October 11, 2010
It had been three years since our last McAuslan brunch, prepared by Martin Picard and his team at Au Pied de Cochon. Sure, we had managed to get in to the last three sugarshack meals at their cabane a sucre, as well as the first meal ever at the cabane a pommes, so we haven`t been starving or necessarily deprived of foie gras…but the McAuslan brunch has a whole other flavour and feel to it. While the two previous brunches we had gone to had been held at the AU Pied de Cochon restaurant, this one, held on January 27th, 2013, was at his cabane a sucre. I did like the atmosphere a bit better at the restaurant, but there’s no doubt that the cabane is a more logical locale.
When we walked in for our 11am seating, our tablemates weren’t there yet (our group of four had been combined with another group of four), so we settled in and started in on the complimentary pitcher of Caesar deliciousness, while ordering a pitcher of McAuslan blonde and rousse. The beer was all-you-can-drink, though I always leave these places feeling like I should’ve drank more. However, we were almost immediately informed that there was to be 14 dishes served to us today, so it’s better I didn’t fill up on beer. I did a pretty good job with the Caesars already.
Pretty soon, the first dishes started getting carried out. Served on enormous planks of wood that needed two servers to carry, each table received a variety of plates to start the meal off with. Some of my favourite parts of the meal were served on this forest-platter!
There was horse “smoked meat,” served alongside a little squeeze bottle of mustard and apparently rye bread, but we never got the rye bread. We did have an entire baguette and a block of butter for the table, so I didn’t miss the rye bread, instead slathering butter on the bread, a dab of mustard and a slice or two of the horse. It wasn’t as fatty as smoked meat, but still really tender and salty. There was a package of housemade gravlax, which was actually right at the top of my favourite things – luscious, thick, pieces of salmon that were light and decadent all at the same time. Another one of my favs was the maple-almond croissant…this thing had pretty much been made out of butter, with a thick, sweet, sugary crust in the middle, having been bathed in maple syrup. There was a jar of housemade maple yogurt, and I ate my entire croissant half by dipping it in the silky, smooth, sweet yogurt. A high point of the meal for me!
There was also a fennel salad with a clementine vinaigrette that everyone at the table loved, but I found it a bit too acidic. I did love the baby dill pickles and the corn relish though.
My plate was filled after this one course…and I even started to slow down a little…
There was a soup served, and this was my least favourite dish of the meal. Absolutely tender and melting pieces of tendon with airy pieces of tripe in a broth of volailles, it was very mildly flavoured and little lack luster. However, the tendon was striking, melting in your mouth, coating your mouth. Apparently this soup had dumplings in it, but I didn’t get any. One of our servers came around with a little carton of quail eggs much later, telling us they were to break into the soup; however, the soup had been sitting at our table for quite some time by then, and wasn’t exactly hot anymore. Also, by that point, most of us had almost finished our soup anyway.
A fantastically interesting and beautiful dish came next: their infamous tourtiere stuffed with every possible meat. The APDC tourtiere, by itself, is a thing of beauty – pork, pork and more pork baked in a flaky, buttery crust. Add light, fluffy sweetbreads and salty Victor and Berthold cheese, and it rises to perfection!
The next dish seemed simple in comparison, but was even more flavourful: the egg, cheese and bacon omelet. This was so rich, so creamy, so smooth, so intense in its cheesy, bacony flavour….I ate my slice, then ate more, then maybe ate more. This is also where I hit my wall. I blame it on the thin strips of slightly crunchy bacon baked into the omelet.
I believe this is where we were given a short break. It’s difficult to remember anything clearly after this point.
A giant cannelloni stuffed foie gras and black truffles hit the table. Cut into eight slices for the table, I was sorry we didn’t have more to share – it was simple, refined, and another one of my favourites. As full as I was at that point, I easily managed to eat what was served to me.
Next up, a shining star in the meal – a deboned chicken that had not only been stuffed with chunks of lobster and foie gras, but actually injected with a lobster bisque. This chicken, its meat juicy, tender, its skin, crispy, salty, exuded lobster-flavour. Every bite was packed with buttery lobster. It didn’t need the gravy it was served with, but the gravy definitely didn’t hurt!
There was really no more eating possible for me at this point. I merely sampled the pompano and mussels that came to the table, but we did bring a lot of it home, including the heads, which one of our tablemates was about to throw out. Delicate and soft, Soli absolutely adored this fish. A salty salad with smashed potatoes at the bottom and crumby garlic pork sausage all over the top was also delivered – at the time I couldn’t even take a bit, but again, we took so much of it home that we ate it for two nights in a row.
Somewhere along the way, we were also served small milkshakes, sweet and rich, of which I ended up drinking two. I brought my dessert of maple and chocolate cream doughnuts and sugarpie poptarts home.
And so it ended. We walked out of there with a bag full of leftovers –fish, chicken, tourtiere, salad, omelet…This was the meal that just keeps giving.
Now we’re waiting for our callback for the cabane a sucre for this season…Give me another few weeks, and I’ll be ready to go for another round.