Our lack of posts in April is partially due to my being out of town most weekends that month. While quite a bit north east of Toronto, one of the most memorable meals in April was in Montreal, at Au Pied de Cochon’s Cabane à Sucre. Thanks to P, T, and R, I was able to visit the only-if-you-can-score-a-reservation sugar shack, a 30 minute drive out of Montreal.
Maple Cocktails: Whiskey sodas, daiquiri and coffee
Our reservation was for 11:30 on a Saturday morning, the perfect time to start with drinks! P and I opted for the “Soda Jello” which were whiskey sodas with cubes of maple jelly floating in the bottom. They came with optional glasses of chipped ice, to dilute as desired. Our table also ordered a maple daiquiri and a maple alcoholic coffee drink, both of which were delicious as well.
All meals should begin with with a dessert tower!
At Au Pied de Cochon (APDC), the meal begins with an impressive dessert tower. Stacked on a tin can and pieces of a sizable tree trunk are bite-sized desserts that serve as awesomely excessive amuse-bouche.
Top Tier of the Dessert Tower
The top tier includes maple syrup spun into cotton candy, with maple glazed doughnut holes underneath. Also on the tier were maple sponge candy, cones of maple taffy and chocolate dipped marshmallow-maple cookies. My favourite item on this layer was the cotton candy, partially because they also doubled as tasty facial hair. Underneath the top layer of wood, a creme caramel made with maple syrup is balanced on top of the tin can.
Bottom Tier of the Dessert Tower
The bottom tier had shots of maple syrup diluted with Jack Daniels, maple popcorn cones, croissant aux amandes, canelés and a yogurt maple jello cube. I disliked the tartness of the yogurt in the jello cubes, but it most likely helped those who were overwhelmed by the sweetness (and amount) of maple syrup so far. For those who weren’t, a jug of APDC’s homemade maple syrup was available for adding to anything you liked.
The four main courses… just kidding, these are just the appetizers!
Next, our four appetizers are served all at once – fried duck legs, smoked salmon and foie gras pancake, pork rinds “salad”, and veal brain omelette.
Only a Smoked Salmon and Foie Gras Pancake
Topped with baked beans, ricotta cheese, maple smoked salmon, and lumps of foie gras and served in a skillet, this pancake was a delicious combination of flavours united by maple syrup.
This is a salad, really!
The next appetizer was a dish of pork rinds and crispy strips of fried pig ears served on a bed of duck hearts and greens. Although presented as a salad, the main feature of this dish were definitely the addictive pork rinds, with the vinegary greens at the bottom to help cut through the delicious fat overload.
The Brains Omelette
More of a frittata than an omelette, this skillet of eggs, bacon and brains was my favourite dish out of the appetizers. Above a layer of scalloped potatoes were fluffy eggs, stuffed with mozzarella, topped with tender chunks of maple smoked bacon and lumps of creamy veal brains. While possibly the easiest dish to recreate at home, this rich dish of eggs and bacon was cooked perfectly and I couldn’t help but have extra helpings, even though pacing ourselves was important, as the main courses had yet to arrive.
Green Beans and Almonds
Served alongside the ham were green beans in a maple sauce, with slivered almonds. Although a nice side to accompany the ham, I felt our beans were slightly overcooked, and sweeter than expected.
Stuffed Chicken with Lobster Sauce
Our last savoury dish was this slightly gruesome looking piece of chicken. Stuffed with lobster and foie gras, the chicken was served with a rich lobster sauce. While I liked each part individually, I didn’t quite feel that stuffing everything together created a sum that was greater than its parts.
Dessert: Maple Syrup and Angel Food Cake
Served in a bell jar full of dry ice, the Angel Food cake frosted with maple syrup was the surprisingly light dessert brought out to end the meal. Maple taffy, traditionally made by pouring maple syrup onto fresh snow to chill, and eaten using popsicle sticks, was served alongside the cake. At APDC, the maple taffy is taken to the next level with the brilliant idea of chilling the syrup in soft serve instead.
Overall, APDC’s sugar shack serves up awesomely excessive feasts of meat and maple syrup in a cheery log cabin out in rural Quebec. It was a quintessential Canadian experience – all that was missing was a campfire. On the way out we also noticed some interesting details in the kitchen – a 69 APDC jersey, a taxidermied wolf on the wall, and a chef’s table!
Saturday Morning, April 20, 2013.
Au Pied de Cochon: Cabane à Sucre
11382 Rang de la Fresnière
St-Benoît de Mirabel, Québec