Get ready kids, this is a long one……
As some of you know, August is my birth month. And with that comes a celebration of my birthday for, oh yes, the entire month. Nothing crazy or extravagant, but my intention is to celebrate me for the entire month. That may mean getting a manicure one day and the next eating the entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Really I just try to do something nice for myself each day.
Now, this can get a bit tricky when you incorporate a significant other into your life. Some boyfriends thought this was a great idea and others thought I was clinically insane. However, when the right man comes along…..oh, yes. I decided to make sure when Brad and I began dating that he was completely aware of just how much I love my birthday. And in turn he also receives birthday month. It’s a beautiful relationship!
So, this year, Brad has really gone above and beyond in the birthday celebration. I was told in mid-July that I needed to let my clients know I would not be available the week of August 9th. The only other details he gave me was that I needed my passport and what things I should pack. Everything else was to be a surprise! So, on the morning of August 9th I had my bags packed and I had my cute and sporty airplane outfit on and about 20 minutes before our flight was to take off I heard “Good morning ladies and gentleman, flight 7430 to Montreal will begin boarding soon…” Yay! I finally knew.
One and a half hours later we arrived in Montreal where we were greeted everywhere with a lovely, “Bonjour!” The hotel we have been staying in the past two nights is in a very cool part of town with pretty much everything within walking distance. We have a lovely suite
with a balcony, sitting room and espresso machine (of course that makes me happy!). We have been doing some touristy things as well as just exploring neighborhoods
on our own. And, of course, eating amazing food.
This is where I will really begin to get passionate. The food we’ve had here
thus far has been incredible. But the meal we had on my actual birthday, August 9th, was one of the best meals I’ve had in years. That’s right kids, YEARS. We ate at a restaurant named, Au Pied de Couchon, A Pig’s Foot. At 8:00 they were so crowded they didn’t even have a table or seats at the bar for us. (Good sign #1 that you are about to eat at a great restaurant.) As we headed out in search of a wine bar to bide the time until our 9:30 reservations the host ran after us to let us know about two seats at the bar that opened up.
Our bartender/waitress, Emily (of course pronounced Ahh-ma-lee), was so excited, passionate and vibrant she made us want to order everything on the menu! (Good sign #2 you are about to eat at a great restaurant.) We promptly ordered some beautiful wine and then she recommended 2 appetizers. The first was fois gras comesquis, basically a 1.5″x1.5″ piece of fois breaded in panko and fried. It
came to the table in unassuming white dish, all golden brown and toasty on the outside. I waited approximately 1 minute, as directed by Emily, and then popped the entire thing in my mouth. Ahhh…. c’est magnifique. Crunchy and nutty from the fried panko and the fois turned into a velvety smooth rich liquid that filled your mou
th as you popped the layer of panko. The perfect little bite. The next appetizer we had was a beautiful tuna tartar, unbelievably fresh tuna, its translucent red shining beautifully against the basil microgreens that were placed atop. No overpowering oils or other flavors, just a touch of salt, pepper, drizzle of olive oil and the microgreens. Allowing the fish to take the mainstage, not shallot or avocado or sesame oil. Delish!
Now we get to the serious stuff, peeps. For our main dishes we again enlisted the help of our fabulously fun Emily and she instructed us to get the house specials. I ordered Ploque a Champlain and Brad ordered Duck in a Can (which may be my favorite name for a dish-ever). Let’s begin with the Ploque a Champlain. A buckwheat pancake layered with smoked h
am, gruyere cheese and finally a perfectly seared piece of fois gras. The surrounding sauce was a play on sweet and savory with a bacon and maple pan sauce. (Oh, btw, they have their own sugar
shack in which all their maple syrup comes from!) I’m not even sure how I can describe this. It was the perfect juxtaposition of salty ham, nutty cheese, rich and buttery fois and sweet maple. The flavors blended together so well I am quite sure this would be my chosen last meal.
For Brad’s Duck in a Can, they literally prepare this dish in a can and it’s the most beautiful way to showcase simple flavors, minimal ingredients and the way they work together so incredibly. The ingredients in this dish are as simple as this- duck breast, fois gras, thyme, demi-glace. They seal the can containing these ingredients, steam the can to order and the open it at your table and invert it onto a bed of celeriac puree.
OMG. The perfect bite is as follow, fois + duck breast + celeriac puree + sauce (from the can!). The brightness of the celeriac puree balances out the rich and buttery nature of the 2 pieces of duck. A fun, whimsy way to present an unbelievable dish.
The remainder of our time at Au Pied de Couchon was spent chatting with Emily, taking a happy birthday shot (vodka, lemon and house maple syrup-so yummy!) with the sous chef (another Emily) and relishing our incredible meal.
We still have a few days left in Montreal, with more surprises to come my way I am told. So, I hope you look forward to the next installation of Kendra’s Birthday Travels as I am sure there is to be more amazing food my way which I will absolutely share with you.