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Posts Tagged ‘Au Pied de Cochon’

Last night, we hit Au Pied de Cochon, a restaurant that easily makes my Top Ten list for its rustic Cuisine Quebecoise covering everything from foie gras and tongue to pig’s feet and bison ribs.  Every visit is like going to a friend’s cottage for dinner, if you’re friend happens to be an outdoorsman with an affinity for down-home cooking – and a supper table so popular you often have to make reservations several weeks in advance.

One of the other restaurants in the neighborhood. Looks more interesting on the outside than does its menu.

Our destination on this night, and my favorite restaurant in Montreal: Au Pied de Cochon

Ready for business. Note the cuffs.

I was especially looking forward to this visit because, according to my sister, PDC had added a whole confit pig head for two to the menu.  How would it compare to the one I enjoyed at Refuel only weeks back?  Well, sis told me not to get my hopes up.  It was very possible that the pig head was no longer on the menu.  When we sat down, it was the first thing I looked for and – success! – there it was.  Thrilled, I placed our order – only to learn they were out.  I was crushed, but managed to drown my sources in an alternate feast…

Packets of liquid foie gras deep-fried loveliness.

Always my favorite: the tarragon bison tongue. You've never had tongue this tender!

Another favorite: the Guinea Hen liver mousse.

The Cipaille: a meat pie stuffed full of hare, duck and other game. Possessed a wonderful cinnamon-accented flavor, but I found the meat a little dry.

The fabulous foie-gras stuffed pig's feet.

One of the top ten desserts in the world: Au Pied de Cochon's Pouding Chomeur is always served bubbling hot.

A special dessert timed to coincide with the restaurant's cabane a sucre: Maple Syrup Ice Cream with maple syrup meringue and maple syrup cotton candy. Delicieux!

Today marks my last day in Montreal until next time (whenever that is).   Since I’m catching a late flight out (6:10 p.m.), I had time to drive mom down to see her sister, my Aunt Grace.

My Aunt Grace - a fitness fanatic. She wakes up early and works out for an hour and a half every morning!

Aunt Grace is also known for her baking skills and her incredible nut-themed creations.

Mom enjoys a piece of her sister's home made cake.

My uncle Nino, soccer fanatic. Forza Italia!

Looks like I have some time to squeeze in a few of your mailbag questions before my flight:

dasNdanger writes: “The Eli thing…just wondered if he was so concerned after the fact, why didn’t Young specify exactly what message he wanted Eli to send to the aliens?”

Answer: I think that simply demonstrated the trust Young has in Eli.

Sean D. writes: “Any chances of seeing any pineapples in SGU (on Earth or elsewhere)?”

Answer: The pineapple was a recurring theme in Will Waring-directed episodes, but it’s highly unlikely pineapples will be putting in an appearance on SGU.

dasNdanger writes: “Woo! The Eagles traded McNabb to the Redskins.”

Answer: Well, isn’t that interesting.  Even more interesting was him trumpeting the fact that he helped bring Vick to the team – essentially facilitating his own replacement.

crayonbaby writes: “I don’t think you’ve ever told us who won in Ashleigh’s bracket? Did she pick Duke?”

Answer: She didn’t.  In fact, nobody in our pool picked Duke.

fsmn36 writes: “Ok, my one thought with Space was…the aliens cut holes into Destiny, and there was a vacuum that sucked out Chloe…how was that entire section of the ship not airlocked? Presumably the shields are somehow keeping in all the oxygen in despite the gaping holes? But then how did the ship land in the first place? Sorry, I don’t usually ask random questions as though I’m trying to say you did something wrong (because I’m not!), but that just kind of confused me.”

Answer: Once the alien ship compromised that section of the hull, the area started to decompress, resulting in Destiny sealing off that particular corridor until the shield could re-seal the breech – which only happened after the alien ship had left.

Fred writes: “Years ago, my mom went to Australia, where she bought what she considers the best potato peeler in vegetable history.”

Answer: Funny you should mention this.  I was just marveling over my mom’s ancient potato peeler.  It bests any modern version by far.

Tim Lade writes: “a) I have been watching Atlantis for the first time and a random question occured to me: Why does Teyla bother to wear an Atlantis uniform and Ronon does not? Is it because Ronon is too cool for it?

b) If could could go back and change one decision you creatively made over the past many years of production of the SG franchise what would you choose? It’s cool if you don’t have one I was just wondering.”

