At the ball, when the clock struck midnight for Cinderella, she met her prince. On December 1st, when the clock struck midnight for the Divas, we secured our spot at Martin Picard’s famed maple-themed Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon. This year’s edition of the sugar shack became one of our favourites, and we thought it would be near impossible to beat our first sugar shack visit back in 2013, read about it HERE.
Though our reservation was for the morning, the inventive PDC cocktails are hard to pass up. And it was close enough to noon that it wasn’t quite morning anymore. The chai tea with bourbon was served in a Moroccan-inspired glass. It was served cold and the tea mellowed out the stronger-tasting bourbon. The cranberry margarita was tart, the rim was salted, but with some maple sugar for sweetness. It was served with a small vessel to add your own amount of tequila. The coconut daiquiri was a fun cocktail, served in a coconut shell, complete with paper umbrella! We felt like we were on a hot island paradise and not frosty Quebec.
We started our meal with two Asian inspired dishes, a hot & sour soup and dumplings. The soup was filled with fish, sausage, tofu and noodles. There was a good amount of spice to leave your lips tingling and all the flavours were well balanced. In its true fashion the Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack gave us too much soup, but we didn’t want to fill up on the first course!
The dumplings were served in a bamboo steamer and we were instructed to pour some sauce on our traditional Chinese soup spoon, then place the very large dumpling on the spoon and eat it in one bite. It was a large dumpling and though some were aghast and not ready to eat it in one bite, the Divas never stray far from such a challenge. The dumpling was filled with large pieces of shrimp, pork and foie gras. The dumpling skin was cooked perfectly; any authentic Chinese restaurant would be impressed with Picard’s attention to detail.
PDC always ups the ante with simple dishes, and such was the case with the egg soufflé, always a traditional dish at any cabane à sucre. The fluffy egg was dripping in traditional American cheddar cheese and cream cheese. The béchamel sauce added to the decadence of this egg soufflé. More importantly it was topped with smoked pork and smoked beef tongue, as well as an iceberg lettuce and avocado salad. The soufflé was light and airy and the smoked pork and tongue were sliced thin and tender.
The next dish is typical Picard – genius. It was a white cake made with rum and maple alcohol which was split in two and layered with foie gras, aged cheddar and the tartest blueberry jam. The cake was soft and slightly sweet which was balanced with the tart blueberry jam that enhanced the taste of the fatty foie gras and the sharp cheddar. Diva#1 was giddy in delight and couldn’t stop gushing about her love of foie gras!
The lasagna would impress any Nonna! Lasagna sheets were rolled with cotechino and lobster and baked over sugar shack beans and lobster bisque. These lasagne rolls were then topped with cottage cheese. The pasta held its shape with the ample filling of sweet lobster meat and pork. The beans were tender, stewed in the lobster bisque, and the cottage cheese was mixed with the peppery arugula on top.
And believe it or not, those were just the appetizers, we haven’t yet began to discuss the mains. The first was an assembly dish, as explained by our waiter. The deep fried crepes were cooked in duck fat for that extra indulgence that Picard is famous for. Our waiter explained that these crepes were to act as the base for the delicious meat that was placed before us. This year’s meaty delight was half a pig’s head with cocktail sausages and sweet yellow mustard.
The meat from the head of the pig was exceptionally tender and the skin was lacquered and candied with maple syrup. The cheeks were our favourite part, they were just so tender. Perfection really! Without competition this was our favourite of the all the meat dishes that we had tried at the Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack. And to lighten up the meal, a refreshing shaved fennel salad with caramel popcorn, blue cheese and apple was served alongside the main dishes.
The next dishes were equally delicious. The rabbit loin was stuffed with foie gras and other goodies and draped in a mushroom-laden sauce. What’s not to love?! The meat was tender and flavourful and definitely a favourite. We love rabbit but we didn’t know that it could taste THAT good. No PDC experience is complete without duck. This duck dish was served with stuffed calamari, which was tender, and a squid ink gravy that added richness to the dish. At this point it was just overkill and we were too full to really enjoy this last dish!
Before dessert we were offered shooters in a funnel. The Divas and Sweet Pea were too full to even consider leaving room for anything but dessert, but the Artist and her friend were ready for anything. Soon these two girls were being explained how to take the shot from the waiter, and they even got to keep their funnels as a souvenir!
Dessert at the PDC Cabane à Sucre is always over the top and always decadent! We started with queue de castor, a perfect Quebec treat, perfectly cooked, sugary and still warm, served with a thick and delicious maple sabayon. If that wasn’t enough, a pineapple split with maple ice cream, as well as pineapple ice cream, was also served in a half hollowed out pineapple.
They also served maple cotton candy in mini shot glasses, and we were told to add some milk to the cotton candy and it turned into a refreshing little drink. This was perfect when enjoyed with the maple baklava which wasn’t overly sweet and still crispy. Actually the shot of milk with cotton candy cut the sweetness of the baklava, which we weren’t expecting.
They didn’t stop there. Why would they? We also had the traditional tire, or maple taffy, popular at all sugar shacks in Quebec. And to finish it all, a lemon meringue soufflé with a pudding chômeur base. At this point the food coma had officially kicked in! And Diva #1 threatened to take off her pants on the ride home. Once again, we left the Pied de Cochon Cabane à Sucre full and beyond satisfied.
Martin Picard and his team created another memorable, overindulgent meal that was easily one of our favourite visits. Maple season runs from February 13th to May 9th but reservations are now closed. Fret not, apple season at the sugar shack is right around the corner! Just make sure that you make it for that midnight reservation, every season they receive more and more requests.
Our Rating: Always on Thursdays
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