Archives for March 2010

Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon: Part 2


…Continuing from Part 1.

Not everyone understands Martin Picard’s food. It’s bold and brash, gutsy–and sometimes even guts themselves. It’s not for everyone.

Long ago I worked a shift at Au Pied du Cochon, back in my restaurant days and back when Martin called the tickets every night. It was one wild and crazy Saturday night where I was tossed into the pit, literally, to replace a friend who was sick (or something.)

It was brutal, wonderful, sweaty, faster-than-fast paced and completely intoxicating. I’ll have to share the whole story sometime. Especially the part where a bell rang half-way through service and a waitstaff pointed at me and inquired

“What do you want?”

Let’s just say there was no round of drinks mid-service at the place I usually worked.
But that’s Martin Picard for you.

I may not understand his food completely, but I do know that I absolutely love to eat it, and so let’s look at the second round of food we recently enjoyed at the Au Pied de Cochon sugar shack!


Piping hot and fluffy as can be, is an omelet, but not just any omelet. Inside is a layer of maple-smoked sturgeon and it is topped with braised pork shoulder and green onions. As you can imagine, it made for a pungent mouthful when coated with maple syrup and devoured.
I could have done without the fish, however the pork was fantastic.


This masterpiece was easily the most complex dish of the bunch. It is a whole cabbage stuffed with lobster, ground pork and, hidden deep in the center, molten foie gras.

Served on a bed of al dente lentils, this dish had me shaking my head with wonder at each bite. I’ve always loved the earthiness of cabbage, and it was a perfect match for the rich lobster, pork and foie.

Hat’s off to the chef, for the cabbage was tender and yet the lobster was not over-cooked. That accomplishment alone left me scratching my head.


It’s a bit ghastly to look at, save for the precarious lobster garnish, but the ‘choux farci‘ was my favorite part of the meal.


Forgive me, but I didn’t even taste the next dish: beef tongue with a celeric remoulade.
At this point I was staring down the lobster dish above, and marveling over it’s complexities. The beef tongue was way down at the other end of the table–and who in their right mind is going to abandon a dish of lobster and foie gras for tongue??


This maple-glazed chicken received plenty of abuse from our food bloggers for being boring; however, I think that simplicity was part of it’s charm. I quite enjoyed it, and found the delicious beans cooked with maple syrup and garnished with fresh parsley far outshone the bird.


Two thoughts on that one:
1.Yeah, it’s chicken, surely a nice pintade or a couple of game hens would have been more fun.
2.I need to eat more beans.


Yours truly carving up the chicken for the table (and taking it very seriously, apparently).

The last element of our main course cause quite the frenzy in our food paparazzi when it was brought to the table:


This traditional Quebec toutiere was photographed from all angles for a good five minutes before getting sliced up and served with it’s homemade tomato ketchup.

I have to draw on Mary Poppins for the praise of this dish, for it was indeed ‘Practically perfect in every way’.


It will be difficult to enjoy another meat pie after having experienced this version; it a good thing I purchased one upon our departure and it’s now stashed in my freezer.

I doubt it will last there very long.

Stay tuned for desserts! They are coming up next to conclude this series…

A Simple Easter Cupcake

It’s fair to say I’ve done some research in the area of cupcakes. Besides baking for my own enjoyment, I’ve organized city-wide tours to search for the perfect cupcake, and created hundreds of versions for wedding showers, birthdays and other events.

I’m shocked at how many cupcakes sold from fancy boutiques come up short. It only takes a few dry mouthfuls of cake and a heavy frosting-induced belly ache to realize that you have just wasted $3.25 and …

it’s hard to beat a homemade cupcake.

That is not to say that every homemade cupcake is delicious and perfect in every way, or that all boutique creations are dry and crumbly, but great homemade cupcakes are definitely attainable, even for the novice baker. And for much less cost than a dozen from the local bakery.

Without disclosing just how many of these sweet treats I’ve consumed in one day (how many are in a baker’s dozen again?), I’ll pass along a winning cupcake recipe that has served me well!