Answers: a) Teyla was more of a “team player”.  While she was always proud of her Athosian roots, she embraced the new chapter in her life by adopting the Atlantis team uniform.  Ronon, on the other hand, spent so much time as a loner that he chose to fiercely guard his independence – even when he was part of the team.

b) Off the top of my head, the one creative decision we made that I came to dislike over time was the inclusion of the Earth ships retrofitted with Asgard tech. It made things a little too easy in some major instances (ie. making Pegasus more accessible thereby losing the sense of isolation established early on, the beaming technology offering an easy in and out for many dicey scenarios) which, in turn, made things a lot more complicated from a dramatic standpoint.

Morticae writes: “Looks like we are backing different individuals on Survivor. I was elated when your guy was voted off. Seemed to me he tried relying too much on his prior Survivor stardom to attract a social alliance that he didn’t even bother to keep together.”

Answer: Disagree.  He was a brilliant strategist.  If everyone had voted like he instructed them to vote the previous week, things would have gone very differently.  He was also brilliant when it came to puzzle challenges.  He will be missed.

step writes: “In light of yesterday being Easter, easily one of the most important holidays to a great deal of Western Civilization (a happy belated to everyone) it occurred to me that I could not recall having seen any religious celebrations on SG-1 or SGA – not even Christmas or Easter.”

Answer: It’s something we never explored in the previous two shows.  However, we are exploring the issue of faith in SGU.

Annie writes: “Just wondering. Any word on an SGA movie???”

Answer: Still no word and I don’t expect to hear anything either way for a while.  Trust me, the hold up has nothing to do with a lack of desire on anyone’s part.

PG15 writes: “

A big debate going on at Gateworld at the moment is what Young’s intentions were near the end of the episode, when he ordered Eli to continue to fire on the alien ship, despite the fact that the latter was retreating. A lot of people are saying (as some have said here) that it was Young’s last ditch effort to silence Rush once and for all.

I disgree with this; if Young really wanted to off Rush, then why didn’t he do it when he found him on the alien ship? Furthermore, why would he volunteer to go back in after he was brought back by the mind probe thing? No, it doesn’t add up.

What was your intention behind writing that bit? Why would Young continue to fire on the alien ship even though the aliens were retreating? And why did Young say “I have no choice!”?”

Answer: No way I’m answering this one.  You’ll have to tune in and see how things develop on the Young-Rush front.  On the one hand, it may well be that he regretted the decision to abandon Rush and wanted to make amends by saving Rush from the tank – but then, faced with prospect of coming out on the losing end of the space battle, really had no choice but to order the “killing blow”.  On the other hand, it could well be he only rescued Rush from the tank because he wanted answers (specifically where the aliens were keeping Chloe which is why he boarded the ship in the first place) and then, realizing he wasn’t going to be able to save Chloe in the end, ordered the final strike on the alien ship to eliminate Rush once and for all.

Joan001 writes: “…and where is Sis’s Siberian???”

Answer: Aspen is at home recuperating from a leg “condition”.  They’re still running tests to find out what’s wrong with the poor guy.

Joanoo1 also writes: “How can TPTB explain an alien ship attaching itself to another and having to cut a hole into another ship when other technologies exist…?

2-> How can TPTB explain how Destiny can fly with a couple of holes in her, open to space elements, with no detriment to its passengers? Chloe’s father died because of leaks in the hull.”

Answer: The shield is alike a second skin covering the hull, but just like the hull is weak in some areas (and actually exposed to space), there are certain areas of the shield that are weak.  In certain instances, there are areas in which both the hull and the shield are weak – like we saw in the premiere (ie. that second shuttle).  As for how the alien ship was able to penetrate the shield to capture Chloe – prior to our arrival, Destiny’s automated defenses repulsed attacks but since we came aboard, we’ve been using power for everything from life support to weapons.  This results in less energy available to ship’s defenses, resulting in weaker shield strength, particularly in already damaged sections of the ship.  As for how the ship deals with decompressed sections – see my answer above.

Shadow Step writes: “So when they are under attack the best course of action is to fly into a star?”

Answer: Actually, yes – especially if they’re battling enemy ships that aren’t designed to do the same.

duneknight writes: “and another thing, why hasnt Rush targeted Eli yet? if he really wants to take Young down, he could easily do so by harming Eli in some way.”

