La Rumeur Affamée / the Boulangerie

“More people go to Sarah’s Boulangerie than ever show up at church,” snapped Ruth. “They buy pastry with an instrument of torture on it. I know you think I’m crazy, but maybe I’m the only sane one here.” (The Cruelest Month, Chapter One)

Thankfully, Wayne Shanahan, co-owner of La Rumeur Affamée—on which the Boulangerie is based—mentions nothing of instruments of torture in his essay below. . . .

La Rumeur AffaméeNestled in the picturesque Eastern Townships of Quebec lies the enchanting hamlet of Sutton and its acclaimed ski hill “Mont Sutton.” La Rumeur Affamée General Store is located in the center of the Village and is the meeting place for local residents, including Louise and Michael, and tourists alike.

Entering La Rumeur Affamée is a sensory experience. After taking in the eye-appealing décor, our well trained professional team members welcome you with friendly “Bonjour’s” and smiles from behind the bread and cheese counters, but the truly exceptional greeting is from the enticing smell of freshly baked breads, croissants, brownies and tour signature Tarte au Sirop d’érable (maple syrup pie).

You are immediately drawn to the original hand-crafted all-wood counters and display cases, well used hardwood floors and high ceilings from the 1860s that instantly make you feel like you have entered an era of times gone by.

Sutton was settled by Loyalists following the American Revolution. The Town Hall was built in 1859 and in 1861 George Henry Boright, a settler from New Hampshire, built the brick building that housed his general store, post office and stage coach depot which La Rumeur has now occupied since 1999. It is truly the heart of the community.

In the early days the main economy of Sutton was driven by farming and in 1960 the Mont Sutton ski resort opened and the village has since become reliant on tourism. The town has become a popular year round destination for its vineyards, art galleries, mountain biking, road biking, hiking, and of course, skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing.

Sutton is populated by the highest proportion of artists in Canada, hosting annual festivals such as Le Tour des Arts, the International Sculpture Symposium and many art galleries. Sutton has historically been an English enclave in a predominantly French province. The ratio now sits at approximately 40% English to 60% French.

La Rumeur Affamée roughly translates to “The Famished Rumour.” Kelly Shanahan, owner of La Rumeur Affamée, certainly knows how to quash that rumour by providing a vast selection of irresistible baked goods, local and international cheeses, charcuteries, sausages, locally raised duck products, delectable ready-made meals, tantalising sandwiches, aromatic coffees, extra virgin olive oils, vinegars, mouth-watering chocolates and desserts, Quebec craft beer, wine, non-gluten and certified organic products.

Kelly has an impressive background as a foodie, having owned and operated “L’Aperitif,” a fine food shop in the neighbouring town of Knowlton, managed a massive cheese department at Central Market in Dallas, TX, worked at David Woods Fine Foods signature store in Toronto as well as offering cooking classes and many years in the restaurant world.

Me, being a former executive in the chain restaurant business, recognized the value of supporting my wife of 30 years in her culinary endeavours in a small-town environment. A native of Quebec City, I’ve worked in the fast-paced cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Dallas before accepting Kelly’s challenge of a simpler life.

La Rumeur AffaméeThe Great Wall of Bread at La Rumeur awaits you with freshly baked baguettes, artisanal loaves of spelt, kamut, quinoa, flax, rye, nut, olive and cheese. Our non-gluten and non-lactose breads include quinoa, rye, raisin and nut bread. Our chocolate orange muffins are to die for as well as the selection of croissants, chocolatines and vienoiseries.

Kelly says, “although it’s hard to beat the mind-boggling aroma of fresh bread, our signature maple syrup pies are the hands-down winner with our regular patrons.” Fresh daily fruit pies, cookies, squares, cakes and sucre à la crème round out the alluring selection of baked goods.

The fact that the town has a population of less than 4000 defies the general store’s ability to maintain a massive selection of almost 200 cheeses from around the world including over half from Quebec.

“Our 1608 cheese was crafted in 2008 in the Charlevoix region to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Quebec City, the oldest city in Canada. Using raw milk from Ancien Canadien cows of which there are less than 1000 head left in the world, this semi-firm award-winning cheese is a huge seller,” says Kelly.

Seeing the wide-eyed reaction of first-time customers as they take in the old-world charm and enticing odours of our 1860s style general store is reward enough for the lovingly hard work we put in daily.

It is easy to see why Louise Penny drew inspiration from this jewel in the Eastern Townships for the local boulangerie in her bestselling novels. The joie de vivre is alive and well at La Rumeur and chances are you might spot L’inspecteur Gamache sampling one of our many Quebec craft beers remarking “c’est si bon” the next time you drop in.

