The tour of Quebec continues as we continue to meet with our local partners. After a few days in Gaspésie, the team arrived in the tourist region of the Eastern Townships. The Eastern Townships region has an unprecedented economic vitality. For the past few years, all sectors have contributed. Here we are excited to meet two of our privileged partners and suppliers, Brome Lake Ducks in Knowlton and La Bêlerie in Cowansville.
BROME LAKE DUCKS
Bordered by the majestic Brome Lake, the small municipality of Knowlton is as charming as it is interesting. It is here that we find the offices of the Brome Lake Ducks. After buying out its American partner nearly two years ago, Groupe Mario Côté is now the sole owner of this Quebec company with nearly 300 employees. With a production of 2.2 to 2.4 million ducks per year, Brome Lake Ducks is now a leader in the bird breeding sector in North America.
Specializing in Peking duck, the company breeds its animals in 14 local farms, 80% of which belong to Groupe Mario Côté.
As soon as we arrived, we were amazed by the beauty of the space. Built-in 2016, the Knowlton offices are adjacent to the boutique and the duck interpretation center. It is a unique place where you can learn more about this species that makes Quebecers drool. Catherine Bergeron, HRI Sales Director, was happy to show us around the facilities.
The company’s Vice-President, Bruno Giuliani, prepared a tasting of pulled duck salad accompanied by a delectable foie gras parfait. We had the opportunity to taste one of their new products, which deserves a special mention because of its innovation and exclusivity in the foodservice industry: duck bacon! This product is definitely interesting, as it adds a touch of originality to the dishes. Finally, the last dish that was presented to us is a very popular product in Canada, the duck breast. Easy to cook and versatile. It can be grilled, pan-fried, roasted, candied… and, in all cases, duck is a good source of iron!
Finally, don’t forget that Brome Lake Ducks is also a member of Aliments du Québec!
LA BÊLERIE :
The second stop of our trip in the Eastern Townships, Cowansville with our friends of La Bêlerie. Jamie and Myriam, owners of the company since its creation in 2016, welcomed us to their processing plant. After working in large companies and traveling to several places in the world, Jamie and Myriam jointly embarked on the adventure of starting a family farm and, by the same token, in the world of lamb breeding.
In their 750 head cattle, there are two prolific, purebred breeds, Romanov and Arcott Rideau. These ewes are crossed with meat breeds (Dorset and Hampshire) to ensure a good ratio per litter and a good quality of meat. In order to meet the constant demand for Quebec lamb, Jamie and Myriam obviously source their lamb from their farm, but also from local producer partners.
La Bêlerie wants to become one of the largest producers and processors of lamb in Canada. To be able to achieve its ambitions, the company has acquired a federal slaughterhouse in Yamachiche, in the Mauricie region. However, it should be mentioned that Quebec lamb is still unknown to the general public and is the subject of old beliefs that are not entirely true (its “woolly” taste!). Fortunately, chefs do not hesitate to work with alternative products and less conventional cuts: inside round tartar, leg steak, collar, confit lamb, etc. However, there is still a long way to go before Quebec lamb becomes an integral part of our menus and a must in our diet. But, without raising too much noise, La Bêlerie is putting all its efforts into it… and has the firm intention of getting there.
The tasty and instructive interactions we had during the day with the entire La Bêlerie team have left us with heads full of ideas, projects and future collaborations. To the delight of our customers, we hope!
How it looks on our plates?
Many of our clients are already using the products of Les Canards du Lac Brome and La Bêlerie in their menus.
We have seen poutine with pulled duck, duck confit salad, duck confit pancakes, smoked duck breast carpaccio or simply good duck pizzas on menus!
Among the lamb dishes, there are also many good ideas such as rack of lamb with baba ghanouj or wrapped in a pistachio crust, lamb shank with a chimichurri sauce, cavatelli with braised shoulder ragù, lamb dumplings and even pizza with lamb meatballs.
One thing is for sure, the Eastern Townships are worth the detour! Try it, and you won’t be disappointed.