Cabane a Sucre Au Pied de Cochon Part 3: Desserts


You may want to grab some of that leftover Easter chocolate before starting to read this post – or not. Chances are your Cadbury eggs will pale in comparison to this line up of deserts we recently enjoyed at a local sugar shack.

Here are the first two parts of our culinary adventure to bring you up to speed on our outing:

Read Part 1: Appetizers
Read Part 2: Main Courses

Desserts are, as all of you know, my weakness. Desserts featuring maple? Well, let’s just say we get along very well.

A little too well, perhaps, but who’s counting pancakes??


Crêpes Grand-Mère‘, I believed these were called, although I wasn’t paying much attention to our server at that point. I’m somewhat of a pancake aficionado, and these were among the best I’ve had.

Can one really call them pancakes, though? They were deep-fried in duck fat, deliciously hot and crispy and served swimming in maple syrup. Definitely a perfect marriage between pancakes and doughnuts.

Our table polished them off in no time.

I called our server aside to inquire about the house policy on ‘seconds’, to which she promptly informed me that they don’t accommodate. I remained calm, but firm, and managed to convey my deep and utter need for another tray.

Happily, another dish of pancakes arrived shortly in front of me, hot and devastatingly good. (Have I ever called anything ‘devastatingly good’ on this blog??)


OK, I’m going to get flack for this one, but this is my space, so I can say what I like. This banana split was just so-so. Sure it had banana’s (what’s local about those?) maple marshmallows (mine are better – just sayin’), some pretty kicking maple ice cream, and maple-glazed nuts, but I wasn’t as impressed as some of the other eaters. Go ahead, call me spoiled.


The split’s best feature was the maple cotton candy garnish, which was brilliant. I bought some to take home for the boys. Delish!


This was subconsciously what we had all come for: tire à l’érable, or maple taffy. This is a requisite treat for a visit to any sugar shack.


It is rolled up on a popsicle stick from it’s bed of crushed ice (packed snow works better) and enjoyed in all it’s teeth numbing, sticky sweetness.

(at this point, I almost had to hold onto the table when I stood up. Remember this was our third ‘wave’ of food. But there was one more…)


My second favorite dessert (pancakes were number one) was the maple mille-feuille, and easily the best of its kind I’ve ever had. Mille-feuille is a dime a dozen around here, but most of them are disappointing.

Not so here, Au Pied de Cochon’s version leaves nothing to be desired, except, perhaps, the residual longing that all mille-feuilles were maple.

Ah, in a perfect world, perhaps.

~Cabane à sucre Au Pied de Cochon: adult $49 CAD, kids from 3 to 12 yrs old $15

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…

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…

Montreal Foodie Tour with Foodie Suz


Blogging has provided me with the opportunity to connect with hundreds of wonderful people and there are so many of you who I would love to get to know better over a cup of coffee! I’ll just have to get to one of those blogging conferences one of these years! Anyway, I recently had the chance to meet a fellow Canadian food blogger who was in Montreal on business: Sue Robbins, or as she is better known, Foodie Suz.

I picked her up at her hotel and whisked her around town to some of my favorite food spots. Sue was courageous to meet up with me, a total stranger, and while she expected a foodie tour, she didn’t know that she was signing on for a white-knuckled drive. I can be, ahem, a rather aggressive driver, not to mention sometimes scatterbrained. Poor Sue!
Anyway, I only blew through one red light (our conversation was so engrossing!) and we survived the whirlwind trip. Here’s a peek of where we got around to…

Illy coffees and chocolate brioche at Olive et Gourmando
Olive et Gourmando, my favorite bakery/cafe
More treats from the Old Montreal bakery

Artfully arranged produce at Jean-Talon Market, our biggest open air market. This stop also included a walk through the one-and-only Hamel cheese shop and a lengthy visit to Olives et Epices, which we later exited laden with exotic spices.


Of course we were working up an appetite so a stop at St-Viateur Bagels was not optional – it was mandatory! I love how this place never closes and the river of bagels is always flowing.
We later popped in to my favorite cupcake shop, Cocoa Locale, but much to my dismay, it was closed, so no Chocolate-Chai Cupcakes for us.


We still needed a chocolate fix, so instead we parked in my old neighbourhood, the Plateau, and walked to Les Chocolats de Chloé. A stunning little artisanal chocolate shop, I died and went to heaven with Chloe’s Illy Espresso chocolate. I would happily accept treats from this one-of-a-kind shop for any occasion–as long as I live!


After drooling over upscale kitchen items at Arthur Quentin, we were in need of something a bit more substantial than chocolate. As Sue had already experienced the famous Schwartz’s Deli on a previous visit, I decided L’Express would be a good option for lunch. The Parisian-like place was in fine form, including a grumpy Maître d’, who huffily told me to remove my water bottle from the table. Or what? You won’t serve me? Man, my days of snobby restaurant life are over. Lighten up!