Answer: Rush isn’t interested in doing anyone permanent harm, least of all Eli who he actually needs.  Or does he?

Amz writes: “I’m starting to look for pa type work in Vancouver, and links or companies you could suggest for me to approach?”

Answer: To be honest, I’ve been insulated from the rest of the Vancouver entertainment industry.  Since coming here 11 years ago, I’ve worked exclusively on Stargate.  I’ll look into it for you though.

AV Eddy writes: “Why did the alien body/Young conscience react in such pain when the mind reading device was put on him?”

Answer: It’s clearly a painful process.

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I had only planned on attending one funeral while in town and, thus, packed accordingly. The news that I would have to attend a second took me by surprise and left me feeling like that guy who only owns a single suit, dress shirt, and tie he wears to every momentous occasion be it a wedding, an office party, or his own wake. Fortunately, the two services would be playing to two completely different crowds on two separate days so I didn’t have to worry about committing a fashion funeral faux pas.

This morning, we were at the Catholic church – unfamiliar territory for yours truly. Okay, granted, Protestant church aint exactly familiar territory for me either on account of my spotty attendance record of late (“late” being the humongous gap between early high school and now), but I was raised Protestant and have a basic sense of how things roll in the old holy hood. “What’s that?”you say. “Protestant? But your Italian!” True. Somewhere in my vast blog archive, I’ve already gone over how my mother was once a minister of the United Church and how my father was raised Catholic until the day his younger sister caught a beating from a local nun that so enraged my grandmother she chased off an apologetic priest with a broom, renounced her Catholic faith, and converted to Protestantism. Run a search for “Catholic” and “broom”. I’m sure you’ll be able to track it down.

Anyway, today, we were at the Catholic Church. After exchanging condolences and chatting about jury duty and Istanbul as a vacation destination with a distant relative, we all headed inside. Moments later, the coffin was rolled in (allowing the pallbearers to push rather than do any actual heavy lifting which really is a bit of a cheat when you consider they‘re not doing any actual “bearing“). The priest approached, said a few words, and then everyone bowed their heads to observe a moment of silence. Some thirty seconds into the extended hush – CLAK! – what sounded like a snapping whip broke the stillness. I hazarded a peek and watched an elderly man look down at the cane he had dropped then glance up to see if anyone had noticed. I dropped my gaze to avoid embarrassing him. Another twenty seconds of silence and – CLAK! In an attempt to surreptitiously pick up the cane, he had dropped it again. Perhaps having lost patience, the priest launched into a murmured a prayer that ABRUPTLY BOOMED THROUGH THE ENTIRE CHAMBER AS HIS MICROPHONE SUDDENLY KICKED IN!!!

The procession made its way to the front where the priest assumed his position at the pulpit. Then ensued a church version of Simon Says with mourners standing, sitting, kneeling, crossing, and murmuring at various points throughout the service with no apparent rhyme or reason. At first I figured I’d be the lagger but it quickly became evident that fully a third of those in attendance hadn’t a clue what to do. At certain points, a handful would suddenly stand, prompting others to join them, only to have some retake their seats with the realization that the standing wasn’t unanimous. As they would retake their seats, still others would rise, leaving those who had just cast their lot with the sitters to reconsider their allegiance, causing some to stand up once again. While others were in the process of retaking their seats. It was like watching one of those pop-a-weasels in action. Half way through the service, the woman sitting in front of me jumped to her feet, presuming the next movement – and guessed wrong. She was on her feet for a full minute, seemingly willing everyone to join her. No one did. After a while, she glanced around in bewilderment and retook her seat, mortified.

I’m conversational in Italian but couldn’t understand most of what the priest was saying on account of him being a bit of a low-talker. I wish I’d paid closer attention because, partway through his talk, I heard the fellow sitting behind me mutter: “Wrong sermon.”

After the sermon wrapped, a guy with hair like Harry and Norman Osborn from the Spiderman comics gave a speech. While he was talking, I heard a bit of a commotion from the back of the church. One of the church elders approached the spotlight family member – still in mid-speech – and said something to him before trundling off. Harry/Norman finished up and, as he stepped off, another priest stepped in and informed those gathered that they could pay their condolences at the cemetery as there was another funeral waiting to come in and if everyone could file out as quickly as possible that would be great. Stunned looks were exchanged, the music swelled, the coffin was wheeled out, and everyone followed in orderly fashion, passing the second-shift mourners in waiting, their coffin poised and read to roll.

