Tsunami of Chinese Restaurants Hits Eastern Townships

Who would have thought there'd be a Chinese food revolution in Cowansville?

This Eastern Townships town is now home to three great new Chinese restaurants -- all opened within the past year or so.


I'm a big fan of Fusion d'Asia (at the corner of rue Principale and rue du Sud, in the former Sac à mots building) and Rendez-Vous Café (across from the Princess Theatre).

I wrote about Fusian d'Asia (94 rue du Sud, 450-263-3838) here

Rendez-Vous Café & Yamei

Less than a block away, Rendez-Vous Café (140 rue Principale, 450-955-3373) serves tasty and generous Chinese noodles and soup dishes.

A couple of buildings over, the café owner's wife, Yamei Zhao, has also opened a self-named restaurant called Yamei (101 rue Principale, 450-955-1682). 

Haven't tried Zhao's restaurant yet, but I wanna, and soon. If her husband's work in the kitchen is any sign, Yamei is gonna be a hit too.

Xie xie to all these entrepreneurs, and good luck!

Asian Fusion a Big Hit in the Eastern Townships

Wow - the Fusion d'Asia restaurant in Cowansville has just opened, and it's already one of my favourite places to eat in the Eastern Townships.

We aren't blessed with the most culturally varied cuisine out here, but this place can compete with - and outdo - most Asian restaurants in Montreal.

Started by owner Minhtri Lai, who is of mixed Chinese-Thai descent, Fusion d'Asia blends flavours from both of Lai's countries of origin as well as Vietnam.

Lai opened the Cowansville location in October after success with his first restaurant of the same name in Bedford, Le Guide of Cowansville reports in this item.

Unholy Good

My wife had a tasty, tiny bird of some kind for an appetizer, while I had breaded shrimp wrapped around sugar cane sticks. Cool!

My wife's fried fish in coconut milk was one of the best fish dishes we've tasted. My mixed seafood dish arrived inside a coconut - nice! - and was unholy good.

When we visited in mid-October, the restaurant was waiting to get its bring-your-own-wine license, which was expected imminently. (Update: They've now got their BYOB licence.)

Prices on the menu were very reasonable, too. And the place was pretty much full the night we went -- so looks like it's already a big hit locally.

Look for this gem in the former Sac à mots building in the old bank building near the corner of rue du Sud and rue Principale.

Star Café's New Knowlton Digs Already an Eastern Townships Hotspot

Glad to be back in the Eastern Townships after a beautiful trip to Montezuma, Costa Rica. (Hola, amigos!) The flowers are blooming, and the birds are signing. As they say in Costa Rica, pura vida.


We noticed that Knowlton's Star Café has moved to a great new bigger location in the gorgeous restored tannery building (61 Lakeside), which was built in 1843. We're looking forward to paying them a visit. 

Good luck, guys!

UPDATE: We've been to the Star Café's new location twice in the past two weeks. What a nice place - always full of customers. 


It's already become a real community hub in just a couple of weeks since opening. What a welcome boost for downtown Knowlton, which for a long time has lacked community-oriented businesses that target local clients (as opposed to the fickle tourist market).


Just goes to show businesses can attract local people downtown with the right mix of prices and quality services - and do very well.

The Crossing: Holy Awakening in the Eastern Townships

Just got back from a beautiful Father's Day trip to Vermont, capped off with an amazing dinner at The Crossing in Richford, VT, just across the border from Sutton in the Eastern Townships.

Wow. You must go.


Don't keep reading this. Just go already.


...

So now that you're back, what did you think? Pretty amazing, I am sure you will agree.

I had some great ribs - 2 lbs no less - while the kids ate some kind of incredible version of home-made vegetable soup I didn't know existed before. Rhonda's filet mignon was like butta.

And I don't need to mention that the peanut butter pie is like a religious awakening.

Just added these beautiful folks to my "Restaurants" section on my food page. Check out their website for more details.

