March 16, 2011
Well, we were fortunate enough to enjoy Au Pied de Cochon’s cabane à sucre again this year. After last year’s unbelievable experience, we were definitely looking forward to having a repeat performance. I can’t say we enjoyed it as much as last time, but it was still a wonderful adventure into the world of APDC meaty, fatty, maple-y decadence and worth the trip (and the money).
The cabane is about a forty-minute drive out of Montreal. It’s up in sugarshack country, on top of a little hill with a smoker outside, and big, long windows looking in to the dining room and the kitchen. Inside, there’s family-style tables that could probably sit ten. This time around, we were a group of eight, and there was plenty of room. We had the 8:00pm seating on a Sunday – when we got there, the last seating was still devouring desserts, but they emptied out fast. There were several empty tables for our seating, so even though their site says they’re all filled for reservations, there’s clearly still some places to be had on some days.
But on to the food! We started everything off with a 20-oz Au Pied de Cochon beer…this was too much beer for me to finish, but others at the table were able to polish off two of these mugs.
Not too long after, we were served a “platter” of New Brunswick oysters with a maple syrup jelly and lime juice. I loved these as an opener – they were big, juicy, fresh and tasty. I didn’t taste much maple in my first oyster, so I drizzled a little of the maple syrup from the table into my second one, and it was just amazing. I’m sure I could’ve eaten them all.
I think the salad and the split-pea soup hit the table next, at the same time. The salad was the same as last year’s, and like last year, I just couldn’t stop eating it. Lettuce, old cheddar, crispy, light oreilles de crises, ham and pecans with a tangy dressing. The soup was a little less exciting for me, though its ingredients held great promise: foie gras and bacon? How could it not be great? Well, it was actually a little bland, but another splash of maple syrup solved that problem perfectly.
I adored the buckwheat blinis served with smoked sturgeon and sour cream. The sturgeon was remarkable, and the entire thing, once assembled was a really bright part of the meal. I think more should’ve been served to a group of eight, however. I only got one slice of the sturgeon and one tiny pancake, and it really was one of my favourite bites of the meal.
Another favourite bite was the maki, made with smoked salmon and creton, served with a maple-soy sauce. One bite was not enough. Not at all, not even close. I wish this would’ve been one of the main dishes!
We had paid the extra $20 for the tourtiere. We had it last year, and it was one of the highlights, so there was no way we were going to skip it this year. I once again found myself wishing there were fewer of us, just so I could enjoy more than just a slice of this amazingly moist, flavourful meat pie, with its rich, buttery, flaky crust, doused, of course, in maple syrup. We were going to buy one to bring home, and now, thinking about this heaven-pie, I’m sorry we didn’t. I do wish the tourtiere had been served with the rest of the mains though.
We were fortunately given a short break at this point, but soon enough, three mains hit the table. At one end, the lobster omelette with potatoes. While very light and fluffy, it was a little bland by itself, but another hit from the maple syrup bottle helped that. The lobster was definitely a flavourful addition.
One of the other mains were cornish hens (heads and feet still attached), served with maple-seared gnocchi in a sweet sauce. The hens were moist, succulent, and just a little bit boring. Unfortunately, I never got to try the gnocchi, as again, too many people, not enough food. I hear it was excellent though, better than the poultry.
At my end of the table was another not-too-exciting dish: the pork shoulder, cooked in maple syrup with parsnips and carrots. The pork didn’t have much flavor, it was all in the sauce. I did love the two carrots I managed to get. The skin was impossible to eat – very chewy, not crispy at all. We took the leftovers home (there were lots, I think due to its boringness, and it was so much better heated up the next day. )
Finally, the desserts, and my favourite part of the meal! They were all amazing and I just kept eating them. Pancakes in duck fat were greast, slightly savory, and heavenly. Especially with a dollop of the nougat ice cream bomb, which was covered in fudge sauce and topped with cotton candy. I loved the tire that was served on snow right on the table, and the tarte tatin was the best I ever had. I would pay the same amount of money just for all those desserts!
All in all, the meal ended up costing us $100/person (well, for the people who only ordered one beer). It was a little costly, but for the amount and quality of food, well worth it! Having gone twice now, I don’t know if I need to go back next year…this year was a little less exciting. Maybe I’ll change my mind if I hear they’re offering that tarte tatin again though!
My apologies for the slightly blurry photos…I didn’t want my flash going off constantly.
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