With the baking tips I’ll share, the recipe you’ll find below, and a bag of Cadbury mini eggs, you will be well on your way to the perfect cupcake and a simple Easter dessert everyone will love. [Read more…]

Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon: Part 1


I’d love to start this post with a brief introduction to who exactly Martin Picard is and why some 20 local food bloggers were freaking out over scoring a coveted reservation at his sugar shack, but I’m going to skip it and short track straight to the food.

Anyway, many of you have probably already heard of this Montreal chef and the restaurant where he hangs his apron, Au Pied de Cochon; although, come to think of it, I’ve never seen him in an apron.

It’s not really Martin’s style. This is more his thing:

Rustic entrance to the Cabane a Sucre

For reasons that will soon become apparent, my account of our outing to the sugar bush will be presented in three parts: appetizers, main course, and dessert, naturally.

The eating was seemingly endless….the photography documentation exceedingly extensive…all which makes the report expansive. Three posts it will be.

So let’s get to it!

Au Pied de Cochon’s Cabane a Sucre
Part 1: Appetizers


First up was a salad of fresh greens, walnuts, aged cheddar, and ham, topped with an mound of airy ‘Oreilles de crisse’ (deep-fried pork rinds). One could hardly call the rinds a garnish, as they equaled the greens in volume, but when all the elements were assembled, the salad made for a very tasty and well-balanced mouthful.


The salmon gravlax was well executed, but a tad boring–and I was wishing for some crostini to drape the silky fish over.

Toast or bread of any sort would have also been welcomed to accompany the following dish: ‘Cretons’.


A spiced ground pork spread, this traditional French-Canadian breakfast staple may look like cat food, but I can assure you it is delicious when it is prepared properly.

I thoroughly enjoyed APDC’s version, toast or no toast.


Which brings us to the first item I did not enjoy: barbecued chicken feet.
I attacked the spindly claws before any other dish, as I couldn’t imagine trying them cold, but even piping hot, crispy and lacquered with a succulent maple glaze, I could not, WOULD not, eat more than one bite.

Non merci.


A quick word on service: excellent.

As I’ve experienced long waits at the mothership APDC, I didn’t have high hopes for the sugar shack. I was pleasantly surprised by the prompt service, smart servers and general attention we received.
Granted, we were a group of 25 foodies/food bloggers. Perhaps that helped. We made quite a scene with our cameras. Good grief. The Cameras.


I was all over this split pea soup with it’s earthy chucks of ham and nuggets of foie gras. I doused mine in maple syrup and was completely happy.


These nondescript buckwheat pancakes were alone worth the trek up north, but then I’m a bit of a pancake fiend, as we all know.

Although they were wrapped inconspicuously in a warm towel, they didn’t last long around me. Each one was dipped in pure maple syrup and eaten in two bites. Delish.

To be continued…

Weekend Reading

Spotlight Ingredient: Oats

It is safe to say that oats are among the favorite grain choices here in North America. They are an absolute staple in our house, reinventing themselves through granola, muffins, scones, summer fruit crisps, and much more. Easy to source, affordable and nutritious, oats of every variety should be stocked in your pantry!

Oats don’t have their germ and bran removed during processing, and so they bring you the nutritious rewards of the whole grain to be enjoyed a myriad of ways. A source of both protein and carbohydrates, oats offer a reliable source of energy, making them an ideal choice for breakfast.

I was raised on porridge and now my boys and I enjoy it every weekday morning. I’ve even been known to pack a baggie of quick oats with me when I travel! At home, a turntable on our dining room table holds glass jars, each housing an assortment of oatmeal toppings: toasted almonds, golden raisins, wheat germ, organic honey, golden flax seed, and dried cranberries.

The garnish may vary, but hot oatmeal in the morning is our constant, and we wouldn’t change for all the Kellogg’s in the world.

Let’s take a quick look at the types of oatmeal and a few extra special recipes featuring it… [Read more…]