They might not be right in the Eastern Townships, but hey, they're honourary Townshippers in my mind. What's a couple of kilometres between friends anyway.

Thanks to The Crossing for helping make my Father's Day so fine! And I hope yours was too.

GIVE A TOSS IN THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS

A new craze has hit Quebec's Eastern Townships. Move over horse farms and military whist. The region once known for opera in the country is now being taken over by toilet tossers.


Yes, you read that right. Toilet tossers. Don't believe me? See for yourself in these educational YouTube videos (here, here, here, here and here) of this amazing-but-true sport in action.


We're not talking here about your basic throwing toilets off a roof (seen here). That's fun stuff obviously, but where's the technique, the honing of the human body into a precise instrument of porcelain power?

Throwing toilets actually has a long and noble tradition in our beloved Eastern Townships. Well actually no it doesn't, but tossing into a toilet does. Close enough!

USE YOUR HEAD, SON!


I discovered this mind-blowing sport when someone at the Canada Day party in Knowlton asked me, "Do you want to toss a toilet?" I said, "Whuu...?" I was instantly hooked on hurling heads. And so are a lot of other folks, based on the long line-up of tossers and crowd of fans we get each year at Canada Day. And you will be too.


But waiting a whole year to catapult a crapper is waaay too long. So a porcelain-loving buddy of mine, Shannon (why, here he is engaged in his latest hobby), found our very own bowl for us to chuck up. The sport is challenging and is all about thinking with your head. But watch out for the harsh fans and be sure to stand waaay back.

One tosser at the last Canada Day sliced his leg open while throwing a toilet that had some broken parts on the bottom. And someone else almost hit some kids when his went flying in the wrong direction. We're talking NASCAR-like craziness here, people.

PICK UP A JOHN!


If you've got some kind of problem with whipping around a smelly old oval office, let's face it: You're not really living in the country until you can pick up the john and toss it across someone's lawn. And what better way to get the kids off the couch and outside getting some physical exercise?

Now do this great sport a great favour, and share the YouTube videos with your friends. Be sure to hit the "like" button each time you see it. That's supposed to do something.

Readers, definitely try this at home. Start a "bowling" league. Write in with your favourite techniques. Get your toddlers in on the action with a potty toss. Who knows - it might even get them into university on a sports scholarship. Next stop: the Olympics. You know it, baby!

Btw, the top toss at our inaugural toilet toss-off was by Chris "The Toilet King," with a lob of 24 feet. Can you do better? Send in your results, and include pix. Thanks to Marie-Lyse for her photos and videos of this historic event. 

MISERABLE IN THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS: WE'RE OUTTA HERE!

Why am I so miserable? Oh yeah. The winter that never ends. Seems like every person I talk to these days out here in Quebec's Eastern Townships is miserable. And it's bringing me down.

For anyone who's been away, we've had pretty much daily snow out here since the beginning of December. 


There is a five-foot pile of ice and snow outside my window right now on which I had to use an axe a few days ago just to make a hole big enough to get into my office. I think the Abominable Snowman is living in the ice/snow pile right now.

No amount of watching the UFC is helping.

Oh yeah, and there's this crazy partridge that's wandering around in the back yard, chasing anyone who ventures outside the house. The kids are scared to death. He even climbed on top of the ice/show pile to give me dirty looks in my office, but then he slipped and fell off. That made him REALLY mad. He pecked my shoe when I went to the house.

I should mention that I'm depressed even though we just got back from two months in Mexico, where we had a beautiful time on Isla Mujeres. Yeah, I know you feel sorry for me. Boo-hoo!

So we're leaving. Yeah, we've had it. We're packing up the family and heading to Brossard. Not to move! 

We're going to eat at one of our favourite restaurants of all time, the Little Sheep Mongolian Hot Pot. Our family will eat Mongolian for hours non-stop. Man, just don't get in the way of our mouths if you know what's good for you.

