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Lake House

by Fredrica Duke
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lakehouse.jpgI’m a looky-loo. I real estate dream shop online, a lot!!!! Late one night when my husband was safely sleeping,  I forwarded a photo of a house on a lake I had found and the subject said, “Lets buy this instead of doing an addition to our house.  It’s MUCH cheaper.”

So, instead of doing construction , we bought a house online in Quebec.  Doesn’t everyone in L.A. do that?  Come on.  You know you do.

Well, we did.

So, there we were that first week, enjoying our pristine lake when we got our first and possibly only visitor.  It was our neighbor, the retired judge who lives up the road on our quiet lake.

He was there to inform us about ecology and keeping the lake from getting that nasty blue algae that was killing a lot of the other lakes.  First we heard of that.  Perhaps we didn’t research enough.   Pollution was the culprit.  He told us about phosphates and to use phosphate- free soaps and detergents.  We were in.  He told us to let our grass grow wild right at the lake’s edge.  We were reluctantly in.  The former owners had loud parties and cut the grass long after they were told it wasn’t safe for our lake.  We would be the good citizens and stay on top of all that we could. Have good lake etiquette.  And we did.  And we do.

bambi-300x225.jpgAs the elegant judge struggled with his translation from French to English, we were pretty much understanding him.  Great thing about Quebec, they really try when they can to speak English when they realize you don’t know the language.  So there he was making a real effort and answering all my questions about hunting. 

That was my big concern.  I kept asking about it to the former owners who seemed to not-really-know.  Is there some sort of hunting season? I’m afraid of getting shot accidentally.  I am also such a huge lover of all animals that I just didn’t want to know that right in my new backyard, the hunters would be out killing Bambi, thank you very much. His reply– or what I heard or understood was that he had caught some beavers in a trap.  Okay, then what? I needed to know and I asked.  All I heard was that he ate them. He ate the beavers?   I don’t think I inquired as to how they died after they were trapped because by then I was in shock.  

So then I said, “Oh my God, so you eat beaver!!! Get it?”  I kept repeating it thinking he was my audience…my audience of friends who….get my humor.  Often raunchy humor, I might add.  Not subtle at all, I should also add.  He stayed quite straight- faced, as this was not translating well at all in English or maybe even in any language to this older civilized retired judge from Montreal.   Yet, in all my faux pas tackiness….I kept on.  “Get it, you EAT BEAVER, hahahahahahahaha!!!!” I kept up my laughing maniacally and repeating, “get it, you eat beaver”. I’m thinking, why is he not getting this? This is some hilarious shit!

When this dignified gentleman finally left sort of dazed, my husband looked at me and said, “ Great first impression Beavis.”

Welcome to the neighborhood, ugly Americans.   Well, at least me, I guess.

St-Sauveur Food

First place we hit when we arrive in the village of St-Sauveur is Le Chrysantheme for quite good Chinese food.  I order the Peking Duck appetizer and have to get the fried spinach which is exactly the thing I love at Mr. Chows that we call seaweed. My husband orders the basket of steamed vegetables and the basket is made of fried wanton. And the kid in me just loves that the fortune cookies have English on one side and French on the other.  Here was my recent fortune.  “You are one in a million” or “Vous êtes l’un sur un million.

lezvos-224x300.jpgNext restaurant stop is usually Lezvos for Greek food.  This is my absolute favorite place to eat.  We share a Mediterranean sea bass, grilled to perfection.  I really could eat here every night.  I order the half and half fried eggplant and zucchini served with Tzatziki, a yogurt sauce.  We have a favorite waiter here,  Philipo, and honestly anything he suggests is going to be great. 

Tonkinoise is a family- owned restaurant with the freshest food around.  It’s both Vietnamese and Thai.  The daughters and sons and who knows, maybe cousins, of the owner are your waiters.  Food is amazing and we have never had a bad meal here. 

Gibby’s Restaurant is a staple.  Very old school, almost like Lawry’s.  The salad is served family- style and in chilled bowls.  Steaks served with baked potatoes are their specialty.

For a true Quebecois experience, you will need to drive to a nearby village, Val-David.  Au Petit Poucet is a famous breakfast destination.  Always a bit of a wait and only open until 4:00.   The restaurant looks like an old log cabin.  They have a store, so you can take home things like Maple-smoked ham, Meat pie, Pig’s knuckles, Maple syrup pie (a local favorite) and many more unusual food items. 

For the most gourmand experience, drive to the next village, Sainte-Adele.  Restaurant L’Eau a la Bouche has a Relais and Chateaux rating.  This restaurant is cave-like and charming.   Feels like being in someone’s home in the French countryside, gourmet French food and all.

 

Fredrica Duke shares how she discovered her love of food while growing up in Los Angeles on her blog Channeling the Food Critic in Me.  

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