For us, the beginning of fall (or the end of summer) is always marked by an apple-picking adventure. This afternoon, we drove up to Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, about 30 minutes northwest of us to go apple-picking. We fight the masses of children every year to go pick our own apples, which will last through the winter if kept in the basement (or if we don't eat them all first!). Every year, we go to Les Vergers Lafrance, which is both an apple orchard and a cider house. You can get a 20 lb. bag of apples for $12 and can then sample all of their pastries, ciders and ice ciders for free. We typically end up leaving with more than a couple bottles of cider.
We've also recently discovered the Oka Abbey Store, a short 10 minute drive from the apple orchard. Oka cheese is quite well-known throughout Quebec and actually used to be made by monks. You can find regular Oka cheese anywhere in the Montreal area (and throughout the province, I would presume). But there are a few varieties of Oka that you can only find here. I fell in love with their Oka curds last year. We went back another time to get some, but it turns out that they sell out early in the day. Yes, they're that good. We managed to get ourselves a bag (ok, 3...) today, even though we didn't get there until 3pm (lazy morning... concert last night). We also picked up a variety of Oka to be used for raclette and will test that out sometime in the next few weeks. The Abbey has a wide selection of cheeses from across Quebec, as well as many other regional products. Though it's quite touristy, you can find a good selection of products that you can't typically find in grocery stores. If you're ever in the region, I highly recommend you stop by to get some of the curds, if nothing else.
Now I just have to start transforming the apples... we never manage to eat all of them just like that and I have a good selection of apple-based recipes from over the past few years. Some years I've been super ambitious and we've even come home with 40 lbs (yes, there are only 2 of us at home). But I just didn't feel like peeling mountains of apples for applesauce this year. I'll put a variety of apple recipes up over the next few weeks.