Exploring the Poutine Trail


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How far would you go for the perfect poutine? That’s the question posed by CDEM Manitoba, an organization dedicated to spurring economic development in the province’s many bilingual communities. They’re banking on poutine to act as a lure to attract Winnipeggers outside city limits—and, in this reporter’s opinion, they’re on to something.

“We’re really looking to draw the Winnipeg crowd into these communities. So what better way than poutine?” says Roselle Turenne, a tourism consultant with CDEM, who spoke to the CBC in mid-August about the promotion. “We know that it’s popular, we know that people like it, and we know that people will drive out to taste something that’s really unique and creative.”

Turenne adds that the goal is to bolster the local economies and encourage city folk to sample the vast opportunities available right next door to Winnipeg. She points out that most of the 750,000 people living in the city have never visited the country or had a good reason to drive out to these smaller communities and get a taste for rural life.

The Poutine Trail includes eight intoxicating stops at restaurants throughout southeastern Manitoba: Ste. Agathe (Lucky Luc’s Bar and Grill), St. Jean-Baptiste (Bistro 758), St. Malo (St. Malo Hotel), St. Pierre-Jolys (Lucky Luc’s Bar and Grill), Lorette (Chicken Chef), Ste. Anne (Old No. 12 Café and Lounge), Richer (Ti-Beauville), and Marchand (Marchand Inn).

While each of these restaurants offers a classic poutine—French fries with cheese curds, smothered in delicious gravy—the real draw is their signature takes on the famous francophone dish. According to Turenne, the only criteria were hand-cut fries and cheese curds. From there, the only limit was the chefs’ imaginations.

For example, Lucky Luc’s in Ste. Agathe will be offering up the Burger Poutine, made from shoestring fries and topped off with ground beef, cheese curds, crisp bacon, onion tanglers, a layer of cheddar cheese, and a bourbon barbecue gravy.

Or you can head down the road to St. Pierre-Jolys for a plate of Tourtière Poutine, a double dose of francophone culture. This poutine starts with a base of double-fried pommes frites, lathered with cheese curds, savoury tourtière filling, gravy, a touch of pastry crumbs, spicy ketchup aioli, and green onions.

La Beau-tine in Richer mixes seasoned hamburger and mushrooms with cheese curds, gravy, bacon, and onion. 

Other variations include the Taco Curd Poutine, the Sweet & Spicy Chicken Poutine, Perogy Poutine, Breakfast Poutine, and Popcorn Chicken Poutine. 

At least one group of cyclists from Winnipeg has already made a two-day round-trip excursion to each of the eight stops, eating five poutines the first day and three the second before returning home full but satisfied. 

Whether you’re driving, cycling, or taking a very long walk, you can’t go wrong with this uniquely Canadian culinary pilgrimage.

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