Warning: the following post may contains images of gluttony and copious amounts of food that may be sensitive for some readers but will definitely make you hungry.
And with that out of the way, let us discuss my initial pilgrimage to Martin Picard’s now infamous sugar shack up in Mirabel. Quickly for the uninitiated, 12 weeks during maple syrup season (February to May), Martin Picard and his team open up their restaurant space up North for a feast that celebrates all that is maple syrup. Reservations are taken starting December 1 by email and you wait 6 weeks before you get “the call”. It is a fixed price 60$ menu for the food – plus alcohol and one more thing I will mention later. You have a 2 and a half hour service to enjoy all the food before the next set of soon-to-be-stuffed patrons arrives for their turn. The actual dinner room itself is sits about 120 people at a time in a pretty classic sugar shack styled space. Wood panels, communal tables and bench sitting. Pretty much the one thing at this sugar shack that I would frame as “classic”.
But enough about that – let’s discuss the menu! First off, a series of maple inspired cocktails are offered to you: a maple daiquiri, a maple martini and a whiskey soda. The martini is vodka and a bit of gélinotte (maple liqueur) with maple cotton candy dissolved in and a maple stick as garnish. The whiskey soda is whiskey and maple soda with maple jello used as ice cubes. The martini was quite good but the whiskey soda was positively ridiculous. One of the smoothest I have ever had with a great hint of maple throughout.
After initial drink orders, we are a presented with an entrée of homemade desserts because they started to start and end the meal with desserts this year. No complaints on this end! Maple cotton candy, doughnuts, maple syrup toffee cones, caramel popcorn, crème caramels, almond croissants, maple madeleines, chocolate-covered whippets, maple sponge candy and finally shots of Jack Daniels and maple syrup. There was not a single bad item present. The only issue was fighting over each item amongst our party and wishing we had more…. But given what was coming, we should probably be thankful.
Once the empty dessert display was removed, we were presented with a bevy of dishes: fried duck legs with maple BBQ sauce; a cheese and potato omelette with sweetbreads and bacon; a crepe fried in duck fat with beans, cottage cheese and poached foie gras; crispy pig ear salad with duck hearts and some smoked salmon in maple syrup. The only thing here that didn’t work for me that well was the poached foie gras – the texture really didn’t do it for me. Everything else was amazing. The duck legs were perfect. I was a little disappointed to see that the original duck leg wrapped in salmon was altered but this was great nevertheless. The crepe was fluffy with a nice hard crust. The omelette had a great richness to it. The sweetbreads and the duck hearts were perfectly cooked and the homemade pig ears were light with a nice saltiness to them.
During the drink orders, our waitress mentioned that we could order the Shack meat pie as an extra to the meal. Having seen this monster get constructed on the TV show running right now on Tele Quebec, we decided this was a must. The pie stuffing itself is ground pork and pulled pork. Part play through cooking, they remove the top and place a large piece of “laracam” cheese with pecans, pig cheeks, foie gras, ham and arugula and finish that off in the oven. This is the best meat pie I have ever had. Hearty, rich, meaty with the added creaminess of the cheese – a perfect mixture of everything you would ever want in a great dish. Now, this thing is completely ridiculous and doesn’t come cheap but quite honestly, two bits in and you forget all about that. A must-try if you can get it.
Next up, we have the mains: smoked pineapple ham, green beans with almonds and maple syrup and a roasted chicken injected with lobster bisque and stuffed with foie gras, lobster and cotechino (an Italian sausage). The ham was beautiful cooked – great smoky flavor with the right hints of maple. The chicken was ridiculous and so rich as to be almost a joke – the lobster bisque injection creates a situation where the chicken tastes pretty much like lobster. This is kind of item that only the minds from Au Pied du Cochon could have come up with.
And finally, we get to the 2nd course of desserts. A angel cake with pecans and maple meringue, yogurt and maple jello and soft serve maple dessert with sticks of maple. These desserts were all delicious and were the right lightness needed after the extravagant richness that was enjoyed in the previous courses.
This was an amazing experience that I am so thankful I finally got to enjoy. For the initial price, the amount of food you get is insane. We were a party of 4 and we returned home with 4 takeout containers filled with food. Even the leftovers I had over the next 2 days afterwards were amazing. If you can get a reservation, yes it does take some very early planning but you need to do it. Quite honestly, this meal has likely ruined patty much any other sugar shack meal I ever have but that’s fine. It just means I need to come back again next year but believe me…. I most certainly will.
Cabane à Sucre Au Pied du Cochon
11382 rang de la Fresnière