I thought I’d come to Quebec for the dogsledding—now I know I came for the cheese. A recent wintry day found me in the heavily wooded Vallée Bras du Nord, an hour’s drive northwest of Quebec City, where my guide, Jean-François Verret, had pulled our team of sled dogs over to serve up a rustic lunch with four of the best cheeses this side of France. The showstopper was an impossibly rich Tomme d’Elles de Charlevoix, a semisoft cheese made from a blend of sheep’s and cow’s milk. Until that moment, when I thought of Quebec I thought only of poutine (take fries, add gravy and cheese curds), but cheesemaker Eric Proulx assures me that crafting some of the world’s finest fromage is in the Québécois DNA. “Like the French,” he explained, “we use high-quality milk and the best methodology. But we’re a younger country, more willing to experiment. We know the old craft, but we like coming up with something new.” Proulx has created a goat’s milk Bastidou (pictured, bottom), with a layer of fresh basil at its center, and the Cap Rond (middle), which smells of hay and apples. It’s difficult to get Proulx’s cheese in the States, but that’s just an excuse to go north, where you can eat like the French—deep in the woods and close to home (three-day sled tour, $1,494; aventureinukshuk.qc.ca)
1. The Dose: Two glasses, tops.
2. Go Red: Most polyphenols—those artery-scrubbing antioxidants—come from the seeds and skin. Sardinia’s Cannonau wine packs the highest known levels.
3. Eat: A single glass aids digestion, reacts with foods to create more polyphenols, and counteracts the oxidative effects of a fatty meal— or, in this case, all that cheese.