Montreal: The Land of Greasy Poutine and Proof That Domestica is Not a Total Health Nazi

Although I currently live in the US, I am, in fact, Canadian.  For us Canucks, there are a few things that wholly represent our home country: the game of hockey, maple syrup, Nanaimo Bars, Tim Hortons (bleh!), and my personal favourite (no, that wasn’t a typo): poutine (pronounced poo-tin).

Poutine is a Quebecois (kay-beck-kwa) staple.  During my studies at Laval University in Quebec City, I used to buy frozen McCain french fries, cans of beef gravy, and bags of cheese curds so that I could make my own poutine in the dorm kitchen (clearly I didn’t have the same health knowledge as I do now — thank God it was just a short program or I’m sure I would have left Quebec with thirty pounds of gravy fat). The best part was that in Quebec, the cheese curds are sold in the “impulse buy” section of the checkout. Where other grocery stores would have chocolate bars and gum, Quebec’ers get tempted to buy a bag of cheese balls. Love it.

For cheese curds to be legit, they need to be eaten within hours of manufacturing so they can be tricky to find in places that don’t have cheese makers.  Even though it is possible to find cheese curds here in California, I’ve yet to go out and make my own poutine. It’s just not right. So instead, I saved up all my poutine allowances over the past ten years and cashed in while visiting my sister in the beautiful (and cold!) city of Montreal.

It was love at first sight.

Poutines 1 and 2 at Banquis, supposedly the "it spot" for poutine in Montreal. Unfortunately we tried some of the weird variations which weren't so great. Next time: stick to the classic.

And love at…second sight.

Fast Food Poutine at La Belle Province (my sister's favourite).

And love at…third sight.

We hit up the Universel Cafe for brunch and my poutine was delicious. But somehow it just didn't compare to the amazing Chocolate + Strawberry Crepe I ordered alongside it. I didn't know the thing would be the size of my torso!

And love at…well…you get it.

By the fourth helping of poutine (in four days), I had heartburn and my liver was actually aching (drat you somewhat still enlarged liver!). I decided that was probably enough. My body was clearly in revolt from the shock of such fatty food and overly generous glasses of wine.

But on the last day, after a great workout with a MyFitnessPal friend who happened to live in Montreal, I decided to have one last poutine hoorah. I headed to the final recommendation I had received from Montreal’ers and had the best poutine yet. I don’t know if it was the sentiment of enjoying my last poutine before heading home or if it was in fact the best but either way, it was glorious.

This poutine from Patati Patata was my favourite of all I tried because A) it was smallest, B) it had an excellent gravy-to-fries ratio, and C) it helped me spend my final four dollars of Canadian coin.

And just to show that I did more than eat poutine for six days straight, I’ll share a few highlights from the trip. Although I enjoy having these cheat foods once in a while, maintaining some form of balance while I travel helps me get back on track as soon as I’m home. To avoid the awful butt-dragging that most people encounter after a vacation of indulgence, I make sure to:

  • incorporate as much exercise as I can (I brought my jump rope, GymBoss, and HRM)
  • pack supplies for my own healthy oatmeal-on-the-go breakfasts to get the day started right (Three Sisters Plain Grain organic oatmeal + nuts + Vega Shake & Go Chocolate Smoothie = energy until noon)
  • bring superfood powders to help get a dose of nutrients, probiotics and clean energy each day
  • pack a clean cooler for each travel day so I avoid airport/airline food

How do you travel lean and clean?

Some of my Clean Cooler contents: nut butter, celery, carrots

My new favourite recipe: Quinoa + Dried Fruit Salad in a Lemon Vinaigrette. That and some red peppers made a great lunch for the plane!

The first day I was there was really rainy and miserable (icy sidewalks + cars showering you with street water!) so we hit the massive underground mall. Zena really wanted to get this hat -- for someone to wear this just proves how cold it really gets in Montreal.

Remember I said I make sure to get plenty of exercise while on vacation? Well by the time we finished making a fool of ourselves in the Microsoft store (playing the Kinect dance game), we were both sweating. Perhaps from shame...??

This pretty much sums up how awesome we are.

One of my favourite nights was when we went to La Distillerie -- a cool pub that serves their yummy cocktails in mason jars...the size of your head...and with photo-bombing bartenders.

On my way to find my final poutine! It was cold (-13˚) but surprisingly pleasant. Had to take this pic for my American readers -- the Parc des Ameriques!

I feel obliged to include a photo of my sister's awesome boyfriend, Josh, who was a great host during my visit. This is the only pic I managed to get of him. What can I say, it's a good thing you have a sexy English accent, dude. ; )

Montreal is known for their bagels and my warm-from-the-fire bagel didn't disappoint! This is an example of a travel indulgence -- I never eat bagels.

Ice skating on one of the many city ponds that freezes over during the winter. I think I have six layers on but skating is a great way to warm up and burn off some of that poutine, too!

I got to meet my MFP friend, Amelie! We worked out at her local gym and I showed her how to do some kettlebell movements. In a future blog post, I'll introduce you to this awesome lady (and mother of FIVE!) and share how in a matter of weeks, she lost the chub, got ripped, and all without a gym membership!


Me and my younger sis, Zena. It's hard when your family lives all over the world but it's great to know that you can pick up right where you left off. Thanks Zena!

Domestically Yours,
Natasha Kay

5 thoughts on “Montreal: The Land of Greasy Poutine and Proof That Domestica is Not a Total Health Nazi

  1. zenaritten says:

    It was awesome having you!! Although you actually managed me make me disgusted with poutine which has never happened before. I’m so happy to have my family visit while I’m living on the other side of the continent! I don’t expect it, but I certainly welcome it!

  2. Charis says:

    Looks like so much fun!!!

    I had my first poutine in 6 months yesterday. Loved it, but I”ll be good for a bit now too.

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