Quebec City Christmas, Day 3
If you missed my first two days in Quebec City, please check out my previous posts.
On Christmas Day in Quebec City we woke up to a howling snowstorm, one that drove us back into our warm hotel room for a few hours after a simple but filling breakfast. We eventually bundled ourselves up to head out into the maelstrom to go on a Christmas walk of Quebec. Given the weather, we were sure that we would be the only ones on the tour but when we arrived there were at least 20 other people ready to go. Our guide, who seemed not to be bothered at all by the snow and wind, wore a traditional (kind of?!) Quebecois outfit and proceeded to take us to a variety of locations and shared some traditional Quebec Christmas stories with us. We shared some hot chocolate and ginger biscuits while gazing at the lovely Ursuline Monastery and wandering down quaint alleys decorated with evergreen. As we started to head into the lower part of the city, I must admit, I was freezing. I just wanted to be warm (and part of me did not want to climb back up to the Upper Town after the tour). We really did enjoy the tour and I would happily take the historical Quebec City Tour when I return. In the summer. When it’s warm. But for now we required a warm up with a drink.
In Quebec there is no more iconic location than the luxurious Chateau Frontenac, perched high in the Upper Town, looming over the city. Venerated as the most photographed hotel in the world, this Gilded Age beauty is a must visit in Quebec. The Chateau tempted us with a lovely Christmas buffet overlooking the stunning St. Lawrence River, however we opted to visit the old world, industrial, chic 1608 wine and cheese bar (is there a better type of bar?!). A circular bar top dominates the room surrounded by couches, chairs and high tables scattered around the edges. A fireplace warms the space which is decorated with industrial lighting, taxidermy and leather bound books. It feels very much like the study of an 19th century Victorian gentleman who is into steampunk. We were fortunate enough to snag a small table and chairs by the fireplace and were immediately overwhelmed by the tremendous cocktail and drink menu. A wonderful nibble of bar mix arrived with our glasses of wine. Settling into the cozy atmosphere we ordered more superb cocktails and one of the most incredible cheese boards ever. This bar was truly wonderful - not cheap but wonderful. We were allowed to relax and warm ourselves by the fire, not feeling rushed by our accommodating waiter. When we eventually did drag ourselves out of the bar, it was to get ready for dinner.
Since Christmas Eve dinner was ultra traditional, for Christmas dinner we decided to go utterly nontraditional. Five years ago one of our most memorable vacations was to Cambodia. When we found a highly reviewed Cambodian restaurant near our hotel, we knew we had to book it for dinner. (FYI - apparently the restaurant also runs a hotel, so be aware when you walk in and say you have reservations - at first they thought we were checking in as the hotel and the restaurants share the same front desk). When I eat, I love to try as many menu items as possible so tapas or a meal of appetizers is my idea of a perfect meal. Fortunately for me, Apsara agreed. Offering a variety of Southeast Asian cuisines, they have created a myriad of tasting menus consisting of soups, appetizers, main courses and desserts. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and apparently we were not the only ones with this idea, as the restaurant was quite busy. Our favorite bites were the crunchy, salty Mini Lat pork rolls and the Mou Sati peanut skewers. Dessert was tasting plate of all the desserts in the restaurant - I loved the sweet and crispy fried pineapple. Happy and content with our fill of cheese and Cambodian delicacies, we returned to our hotel for our last night in Quebec.
Quebec City proved to be better than I imagined and truly lived up to its reputation as the perfect place to spend Christmas in North America. It was charming, walkable, quaint and full of friendly people and delicious food. For our last meal, we went to Paillard Bakery to get some of their lovely, crusty bread and beautiful buche de noels for the road home and some pastries for breakfast. The chocolate twist, filled with dark chocolate, a bit of custard and topped with crunchy icing sugar was decadent and the breakfast sandwiches were made to order on their pillowy, buttery croissants - a perfect last bite of Quebec City!