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. . . .
Nestled 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.
The 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?