Tomorrow, we’ll be at the Protestant church, one block up. I believe we have the venue all afternoon and, as such, won’t have to worry about being bumped by a second memorial service, women’s choir practice, or charity bingo.

Last night, as expected, I had the meal to end all meals. We were at Au Pied de Cochon – the one place I absolutely have to visit whenever I’m in Montreal. And with good reason. This is Quebec-style comfort food at its finest. On the menu, you’ll find everything from rustic French onion soup to the freshest of seafood platters. But the one item that Au Pied is known – and keeps me coming back – is foie gras in all its forms: cured, pan-fried, in tarts and terrines, crowning hamburgers, stuffed in pig’s feet, served atop duck. Surprisingly, they haven’t incorporated into the dessert menu yet – but maybe that’s for the best because their dessert menu is mighty outrageous on its own.

Here’s a pictorial rundown of my dinner:

 

The place is always bustling.
The place is always bustling.
Lili

Lili

Me and sis.
Me and sis.
Tarragon bison Tongue.  I ordered this one because it sounded unusual.  It was fantastic.  Tasty and unbelievably tender.
Foie Gras Poutine.  Down home delicious.
Guinea Hen Liver Mousse.  Melts in your mouth.  Had this last time I was in town and is now one of my favorites>

Guinea Hen Liver Mousse. Melts in your mouth. Had this last time I was in town and is now one of my favorites>

Cromesquis.  Crispy on the outside.  Oozing with sweet and savory foie gras goodness on the inside.

Cromesquis. Crispy on the outside. Oozing with sweet and savory foie gras goodness on the inside.

Tarragon bison Tongue. I ordered this one because it sounded unusual. It was fantastic. Tasty and unbelievably tender.

Tarragon bison Tongue. I ordered this one because it sounded unusual. It was fantastic. Tasty and unbelievably tender.

Foie Gras Stuffed Pig's Feet.  Sis's fave.

Foie Gras Stuffed Pig's Feet. Sis's fave.

PDC Melting Pot.  A whole mess o' tasty.

PDC Melting Pot. A whole mess o' tasty.

Maple Syrup Pie.  Served with vanilla ice cream of course.

Maple Syrup Pie. Served with vanilla ice cream of course.

Maple Churros!

Maple Churros!

Pouding Chomeur.  The consensus pick.  Outrageously decadent.

Pouding Chomeur. The consensus pick. Outrageously decadent.

P.S. I went out and bought my mom a t.v. set yesterday.

She hates it.

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Lulu

Lulu

Lulu tries to get Bubba's attention

Lulu tries to get Bubba's attention

The gang

The gang

Ready for walkies

Ready for walkies

Out and about with Felix.

Out and about with Felix.

Let's make this fast.

Let's make this fast.

Cromesquis

Cromesquis

Quail

Quail

Guinea hen liver mousse

Guinea hen liver mousse

Foie gras maki

Foie gras maki

PDC hot pot

PDC hot pot

Bison rib

Bison rib

Pig's feet

Pig's feet

Foie gras poutine

Foie gras poutine

Lawrence and Lili

Lawrence and Lili

Andria and Melanie

Andria and Melanie

Pouding chomeur

Pouding chomeur

Holy crap it’s cold here! In just the few minutes it took my sister and I to walk my mother’s dog, Felix, around the block, my ears had turned a bright, festive pink and felt like someone had sanded them down to the cartilage. A far cry from Vancouver that, while snowy, was positively balmy in comparison. Lawren, who has been dog sitting while we’ve been away, took some pics and vids of the pooches negotiating the snow labyrinth he kindly carved out for them in the backyard. Note the photo of Lulu with one of Bubba’s hindquarters in her mouth. That is her subtle signal that she wants to be chased.

