Poutine festival features diverse spins on Canadian comfort food
If you ask a University of Ottawa student what their favourite event of the year is, some may reply with Capital Hoops, whereas others will reminisce on the outdoor concerts held in early September while the weather was still warm. Nothing, however, holds a place in most students’ hearts quite like the annual Poutine Festival.
The 2016 edition of the comfort food fest was co-hosted by the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa from March 29–April 1 and had a variety of different food trucks from around the city showing off their own creative creations. Although the rain did put a damper on the festival, students’ stomachs were warmed up by the delicious, cheesy goodness that is poutine.
As I browsed the festival, the Fadi’s Fabulous Foods menu caught my eye, and when I noticed the General Tao Poutine I finally understood what Hannah Montana meant when she sang about the “best of both worlds”. This dish had the perfect balance of two of my favourite foods—poutine, a Canadian staple, and General Tao chicken, my favourite kind of Chinese food.
On top of its perfect gravy to cheese curds ratio, the poutine was topped with Fadi’s spin of General Tao sauce, sautéed sweet red peppers, onions, and of course the quintessential fried chicken. I got a small, priced at $5, rather than the $10 large meal. Although the retail price might be a tad too high for a small poutine, I felt it was absolutely worth it for what you got.
Most trucks offered poutines ranging from $5–10, but the speciality poutines were often only available in the larger, and therefore more expensive size, so it was on the cheaper end of the spectrum for the event.
The General Tao sauce didn’t overpower the classic poutine flavour, allowing the taste of the cheese curds, gravy, peppers, onions, and golden fries to still shine through. The only drawback I could find was that it had more sauce than the chicken could soak up.
Other than that, it was perfect—the sauce was tangy without being sour, and had a nice spicy kick to it. For those sensitive to spice, don’t fear. As someone who has the lowest tolerance for spice, I had no trouble enjoying the poutine, as the mild spice added more of a flavour kick than heat.
Overall, I am glad with my choice at this year’s Poutine Festival. I definitely encourage fellow Gee-Gees and poutine enthusiasts to try the dish, and I’m crossing my fingers it returns to next year’s festival.