I have been to the Au pied de cochon sugar shack two years in a row for their spring maple madness menu and have loved both of my experiences. The multiple course menu that chef Martin Picard puts together is certainly an ode to maple, that quintessential Quebec ingredient, but it also focuses on several other local ingredients that are close to Picard’s heart, notably pork and foie gras. His sugar shack menu is inspired by traditional Quebec recipes with his own personal twist sprinkled in. It is always an incredible feast of fat and sugar that will induce a food coma in even the most intrepid extreme eater. I have learned never to take more than one bite out of every dish and to always bring a Tupperware with me for leftovers.
So why am I talking about a sugar shack in the middle of September? Because for the first time this year, Martin Picard has decided to open the Au pied de cochon sugar shack for a few weeks in the fall for an apple-inspired menu. When you think about it, harvest time is the perfect time for such an endeavour. Quebec produce is at its peak, temperatures are cooler and a drive to the country or a walk in the woods is never as beautiful as in the fall. The cabane à sucre team took a drive around the shack, got to know their neighbours and produced a menu where every ingredient comes within a 15-minute drive.
Andrea and I booked a table months ago, the minute we heard the news. I don’t usually look forward to fall but I was looking forward to this new twist from Picard. As usual he didn’t disappoint. I just got back from an afternoon of feasting and wanted to get this post published before I succumb to a food coma for the next few hours.
Take a look at the amazing 10-course, $50 menu followed by some photos:
Pickled cauliflower and miniature pickles
Cream of squash au gratin, garnished with apples and Amaretti cookies
Cured ham from the “Cabane PDC” and headcheese
Curdled goat yogurt with honeycomb and foie gras shavings on toast
Ravioli stuffed with chicken livers, cavatelli apple sauce accompanied by a foie gras confit
Salmon “en papillotte” (in newspaper) with snails and apple cider sauce
Glazed apple beef roast, eggplant crepes, warm oysters, hazelnut brocoli and lettuce
Apple Pie… A classic
Soft marbled ice cream and apple sorbet
Apple and plum sticky toffee pudding with caramel sauce
Chocolate and apple soufflé
My favourite dishes included the curdled goat yogurt with honeycomb, the cream of squash soup and the cavatelli and ravioli for the savoury part of the meal. The desserts were all great, except maybe for the soufflé, which failed to wow me. In case you are wondering what the heaviest dish is, it is definitely the eggplant crêpes and broccoli in a hazelnut batter. One tiny bite of that very rich dish was enough for me. Don’t hesitate to dig into some of the relishes and pickles that are on the table. The vinegar in those will cut into the richness of the food and will bring a welcome relief to your saturated taste buds.
The “How ’bout them PDC apples” menu is available until the end of October and surprisingly, there are still tables available but only on Thursdays so drop them a line if you wish to reserve a spot. It really is worth it.