The recipe for a wonderful evening: take a lovely dinner date…
…and bring her to this place — an unmarked restaurant on Montreal’s Avenue Duluth, just east of Berri:
It’s Au Pied de Cochon (French for “At the Pig’s Foot”), Montreal’s best-known restaurant, run by Martin Picard, Montreal’s best-known chef. Picard’s hailed as the man who’s changing Canada’s culinary identity, and he’s a personal hero of none other than supreme foodie (and chef himself) Anthony Bourdain.
Here’s a segment from Bourdain’s show, No Reservations, featuring Martin and Au Pied de Cochon:
It took a little work, but I managed to snag a much-coveted reservation for two at Au Pied de Cochon last Saturday night. I specifically asked for a seat at the bar with a view of the kitchen. Most people consider it to be the seating area of last resort, but I think of it as the chef’s table, prime seats with a perfect view of the chaotic ballet of cookery. It also lets me sit right beside my lovely dinner companion.
It’s also conveniently close to the beer!
This poutine comes with two different gravies: a high-end version of the standard dark brown sauce that we’ve all come to know and love, and a thicker, coffee-coloured made of foie gras.
Such a dish calls for a close-up shot:
In case you wanted to try and make Au Pied de Cochon’s famous dish at home, here’s the recipe, courtesy of Martin and Food Network Canada!
Anitra decided to choose a less fatty main and went with the tartare. Normally, it’s bison, but that night, it was venison. It was served with two large pieces of toasted baguette and a salad with a creamy dressing.
As for me, I went with my “usual” (this was my third visit, and I confess I’ve had the same thing each time): Canard en Conserve, or put less elegantly in English, “Duck in a Can”. If you’ve ever watched Chef Picard’s TV show Martin sur la Route or its English version, The Wild Chef, you’ll know how fond he is of incorporating canning into his cooking.
Here’s the dish once it’s plated:
And here’s the plating process, as shot with my iPhone:
(Yes, I know I shot a vertical movie. I was just so excited that I forgot to properly orient my phone.)
Here’s the can, which guests can keep:
The ingredients are listed on the back, just above a cartoon rendition of Chef Picard:
In case you don’t read French, here’s the list of ingredients:
- Half a magret (the breast meat of a duck raised specifically for foie gras)
- 100 grams of foie gras
- 80 ml veal glaze with balsamic vinegar
- 180 ml embeurrée de chou (cabbage braised in butter, lardons, chicken stock, garlic, and onions)
- Half a head of roasted garlic
- 2 branched of thyme
The dish was so foie gras-laden that I felt compelled to order a glass of sauternes, the perfect complement to fatty duck liver. Unfortunately, they sell it only by the bottle, but my waiter selected something that was a very good substitute. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what it was, other than it being some variety of sweet white wine starting with the letter “J”. Anyone out there care to enlighten me?
After finishing my canard en conserve, I provided my date with some assistance finishing her tartare:
Quite stuffed but wanting something sweet with which to end the meal, we went for the simplest dessert. It was an evening special: a banana run milkshake, which was probably the lightest option:
Our appetites sated and our bodies fueled by duck fat, we decided to walk the nearly two and a half miles from Au Pied de Cochon back to the AirBnB apartment at Guy and Maisonneuve and take in a late summer Saturday night in Montreal.
All in all, a lovely evening!