As I live in the Gaspé peninsula only half the year, it is not very difficult for me to list my favorite local products. All I have to do is think of these products I transport from one place to another, I gift to non-gaspesian friends, that I freeze for myself. Mostly, they are products I look forward to eat when I return!
I See Seafood!
If you have gaspesian blood running through your veins, chances are you are aware of the dates of the launch of lobster or crab season. Actually, if you have gaspesian friends on Facebook, you probably will know also as most will gleefully share pictures of their delicious seafood feasts, to the great sadness of all of us exiled away from home.
The local lobster season varies by location but roughly runs from early May to late July. It will be available in the fish markets. Litte tip: if you want something simple, buy it already cooked. I tested the one from Pêcheries Gaspésiennes and it was as good as when we do it ourselves.
Snow crab season is quota-based and will go from early April to July (when the allowed catch is attained).
Rivière-au-Renard’s harbour is home to dozens of shrimp boats, active from April until late Fall. Their catch feed 3 local processing plant, one of which is in our own village. One of my favorite food treat is strangely something I need to buy from an office… the very fresh shrimp available at “Crevettes du Nord Atlantique” in l’Anse-au-Griffon. As they come off the processing line, bags of freshly cooked shrimp are brought to the front counter. It isn’t always available but it is worth going over to see if it is. The pleasure of holding that still-warm bag of shrimp is real!
While you are at the fish market, make sure to check out their homemade products like the smoked salmon or marinated turbot of Pêcheries Gaspésiennes. I can also mention the delicious seafood lasagna from Marinard.
When it comes to smoked salmon, these days my heart (and stomach) belong to Fumoir Monsieur Émile in Percé and Fumé du bon Côté from Petite-Vallée. The former is usually available at Épicerie Ami Alban Aspirault, the latter is maybe more rare but found at IGA in Gaspé and Bonichoix in Grande-Vallée. There are many just-as-delicious alternatives like the products made by Pêcheries Gaspésiennes and Atkins.
Fish aficionados should ask what was recently brought in. Depending on the season, you may also find some local scallops, rock crab, smoked and dried capelin, Stimpson’s surf clams, cod tongues, all kinds of things you may have never tried before and will get a chance to sample.
We distribute the local beer Pit Caribou at the campground. This micro-brewery is a true example of local success. We are proud to sell their most popular variety (blond, red, white and dark) and we ensure to keep our prices in the lowest around.
Both grocery stores in Rivière-au-Renard have their own kitchen in which they create homemade dishes. I’m particularly fond of the ‘cretons’ (a type of meat spread, very québecois) made by Épicerie Coop (they are often brought back to our winter home) and locals love the diverse food at Marché Ami, including their chinese dishes. Both places also have a bakery section and make their own ‘pain de ménage’ (the traditional two-loaf crusty bread).
Located in Gaspé, the Marché des Saveurs is a prime spot to find local products. They have a very complete selection of the Gaspésie Sauvage products (made with local mushroom, fruits, seeds or plants known or unknown). If your eyes wander to the dessert display case and you feel some draw, answer that call as they are made by Pascale Malo, a very talented local pastry chef.
The Marché des Saveurs is also one of the only place you will find the Auval beer, the micro-brewery whose popularity and reputation is mind-blowing. The beer bottles go like hotcakes!
Not too far from there on rue de la Reine you’ll encounter Choco-lactée, a chocolate store with some noteworthy creations like chocolates filled with Pit Caribou’s dark beer.
For farm products, our season are a little behind if you compare them with the areas around Montreal, for example. Our wild field strawberries bloom around the beginning of July, followed by strawberries in July and raspberries/blueberries in August. You may see some producers selling on the side of the road. From August onwards, Gaspé hosts occasional farmers market. More information can be found here.
If you are partial to a certain product from the Gaspé, please tell us about it!