Monday, July 22, 2013

Au Pied de Cochon

Switching up my weekly healthy living post for what is most likely the antithesis of healthy eating, but I felt that I had waited long enough to share with you this incredibly rich meal we enjoyed in our last night in Montreal!

Before we left for our trip to Montreal, I asked around for recommendations on what to eat in the city.  One of the suggestions was Au Pied de Cochon, but with the caveat that it is “not for the faint of heart.”  I later found out that Anthony Bourdain featured the restaurant on No Reservations, in which he referred to it as his “Waterloo of Gluttony" – and I have to admit that it lived up to his assessment.  

But we almost didn’t get to find out for ourselves.  With only two days left in our trip, it finally occurred to me that given that the restaurant was wildly popular and featured on Anthony Bourdain’s show, I should probably make a reservation.  Unfortunately, I discovered this on Monday night, and the restaurant was closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, and did not open until 5PM on Wednesday, our last night in Montreal.  So J. and I resolved to eat lightly during the day, and show up at the doors at 5PM to see if we could get a table. 

When we walked in, we were greeted by an austere hostess, “Do you have a reservation?” she challenged.  Which, of course, we didn’t.  J. asked if there were any openings.  “Let me check,” the hostess answered brusquely as she went back to her station.  There were only maybe two other parties in the restaurant.  “We have an opening.  But you have two hours.”

Elated that we were able to get a table, and not discouraged by this harsh greeting (we’re from the NYC area, so I’m pretty used to it by now).  We started the meal with some light and refreshing oysters.


The couple sitting next to us looked at us enviously when our oysters arrived at the table.  “I didn’t know they had oysters” I overheard the girl say.  Oddly, the oysters are not listed on the menu, but it was clear they served them from the big display in their seafood case.  So I made sure to slurp them extra loudly for the girl to hear. 

I ordered the restaurants namesake dish, Pied de Cochon (pig’s foot).  I was split between the pork chop and the pied de cochon, but ultimately went with the pied de cochon because I figured if they named the restaurant after it, it had to be good, right?


And it was excellent. I loved how tender the meat was that it was falling off the bone.  Not at all how I imagined it would be like to eat a pig’s foot!

But the really fun dish was what J. got – the mysterious duck in a can. Weeks before our trip, I looked up the menu online and saw “duck in a can,”  but with no explanation of it in the menu.  So I was expecting something akin to Spam.  But what we got was not Spam at all.

First, they literally serve it to you in the can.  The server comes out with the can on a dish.


Here’s a look at the ingredients in French. 


As you can see, foie gras is a major component. 

The server then whips out  a can opener and opens the can in front of you.  And pours out this….


Amazing right?  I could not imagine something this beautiful would come out of a can.

So now the duck in a can mystery is solved.  And what a tasty mystery it was. And it was well worth eating at 5PM to make it here. (Though I strongly recommend making a reservation well in advance.  Our friends who tried our strategy of showing up early were not so lucky). 

Of Possible Interest:

  • Check out  the video of Anthony Bourdain’s feature on Au Pied de Cochon on No Reservations.  Warning – this video definitely NOT for the faint of heart.  If you are squeamish or an animal rights activist, I suggest that you fast forward to about 4:00 to see the food.  Or not watch at all and eat a carrot.
  • Don’t believe me about the duck in a can?  Watch this video someone posted on Youtube.

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