It only took me getting into five years of career starts and stops, a marriage, and a little guy we'll refer to as BrookLEn Jr, and finally, I was able to stroll through the doors of Au Pied du Cochon, for the great Northern TIGBG eat-athon. There is nothing adorning the alley-sized apartment of gluttony, and in a city (nay, country!) that seems to have no shortage of space, you find yourself lucky to be eating and chatting elbow-to-elbow with patrons and staff alike. Even though I already had in mind a couple classic dishes I had read about in this very blog, I was prepared for whatever specials might come down the gangplank to our onerous party.
Redneckhunter scaled the winelist, and came up with the smart suggestion of a Boujoulais Nouveau, which would be a tidy excuse to sip red with shellfish. Although they were actually out of the listed wine, their substitute, La Tentation Domaine Jean-Claude Lapalu was beyond the par of what I hoped for, and we gladly shared a couple bottles. 1000yregg ordered like his hair was on fire, and I had just enough time to yelp for the ever-famous duck in a can.
And then we waited. For this, I was finally getting into the Quebecois mindset. I am sick of impatience- in myself, in Americans. I was ready for Royal Mountie Time. If you can wait for an hour, then the chef will give you what you deserve. If you can't, go down the road, there's a border crossing nearby.
An hour later, we saw our first dishes. To start, the mystery cubes. I was told to let the foie gras cromesquis cool, and I waited with apprehension. What I afraid of disappointment? I lifted one up, and let it break on my tongue. The liquified liver poured down my throat, a surge of fat for what was to come. Two orders of the foie gras poutine landed between the seven of us, and not a fry survived. In describing that dish, it is hard to imagine that it would actually be lush and velvety. Along with this came some spicy fried cod balls, and a tarragon bison tongue, tough but made bright with my secret new favorite herb.
Then, it arrived: the inimitable Duck in A Can. The presentation of that plate was done for BrookLEn Jr., to awe and some exhaustion (it was after his bed time, after all). The duck was a revelry; watching in come out was like a downward parade onto the plate. I'm sure I saw a sprig of thyme amongst the dark gravy and red meat. Juiced with fat, but a touch of tender lean in the duck made their set-piece dish still feel like a standout.
To my surprise, most dishes had a nod to more than just meat and gravy. There were vegetables, amazing potatoes and morels; our table made neat work of a single salad that had octopus and bacon amongst some sweet and fresh greens. It truly was a food parade, but the secret parade that happens at midnight. It's the parade that still beguiles the internet, and manages to find that sweet alley to march. Between courses, thunder rolled in, and a heavy rain poured on the skylight.
Next, the second wave of plates arrived. Boudin noir propped up in mashed potatoes.
A lobster roll with foie gras slices adorning.
And the plateau des plateaux, a tower of Canadian seafood orgy: fried AND boiled crabs legs, oysters, crawfish, mussels, clams, and a pan of Szechuan-spiced snails worthy of 1000yregg's drool. One of the oysters that had a slice of gelée might have been the best thing I ate all night. Just when I started thinking about where I left my will, the collar was affixed to our table.
The tuna collar, one of the two available for the whole night, was a beautiful nightmare of aquatic eatery. The C-shaped bone held tender meat that would melt in your mouth, doused in a rich, buttery sauce, and garnished with a stack of onion rings. Yes, onion rings. The table tore into this food, and before I knew it, the TIGBG crew were taking turns working at the tuna collar, exploring its secret meats. The meat sweats started in.
1000yregg: Just adding my two cents, as this was the first time I had tried the tuna collar as well. I was still feeling the seafood "high" from the plateau when I took my first bites of the collar. Oh my god, this was the most tender tuna I have ever eaten. Fougoo and I also noticed that the collar had several different areas where the meat went from a white color to dark red. These areas all had different levels of flavor and texture. I probably continue eating 45 minutes after the rest of the table cried "uncle". I blame the shellfish high munchies which gave me the second wind.
fougoo: No matter how many times we come here, they still surprise us! The tuna collar was truly an experience. I only wish that it hadn't come last, so that I could have eaten more - it was like no fish I'd ever tasted. I had fun picking scraps of meat off with my fingers after everyone else was done... I also thought it was funny that different people in our party would walk out of the restaurant for periodic breaks for fresh air throughout the long meal - whew!
Over four hours later, with a ravaged table, we entertained dessert, marveling at what we'd done. The fantastic pouding chomeur, swimming in a mild maple sauce, complimented the classic creme brulee, and dark chocolat pot de creme. It's been a long wait, and I'm already thinking about when I can make it again.
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