There two kinds of people in the world. There are those who eat poutine, and those who do not.
(Author’s note: there are actually several other kinds of people in the world.)
What’s poutine, you say? I’ll pretend you’re asking me that, semi-imaginary reader, strictly for purposes of moving this write up along, and not out of ignorance.
Poutine is a dish of french fries, mixed with cheese curds (known in some parts as “squeaky cheese”), and then topped with gravy. The same kind of gravy you’d normally be ladling over stuffing and mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, that is to say.
It looks like this, in its simplest and most delightful form.
Now, you might think that a person would have to travel to the great white north, AKA Canada (sometimes affectionately known as “America’s Hat” or “America Jr.”) to find a proper plate of poutine.
But if you thought that, you’d be wrong, and, possibly, oblivious. I can forgive you. Let’s not let it ruin this fantastic thing that we have going here.
No, the dish of poutine pictured above was served up right here in one of Syracuse’s newest eateries, The HopsSpot.
I visited this place with a few buddies recently and had me a big ol plate of poutine. I washed it down with a couple of delightful beers from their excellent beer list, in another installment of my running “two beers, one lunch” motif.
The beer list can be found on their web site and when dining there in person, on paper menus (they run 4+ pages long), with over 40 choices of draft and can/bottle beer to choose from.
I started my day with a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog Ale.
Those who’ve read this blog before will know that I have a penchant for a brown ale. They speak to me, in fact, I can think of very few brown ales that I have not enjoyed.
There’s something comforting about them, smooth and inviting, like wearing my granddad’s sweater. Except, in this case, I’m stuffing that sweater into a pint glass and then wrapping it around some poutine that’s landed in my gut.
This particular brown ale (6.5% ABV, 29.5 IBU) is particularly tasty. The web site doesn’t provide the usual floral descriptions, or mention hints of any particular flavors, so I will describe it as being the resultant product of a love affair between a Canadian lumberjack and an Egyptian belly dancer, sprinkled liberally with pixie dust and magic brown slurpiness.
I moved on from the Dog to an IPA, this time going with the Troegs Independent Perpetual IPA (7.5% ABV, 85 IBU). I do pick my drinks out often based on the “maximum punch” process, preferring higher ABV choices to lower ones and 16 oz. servings to the 10 oz “specialty” sizes. So this bad boy fit the bill on both counts.
This IPA, ITBMCBB*, “emerges rife with sticky citrus rind, pine balm and tropical fruit.” Now, pine balm would be a hard flavor to identify on my best days. I have pine trees growing behind my house, though I’ve never balmed them or sought balm from them.
Nor can I claim to taste tropical fruit, or sticky citrus rind.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not still a fine, fine choice. It’s hoppy, sure, but in a fun, delightful way, like when the neighbor’s kid gets too many pixie sticks in him and starts hopping up and down the street like he’s on a pogo. You don’t care, it’s someone else’s child, let him get all hopped up.
The Hops Spot has a menu full of good looking choices – burgers, salads, and several other varieties of poutine, all of which I hope to sample in the upcoming weeks and months. Not to mention another 38 or so beers, most of which are new to me (though I was pleased to see them carrying choices from the Buried Acorn on their list, among others).
For those not local to Syracuse, go out and find yourself some equivalent poutinerie (yes, that’s a real word, it’s on the Hops Spot web site after all) and dig in to this northern delicacy.