Gourmet Sauvage – Flavours from nature
When Gérald Le Gal launched his small business – transforming forest products – 24 years ago, he could not have imagined that it would become Gourmet Sauvage (Wild Gourmet). This man, who has the soul of a homesteader, has now been joined by his daughter Ariane and son-in-law Pascal. Together, they continue the company’s original mission, which is to bring some of the small marvels of the boreal forest to contemporary palates. Their products, now sold even in Europe, are also offered in a charming little new café located in one of our area’s mythical locales: the former Pisciculture (fish farm) of Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré. Tremblant Express met with Ariane.
With knowledge and respect
“My father was a pioneer at the time, and he still is,” this former TV journalist, who left city life to get back to basics with her little family, confides. Self-taught like her father, she shares her knowledge with ease and contagious energy.
Gourmet Sauvage initiates people into wild food. Workshops for harvesting, for wild mushrooms and cooking with wild plants have been joined by workshops and activities of partners who share the same ideology: age-old indigenous uses, survival in the wild, cultivating mushrooms, as well as a truly unusual teaching in entomophagie: learning to be an insectivore. “We are a part of only 20 per cent of earth’s inhabitants who don’t eat insects; we were taught to detest them when we were very young,” says Ariane. This super food has seen its popularity explode to the point where it is now joining the ranks of haute cuisine.
In addition to the nature and fine quality of its products, the popularity of Gourmet Sauvage can also be explained by a change in mentality towards healthy eating and respect for the environment. In other words, it’s important to avoid endangering species by the lure of profit, because otherwise the whole system is affected. “There’s a way to do things well: that’s why we emphasize education. It’s critically important that the people who buy our products recognize their value and be aware of our approach. There are a great number of us on the planet, and feeding ourselves has an undeniable impact,” Ariane explains.
Gourmet Sauvage depends on the assistance of a huge network of pickers and gatherers from the Outaouais region to James Bay. The company invites independent, experienced pickers to join its team.
The place for epicures
The hundred or so products offered are transformed using artisanal methods. The jams contain 55 to 75 per cent fruit, the pickles are made with cider vinegar and the flavourings and spices are carefully hand-dried. The company offers more than one hundred products for retail sale and sale to restaurants: jams made from northern fruits such as bilberry or wild cherry, pickles made from cattails hearts, capers made from daisy buds, birch syrup, forest teas and dried mushrooms.
Gourmet Sauvage has created, after three years of research and development, a Quebec “vanilla”: essence of white sweet-clover. These tiny flowers are sorted using tweezers. “People really want to find this simplicity again,” Ariane confides. Thanks to the program “Di Stasio”, broadcast on Télé-Québec last year, and more specifically the episode entitled “À faire soi-même” (To do yourself), the company has enjoyed considerable media coverage.
Gourmet Sauvage, which moved into the main building of the former pisciculture four years ago, has become the guardian of this exceptional site. Abandoned for decades, the site had been reclaimed by nature. Bit by bit, the historic features are surfacing and the place is regaining its nobility. The recent paving of the neighbouring bike path generated an unexpected level of visitors…whence a pressing need for a reception facility and places to unwind.
As a result, an all-new Gourmet Sauvage bistro-boutique opened on May 5 in a small building that has been beautifully restored with full respect for its history. Here visitors can enjoy matsutake (a special mushroom), amélanche (serviceberry), chicouté (or chicoutai, aka bakeapple berries), gadelles (currants), boutons de marguerites marinés (pickled daisy buds) and grillons en poudre (powdered crickets). The menu slate suggests highly original and taste-tempting sandwiches and pastries including a sweet onion sandwich with goat cheese and trompette de la mort (horn of plenty or black trumpet mushroom), on bread with squid ink.
On the site itself, marked trails are accessible to families and persons with reduced mobility. The bistro is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends until June 24, and then from Tuesday to Sundays during the same hours. You can obtain their wonderful products, or you can register for workshops online.
Emmanuelle Virgili44 Posts
Du lundi au vendredi, Emmanuelle Virgili œuvre dans le milieu de l’éducation. Le soir et les fins de semaine, elle se transforme en journaliste et part en quête de reportages. C’est un peu par hasard qu’elle a commencé ce métier et depuis, Emmanuelle n’en démord plus. Elle contribue avec passion au contenu de nos pages depuis septembre 2017. / From Monday to Friday, Emmanuelle Virgili works in the education sector. Evenings and weekends, she becomes a journalist and heads out on assignments. Her start in the business happened more or less by chance and since then, she hasn’t budged. She has been a passionate content contributor since September 2017.