WHAT IS POUTINE
Poutine hails from the French speaking part of Canada, Quebec. It is a dish that consists of lovely crispy French fries, squeaky cheese curds and a special gravy sauce. It is now a favourite eats adopted across Canada, dubbed a Canadian salad, a hangover cure or simply Canada’s national dish.
The Origins of Poutine
While the exact spot of creation is wildly contested, what we do know is that Poutine is from Quebec. Concocted sometime in the late 1950’s, it was created by customers wanting to add cheese to their fries and sauce or sauce to their cheese and fries. Whatever the case may be by the 1960’s poutine was a regular menu item at the diners, known as a Casse-Croùte, pubs, hockey arenas and Cabanes à Patates which translates to potato Shack. Who doesn’t want to eat at a potato shack?!?
The History of Poutine
The dish continued to be confined to these establishments as a snack food, considered even junk food by some and always in the dairy regions of Quebec close to where the cheese curds were made. It was not until 1969 that brought Poutine out of the countryside to the capitol Quebec City with one of the food carts by a man named Ashton Leblond. A few years later he was able to open up a full time restaurant which has become a popular chain around the city famous for its poutine, Chez Aston. In the 1970’s, a restaurant in Montreal, La Banquise, began serving poutine and it has become a 24 hour poutine establishment in the city. Then in the 1980’s, Burger King began selling it as well. It still, however, kept its reputation as a late night after drinking snack perceived as unsophisticated fare.
That all changed when in 2001, a chef by the name of Martin Picard decided to use Foie Gras as a topping on his poutine in his very swank restaurant in Montreal called Au Pied de Cochon. This revolutionary blend of what is considered sophisticated specialty food like foie gras and marrying it with a backwards junk food was a hit with food critics and patrons alike. From the attention that this poutine got, the dish was then added to menus all over the country and not just in fast food joints but in upscale restaurants, showcasing it outside of Quebec. It has seen grown in popularity and can be found across Canada. The rest of the Canadians like Poutine so much they have adopted it as their own favourite dish. Poutine, I believe, has become a dish in its own right, like a pizza or a hamburger.
What makes a good Poutine?
There are a few essentials to create a poutine, some work better than others, but then you can be creative with toppings and flavours. The basic poutine is french fries, cheese curds and a gravy. What kind of fries should you use? What cheese curds works best, if cheese curds should be used at all? What kind of gravy is it? Does it have to be gravy? All these questions are only just the start. After that the toppings are endless. We prefer here at Oui Poutine to make crispy fries. We use Rooster potatoes and cut them fresh everyday to make a really great fry in its own right.
Next up the cheese, we do use cheese fresh cheese curds. While there are many places that would use Mozzarella cheese back home because it is cheaper and they argue it tastes nicer. We have decided to use both! Poutine gravy is something special. It is not just your average roast gravy. It has flavour, depth, and actually it is vegan! Lol. We also have gluten free gravy as well which has a more bbq flavour to our original gravy. As for our toppings: we use local products where we can. We have flavours for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.
All of our toppings are gluten free as well. Our newest addition to our menu is Montreal Smoked Meat. This is 8 day cured beef brisket, slow cooked and steamed to perfection. It is wrapped in our very own made Montreal Steak Spice.
Oui Poutine: First Canadian Food Truck in Belfast
The truck was born from not having the ability to eat a proper poutine here in Northern Ireland. Also food trucks are cool! Moose I started in 2016 when I bought a converted Ford Transit, cleaned it, painted it and off I went to my first event in Bangor. Oui Poutine is the first poutine shop in Northern Ireland and continues to be the only authentic poutine in the region. I can safely say it is not just a gravy chip with cheese. Over the last 6 years our poutine has evolved and I can say we learned a lot along the way.
Our dish, I think, is an accurate reflection of a classic Poutine from Quebec and I have thrown my own twists in. The local population are hesitant to try something new especially something called Poutine but once they try they love it! A lot of Northern Irish people have friends and family in Canada and they are happy to come and try something that they have heard so much about. We have recently won an Innovation Award with the Yes Chef Awards, as well as being a finalist for the Best Food Truck in Ireland with Good Food and Wine Magazine as well as Best Street Food. These awards are an attestation to our growing popularity as well as the knowledge that our poutine is good!!
We now have a new truck Moose II, which is bigger and brighter and more suitable for our growing needs. The artwork is courtesy of the local artist Francois Got Buffed. We have opened up a second location in the popular Common Market and hope to keep expanding the Oui Poutine name. Our truck is pitched at the Big Fish at the Donegall Quay in Belfast. A great outdoor spot which is located by the river Lagan and beside the bridge that takes you over to the Titanic Quarter. We do move the truck to various events around the country to make sure more people can experience Oui Poutine. We cater for weddings, private parties and for students at Queens. Keep an eye out for our truck near your town soon!