In the past 3 years, the Divas haven’t missed a season at Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon. We’ve managed to remember to set our alarms so that we can put our names on a long list of people wanting to experience Martin Picard’s gourmet variation on the traditional Quebec cabane à sucre. We have been six times in all and you can read about our last experience HERE.
Usually, the season which starts at the end of summer is focused on apples but this year, the theme is harvest season. When you pull into the parking lot of Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon (PDC) in St. Benoît, you notice a big garden bursting with produce which they use in almost all of their dishes. And of course, their smoker is always in full swing!
We were joined by Sweet Pea, the Cousins, Goldie, Katina Chardonnay, amongst other hungry friends. We even had some PDC virgins visiting, and we love the looks of wonderment from the newbies. Though our reservation was for just before noon, it’s never too early to drink at PDC Sugar Shack! And how could we say no when our favourite bartender Matthew King aka Mustachio is expertly mixing the cocktails? We tried the blueberry mojito, amongst other delightful concoctions.
As veterans of Picard’s cabane à sucre, we know it’s all about pacing. And beginning the meal off with a soup has become customary. Despite how good the soup is, we know not to fill up on it! It was a cold melon soup, a nice surprise, with a brunoise of garden vegetables which added a nice crunch to the velvety smooth soup. It was also garnished with fresh herbs.
The lovely cold soup was served along with homemade bread lathered in plenty of butter and slices of homemade coppa from their pigs. Absolutely delicious! And we may have eaten a few extra slices that belonged to the PDC virgins who were late. Tsk tsk! We are opportunists of course … although in retrospect we should have paced ourselves.
This dish is without question one of our favourite PDC Cabane à Sucre dishes to date. The pears were poached and cut in half. Between the layers of pear were slices of aged cheddar cheese and heavenly pan seared foie gras. The pears arrived glistening in a cast iron pan, topped with caramelized nuts. Every bite was both savory and sweet and the dish was a deep, rich caramel colour. Simply put, it was Picard perfection!
The next course was gnocchi with sweet peas and ham. The gnocchi were shaped like rings, unlike the usual little pillows that we are used to seeing; they were cooked perfectly and the sauce stuck to them nicely. The gnocchi dish was a touch more soup-like than we would have liked, but nonetheless, absolutely delicious. There was plenty of sweet peas (although we had our own Sweet Pea with us – HA!) and cubes of salty ham, reminding us of a rustic country dish with Italian flair. And it was surprisingly light for a pasta dish, which we loved.
You can almost always expect a whole fish dish at the PDC Cabane à Sucre and we were treated to a whole sturgeon parmentier. The sauce was made up of a purée of leek and potato, it was thick and creamy and coated the fish. It was also served with mussels and what we think were sweet pea dumplings. The fish was flaky and light, and the sauce complimented the fish well! At this point Goldie, a PDC virgin, was complaining that he was already too full… we had warned him to pace himself but he wouldn’t listen.
Another pasta dish hit the table but not before being prepared table side in a giant hollowed out Parmesan wheel, yet another tradition at the PDC Cabane à Sucre. Homemade tagliatelle pasta was mixed with a fresh vegetable sauce made with eggplants and tomatoes from their garden, and coins of sausage. The pasta was cooked al dente and the sauce was hearty but again, it was light for a pasta dish.
Martin Picard must have some Italian in him because his pizza could have competed with many Italian pizzerias. The pizza was cooked in their outside oven and we were told that one of their cooks had summered in Italy and had learned a few tricks of the trade. Of course, Picard heightened the margarita pizza by topping it with a mornay sauce, fresh garden tomatoes, garlic chips, basil and parmesan. The crust was thin and extra crispy, and we almost all burnt our tongues biting into it because we couldn’t help ourselves!
As always, the main dish meant a lot of meat. The pot au feu consisted of a thermos of broth which was made from the juices of all the meats, a pot of steamed vegetables and, of course, a platter of various meats! We were instructed to pour a little of the broth in our dish, add some vegetables which included potatoes, cabbage, turnips, sweet beans and carrots, and then the meat! The meat platter was huge it was filled with duck, smoked BBQ beef ribs, steamed pork belly, white sausage, bone marrow, pork filet, pigs foot, Cornish hen and smoked bison tongue which paired great with the mushroom sauce. There was also a side of condiments which included the aforementioned mushroom sauce, salsa verde, Dijon, radishes and pickles.
Unfortunately, because we have animalistic tendencies, everyone dug into the meat dish and never looked back. We forgot about the condiments, ignored the vegetables and we added a splash of broth as an afterthought. The Cornish hen had a delightful gravy covering the little bird, the BBQ ribs were out of this world and Diva #1 ate more than her share of the bone marrow. The bison tongue was bursting with flavour and the pork belly was divine. Our only complaint is that we would have liked it if the duck had crispier skin, it was a touch too slimy for our liking. There were so many different types of meat and many were prepared differently, it was a great experience for the PDC virgins.
There are always multiple desserts and this year was no different as we were treated to four different sweets. We started with a fun mini ice cream cone of vanilla and apple soft serve swirl with a good amount of Calvados. A perfect little amuse bouche before the big desserts. We also had peaches doused in syrup with cubes of raspberry gelée. The peaches didn’t fall apart in the syrup and the raspberry gelée added tartness to offset the syrup. One of the cousins was particularly aroused over the peaches in syrup, he’s a strange fellow.
There was a berry and peach clafoutis served with crème fraiche ice cream. The texture of the claufoutis, served slightly warm with a dusting of icing sugar over top, was a little like pudding and the ice cream was smooth and rich. The dessert looks unassuming, perhaps something your grandmother would pull out of the oven, but it tasted like it came from the finest bakery, the aroma was reminiscent of a Montreal Fall day.
Our favourite was the raspberry tiramisu, presented as a potted plant, complete with a shower of coffee poured over top from a watering can and a garden tool to serve the dessert. The raspberry added a sharpness that balanced well with the creaminess of the sweet mascarpone layers. It had a rich, dark chocolate taste and the cake part of the tiramisu absorbed just enough of the alcohol so that a little bit of the crème anglaise served on the side could soak in too.
Sweet Pea from montreall.com was so enamored with the tiramisu that when everyone was full and done she stole the little potted plant of tiramisu and ate it straight from the pot. She had no shame, she loved it and we were all a little jealous for not thinking of doing that first. Some of the PDC virgins over ate, making the same mistake that we have all made of eating too much at the beginning in fear of being hungry later. You never leave feeling hungry!
This year’s harvest cabane à sucre was more simple and straightforward than other years. The amount of food you receive and the quality far surpass what they charge for an adult ticket of approximately 57.50$ plus tax, with cocktails being an extra charge. We rolled out a little heavier, with plenty of leftovers, but you can be sure that we already have a reminder set for the upcoming PDC maple season – with the usual veterans and always a few PDC virgins!
Our Review: Always on Thursday
Tagged: 11382, Au Pied de Cochon, Au Pied de Cochon Cabane à sucre, Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack, Cabane à Sucre, Clafoutis, Cocktails, Coppa, foie gras, Gnocchi, Ice Cream, J7N 2R9, Martin Picard, Meat Platter, Melon Soup, Montreal Restaurant, Pasta, PDC Cabane à Sucre, PDC Sugar Shack, Pizza, Poached Pears, Pot au Feu, Quebec Cabane à Sucre, Rang De La Fresniere, Reservations Needed, St-Benoît de Mirabel, Sugar Shack, Tagliatelle, Tiramisu