The Cool House: Did I mention the Foie Gras?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Did I mention the Foie Gras?

This, right here, is the reason I wanted to go to Montreal. Ever since I saw the Anthony Bourdain No Reservations episode on the city I knew this would be a sort of pilgrimage. Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon serves everything foie gras: naked foie gras; foie gras terrine; hell they even serve foie gras on french fries - PDC's version of the infamous Montreal dish Poutine or fries with cheese curds covered in gravy.
We started the meal by doing "foie gras Cromesquis" - shots of liquid foie gras inside deep-fried batter cubes. So wrong and so intensely good. Then I had the duck carpaccio, wafer thin slices of duck, parmesan and mushrooms moistened with oilve oil with an egg yolk on the side. Note to every restaurant in New York where I have eaten carpaccio: This is how it is done. Thinly sliced, perfectly seasoned and moist. Perfection on a plate. The Guy had some healthy tomato tart. He raved about it, but really, that was not in the spirit of the evening at all. Then we moved on to the real thing.

This is the renowned Duck in a Can, half a duck, cooked in a can with foie gras, with a thyme, garlic and balsamic demi-glaze, served over bread and celeriac puree. Can you see the steam in the photo? The aroma that was released when the server opened the can at the table was so heavenly I nearly expired right there.

My main course was a special, foie gras served on a on a flaky pastry tart with poached pear. The photo doesn't do it justice. This was the most delicate and unique presentation of foie gras I have ever had, and believe me I've eaten my way through a lot of goose liver.
We were lucky enough to be seated right next to the "passe", which meant we got to see and to smell each dish as it was sent out. This was a kind of exquisite torture for us as we wanted to taste every dish, and plain torture for the waiters as I asked them what every dish was. When we go back, and believe me, tanked economy notwithstanding, I am scheming ways to move right into the restaurant, we will be ordering the lamb shank and the pig's trotter - the actual pied de cochon - in addition to more foie gras. PDC also has an amazing wine list. I recommend the Corbières, it's robust enough to stand up to the duck yet doesn't overwhelm the foie gras.
I knew the meal was going to be good, after all when is Anthony Bourdain wrong? I just didn't know how good it was going to be. Smiling staff, comfortable noise level, the restaurant was relaxed yet extremely busy and we enjoyed great wine and perfect food. This was the best meal I have eaten in North America. Period.


Marilyn said...

Okay, I'm one of those American wussies, even after being French-trained to the core, who still feels a little queasy about foie gras - but that said, it can be exquisite if done right. And yours - all zillion courses of it - was definitely done right.

Duck carpaccio - rich bliss! Hope you brought the cholesterol meds.

modernemama said...

cholestrol meds? those things will kill you. At least this way I die happy.

S and N said...

Last year we planned our annual route home from Nova Scotia to include one night in Montreal just to eat at Au Pied de Cochon. We had the deep fried zucchini blossoms and the foie gras 'burger' to begin. Long live foie gras. We love it sauteed whole, in a terrine, or melted into into a pan sauce (which is how we had it last week at Madeline's in Toronto-- Susur himself in the kitchen that night before he leaves forever for NYC.) I hope you went home with the fantastic illustrated Pied de Cochon cookbook. Happiness trumps cholesterol any day.

modernemama said...

How true, and there is this in support of animal fat, too