Hardy Quebec vegetables are widely available, but imports for the tender foods have almost taken over our vegetable counters. Look for local kale and radicchio, which seem to be almost frost-resistant. You should also find some Quebec broccoli, spinach and escarole. Most of the tender lettuces are American. A Quebec fruit to enjoy quickly before it disappears for the year is the autumn strawberry, which is still selling around town in baskets that hold about three cups (750 mL) of fruit. Flavour is good, and these berries are a much better buy than the hard, white-shouldered California strawberries in town. Even Quebec blueberries, wild and cultivated, are still available if you shop in the public markets.
Quebec cabbage is an excellent buy, crisp and full of flavour whether you buy green, red or Savoy. You may still find local bell peppers on sale but new supplies are coming from Mexico. Quebec parsnips are only one of our excellent local root vegetables now at their best. I have a Laurentian region grower to thank for a fine recipe for parsnips. Les Fermes GNC in St-Lin-des-Laurentides acquired the idea from Resto St-Ours and added it to one-pound packages. Here’s my successful test: Slice the parsnips, coat lightly with a mixture of melted butter and honey, salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped garlic and roast uncovered at 400 degrees F (200 C), for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the parsnips until they are tender and golden. Quebec leeks, beets, carrots, squash and onions are also at their best right now.
Local apples are the fruit of the month. Congratulations to Metro stores for a brochure available on apple counters called The Apple Harvest. It offers suggestions of various Quebec cheeses to enjoy with the current late-season apple varieties Cortland, McIntosh, Spartan and Empire. A recipe for apple and leek pie is included. Those imported apples on sale everywhere look pretty, but our fruit is the best for crispness and flavour.