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Posts Tagged ‘au pied de cochon’

My “off the cuff” tour company, Matt’s Montreal Tours, was today featured in a BBC Travel Article.  I’m very proud of myself because I managed to get Paul Patate into a travel article about Montreal.  If you’ve ever read these things you know that they always harp on the tourist traps and famous spots.  Finally, a little known outside of Montreal poutine place will get it’s due.  Their Bertrand spruce beer is reason enough alone  to go there and the fact that they make a really fine poutine should make it a no brainer.  Score one for the little guy!

Don’t forget that you can “like” Matt’s Montreal Tours on Facebook.

Here are the parts I was interviewed for:

Poutine
Merely mention poutine to Montrealers, and the inflection in their voices changes to adoration and awe for this ultimate Quebecois comfort food. The combination of French fries, cheese curds and gravy is eaten day or night and is served everywhere — from fast food joints like McDonald’s, Burger King (and local equivalents like La Belle Province or Valentine) to high-end establishments. The exact origins of poutine are unknown, though it is generally thought to be unique to Quebec, entering the dining scene in the late 1950s. One popular outpost is La Banquise, open 24 hours a day, every day, where more than two dozen varieties of the dish are served. Matt LeGroulx, a musician and amateur historian who gives off-the-cuff food and urban history tours that include Montreal’s lesser known eating establishments, has his own favourite: Paul Patates (760 Rue Charlevoix; 514-937-2751). “Their poutine is amazing,” he said, focusing less on exotic toppings and more on “the holy trinity” of ingredients. They also serve a great Spruce Beer, he said.

The blog Poutine Pundit reviews and ranks Montreal’s poutine restaurants, some of which serve high-end versions of the familiar comfort food. At the newly opened Poutineville, “the owners have let their imagination run wild”, and guests can design their own. Garde-Manger makes a lobster-based one which helped Chef Chuck Hughes win an Iron Chef battle recently. At Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, fries are cooked in duck fat and guests can order regular poutine or with foie gras chunks and sauce. “The first time I tried it I almost cried because it was so beautiful,” LeGroulx said.

Smoked meat
Schwartz’s Deli, established in 1928 by Reuben Schwartz, a Jewish immigrant from Romania, is considered by many to be the the best spot for smoked meat, a Montreal tradition. Frank Silva, the general manager makes the meat just as the deli did in 1928, hand rubbed with herbs and spices, marinated, smoked steamed and hand sliced. “Nowadays, people take shortcuts,” Silva said, but “we still do it the old-fashioned way”. The meat is typically served in sandwiches on rye bread, similar to corned beef and pastrami in the United States, but the spices and processing are quite different, Silva said. The Montreal variety is so revered it has inspired books, documentaries and the recent Schwartz’s: The Musical, about to begin its second run at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal from 20 July to 7 August. To try other places that serve good smoked meat, but without the lines, LeGroulx recommends the Main Deli (3864 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Montréal; 514-843-8126 () ‎)and the Snowdon Deli.

Pâté Chinois
This Quebecois version of shepherd’s pie is made with layers of ground beef, mashed potatoes and a can of creamed corn in the middle. It started out as a working class food but today everybody eats it. Urban myth holds that it was first made by Chinese cooks during the building of the railroad, but Poiré said it has never been proven. The dish “is almost too rustic” to find in restaurants, LeGroulx said. “It’s even below hot dogs.” But once a year, in early autumn, Au Pied de Cochon makes a sophisticated version: potato purée with roasted garlic and cheese curds on top, creamed corn in the middle and braised pork and buffalo at the bottom, cooked in a wood oven.

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While it is true that this is a blog that deals mainly with matters Montrealaise, today we’ll take the liberty of writing about something Montreal-related that is located elsewhere, M. Wells Diner in Long Island City, Queens, New York.  In case you haven’t already heard of it, M. Wells is run by Au Pied De Cochon’s Hugue Dufour and his L.I.C-native wife.  They serve, well, this:

If you’ve ever wondered what breakfast or brunch at P.D.C. would be like, this is your place.  It’s super rich, super delicious and really not very pricy.

