It’s that time of the year again – another season at the Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon. After the disappointment of not getting a spot for this year’s sugar season – thanks website outage! – I made sure that this would 5 out of 6. Going more than a year being visits seemed unfathomable. Thankfully, things were worked out and I set out with another table of 12 friends ready to set what Martin Picard and company had set for us.
For the uninitiated, the sugar shack is a set menu for the season – alcohol and tip excluded. This season being harvest season, the focus is on ingredients from the garden here as well as the local producers around the area. Each season, this is a collection of specialty cocktails. This time around, the focus was on gin – as our waitress noted that the PDC has a gin coming to stores soon! There was a solid gin and tonic, a Gin-nette – gin with spruce beer, a blueberry mojito and a house ginger ale and rye whiskey served with strawberries.
Food-wise, first up was a series of 6 starters dishes to enjoy. The initial one was a cold melon soup with a mix of garden vegetables and fresh herbs served over top. I hate melon…. but loved this dish. Silky smooth and surprisedly spicy. A very refined and subtle dish. Paired with the soup was some housemade bread lathered with butter and slices of house cured ham.
Then came the necessary PDC foie gras dish – Poached pears with aged cheddar and pan seared foie gras. A wonderful combination of richness and sweetness. My girlfriend’s lack of interest in foie gras provided me with an extra serving so a nice win for me.
That was followed by gnocchi served with sweat peas, ricotta, bacon and garlic pesto. I really loved this dish – the gnocchi were great, the pesto gave this dish a strong garlic flavour but the addition of the creamy ricotta and the bacon helped to dull it somewhat. The sauce itself was perhaps more liquid than some will enjoy but the flavours were outstanding.
The next dish was the miss of the night for the entire table – a whole sturgeon poached in a potato and leak sauce served with mussels. The sauce itself was great as were the mussel. However, the sturgeon, for us, was overcooked. The flakiness of the fish was completely gone.
Back to positive however with the next one – homemade tagliatelle pasta served with a fresh vegetable sauce made with garden eggplants and tomatoes as well as coins of sausage. The dish was prepared in front of us as the pasta was mixed in a hollowed parmesan wheel to add some cheese. A very fresh and surprisedly light pasta dish – which was a nice contrast to the more fatty and rich gnocchi dish. This wasn’t a hit for everyone at the table but I enjoyed it personally.
The last starter was a margarita pizza made using baguette bread dough and topped with a mornay sauce, fresh garden tomatoes, garlic chips, basil and parmesan. The whole thing was cooked on charcoal. A solid pizza overall – slice crunch to the crust although I’m not sure exactly what the use of baguette bread dough did to make a difference compared to standard pizza dough. The mornay sauce provided some creamy richness to the classic fresh margarita.
After a brief moment to digest, we were served the main course – A DIY pot-au-feu. We were a provided a large meat platter, some condiments, vegetables and thermos of broth with which to make our individual plates. The meat platter, in keeping the ethos of Pied de Cochon, was huge and quite varied. It included duck confit, smoked BBQ beef ribs, steamed pork belly, white blood sausage, bone marrow, pork filet, pig’s foot, a cornish hen and smoked bison tongue. The condiments included a mushroom sauce, salsa verde, dijon, radishes and pickles. The stars here were the meats and they were glorious. Particular note to the smoked meat like consistency of the bison tongue, the fatty bone marrow and rich pig’s foot.
After that orgy of meaty goodness, we were ready for desserts. First, we received an palate cleanser of vanilla and apple soft serve swirl ice cream with a good amount of Calvados in the middle. Then, it was on to a foursome of options.
There was peaches served in mead and with cubes of raspberry jelly; a prune clafoutis; crème fraiche ice cream and a raspberry tiramisu, presented as a potted plant, complete with a shower of poured coffee. Point for originality of presentation for the tiramisu however, personally as I hate coffee, this dish was a non-starter for me. The clafoutis was a great hit for me. The ice cream was nice and creamy and the peaches provided some nice sweetness.
All in all, another great meal at the Cabane. I admit that compared to previous experiences, this one didn’t wow me as much – most dishes were solid, not the spectacular we often expect with Martin Picard and Co. The fact that two dishes didn’t work for me was also a first…. As a first experience, I can imagine people still being blown away. The amount of food one gets for the price is still great. However, for someone like myself who has been 5 out of the past 6 seasons, the standards set by the PDC crew makes this one seem a little less exciting. I’ll still be at the computer at midnight December 1st for sugar season though – I hooked and can’t imagine missing the next hopeful surprise from this crew.
Cabane à Sucre Au Pied du Cochon
11382 rang de la Fresnière