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Celebrating Quebec’s 400th Birthday

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Photo: François Dischinger

As we walked back past the Plains of Abraham, the wind whipped so briskly, we thought it might lift us off our feet and over the cliffs, so we were only slightly dejected to find that because of the gale the cross-country ski trails were closed. At the Discovery Pavilion, a friendly clerk advised us to switch course and head for the Place d’Youville, where we rented ice skates and managed a wobbly turn on the rink without breaking our necks. Palais Montcalm, Quebec City’s most important theater, was directly across the street, and we tried to imagine what ice-skating in Times Square would be like.

Thus far in our trip, we’d eagerly, even piously, sought out the town’s Francophilic culinary highlights. But on our last night in Quebec City, we got a sushi craving and made a reservation at Yuzu Sushi Bar—a sleek modern room with puffy orange chairs that would have been at home in the business-class lounge of an exclusive Swiss airline. We ignored the sober sashimi and instead ordered up two flights of oyster shooters, intricately composed with different powders, juices, and liquors. One of the best of the small plates we tried was most improbably made up of oysters, puréed foie gras, port caramel, and shallots. We devoured a tasting of Tasmanian trout with condiments such as rose-scented yogurt and red-pepper ice cream. Sometimes a blizzard of colors and flavors (washed down with cold sake) is the best remedy for deepening winter blues.

After we left Yuzu we went in search of the perfect nightcap, walking toward the river through the Quartier St.-Roch’s darkened streets, silent but for the whoosh of the occasional taxi. We came to a district of low-rise industrial buildings and figured we were lost until we heard the revelry and saw the sign for La Barberie, a cooperative brewery we’d heard about from a helpful bartender. Set in the shadow of a highway overpass, the bar was packed with brewery employees and their friends and exuded the festive, jovial air of a wrap party for a large musical production. When the barista arrived with the Carousel Gallopin’ we’d ordered (a tasting rack of six of the brewery’s best that included a wheat beer infused with lime and raspberries and a red ale made with honey), we proffered the photo of our elusive trio and asked if she knew any of them.

"Not him," she said, "And not her. But this one"—she pointed to the woman in the middle—"looks familiar. I think she’s been here before."

So we left the photo with the bartender, quite certain it would find its way home.

Matt Lee and Ted Lee are Travel + Leisure contributing editors.

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