Food tourism: Ostrich Anyone?

For food tourists, chemin Fresnière — which crosses the lower Laurentians back country between St-Eustache and Mirabel — offers the kind of weekend drive enjoyed by all. Gourmet destinations stretch for miles, sometimes directly on chemin Fresnière itself, sometimes on side roads and “rang de la Fresnière” further out. Rivière du Chêne Winery, Maison Lavande, Intermiel, Alpagas, Pied de cochon Sugar Shack: the area features many adresses prized by foodies and families alike.

One of those adresses worth discovering is Nid’Otruche farm (see website here in French only) where young and old are invited to discover blue, black and red ostriches, as well as their emu and nandoo close cousins. The ostrich per say can measure up to 8 feet, weigh 450 pounds and live more than 70 years. Up close, it is downright commanding. Strolling through the grounds, visitors can admire the birds at every stage of their life: from incubator to nursery, then multiple open-air paddocks where teens and adults roam. Mind your fingers though! Ostriches are curious by nature and use their powerful beak to inspect foreign objects…

In the “stables”, you’ll be able to pet one of the domesticated birds, an opportunity enjoyed by kids and grownups alike, as well as admire upclose Princesse, the emu who stopped traffic in Québec movie Congorama.

At the end of the one-and-a-half-hour visit or seated anytime at the small outdoor terrace, food lovers can nibble on ostrich hotdogs to the beat of the background African music that sets the tone. The hard part? Resisting the urge to buy everything sold on site, from ostrich filet mignon to ground meat, meat pies, ostrich oil soaps, etc. It’s even possible to purchase ostrich eggs (pre-order only!). One egg alone is as big as 24 chicken eggs, with less cholesterol and, I was told, a “finer” taste. That would surely be the mother of all frittatas. As it is, our afternoon at Nid’Otruche was exactly what this mother needed to entertain the kids.

Coming out of her shell: this baby is a few hours old only. On the left, you can see the actual size of an ostrich egg. Don’t drop it!

Soap and hot dog: I guess this is the after-picture. The farm has a livestock facility with over 350 ostriches, open to large groups and schools only. Ostriches are “harvested” (don’t you just hate that word?) around one-and-a-half years old for their meat, oil, skin and even eyelashes, which serve to make sought-after painting brushes. So much for cuteness.

Plan for play time as kids will want to hit the playground and visit a small zoo with farm animals on-site


Nid’Otruche Ostrich Farm

Address: 825, Chemin Fresnière, Saint-Eustache, QC, J7R 0E9

Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from June 24 to August 25, Weekends and Holidays or by appointment the rest of the year (see website for details)

Tour prices: $12.50 for adults, $9 for kids, $39 for a family of four

Dining: Outdoor safari dining for 18 people and more is available


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