Sutton is located six miles north of Vermont, one hour southeast of Montreal, four hours northwest of Boston and 6 hours north of New York City. La Rumeur Affamée, 15 Principal North, contact: 450-538-5516 or on our Facebook page.

The Boulangerie / La Rumeur Affamée is mentioned throughout The Cruelest Month usually accompanied by a description of sumptuous food. What are your thoughts on the role of foods in Louise’s novels?

Discussion on “La Rumeur Affamée / the Boulangerie

  1. Fredericka DeBerry says:

    My thoughts on the role of foods in Louise’s novels? I have to be very careful not to drool on the pages of the books. It makes the pages wrinkle and if I am drinking coffee it leaves brown stains.
    In other words, I love the descriptions of the food in Louise’s novels. They almost become a character in themselves.

  2. Paul Hochman says:

    Too true, Fredericka!

  3. Sue Jackson says:

    I think I gain 10 #’s every time I read a Louise Penny novel. Her descriptions of the food, drinks, and treats always make me hungry! I can truly see, smell, and hear the world of Armand Gamache. Thank you for this series on the real places in the novels. I’m heading north… one of these days.

  4. Michele Olson says:

    My husband and I laugh about how much more we seem to eat when we’re reading the Gamache series…When I was young, my parents attended a conference in Montreal and brought back a huge snail shell from one of their meals. I remember being fascinated by that. Southern Indiana’s cuisine at that time didn’t really extend to snail. Turtle, frogs legs, crawdad, yes. But no snail. Well, I HAVE eaten snails now – in France, several times. But I’ve yet to get to Montreal. It’s on my list. Until then, I’ll content myself with nibbling my way through Ms. Penny’s stories.

  5. Gwendolyn Osburn says:

    One of Louise Penny’s many talents is her ability to describe the food so wonderfully that you can taste it.

    • sheryl taylor says:

      I couldn’t agree more..Louises choice of words heightens my taste buds until I am savilating..for food food food…such a nice pastime, to read and to eat just add some flowers and its a perfect moment…

  6. Joy mitchell says:

    I feel that I must search for Sutton and I hope it’s easier to find than Three Pines!!

  7. Nancy Brooks says:

    Now I want to find that..I am very partial to fine bakeshops!! Since I am in VT…I will go looking. This fun going to the sites from the books…time to start rereading all of them to get ready for the next one!

    • rebecca weidner says:

      Too True! Every time a new title comes out, I set aside a month to reread all the previous ones. I do love these books, and I am so grateful that I picked up that battered copy of “Still Life” at our local hospital’s book sale. Still enchanted after all these years!

  8. Pat Keresteci says:

    Are we not all looking for our own Three Pines? Louise Penny helps us find it for a wondrous while.

    • Joyce White says:

      Once, while traveling home from Ohio to Ithaca, NY, we decided to stop at the next town off the major highway. It had the lovely name of Angelica. It was a bit magical to arrive at this charming small village. We drove around a circle lined with churches and onto the main street. There were cafes, antique stores, small shops, and a B and B. We have stopped to have lunch at one of the cafes every time we travel to Ohio.
      Although it is not Three Pines, I could not help thinking about that fictional village as we drove into Angelica, NY.

  9. Nancy Woolley Reed says:

    ……am I the only one waiting for a Three Pines cookbook? Suggested it a while back, and I hope it tweaked someone’s creative juices. Er….. :)

  10. Sue Miller says:

    That is exactly as I had imagined it. Would love to visit one day but doubt that it happens. In the meantime I’ll be content to visit while rereading Louise’s books and patiently awaiting August & the latest Gamache episode.

  11. Charlotte Dinwiddie says:

    I wish you’d publish a cookbook….perhaps next time I reread the series, I’ll take notes on what everyone eats…..because the menus always sound so wonderful!

  12. Betty Troumbly says:

    I love your description of the foods– I can almost smell them as I turn the pages– and often try to find a recipe like the ones talked about.

  13. Ann Moore says:

    It’s looking more and more as if we are going to have to make a pilgrimage (ou bien, si vous voulez, un pelerinage) to this part of Canada. My husband spend his childhood summers near Gananoque on Lower Beverley Lake, and I’ve been to Quebec City, but we HAVE to get back.

  14. Glennis Salls says:

    I loved the essay, thank you so much. I love Louise Penny books. I think partly because of the village of Three Pines as well as the connection to the past.
    My husbands family settled in Clarenceville very close to the Vermont border. They were loyalists. I have wanted to come to the Eastern townships for many years to explore the history and connect to family as well as The stories Louise tells us in her books.

  15. leigh moore says:

    We have visited the Eastern Township after reading Louise’s books. She is my favourite author and I love the authors she recommends. I highly recommend readers travel there to look for Three Pines. We went to where Still Life was filmed and took lots of pictures. So many interesting places to visit. We will be going back for sure.

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