Well, last night I had occasion to get together with my oldest (and most annoying) friend Lawrence, an old high school buddy who is London-bound in January, having accepted a two-year transfer to the land of bubbles and/or squeak. Although he has traveled there on business, he knows surprisingly little about the culture (I told him pick up copies of MI-5 and Wire in the Blood to get caught up). In order to fit in and seem more the local, I suggested he adopt some typically English turns of phrase in his every day speech. For instance, instead of waking into the office in the morning and saying “Good morning” (so stereotypically North American), go with the more traditionally English “Pip! Pip! Top of the morning to ya!” or “Cheerio!”. Also, the English have a habit of telling you what they are going to say before they actually say it. If they want to tell you that their socks are green, they will always preface the information with “I say…” as in “I say, I my socks are green.” It’s an easy to remember prelude to conversation that goes a long way toward acclimatizing one to casual London conversation. “I say, someone has misnumbered the accounts receivable.”, “I say, I think I’ll do the Big Mac value meal, please.”, “I say, it looks like Perdingford has gone and set himself on fire.” and so on.

Anyway, we got together – along with his lovely girlfriend Melanie, my sister Andria, and her friend Lili – for dinner. The place: Au Pied de Cochon, my favorite Montreal restaurant, known for its rustic charm and equally rustic dishes. If you want to sample traditional Quebec cuisine in all of its hardy, countrified glory, then look no further. Menu items included confit lamb shanks, venison liver, bison tartare, and endless foie gras. If you’re planning to go, make reservations well ahead of time. My sister was able to book us a table – but for a 5:00 p.m. sitting. Lawrence suggested that would give us time for a late dinner, say around 9:00 p.m.

They kindly left the ordering to me, so I went with a nice variety – ten dishes in all – and allowed our waiter to serve them as he saw fit. Making good on my New Year’s resolution to drink more, I helped the gang polish off to excellent bottles of Beaujelais over the course of our meal.

We kicked things off with the cromesquis, crispy deep-fried squares with liquefied foie gras centers. I tried to make these once and ended up with – well, a mess. A tasty mess, but a mess nevertheless. Au Pied’s version were perfect – warm, crisp, and delicious. We also went with one of the evening additions: a lovely deboned quail dish. Despite being a tiny bird, it can be incredibly succulent and tasty if done right. And the dish we had last night was done right. Rounding out the opening trio was the piglet roast – shaved roast piglet served with a sauce I found a tad too overwhelming.

Next up were four plates, starting with guinea hen liver mousse that simply wowed. Light (for foie) and served with a wonderfully complimentary gelee. Another addition to the menu was the East meets Easter-Canada crispy foie gras maki served with a maple syrup-based dipping sauce. A tad weird but, again, no less tasty. If I’m going to marry foie and sushi, I prefer the simpler foie gras nigiri served at the likes of Vancouver’s Octopus’s Garden. The foie gras poutine dish was as about as Quebec as you can get, and damn good, a perfect marriage of fried potatoes, foie, cheese curds, and a truly decadent foie gras sauce. Our fourth and final dish in this “second course” was something called a plogue that was comprised of pan-fried foie atop a bed of sliced fingerling potatoes and cheese, the whole anointed with maple syrup. Before this dinner, if you had suggested pairing foie and fingerling potatoes, I would have thought you were crazy (because I’ve had similar dishes and none proved successful), but this version worked very well. The key, it turns out, is to make sure the potatoes are cooked through. Also, adding cheese help a lot.

On to round three and three heavy hitters. First up was my favorite of the night, the pig’s feet. The meat was fall off the bone fork-friendly, served with mashed potatoes and a giant cromesquis. Next up was the PDC hotpot which contained a marvelous assortment of sausages, boudin, pork belly, mushrooms, mash, and sweet roasted onions. Our third and final main – and Lawrence and Melanie’s favorite – was the bison rib, a huge tender hunk of meat the likes of which Fred Flinstone enjoyed in his heyday.

For dessert, the others enjoyed the home made lemon meringue pie and chocolate molten lava cake while I went with a dish uniquely Quebecois, the Pouding du Chomeur – a brain-blastingly sweet cornmeal cake served in a bowl of bubbling hot maple syrup.

Service was very good – up until it came time to order dessert at which point our waiter seemed to forget about us as he focused entirely on the surrounding tables. I wondered aloud if Lawrence had done something to offend him. Eventually, we caught his eye, placed our order, and we were back on track.

A great meal. Au Pied de Cochon is only open during the day. If you get in on a Thursday or Friday, get there early and check out the neighboring Les Chocolats de Chloe, an annual chocolate party regular.

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