawippi: Cozy little gastronomic resto in picturesque North Hatley. This place packs it in for heavenly fois gras, regularly changing table d'hotes and their own specialty preserves. First place I've tried yellow wine, which by the way is incredible. Rating: Awesome! Last visited: June 2013. Address: 3050 rue Capelton, North Hatley, Qc., tel.: 819-842-4528, website: CafeMassawippi.com.
The Crossing: Holy Moses, so good. So very good. I had the ribs (2 lbs). Wife had filet mignon. Amazing. Their famous peanut butter pie was even better. Even the vegetable soup, which the kids had, was stupendelicious. The prices are very reasonable too. (My ribs were $11, and we got a whole PB pie for $12.) Where have you been all my life?! Rating: Awesome squared. Address: 14 Province St., Richford, Vt., tel.: 802-848-3393, website: TheCrossingVT.com.
Entre les branches: This Bromont restaurant with a tasty-looking table d'hote is highly rated by locals. Address: 616 rue Shefford, Bromont, Qc., tel.: 450-534-3213, website: EntreLesBranches.com.
Frederick's Dar-I Whip Restaurant: Not exactly in the Townships, this super-cozy, family-run diner is the perfect place for a stop if you're ever exploring the breath-taking mountains and forests of upper Maine. The restaurant, which got its start as a home-made ice cream parlour (hence, "Dar-I Whip"; get it?) decades ago, won a 2007 Restaurant Neighbor Award and serves some of the best corn chowder and pulled pork sandwiches I've ever tasted. The seafood platter was also insanely good. Every small town needs a place like this. Please, God, bring us a diner half this good to Knowlton! Rating: Is there anything above "Awesome"? Last visited: June 2010. Address: 120 Mercer Rd., Norridgewock, Maine, tel.: 207-634-4962.
La Girondine: Local foodies rave about this gastronomic gem of a restaurant in charming little Frelighsburg, known for its local ingredients (including onsite farm) and boutique offering foie gras, sausages, rabbit, duck and much more. Last visited: not yet. Address: 104 Route 237 South, Frelighsburg, Qc., tel.: 450-298-5206, website: LaGirondine.ca.
Knowlton Pub: This relaxed tavern with friendly staff in downtown Knowlton offers a great terrace where locals mingle with motorcycle-tour groups and eat high-quality pub-style fare. The Cobb salad and Black & Blue burger (with blue cheese) are tasty, and the peanut butter pie is insane. I also like the Knowlton Gold beer (which tastes a little like honey). Also feature lots of live acts. Rating: Awesome. Last visited: regularly. Address: 267 chemin Knowlton, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-242-6862.
Marina Knowlton: Originally built circa 1890, this charming little hangout has a nice terrace overlooking Lac Brome, a "Touki" bar and a relaxed atmosphere that's probably the closest you'll find to the Caribbean in these parts. They serve awesome burgers and other "bistro" food with a BBQ through the summer plus boat slips and nearby cottage rentals. Rating: Awesome. Last visited: regularly. Address: 78 Benoit, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-243-5453, website: MarinaKnowlton.com.
Pilsen Restaurant & Pub: Wile away the day gazing at Lac Massawippi while munching on pub fare or fine cuisine and washing it down with a cool local microbrew. Address: 55 Rue Principal, North Hatley, Qc., tel.: 1-819-842-2971, website: Pilsen.ca.
Le Relais: This higher-end resto in the heart of downtown Knowlton is decent enough (albeit a tad overpriced), serving good cuisine with local ingredients (including lots of duck), but the Thursday and Saturday night steak specials are a couple of the best deals in the entire region. Book your seat because in-the-know locals often take every seat in the place. Some of their other specials are also worth investigating, and the place boasts a nice terrace. The 150-year-old building also houses the oldest, continuously operating hotel in the Townships. Rating: Very good. Last visited: regularly. Address: 286 chemin Knowlton, Knowton, Qc., tel.: 450-242-2232, website: AubergeKnowlton.ca.
Restaurant au Royaume du Steak: This relaxed Waterloo resto is by no means the fanciest joint in the area, but the steak is insane - in a class with Montreal steak gods Moishe's. Rhonda had an ever-so-tender filet mignon, while I, a fan of all things gamey, had to try the caribou. Holy jeezus, it was ridiculously good. Plus, one of the few decent restaurants between Granby and Lac Memphremagog with a kitchen open later than 8 p.m. on a Tuesday night (our anniversary). Rating: Awesome times a million. Last visited: regularly. Address: 300 rue Lewis, Waterloo, Qc., tel.: 450-539-0811.
