If you’re a resident of the Greater Seattle area, you cannot live this close to the Canadian border and not know what a Poutine is!
To describe it graphically, Poutine is a pile of crisp, french fries smothered with cheese curd and gravy — but before you screw up your nose and mentally fail the dish as the sloppy mess it probably is, you have to know this: Poutine has been declared as one of Canada’s Top 10 inventions, and once you have tasted an honest bowl of Poutine, you may never look at your favorite chilli fries in quite the same way again.
The magic, you see, is in the unique flavor and texture that somehow worked, in open defiance of all culinary logic, when a restaurant-owner in the dairy town of Warwick in Quebec, Canada, threw some fries into a baggie along with cheese curds because a client wanted it that way.
The idea caught on, and the life of the local dairy farmers of Warwick was never the same again, because they had now found a new way to enjoy the cheese curd they produced. The problem was keeping the dish from getting cold while it was being eaten. So in the next stage of its evolution, a piping, hot gravy was added to the dish, and the recipe of Poutine was complete.
From Canada, Poutine traveled quietly to the East Coast of the United States in the 1950s, where many variations of the dish began to appear in greasy spoons (the most famous of which is the New Jersey `Disco Fries’ that replaces the cheese curd with melted cheddar or mozzarella). Upscale restaurants upgraded the simple farmer’s recipe with luxury toppings like foie gras, lobster and Wagyu steak, and even McDonald’s has paid homage to the Canadian pioneering spirit by putting a `McPoutine’ on their Canada menu.
See what you’re missing?
Well, not for much longer because Poutine is now served – original style – at the Beardslee Public House in Bothell, and that is exactly how one should taste it for the first time, to understand what its attraction is really about.
“Poutine used to be one of our specials, but so many customers were asking for it that we finally decided to put it on our regular menu,” says Jed Laprade, Executive Chef at Beardslee. “We do Poutine in the traditional way, but we pay particular attention to the quality of ingredients we use,” he continues. “Everything, as always, is made from scratch or locally sourced here.”
In other words, the gravy does not come out of a can but made in-house from veal bones that have been roasted and then boiled for hours into a rich, aromatic stock. The cheese curd is from Beecher’s – arguably the best local cheese you can find in the Seattle area. The fries are hand-cut too, and this attention to fresh, home-sourced ingredients makes the Beardslee Poutine a pretty rare treat indeed.
“It is rich, beefy, salty, cheesy – perfect for this time of year when the weather’s turning cool and people are beginning to gravitate towards comfort food,” says Laprade.
So there you have it.
Canada’s dish of pride served with Washington authenticity at the Beardslee Public House in Bothell for all Poutine fans out there. And newbies too, who’re willing to try eating their fries with gravy and cheese curd, in a spirit of cross-border adventure.