Au Pied de Cochon: Montreal -- Baby, It's Cold Ootside

Never name your pets if you live on a farm.

Montreal's most innovative eatery, Au Pied de Cochon (foot of the pig), is owned by a pig and duck farmer who also harvests prize maple syrup. He concocts gastronomical masterpieces where he features each item singularly or combines them in a brash, showy combination that ends up on the news, or on the plate of a Michelin rater. He also specializes in foie gras, a dish at which I am never angry.

Au Pied de Cochon is in an older part of Montreal where the buildings are low and the cobblestone streets seem too narrow for cars. It's the kind of hood with low trees, the part of town where witches live and drunkards gather in pubs and plot to overthrow the tyrant king.


The restaurant is tiny and packed -- exactly like the sausages so tastefully created by the chef. There was a party of four huge men (probably Yanks) attempting to sit at a table by the entrance, but they literally wouldn't fit and had to leave. We were first at a table near the entrance, but the host had the good sense to avoid a fit and move us to the best table in the house, in front of the window on the old, picturesque street.

The busgirl laid a small loaf of bread directly on a napkin on the table, as if to say, This bread is so fucking amazing that it stands alone and needs no plate or basket. I wasn't going to touch the bread but within seconds, I was on it like a priest on a choirboy.  It was fantastic bread, with the thickest, crustiest crust I had ever had -- the veritable John Huston of breads.  Later, I regretted eating the bread, only because we noticed the busgirl suffered from a terrible case of eczema. She obviously felt that a sleeveless shirt exhibited that best and to clear a table, and that tucking the bread under her scaly arm made it easier to manage the dirty glasses and cutlery.


I started with 100 grams of foie gras, seared in maple syrup from the chef's farm, and tossed with chunks of ham raised by the chef, and pineapple. Normally I would think the ham was gilding the lily, but this was a terrific pairing -- and all elements were from the same farm! It was tasty, not too sweet, and gone in sixty seconds. I would have hit the table and yelled, "Encore," but I had a lot of food coming and it was kind of noisy in there.


For my main course, I ordered the Pied de Cochon Melting Pot because it was touted as the most comprehensive sampling. Blood sausage, garlic sausage, super-slow-roasted pork shoulder, and a tiny pork chop, protecting the softest, gooiest mashed potatoes I have ever had, all snuggled together in the little pot:


Each meat was tastier than the previous one. My fork darted around the pot, jumping from meat to meat like a promiscuous tap dancer on Smash. I reached over more than once and helped myself to Bob's Duck Magret. He didn't really notice because the woman dining next to us had really shiny, dangling earrings, the kind bought at a craft fair that included a "story," and that kept distracting him. Later he wondered why he wasn't full.

Two tourists, likely from China, Korea, or Viet Nam, you know, one of the richer countries, sat at the table next to us and were relishing in this Montreal "must do." One ordered the duck in a can -- a marvelous presentation where the chef heats the duck they canned right in that restaurant. Once ordered, the chef heats the whole thing up, and the waiter opens it table-side with a hand-cranked can opener, and in a flashy show, once opened, the tin is dumped onto the diner's plate -- amid flashing of cameras and tiny oohs and aahs. By me.

that's the can in the center of the table.
My mashed potatoes were so gooey that I vowed to replicate them at home, but I had to know the secret to do that. See this shot of the kitchen? I took it through the plants, so the kitchen looks like a Viet Nam jungle and the chef looks like Rambo before he had a facelift. (These little hanging bags hold just-spun-with-maple-syrup-fresh-from-the-farm cotton candy.)


I hopped over the half-wall and grabbed Chef Rambo by the neck and wrestled his chubby body to the ground. I demanded to know how he got those potatoes so gooey. He wouldn't even give me the courtesy of a reply. I began bashing his bandana-wrapped head against the bricks, spitting out my demands between bashes -- "How (bash) did (bash) you (bash) get (bash) those (bash) fucking (bash-bash) potatoes (bash) so (bash) gooey (really hard bash), you (bash) French (bash) bitch (big final bash)?!"

He still wouldn't speak, and probably couldn't after all the bashing. I was spent, and released him. We both collapsed against the grimy, duck-greased wall, heaving, gaining our breath back. I wiped my brow, reached up, grabbed a loose duck confit leg and nibbled.  I wiped my chin and struggled to get up.

In court, I will say I never touched that non-English-speaking chef.  The waitress cheerfully offered up the secret to the potatoes -- they add an obscene amount of cheddar cheese curds, the fattiest part of the cheese. I over-tipped her and left. 

Although we had taken the luxurious subway to the restaurant, I obviously needed to walk off my hostility, and meal.  After walking about half an hour, we happed upon a fantastic chocolate joint, where I resisted eating any chocolate.  I did, however, have a crepe laced with salted caramel and fried bananas. I took a picture of it, but I'd rather show you the type of chocolate this family-themed cafe features.  This confection puts the Kama Sutra to shame. It depicts many naked, obviously limber, and sexually aroused men and gravity-defying women engaged in what most would call a sex act. I left immediately, out of shame and guilt. 


As I walked away, I thought of the dude ranch where I worked one summer in Colorado and adopted a little pet pig, Arnold, and why one should never, ever name your farm animals. They might end up on my plate.

6 comments:

  1. I've never screwed up the courage to eat a blood sausage. What's it like?

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  2. Even I had to brace myself. It tastes really, really rich, and I as I became full from this meal, I thought about the main ingredient and became less hungry and really not into it. Had I been blindfolded, it would have been better, and more fun.

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  3. I am of French Canadian heritage and have visited Canada may times with my parents when I was younger, I have totally been ripped off

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  4. Greg you rock..... Coming from Montreal, I totally agree the restaurants there put other countries to shame.
    Write about Mechant Boeuf!!! I know you went!!!
    Next time your in my home town go to Gibby's and Bice, pricey but lovely.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you Tanya! I actually did visit write about Mechant Boeff, but on my other site: http://www.eatgregeat.com/2010/12/wheres-boeuf.html

    I can try Gibbys next week! Bice seems to taste the same in every city, so far

    ReplyDelete

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