I think Sue enjoyed her octopus and lentil salad and I was relieved when she also ordered a side of fries, or else my lunch would have looked mightily unhealthy in comparison. I feasted on what just may be the best sandwich in town, the Croque Monsieur from L’Express. Heaven. Think grilled ham and cheese, but such ham! and such cheese! Cooked to perfection and served with an immense jar of pickles maison (pictured above with Foodie Suz), this is the sandwich of my dreams.


I so enjoyed my time with Sue and we were never lacking for conversation. We swapped book titles, recipes and favorite blogs, yakked about our kids and compared travel stories. It was wonderful to meet her.

Thanks for looking me up, Sue, and for putting up with my driving!

PS: Here is Sue’s rundown of our day, including a photo of yours truly on what was a very windy day where the wind was sculpting my hair into something unnatural!

Montreal’s Best Cupcake: Part 2

Mini’s from Les Glaceurs

Exactly one year ago today, Under the High Chair brought you a thorough investigation into the trendy cupcake scene in Montreal. We did a citywide tasting, related its highs and lows, and ultimately named one cupcake “Montreal’s Best”.
Today we bring you an update to that post, because bakeries change, new places open, and kitchens change staff. You deserve to stay informed and I am more than happy to do the ‘work’. (Mmm, sugar)
So, does Montreal have a new best cupcake? You’ll find out at the bottom!

If you haven’t read the original cupcake post, I strongly suggest that you do and familiarize yourself with the territory, for it is a fascinating one of mafia (only speculating here guys), high prices, frosting and sprinkles! You’ll learn not to judge a cupcake by its cover, that the average price for one is almost a biting $3, which places to hit up when you feel a craving coming on and which ones to avoid like the plague.

Noah checks out the gorgeous presentation of cupcakes at Les Glaceurs

We were a different bunch this time around for the tasting blitz: instead of a group of girls, we were three guys, the two tots and myself. There wasn’t a crumb leftover as things got polished off lickety split be they good or bad! Hmm, guys certainly have a different metabolism than girls!

We did not return to two places that I reviewed last year, Cho’cola and Itsi Bitsi, as I had been informed from many sources that things remained the same at each establishment. In brief, Cho’cola: bad to very bad and Itsi Bitsi: good to pretty good. Yeah, I know that is totally vague, but like I suggested before, read the first cupcake review for details.

(Note: if you have experienced something different than I have at either of these places please let me know. e.g. a fresh, knee-weakeningly-good cupcake from Cho’cola or the opposite from Itsi-bitsi. I would be happy to return as I am always game for sweets!)

Our tour started with the new kids on the block:

Les Glaceurs
453, rue St-Sulpice, Vieux-Montreal, 514.504.469, Open since: September ’07 Price per cupcake: $2.85 Seating: yes

I have to say I’m sorry guys, because with Olive et Gourmando just down the hill, we’ve haven’t really been holding our breath for a cupcake joint in the Old Port. Fortunately Les Glaceurs sells Bilboquet ice cream though, and that in itself is a big draw.
While they have location, location, location (literally a stone’s throw from the Notre Dame Basilica) and the appearance of everything going for them (cool decor, beautiful presentation, clean bathrooms) they are a perfect example of how when you scratch a little deeper than surface, things aren’t so pretty. In short, I didn’t enjoy their cupcakes.

Clockwise from top left: Lemon-Vanilla, Chocolate Brownie, Peanut Butter, Red Velvet

We tried six different flavors, the ones pictured above plus Choco-Choco and Coffee-Vanilla. Eager to get this tasting going, Noah and I tucked immediately into the Choco-Choco, apparently one of their bestsellers. I stopped after the first bite while he kept going, a lesson right there to never trust a two-year-olds’ palate!
I found myself mentally admonishing the kitchen to upgrade their brand of chocolate, or add more, or something. It was nowhere near chocolaty enough, most certainly would never cut it for one of my cravings, was dry and completely forgettable.
Not a good start.

I went for the Red Velvet next as I had never had this southern specialty and was eager to see what all the fuss was about. Les Glaceurs tops theirs with a cream cheese frosting and it looks pretty cute. It disappeared in a twinkle and I found it more appealing than the chocolate, perhaps because I had no expectations. The color is a little alarming, but I am a sucker for cream cheese icing.

However, as we kept tasting I started noticing a pattern. The cake part of every cupcake was dry and mostly flavorless, while the icings took a lead role and kept us licking our fingers. (We liked the peanut butter especially) But in my opinion, the frosting and various toppings should take a back seat to the star of the show, the cake, and not outshine them. At Les Glaceurs the cake was bad enough that, without the toppings, these cupcakes just might be worse than Cho’cola’s Betty Crocker specimens.

Final answer? Sure, I’ll probably be back. I take just about all my out-of-town guests to the Basilica and with two kiddos to lug around now, for sure we’ll need a pit stop that has A/C and a bathroom, though you can be sure that if I have any say in the matter, we’ll be getting Bilboquet ice cream all around and skipping the cupcakes.