I don't care how miserable you are - you can't feel bad after getting a little of that Mongolian goodness in you. Maybe I'll bring some back for the partridge.

FOUND: THE EASTERN TOWNSHIPS FARM THAT MAKES THE WORLD'S BEST BACON

I've just added three new listings to my Food & Drink page that you food-lovers will definitely appreciate:

- Le Porc des Cantons, a farm near Waterloo that produces the world's best bacon and ham (in my humble, bacon-loving opinion). Their "à la vraie bûche" style products make me crazy for pig.

- The Hayes Farm, an organic dairy farm in Enosburg Falls, Vt., just across the border from Sutton, where you can pick up tasty raw unpasteurized milk for excellent prices. Advocates say it has big health benefits, but sadly it's illegal in Canada. You can, however, bring it across the border. (UPDATE: This farm has since closed. Sorry.)

- And De la ferme à la table, a store in Knowlton that specializes in local organic fare. For more details on all three establishments, scroll down to the "Farms, Markets & Gardens" section on that page.

And speaking of good eats, be sure to check out my "Sugar Shacks/Maple Farms" section on the same page, including the listings for my favourite establishments: the Cabane à sucre Pic Bois in Brigham, just west of Bromont, and the Gaby-Pierre Maple Farm in Sutton.

THIS JUST IN: The Missisquoi Historical Society is presenting the very cool agriculture collection of the Missisquoi Museum at the beautiful and historic Walbridge Barn site in the cute little village of Mystic. The ribbon-cutting for this grand event will be held on Sunday, May 30, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. at the Walbridge Barn.

The Missisquoi Museum at the Cornell Mill site in Stanbridge East will also be opening for the season and presenting the theme “Dust to Dust: The Abandoned Graveyards of Missisquoi County in Crisis” along with other heritage objects. For more info, surf on over to the museum website or call 450-248-3153.

Best Restaurant of the Eastern Townships: Fulford's La Petite Table Nippone

The amazing La Petite Table Nippone in Fulford has been voted the best restaurant of the Eastern Townships in the first-ever readers' survey of the Best of the Eastern Townships blog. This rustic little hideaway on a back road between Bromont and Foster is probably the cutest sushi spot in Quebec. Apart from delicious, fresh sushi, the chef makes his own samurai swords. How authentic is that. He and his wife are one of the sweetest couples you'll ever meet in charge of a restaurant and are very kid-friendly on top of everything else. (The chef served our kids butterfly-shaped carrots!) They also cater. Address: 256 Fulford Rd., Fulford, tel.: 450-539-4480, website: Sushi-Traiteur.qc.ca.

Second prize goes to Le Relais in Knowlton. Located in a 150-year-old building that houses the oldest continually operating hotel in the Townships, Le Relais focuses on local ingredients (including Brome Lake duck) and is a favourite of locals especially for its weekly specials, which offer some of the best restaurant deals in the region. Address: 286 chemin Knowlton, Knowlton, tel.: 450-242-2232, website: AubergeKnowlton.ca.

Congratulations to the winners, and many thanks to everyone who voted.

Honourable mentions go to:

- The remarkably excellent Royaume du Steak, one of the best steak houses in Quebec. As good as Moishe's, Montreal's finest steak place, but half the price. Go now. The caribou medallions make me crazy. Address: 300 rue Lewis, Waterloo, tel.: 450-539-0811.

- Restaurant Shalimar of Lennoxville, the Townships' only Indian restaurant. Address: 263 rue Queen, Lennoxville, tel.: 819-823-9683, website.

- The delectable Café Massawippi of North Hatley. Try the insanely good foie gras and surprising yellow wine. Address: 3050 rue Capelton, North Hatley, website: CafeMassawippi.com.

- Sutton's Bistro Beaux Lieux. Laid-back Suttonesque gastronomie. Address: 19 rue Principale Nord, Sutton, tel.: 450-538-1444, website: BistroBeauxLieux.com.

