Ah, the countryside. An expansive swath through which we drive, drawing in that crisp, clean air and leaving all our worries behind. The sky is wide and open; the landscape, charming. Hills. Valleys. And then the farmland with all its attendant animals. Cattle standing in a field. Sheep picking their way through stony ground in search of red clover. Pastoral scenes, pretty as a picture. Closer to the farmhouse are the snuffling pigs. Ducks and chickens contentedly pecking away at their grain. Idyllic, no? Of course, if we think twice, we understand that farms aren’t really intended to appeal to our romantic sensibilities. They’re working operations, right? With all the travail that husbandry entails. Even more laborious is the raising of game and the production of meat, organically or free-range. Ask the professionals. The farmers, that is. They’ll tell you.
Bison roaming southern Ontario? Okay, on farms, but still. They’re the source for Charles Beauregard’s lean bison burgers. Even more pleasures are in store at his restaurant, Canvas. “It’s about making our own demi-glace, our own pasta, our own pickles, from the get-go,” says Beauregard. Same for all his burger condiments — his aioli, his ketchup and, as Beauregard puts it, “that dirty little bacon jam!” All to bring forth the bison’s clean but intense flavours. $18.
Canvas Resto-Bar-Etc., 65 Holland Ave., 613-729-1991.
Ah, sweet revenge. According to legend, a young woman served hot chicken for breakfast to her philandering boyfriend. Spiced-to-crucify deep-fried chicken. A seemingly simple dish. However, Richard Wilson, chef/co-owner at The Pomeroy House, has reworked his variation endlessly. Each step of the way, from the brining to the final basting with lard, is precisely carried out. The result — crispy, juicy chicken, less spicy. Instead of conventionally serving it on Wonder bread, Wilson shows off his chicken (Mariposa Farm free-range) on a bed of steamed kale sweetened with pickled shallots. As well, cauliflower cream and homemade gherkins. Worth all the revenge in the world. $15. The
Pomeroy House, 749 Bank St., 613-237-1658.
Some call rillettes a pâté. Others say that rillettes — rustic with coarse texture — is in a class all its own. Regardless, this is indulgent stuff. At L’Orée du Bois in Chelsea, chef and co-owner Jean-Claude Chartrand deviates from Anjou tradition. First, organic pork from the Ferme aux saveurs des Mmonts in Gatineau. Then comes the reduction of wild blueberries, shallots, and — 80-year-old French chef Jacques Pépin’s truc — red wine. Eat the rillettes with croûtes to cut the richness, along with a few sips of maple port from Charles-Aimé Robert in the Bas-Saint-Laurent. $6.75.
Restaurant L’Orée du Bois, 15 Kingsmere Rd., Chelsea, Quebec, 819-827-0332.