Star Café: A popular Knowlton hangout and community hub, the Star Café restaurant is located in the beautifully restored old tannery building, built in 1843. It offers a reasonably priced, tasty breakfast and lunch, organic coffee from Knowlton's Virgin Hill brewery and dinner on special occasions. Rating: Awesome. Last visited: lots. Address: 61 Lakeside, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-243-5222.
Le Temps des Cerises: A great find in tiny Danville, near Richmond, Qc., this resto in a restored neo-gothic church is "a cut above the rest," my correspondent informs me. They also offer cooking classes in areas like soups, meats mousses, baking and pasta. Products made here are sold around the region and at Montreal's Jean Talon market. Last visited: not yet, but I wanna! Address: 79 rue du Carmel, Danville, Qc., tel.: 819-839-2818 or 1-800-839-2818, website: Cerises.com.
Le Toscan: Italian restaurant right beside the dam and Coldbrook Pond in downtown Knowlton. Last visited: not yet. Address: 70 Lakeside, Knowlton, Qc., tel.: 450-577-2652, website: LeToscan.ca.
De Winter Maple Farm: This maple farm is certified organic and sells syrup and gourmet products like maple vinegar and dressings, maple BBQ sauce, maple jellies and sugar, along with blackcurrant products. Last visited: not yet, but I wanna! Address: 420 Jackson, Sutton, Qc., tel.: 450-242-4287.
Owl Hoot Maple Farm: I love the name. This traditional farm uses horses to draw the sap and sells maple syrup, butter, sugar, jellies, candies and pies. Last visited: not yet, but I wanna! Address: 85 Ross Road, Stanbridge East, Qc., tel.: 450-248-3616.
Chapelle Ste-Agnès Vineyard: This one-of-a-kind vineyard owned by Westmount antique dealer Henrietta Antony makes worldclass ice wines that have won some of the planet's most prestigious spirits competitions. Located on the west pass into the insanely beautiful Glen Sutton valley, the site also boasts an extraordinary stone chapel built in the Romanesque style by the Czech-born Antony in honour of Saint Agnès. Offer samples and tours. Call in advance to book an appointment to visit the store or arrange a guided tour or sampling session. Last visited: not yet, but I wanna! Address: 2565 route Scenic, Glen Sutton, Qc., tel.: 450-538-0303, website: VinDeGlace.com.
Clos Saragnat: This is the personal vineyard of the legendary, award-winning Christian Barthomeuf, one of the pioneers of viticulture in Quebec and creator of its first ice wines. The vineyard in charming Frelighsburg uses companion planting to improve plant health and no pesticides, tractors or heavy machinery. Rating: Awesome. Last visited: 2008. Address: 100 Chemin Richford, Frelighsburg, Qc., tel.: 450-298-1444, website: ClosSaragnat.com.
Domaine des Côtes d'Ardoises: Christian Barthomeuf, one of the pioneers of viticulture in Quebec, helped found this celebrated Dunham vineyard, one of the few in Quebec to produce red wine. Last visit: not yet. Address: 879 route 202, Dunham, Qc., tel.: 450-295-2020.
Domaine Les Brome: Nice vineyard with stunning vistas and excellent reds, whites, rosés and ice wines. Offer samples and tours. Rating: Very good. Last visited: Sept. 2007. Address: 285 chemin Brome, Lac Brome, Qc., tel.: 450-242-2665, website: DomaineLesBrome.com.
Domaine Pinnacle: Family-owned apple orchard and cidery perched on the slope of Mt Pinnacle near Frelighsburg, a charming historic village named as one of the province's most beautiful villages by the Association des plus Beaux Villages du Québec. Last visited: not yet. Address: 150 chemin Richford, Frelighsburg, Qc., tel.: 450-298-1222 or 450-263-5835, website: DomainePinnacle.com.
Hydromelerie les Saules: Honey wine and other honey products. Rating: Very good. Last visited: Nov. 2007. Address: 1135, Denison Est (route 112), Granby, Qc., tel.: 1-877-443-3403 or 450-372-3403, website: hydromel.frankel.ca.