An old friend living in New Zealand recently discovered poutine in Auckland. I asked him to write a guest post for the lemon kitchen. Thanks Bruce!
When you’re an ex-pat, signs of home always jump out at you. So when I was sitting on the bus on one of Auckland’s busiest streets, the sign with Canadian flags all over it made me sit up and take notice. But it was the next line on the sign that really got my attention: poutine.
A few days later, I returned to Leon’s Sweet and Savoury to try the poutine, a dish I’d never seen outside of Canada. Slightly sceptical, I was relieved to discover the owner was Canadian. Cindy, from St. Catherines Ontario, told me they had been open about 6 months and the poutine was initially only popular with Canadians but it was quickly catching on with Kiwis.
Making poutine in New Zealand was not without challenges, though. Despite New Zealand’s large dairy industry (including many cheese manufacturers), cheese curds were difficult to source. Most cheese curds were simply discarded. But Cindy eventually found a supplier in the South Island who had trained in cheese making in Montreal so understood what she was trying to do.
And what she was doing was making good poutine. The fries were hand cut in front of me and fried to a perfect consistency; crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside. The gravy was a heavenly velouté sauce, velvety smooth and rich in flavour. The cheese curds were squeaky fresh and scattered throughout the extremely generous portion (so generous, I couldn’t finish it despite my best attempts).
Leon’s also had other tastes of home, including Tim Horton’s hot chocolate, root beer, and the best brownies in New Zealand. Not to mention the sweet, tasty cinnamon buns which leave the bland Kiwi versions in their dust.
Sadly however, Cindy told me that it wouldn’t last as they are returning to Canada soon and the shop will be closing. Very sad for this Canadian who only just discovered them, but I think my doctor will be pleased.