I Squash You
One of the great things about weekends in Montreal is that you’re not far from the countryside if you want to take a day trip to get away from the concrete jungle. Fall is harvest time and for an inexpensive wholesome type of outing, a pleasant way to spend the day is in the fields picking apples or other crops. About 40 minutes north of Montreal in the Saint-Joseph-du-Lac region, there are plenty of apple orchards to choose from and especially interesting for this city slicker was the Centre d’interprétation
de la courge du Québec where you can pick your own squash and of course, pumpkin for Hallowe’en. You select a wheelbarrow at the entrance to the fields and off you go. The selection of squash is astounding for someone who is not familiar with squash. Who knew there were so many kinds! If in doubt, the staff are very knowledgeable about their courges. I learned that the decorative squash are not for eating as they can be powerful laxatives. So the next time, you want to get back at someone, you can cook up a pot of your special squash soup…
The apple orchard that we chose to visit was one of the bigger ones in the area. Les Vergers Lafrance is very popular with families because of the playground and activities for kids. It was packed when we went but the wait for a tractor trailer to pull you out to the orchard is very quick and everything is run very efficiently. The apples that are being harvested right now are the sweet Cortlands and the the tart McIntoshes. I will be attempting in the weeks to come to eat my way through several pounds of apples. Apart from apple picking, these orchards offer many varieties of food made from you guessed it, apples. Apple pies, apple cookies, apple bread, apple doughnuts, apple crepes….you get the picture…and here’s one of the apple crepe I had.
Also in the area is a vineyard that you can visit for some wine-tasting. We went up the street to La Roche des Brises where they have nine varieties of wine available. The ice wine was my favourite but sadly, a bit too pricey for my budget so I opted for a bottle of the late harvest dessert wine which was good too. The vineyard is very picturesque – especially at this time of year set against the fall colors of the trees. A real treat for the senses.