Thursday, November 23, 2006

Montreal 6 - Of Pigs and Feet

It was the one thing I insisted on doing in Montreal when asked.

Dinner at Pied de Cochon.

Heavy handed foie gras, a passionate chef, rave reviews from fellow chefs, how could I resist?

Luckily for me, my timing was spot on, with Martin Picard having just launched a 'Au Pied de Cochon' cookbook recently.

However, it was to my dismay that the bro and my lovely hostess seemed to have not had great experiences. In fact, both of the declined to dine with me and the boy despite my standing offer to treat! Shockingly, our table of five diminished to a table of two but no matter what they said, I was determined to go.

I arrived at my appointed time of 8:30 and waited a short while for a table. We were seated in the noisy and bright restaurant with a full view of the kitchen and of Mr Picard! It was very much like on TV, with full concentration of the kitchen staff on what they were doing and much hustle and bustle.

We decided to start with foie gras poutine (of course!) and the pickled venison tongue, just because it was different.

The poutine was very, very, very good. So good in fact, that I seriously considered a second order. The boy and I almost had to compete for our fair share of the plate. Cheese curds, perfectly brown cooked fries, topped with a slab of pink foie gras covered in a rich gravy.

The pickled venison was served with thin French bread toasts with mustard. It was not to my taste, not because I'm squeamish (if you've read other entries, you will know this is not an odd choice for me) but it seemed a little too soft in texture and not pickled enough for my tastes. The boy happily ate it all up. This was surprising as I adore ox tongue whereas he usually refuses my offers of tastings....silly boy!

I chose the Pied de Cochon as my main, which was a slowly braised pig's trotter, served with a sauce of tomato, onions and cabbage, with a side of mashed potatoes. It was very good but unbelievably rich and heavy. I ate the meat, scraped off the fat onto a side plate so I can eat the chewy, crispy pork skin (deliciously flavorful), a few mouthfuls of the buttery, creamy mashed potatoes. It was very nicely flavored but a very rich dish, perfect for winter. However, even with my appetite, I only managed a quarter of the dish. My plate of fat, which I had begun to become much excited and amused by, grew by the the minute as you can see here! ------------->

Also accompanying the dish was a large deep fried cube, with a fancy mustard M. It was only fancy-ish thing on the plate. I had a taste, thinking it was a hash brown and it was quite liquidy inside, a bit mushy and a little unidentifiable. So I asked the server what it was. With a half proud, half amused expression, he explained that it was the remaining cartilage, fat and scrapings from the pig's foot, deep fried in lard. Unsurprisingly, I became happier and even more fascinated with the foot and ate about a third of it until I began to feel a little sick. It was incredibly heavy, not bad tasting but I kept thinking it would be delicious in a bowl of congee. I liked the fact that nothing went to waste.

The boy had the duck in a can. This was a brilliant 1/2 magret de canard, cooked with a piece of foie and other flavorings. This was deliciously tender and upended onto two pieces of bread topped with mashed potatoes. The boy was in absolute ecstasy, and kept making embarrassing 'mmmnn' noises until I asked for a taste. Then he was quiet for fear I'd ask for more.

We finished with a maple tart to share. Served with real vanilla ice cream, it was delicious, soft and with a strong, pure maple flavor, it was Canada in a bite.

Absolutely delicious, rich as anything, we felt like we had sold our souls.
Martin Picard was very sweet, quite shy but agreed to sign my cookbook and I even used my Asian-ness to coerce the poor man into taking a photo.

Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth St. East
Montreal, Quebec
H2L 1A9
Tel: 514 281 1114

Apologies for the was due to technical problems, aka, my own incompetence.

1 comment:

Josh said...

A lovely meal it seems. I never realised you can eat this good in Montreal...