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Gastronomical Getaways, Part 2: Vegan Gourmet at Spa Balnea Sept. 2-7

Posted by Amie / September 2, 2013

Spa-Balnea"Labour" day weekend? Hah! More like "get out of the city and relax" week. From Monday-Saturday, Stephanie Audet">vegan chef, Stephanie Audet, is at Spa Balnea serving her award-winning stuffed zucchini flowers with macadamia nut ricotta, tomato confit with cashew cream, dehydrated olive powder, basil-quinoa cream and a heap of fresh beets and sunflower sprouts with thyme and chervil. (By the way, she says thanks for voting for her!)

Here's how your week (or your Saturday after a long week) will work:

Stephanie won the 10th chef competition with this plate, beating a couple other tough contestants. Now she has a week-long residency at the spa to impress the public and the chance to win the grand prize of a free day at the spa for her and 250 of her closest friends. If you vote for her and let her know you voted for her, you'll have a good shot at being one of those friends.

Spa-Balnea-dishAnd if you're the altruistic sort that doesn't overlap with "party sort" on a VEN diagram, you'll at least be happy to know that the proceeds of purchasing your meal from any of the Spa's guest chefs go to the charity of their choice.

The deal: First you arrive at Spa Balnea, an hour from Montreal, change into a bathing suit and a bathrobe, and tote your water bottle down the winding path to the jacuzzi by the private lake. 15 minutes in the jacuzzi, then jump into the lake to cool off. Back into one of three saunas (or one of at least 10 hot tubs and jacuzzi. Heaven forbid you have to share), then into the cold pool under the waterfall, or maybe the cold jacuzzi with water straight from the lake. Then another warm-up in the sweat lodge before it's time for lunch (Stephanie's dish, optionally with the white wine pairing). Sated but never stuffed, jump into the Turkish baths or onto one of the giant, inflatable mattresses in the lake and take a hard-earned nap.

And SHH! You're in the quiet zone!

Do not:
1. Have a conversation above the one decibel level, and only then in designated areas.
2. Stare at all the sweet/disgustingly romantic couples (whichever applies to you in your current situation).
3. Bring your own lunch, or (again, heaven forbid) an apple and try to eat it on the premises. Let me tell you, that apple doesn't go over well with Spa Balnea staff...

1. Marvel at the creamy sweet-and-sour (mostly sweet) nature of the confit tomato and how basil olives can be a powder--dehydrated crack powder. Like MSG, but no headache.
2. Take a lot of small bites to get all the flavours, from the crunchy macadamia nuts to the silken cashew cream.
3. Be a romantic couple, if possible. The comfy sofas and jacuzzi and private areas were meant for it.
4. Ask Stephanie if she'd like to be the second member of a newly formed romantic couple with you. We hear at Midnight Poutine that the talented woman might be looking...

What do you get out of it besides hot tubs, thermal waterfalls and Turkish baths?

By going home and voting for Stephanie's dish to win the people's choice, you'll be entered to win:

An annual BALNEA membership card for a couple
The gourmet tour of the 9 restaurants (of the other 9 invited extremely fancy chefs) for 2 people
An evening culinary workshop for 8 people at the Académie Culinaire du Québec
Recipe books autographed by the chefs

Stephanie Audet at Spa Balnea

When: Sunday, Sept. 2-7
Where: Spa Balnea, Bromont (1 hour from Montreal)
How much: Not cheap. $60 for access to the spa and all its luxurious thermal offerings, plus $20 for the meal. Plan for around $80 plus gas, meaning you should come with friends. After 5pm entry is $35, but you won't get to soak up the sun for long, and Stephanie stops serving her dish at 6pm daily. So come earlier and stick around for the free yoga class Mondays and Fridays at 5:30.

What to bring: Bathing suit, flipflops, and your indoor voice...

Spa Balnea Hours: 10am-10pm Thurs-Sun, 11am-9pm Mon-Wed


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