So some readers may have cringed about a story about a festival that celebrates poutine. Those same readers might cringe about this story about a different poutine festival. The difference is that spotlighting these two festivals shows us that if you are going to go that way, do it well.
I took a few shots at the hipster poser poutine fest that generated a lot of buzz and press in Chicago. Some Canadian expats and wannabes took exception to the limited numbers for the "poutine fest" (reportedly 50 per session) and decided to have their own poutine celebration.
The Canadian group picked a place that is devoted to poutine — the Bad Happy Poutine Shop. The restaurant pulled out of the more popular poutine fest. The space is limited since the restaurant is small, so the place couldn't hold 50 people.
This made the event more exclusionary, though the price for the Canadian event was $20 versus the $50 for the poutine fest ($65 for VIP status). The Canadian fest money went to the restaurant while the proceeds from the poutine fest went to charity.
The Canadian event had poutines that you could get on the regular menu every day. Some of the poutines offered in the poutine fest were one-time events.
The Canadian event drew on the 6 variations of poutines that the restaurant normally serves, including a dessert poutine, and a milkshake. The poutine fest offered 9 restaurants and their interpretations of poutine.
The portion sizes of the Canadian event were larger and you might find yourself with an extra cup of poutine. The Canadian event started with a classic poutine: fries, cheese curds, and gravy. No single poutine at the poutine fest offered a basic version. The variations kept the same theme as the original poutine: fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
avec (with) smoked meat, bell peppers, onions, mushroom, sauce au poivre
chicken, garden peas, Canadian bacon
hot dog sauce, steak hache, sausage, bacon, onions
pork belly, truffle mayo, foie gras mousse, and sunny egg
grilled gyro meat, feta cheese, onions, tomatoes, tzatziki sauce, kalamata olive tapanade, curry gravy
a special dessert poutine with French toast sticks, toasted marshmallow, vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce
These poutines were more satisfying because poutine is what I wanted. Some of the poutine fest items were interesting, and I certainly walked away full from the event. But I felt hungry for poutine.
Despite having had poutine or sorta poutine twice within 6 days, this isn't a typical happening. I now live in a city with a poutine shop. But I only go once in a while. Living in Montréal, poutine would be a lot more tempting, mostly because Montréal has way better poutine (at cheaper prices) than even the poutine shop in Chicago.
If I would do poutine, or any other yummy calorie-plus dish, I want to do it right. Or as close to right as I can get, short of getting on an airplane.