Now, it should be noted that Julia wasn’t able to make it this trip but she has nonetheless graciously agreed to participate, saving me from having to do a Glenn Gould-style “Matt LeGroulx interviews Matt LeGroulx about what Matt LeGroulx ate” thing.

Matt:  I am incredibly jealous that New York gets to have this place and we, the rightful owners, don’t.

Julia: I am incredibly jealous that you got to eat it at all. Especially since the time we tried together, it was closed for the holiday, and all I could do was peer sadly in the window.

Matt:  Yeah, I was pretty bummed.  At least I had that bag of smoked fish from Acme to keep my company.

Julia: And it was good company.

Matt:  Indeed.  But you know what would have been better company?  Tourtiere!

Julia: You’re right. As loving as the embrace of a smoked fish can be, that looks like something I just want to dive into.

Matt:  Well, you’re being a good sport.  A gooder sport than I thought you would be.

Julia: I’m hiding the fact that I’m very, very angry. And very, very jealous.

Matt:  Alright, alright, calm down.  No need to fly off the handle.  Hey, you know what else was great?  The Egg Tomato Pot.

Julia: MMMMM. Is that egg cooked right in the mess of stuff? I love eggs cooked in messes of stuff!

Matt:  Yup, just some egg baked in a pot with tomato sauce, pesto, onions, some other stuff and served with a piece of baguette.  This one is fairly easy to replicate at home, too.

Julia: Yeah, you made us a similar dish for breakfast after you got back from New York, if I remember correctly.

Matt:  You do.

Julia: But this isn’t about your cooking. Tell me what else I didn’t get to eat.

Matt:  Well, Ol’ Hugue was whippin’ everything  up back there his very self.  Stuff like this obscene sausage sandwich.

Matt:  That’s sausage, egg, tomato and home-made mayo.  Oddly enough it was my least favourite dish.

Julia: You mean favorite.

Matt:  …

Julia: You’re a person who doesn’t really love mayo, and who spells things quaintly.

Matt:  Listen, I understand that you’re upset that you didn’t get to go to M. Wells Diner in Long Island City, Queens, New York right off the Hunter’s Point stop on the 7 train but you don’t have to be an Mingy Mindy.

Julia: Actually, I did get to go. I sat on the steps in the slush. There was a lovely view of the Chrysler building, and we had a bag of cold smoked fish that weighed about 10 pounds, and I hurt my toe.

Matt:  And oh my god, that pie!

Matt:  Pumpkin pie.  Really, really good pumpkin pie.

Julia: You’re a really, really good pumpkin pie.

Matt:  And we can’t forget the Elvis Muffin.

Matt:  Or was it the King Thing?  No, wait, the Graceland Cupcake, a carrot cupcake with banana frosting.  Or was it a banana cupcake with peanut butter frosting?

Julia: I’m going to go eat peanut butter with a spoon.

Matt:  Oh my god, I almost forgot the buckwheat pancakes!

Julia: I’m going to go eat the maple syrup with a spoon. All of it.

Matt:  Oh my god, I almost forgot the Green Salad with buttermilk dressing, also seen in that last picture!

Julia: Oooo, I love buttermilk dressing. Who knew butter and milk tasted so good mixed together?

Matt:  Ol’ Hugue, that’s who.  I bet he mixes it his very self right back behind the counter!

Julia: Hey, we have butter! And milk! Let’s go make some buttermilk dressing!

Matt:  Oh my god!

Julia: I know, right!?

Matt:  Know what?

Julia: Know about how I’m full of great ideas…?

Matt:  I’m sure I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Matt:  Oh my god!  That’s it, that’s everything I ate.

Julia: This homemade buttermilk dressing I’m eating right now is delicious!

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