Don and I left the city at two in the afternoon and arrived in Montreal near midnight. Through the Holland Tunnel, we sped in and out New Jersey, and back into New York, heading upstate, a nighttime crawl though dark roads of the Adirondacks and past Lake George. We missed our reservation but luckily enough dashed in the doors a good ten minutes before the kitchen closed.
He parked around the corner and we slipped into the doors from the chilly air. Inside, minutes till midnight, the dimly lit Au Pied de Cochon bustled with late night diners. I caught murmurs of French and stole glances at foie gras loaded plates with every turn. Seated at the bar we were handed menus taunting an abundance of foie in a dizzying array of preparations, duck in a can, tripes with house-made chorizo, and stuffed pied de cochon with foie gras.
Orders were placed in minutes, our tummies growling in anticipation. Five dishes: three involved foie gras, and three were deep fried. None were vegetarian. Midnight decadence is the only way to go. The bread arrived shortly after, crackling crusty edges, wide cut for lavish smears of mayo. OH MY GOD THE MAYO WAS SO GOOD. I tried to be polite, using my knife to swoosh out the creamy goodness. But a few swooshs in, I was completely taken over and starting dunking the bread into the jar. MUST SOP UP ALL THE MAYO. I swear, if no one were looking I would have not hesitated to simply lick the jar. Later, when the waiter brought by a dish of butter would we find out that the mayo was intended for the salt cod fritters, not the bread. Oh well. It was delicious.
The salt cod fritters arrived in due time, five to an order. Piping hot, indeed a wonderful sin to the lips. The deep brown cracking surface broke to reveal a savoury mass with just a bare hint of peppery heat, a gust of steam before deep dunks into the pot of mayo. OH. The mayo. Oh man.
Next, sweet thin slices of roasted piglet, and whitefish salad. This was the lightest dish of the night, the “salad” course if you will.
Foie Gras Cromesquis came in pairs, deceivingly neat fried cubes of fatty goodness. The waiter warned us to first let it cool, then to pop in your mouth at once. He tapped his lips, “keep them closed.” And so we did, letting a bomb of liquidfied foie gras explode in our mouths as we broke through the crisp shells.
And then, came the dish I drooled over for the week leading up to the trip and then for the entire car ride. Foie + Poutine. Foie Poutine. OH MAN. YES. So get this, it’s absolutely nuts. Crisp horse fat fries. Fresh cheese curds. Gravy consisting of a half dozen egg yolks, cream, and foie gras. Foie gras IN the gravy. As PART OF the gravy. And then a hunk of seared foie ON TOP. And there. That must be the poutine of my dreams. ^_^
But that wasn’t even a remotely rich dish compared to what came next. Oh no…
The most decadent dish came at the very end. The word “decadent” doesn’t do this justice. It was like crazyrichbutterygoingtokillyou kind of extravagant. I don’t think they expect anyone to finish this dish. Or I hope not… Okay. So imagine puff pastry. And then add ten million additional sticks of butter folded into each layer. And then more butter on top. And butter drizzled all over! Maybe another pat here and there for good measure. Then. Potatoes. Potatoes in bite-sizes pieces, cut a quarter-inch thick. Sautéed. Sautéed in what? Butter of course. LOTS of butter! Then. A sweet element: onions! Onion marmalade. Prepared how? Why with more butter, dare you ask!! While we’re at it, pile on house-made blood sausage then top off with foie. Foie gras all over! Let the heat melt the supple liver over the sausages like little top hats of fat. Oh fat.
I eagerly cut a wedge, foie dripping in near sick excess. Was this decadent or disgusting or simply absurd? I could no longer tell. But I was quite nauseated by this point. I took a taste of all in the first bite, the pastry hit me first. So buttery it hurt. It was painful to taste all that butter in a bite after the four fat and foie laden dishes preceding the tart. The potatoes bubbled butter. Buttered laced the marmalade. And by then, I could no longer appreciate the boudin, which Don assured me was delicious, for my mouth was coated in fat and my stomach in pain.
And about one-sixth of the pie in, my heart started to hurt a bit. Like ouch. And it became a bit hard to breath. I slowed down. Took a sip of the room temperature water. But oh. Oh yuck. Water would not do. I eyed Don’s beer. He gets the message and passes it over. Oh yes, the beer was exactly what I need, crisp, cutting through the fat, chilly down my throat..Perfect. That was dessert.
Defeated by a circus of food, we surrendered, half the boudin tart untouched, and dangled into the night, at once sleepy and toasty from inside out, thanks to a newly formed layer of body fat. Blame it on murder by foie, blood sausages, mayo by the jar, buttered potatoes on an even more buttery base, and a triple kill of fried dishes.
Would I want to back? No, no, noooo. Am I glad we went? Oh yes. This one, very decadent visit, is enough.
Au Pied de Cochon
536 East Duluth