Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Un weekend Québécoise- Day 2

We awoke Saturday morning to heavier snow. After a late breakfast of omlettes with crsispy toasted baguette and bowls of cafe au lait, we headed out for a day of walking in the snow, darting in an out of shops, cafes, and bars.  We started our day at the Marche Jean Talon, a large covered market surrounded by small shops- a boulangerie, fromagerie etc.  A food lovers paradise. Spent a lot of time in a particularly cool spice shop, Olive et Epices, and at the Seafood market where Christopher shared oysters from Prince Edward Island and Cape Cod.

We had a late afternoon snack of Poutine at the famous 24 hour La Banquise. Poutine is a traditional dish of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds. It's probably best after a night of drinking.

We stopped at a cool folk club Quai des Brumes to listen to Anique Granger perform with some other great singer-songwriter types. A nice way to wind up a lazy day. Back to the hotel for a nap before our big dinner at the famous Pied Au Cochon.

Many folks had told me that Pied au Cochon was the "must visit" restaurant in Montreal, and I was well aware of Chef Martin Picard's reputation.  We got a late reservation at 10 pm and walked through a snowy evening in preparation for the circus that awaited.  I had been to Pied au Cochon in Paris years ago, and was interested in tasting the Québécoise spin.  

The restaurant pulses with energy and has a great vibe. The open kitchen and mirrored walls make for great people watching and everyone is buzzing with smiles and laughter. One can't eat at Pied au Cochon without sampling one of Picard's Foie Gras creations. The  "Plogue a Champlain" ranks up with the top 10 dishes I have eaten.  With a buckwheat pancake base, Picard stacks slices of thick cut bacon, potatoes, and cheese and is topped with grilled foie gras, all topped with a maple syrup sauce.  It's a brilliant dish combining sweet and salty, rich and lean, soft and crispy.  A near perfect dish.

Wanting to seize the moment, I also chose the PDC Melting Pot as my main dish, a combination of all things pig. Boudin, Blood Sausage, Roast Pork Belly and Pork Chop, served in a crock over mashed potatoes, onion and cheese.  It was a bit much after the Foie Gras starter, but a good sampling of porky goodness.

Dessert was not to be missed. Susannah and I shared "Pudding de Chomeur" a traditional French Canadian dish that translates to "Poor Man's Pudding."  If I could only be this poor every day. It's a simple white cake baked in a dish of maple caramel sauce. Maybe maple syrup was cheaper back in the day when this dish got its name. It's a decadent dish and feeds the soul.

After such a long and gluttonous meal we were  happy for the 1/2 hour walk back to our hotel through the snowy night.

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