Sunday, January 5, 2014

1MB Travels: Montreal: Au Pied de Cochon and "The Family That Pigs Out Together..."

This Christmas, our family congregated in Montreal for the first part of our annual holiday vacation together.

Knowing that my first order of business when it comes to food, whenever traveling out of California, is and always will be foie gras - and wanting to share one of his best experiences of foie ever, my awesome brother made a reservation at Au Pied de Cochon (widely recognized as THE place to go for foie, and where Anthony Bourdain had an epic meal that the chef instructed his staff not to stop until his death presumably from gorging...) months in advance.

The week we were in town, temperatures dropped to between 1 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Snow ploughs raged through snow blocked streets every few minutes to make it even possible for cars to make it through at all.  But nothing could stop us, not even driving around for blocks to find parking spots not obstructed by 3 feet of snow.

Apple Foie Gras - The simply named dish had a luscious and generous lobe of foie atop an apple tart, draped in balsamic vinegar.  A strong start to a fantastic meal.

Onion Soup (CDN$9.00) - my dad LOVES French onion soup, and probably had already downed about 6 bowls by the time I landed in Montreal. But this one was not like any other - under the familiar thick layers of cheese, was not only french bread soaked in rich caramel colored broth - but a giant lobe of foie.  You'd expect it to be overwhelming, but it added a creaminess and earthiness to the soup that was other-worldly.  This was definitely one of the best french onion soups we've ever had in our lives.
Foie Gras Poutine (CDN$23.00) - this was the best of meal as far as I was concerned.  A big fan of the Quebecois specialty poutine (fries topped with gravy and cheese curds) to begin with, I was ecstatic to experience this version, made richer with chunks of foie and a foie-based mayo type sauce that was instantly addictive.  We inhaled the entire plate in minutes, and I could have spent every day of the rest of the vacation eating just this one dish, and I would have finished the year a happy foodie.
For our mains, there was the Veal Chop with Foie Gras Sauce - a special for the day.  The chop was gigantic, tender, and punctuated with a pool of foie.

We thought about getting the "naked foie", which my brother had before, just a giant pretty much whole lobe of foie, but it was too much to handle, and we compromised with one foie-free dish: Happy Pork Chop (CDN$25.00).  Turns out it was a great choice, the pork was juicy, melt in your mouth tender and flavor-packed.

This was an amazing meal for many reasons other than a massive dose of my favorite food...I was moved that my brother, knowing it would be difficult with a toddler in tow, and traveling across town in serious winter weather, would make the effort to ensure that I got to experience this.  My parents, who have become more  health conscious and cut back on the amount of food, especially fatty foods, they consume, in recent years - being good sports to indulge and enjoy. The entire staff at the restaurant also went above and beyond to be accommodating, even when my normally adorable nephew started to express in no uncertain terms that he was 'all done' with the lengthy dinner.

Sated afterwards, we piled out into the night to find that our rented car, a Jeep, no less, was stuck with several feet of snow lodged resolutely behind the tires.  Family bonding time ensued with us getting on our hands and knees to dig out our wheels out armed with nothing other than a toothpick of an ice-scraper (intended for use on loosening thin layers of snow or ice on the windshield, not for full on shoveling of mounds of the stuff) and sheer will.  We made it out, of course, and it was all worth it.

It's truly a blessing to be able to spend quality time with the fam this holiday, and have everyone healthy, safe and savoring the time together.

Au Pied de Cochon, thanks for the fantastic foie-filled night out - and hope to see you again soon to try the rest of the menu (a bientot)!

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites  
Presentation - 4 bites
Originality - 5 bites
Ambience -  5 stars
Service - 7 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$$ (3 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100% 


Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est, Montréal, Québec, H2L 1A9
Ph: +1 514.281.1114


Au Pied de Cochon on Urbanspoon

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