Let’s just say, that this is the way to start an evening:  A glass of bubbly and cromesquis de foie gras.  On the off chance you’ve never encountered cromesquis de foie gras, picture this….a small cube of foie, breaded and deep fried.  Fat cooked in fat; until molten.  This is going to be a good night.

We are at Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal.  Martin (aka The Wild Chef) is a Canadian icon – blending tradition with his trademark sense of humour and creativity.  You step off Duluth Street and into a sort of Quebec hunting lodge meets Montreal hipster hangout.  The place is packed and steamy hot from the incredibly busy open kitchen.  If you go, I recommend light and stretchy clothing to accommodate both the temperature of the dining room and your soon to be expanding girth.

First up we order the Foie Gras Poutine.  Martin’s famous version of the Quebec classic cannot be missed.  This is no Lafleur’s poutine.  This is poutine all dressed up and ready for a night on the town.  Perfectly crisp, house cut, skin on fries, are topped with ultra-fresh squeaky curds.  Perching on top is a gorgeous medallion of pan seared foie.  You’d think this is the best part…but let me tell you about the gravy.  The gravy is made from demi glaze, foie gras and an egg emulsion.  My normally elegant dining companion has gravy up to her elbows.  As we try to figure out how the best sauce we have ever tasted  is made, she keeps dragging her finger across the bowl and slurping up the sauce.  I can’t blame her; we could not allow even a microgram of this deliciousness to go back to the kitchen without us.  This sauce would be good with anything, especially straight from a spoon in large quantities.

Is a salad still a salad if it’s topped with two kinds of fried pork?  We are about to find out.  The PDC Crispy salad is a few leaves of Boston lettuce, topped with creamy goat cheese, pickled onions, pork belly, pork rinds and the meat from between the pig’s trotters; battered and fried.  The crowning glory is the vinaigrette.  We guessed at another egg emulsion…butter….maybe some obscure oil…but are told that to finish, the vinaigrette is pulsed with the rendered fat from the slow-cooked pork belly.  Of course…how did we miss that?  The “classique” rendered pork fat vinaigrette.  Don’t think about it…it’s superbly tasty and like everything else seasoned to perfection.

We are clearly full by now, but we’ve already ordered the duck in a can…we can’t call it off now.  It would be rude.  We are

Delicious, in a can
Delicious, in a can

presented with a platter that has a lovely slice of toasted baguette smothered in the divine Mi-Careme cheese from Fromagerie Ile-aux-Grues, Quebec.  The server puts down the Canard en Conserve, and opens it with a regular can-opener – I think it’s the same one I have at the cottage.  He pours the contents over the cheesy tranche….and voila!  I have never encountered anything so delicious that has spent time in a can.  A duck breast, 100g of foie gras, half a head of roasted garlic, cabbage, onions, carrots, and balsamic demi glaze had co-habitated harmoniously inside the can, comingling flavours while it bathed in hot water for twenty minutes.  I am pretty sure it is as delicious as it sounds, but I am in some sort of foie gras haze by this point in the evening.

We are weak and not thinking clearly, when we order Pouding Chomeur, (poor man’s pudding) the classic Quebecois maple dessert.  Clearly, gluttony guided this order, not hunger, and as we sample we both swear not to eat another thing except fat free yogurt and green salad for at least a week.  (I’ll let you know how that goes….) The pouding is comfort food defined, the pure maple goodness making our teeth ache, offset by a lovely glass of Marc de Bourgogne our server brings us.  Maybe he thought we looked thirsty, or like we had not indulged quite enough to PDC standards.

This place is all about decadence, pure pleasure – it’s rustic yet sophisticated, classic yet ground-breaking.  It’s a one of a kind, just like its owner, the inimitable Picard.

Anyone have any tips for curing a foie gras hangover that does not involve running 15km?