Saturday, December 5, 2015

Au Pied De Cochon, Montreal

 I love everything about Montreal's racous shrine to animal fats, Au Pied De Cochon. The cooking may be serious but everything else is a bawdy ridiculous edible party brought to you by my new culinary hero, the bold, the daring, the fat centric devil may care Martin Picard.
A veritable temple to fois gras, there are croquettes, crepes, burgers, tarts and even poutine -- Montreal's classic dish of french fries, cheese curds and gravy -- featuring the controversial, creamy fattened liver.
Vegetarians beware. Picard's homage to traditional Quebec specialties rests heavily on his love for meat, in enormous portions. Duck, bison, goose, deer, horse (yikes) and of course the namesake pig are all featured in super rich dishes ideal to keep a lumberjack or trapper warm in cold Canadian winters and to assure he won't have to plan for a long retirement.
The menu is short on description but the wait staff, all seemingly truly delighted to be part of this pork fueled rave, are happy to describe any dish. I literally saw stars dancing in our waitress' eye as she gushed about the "meat pie" filled dumplings -- a play on Montreal's Christmas favorite tourtière.
"Every bite is like Christmas," Carol, our waitress, beamed. "Like my grandmother made when I was a little girl."
How do you say no to that?
We quickly ordered 6 dumplings.
Sure enough. Meat and cloves and wine and butter. It's a mouthful of Christmas and a most unusual dumpling served with house-made ketchup sauce. Delicious.
We wanted to try everything but Carol kept us in check. "Too much, too much," she declared. "The leg, dumplings and salad. Is already a lot."
We had no idea how right she was until the pig's trotter stuffed with foil gras, the restaurant's signature and perhaps most publicized dish arrived at the table swimming in a sea of creamy mushroom sauce and snowy beach of cheesy curd potato purée.
"Since I have been here," Carol explained. "Only one has ever eater it all."
That dish could easily feed four or even six sensible people. My willing friend and I were spurred on by the delicious hearty sauce and super tender meat which I later learned from a friendly line cook had been removed from the foot boned, roasted, re-stuffed and cooked sort of sous vide for more than 12 hours and then crisped in the restaurant's beautiful brick oven.
Oh and that salad? Pork cheeks, lardons, radishes and sunflower sprouts grown on the dining room window sill. A spicy, herby, fatty salad.
I suppose one could say that PDC is a lot of show. In another famous dish duck is cooked inside a can (instead of a sous vide bag) which is ceremoniously opened table side. Our dessert of peach preserves and most ginger spice cake topped with crème anglais and maple caramel sauce was given the same "canned" treatment. But this kitchen does not rely on gimmicks. This is real food, with sophisticated  voluptuous flavors expertly prepared and served with an undying sense of pride . . . and fun.
There is no other restaurant like it. I can't wait to come back. I think I am in love with Martin Picard.

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