- Bistro Olaf of Cowansville. Address: 1105 rue Sud, Cowansville, tel.: 450-260-1105.

Be sure to check my Eats & Drinks listings page for reviews of all of these and many other tasty Townships restos. (Scroll down to my "Restaurants" post.) Your comments and suggestions are welcome!

NOTE TO VISITORS TO THIS SITE (YEAH, YOU!): This site (and the listings linked to the right) rely a lot on your contributions and ideas. Please comment on any places mentioned in my listings and share your suggestions for new ones. I'd also love to hear from you on other "Best of the Townships" spots to check out and include (restaurants, bars, farms, spas, B&Bs, stores, services, events, etc.)

What Could It Be! Mystery Eastern Townships Dino Find Has West Bolton Abuzz



My top-secret West Bolton correspondent, Shannon Brown, writes about an amazing paleontological discovery that, I am sure, has all of West Bolton abuzz.

Are those mountain folk on drugs? Look at the photos and see what you think.

Shannon in her own words:

"Our neighbours built a road recently across from us and look what was unearthed... What could it be?

"Thought you might like to post it on your site?

"We're charging $2 a pop to come see it, and I think it might just pay for our beer quota this summer. Ha! Just kidding.

"But check it out - we love it..."

I think we have a winner for Best of the Eastern Townships dino. A special prize (I will pay your $2 entry fee to see it) to the first person to identify what this critter is. And an honourary mention to whoever comes up with the best name for the BOTET dino. (Other than "Botet.")

Discover the Eastern Townships: An Insider's Guide

Thanks to documentary maker Albert Nerenberg for this stunner of a shot of a heart-shaped lake near his home in the Glen, with Owl's Head looming behind.

When my wife Rhonda and I moved with our little girls to the charming village of Knowlton in Quebec's picturesque Eastern Townships, we looked forward to discovering this historic and beautiful region (see road map here). But we were surprised at how hard it was to find many of the gems it has to offer.

Where the Locals Go

Where can we find elk sausages or a good super-fresh cheese? Who sells the best, reasonably priced organic veggies? What's the best spa to recommend to visiting friends? What about a cool mountain stream to take a dip in or a shop for kids' clothes? Where do the locals go?

Amazingly, there didn't seem to be a resource that lists the best food and drink, lodgings or spas, winter and summer attractions or shopping and services, whether for locals or tourists. It was up to us to find these secret spots.

We turned into detectives as we talked to our new friends and scoured the internet and country backroads looking for those insider locales only the locals know about. We sometimes found even they don't know of some of the greatest secrets of this remarkable region.

Welcome to One of Quebec's Prettiest Regions

Sure, there are some tourism resources that offer lists of some of these things, but nothing like the insider's guide we were looking for.

That's a shame because the Townships is an amazing place full of spectacular scenery, friendly people, historic sites and fascinating, little-known finds - everything from out-of-the-way vineyards to stunning vistas. So I decided to create the resource we were looking for ourselves.

There's so much to discover in the Townships it'd take us years to track down all its best treasures. Being somewhat lazy people, we also figured a blog would help us learn more about our new home from readers and to share our finds.

Your Insider's Guide

This isn't meant as a comprehensive listing (click here for a map of all the places mentioned on this site) but instead a constantly growing collection of places and attractions we enjoy or value enough to share with you (complete with our highly subjective ratings and those of our friends, neighbours, readers of this blog and the usual whacky guys at the pub). We'll also include a few of the places we didn't like and why. Think of it as a budding insider's guide to one of Canada's most beautiful regions.

This site is still at a beginning phase; we'll update it as we learn more. We'd also like to do a "Best of the Townships" poll, so stay tuned. We invite you to share your discoveries, comments about places and events listed here or not, your ratings, photos and suggestions for this site.

Please let me know if you have any association with the listings you send. We want to keep this site as objective as possible. You can reach me by adding a comment to a post on this website or by emailing me at aroslin1-at-yahoo.ca.