Next up:

Petits Gateaux.
783 Avenue Mont-Royal Est. 514.510.5488.
Open since: May ’07
Price per cupcake:$2.95 Seating: yes

Clock-wise from top left: House marshmallow samples (yes please!), Sucre a la creme, Tea Cranberry Violette, Sour Cream Raspberry and Chocolate Cupcakes

My last visit to P.G. was my first and only. I was aghast at how bad the cupcakes were, likening them, if I recall, to a day-old Tim Horton’s bran muffin. And I hate Timmy’s. However, I had heard that the original baker had moved on and that new team was turning out something rather memorable. Plus they had added mini’s to their repertoire. I had to see if the rumors were true.

Yep, as a matter of fact, these cupcakes are now made by a team of four guys who apparently have a blast playing with frosting and sprinkles and are doing a fine job of it. Their flavor combinations are creative, the cupcakes are tasty and satisfying, and those mini’s are looking like a tasting menu waiting to happen. Bravo!

Top row L to R: Tea Cranberry Violette, Blueberry Tofu, Chocolate Ganache
Bottom row: Chocolate Ginger, Pear-Vanilla, Carrot

While I was impressed with the all-male teams’ work (almost anything would be an improvement over the last baker), of course I have a few quibbles and after careful consideration my complaint would be that the cupcakes could benefit from the delicate hand of a woman.

For example on the Pear-Vanilla cupcake, a large quarter of a poached pear dwarfs the cupcake below. If I had wanted a fruit cup, I wouldn’t be here. I do like a little frosting.

The Blueberry Tofu is hands down, the ugliest cupcake I have ever seen, but gets points for originality and flavor. Frozen blueberries that bleed all over the white frosting? How hard would it be to use a few fresh ones? Still the taste is great, but let me warn you, the texture is a little funny! I’m still trying to put my finger on what it reminds me of.

On the Sucre à la Crème, the square of fudge is so large that the cupcake must taste about as sweet as a slice of toast after eating it. Same for the Chocolate Sucre à la Crème and a few other toppings that seem completely disproportional to the already small cupcake.

The lilac colored Tea Cranberry Violette Cupcake is as if someone said
“OK, now we need a girly one. Hmmm, what do ladies like? Tea and flowers, I guess.”
It’s such a random combination and from my observations, has absolutely no cranberries to speak of save a sugared one on top. The cake itself is moist and tasty, but it’s a stretch to say it has green tea flavor, and as for the violets, they seem to be M.I.A with the exception of the icing color. I was baffled by this one.

Favorites?
Great carrot cupcake. I love a good carrot cake, yet it’s not something I would whip up for just our little family. Give me a few more years and a few more kids and I’ll haul out my box grater and start peeling carrots. This moist cupcake with its hint of spice and cream cheese frosting (told you I was a sucker for it) was a pleasure to eat and one I will return for when the craving hits-and it is sure to!
A pretty decent Chocolate Ganache and the Chocolate-Ginger were hits with the guys. At least here the chocolate was worthy of the title, unlike Les Glaceurs.

Moving on to our last stop:
Cocoa Locale.
4807 Park Avenue. 514.271.7162. Opened: Summer ’05
Price Per cupcake: $3 Seating: a bench and a –swing?
How much to I love you/I’ll tell you no lie/How deep is the ocean/How high is the sky?

If you haven’t dropped in on baker/owner Reema and her little shop on Park Ave yet, then lower that three pound container of two-bite brownies you are contemplating buying, get out of Costco and GO!
Trust me, your guests will thank you for it.

Three flavors available at Cocoa Locale: Lemon, Vanilla, and last year’s winner for best cupcake, Chocolate-Chai

Mother’s day was tainted for me this year because I knew exactly what I wanted and I couldn’t get it. I wanted a cupcake (or four) from Cocoa Locale and after getting our family out the door (not so simple with a newborn) and driving to Park Ex. I saw a sign on the door that said ‘sold out’. I learned a valuable life lesson that day and so should you: Call and reserve your cupcakes. Especially on holidays.

I must be growing up. No, not just because I am turning 30 this year, but because more and more, I am choosing vanilla over chocolate. It’s like my taste buds are maturing and realizing that the question “chocolate or vanilla?” is no longer a no-brainer. Vanilla really can outshine its seductive counterpart, chocolate, and I finally understand why it’s my mother’s favorite ice cream flavor. Here is what helped me see the light:


Which brings me to the conclusion of our cupcake tasting and a NEW winner for Montreal’s best cupcake!

Cocoa Locale’s Vanilla Cupcake!


You saw that coming a mile away, right? Well, satisfyingly dense, just sweet enough, ever so moist, and with such a perfect grown-up, vanilla flavor, this cupcake silently outshines last year’s favorite.
Apparently it’s Reema’s favorite, too. So there.
I am also enchanted by it’s soft pink color, simply a few drops of food coloring, and that must be the girly-girl side of me coming out.

Pretty please may I have 30 of them for my upcoming birthday?

So there you have it. I’m not sure how to conclude this post, but I guess I will just say that I hope you enjoyed the read and found it helpful.
We’ll see you next year!