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McAuslan Brunch @ Au Pied de Cochon

Posted by Kim / February 19, 2008

20080219_apdc5.jpgImagine being able to enjoy an endless glass of beer while plates and platters and bowls of jaw-dropping food are placed before you, each one very different from the last, surrounded by the bustle and clamor of a kitchen cooking for you while you watch, and fellow-diners steadily getting happier. Imagine this is your breakfast. This little piece of heaven can be known as Au Pied de Cochon’s once-a-year McAuslan brunch, the all-you-can-drink-and-eat extravaganza at one of this city’s shining stars of a restaurant.

The best way I can describe how I felt during this meal is privileged. I felt lucky to be surrounded by laughing, slightly drunk strangers who gathered together at 10am on a Sunday morning simply because of their love for (APdC) food. I felt privileged watching the chef, Martin Picard, running his kitchen, test-tasting everything with an analytical look in his eye. And more than all that, I felt privileged eating this food.

Onto the meal! (And watch out, this is a long one...)

20080219_apdc1.jpgThe meal was sugar-shack style, with rows of tables set up, cramming everyone together. A glass of McAuslan was placed in front of me as soon as I sat down, and the conscientious staff made sure I never drank more than four sips before refilling. Each course was brought to the tables, leaving you to fill your own plate with as much as you wanted. It all started with a package of buckwheat pancakes, warm, salty and fluffy. After a drizzle of molasses and a spoonful of the richest, creamiest cottage cheese in the world, it was as decadent as pancakes can get: salty sweet with a texture of creamy warm and cool at the same time. Next to the table, a jug of baked beans, obviously slow-cooked with syrup and pork lard. And then there were the cheddar and cranberry scones, one of my favourites. Warm, flakey but dense with the tart tang of cranberry and the salty cheddar, all with a smear of butter. I could’ve stopped the meal there and been happy.
20080219_apdc2.jpgBut there was much, much more to be had. Soft-boiled eggs with a long herbed crouton were a hit, the yolk cooked just right, and the presentation lovely.
20080219_apdc4.jpgLess impressive was the endive salad with blue cheese, apple and walnuts. The presentation was fantastic, but it didn’t work for the food – the dressing all on top, the endive difficult to eat.
20080219_apdc3.jpgBut then came the quail. A sparse Christmas tree with plump quail adorning the bare branches, complete with cork heads and paper beaks, dripping a sticky barbeque sauce everywhere. The quail were perfect – tender and easily the juiciest and most flavourful poultry I’ve ever had, with a sauce that had me licking my fingers constantly.
20080219_apdc6.jpgOne of the most interesting dishes was the gravlax, thinly sliced salmon meant to be eaten with APdC’s specialty mashed potatoes, a dish where there’s more butter than potato. The two were simply fantastic together.
20080219_apdc9.jpgThe shark soup was incredible. Salty, with a seafood taste lingering after the initial nuttiness of the shitake mushrooms. Simple, but outstanding.
20080219_apdc7.jpgThe tripe-chorizo pizza was fun, with a strong tangy bite to it – it addressed a different area of my palate and was nice to have.
20080219_apdc8.jpgA slab of lard hit the table, and this was something new. I didn't really know what to do with it, or what to enjoy about it. I mean, this is a piece of fat and skin as big as my head! But with two different layers of bacon, one dry and one slightly meatier, with a layer of fat and then pork skin, was delicious in its novelty.

20080219_apdc10.jpgFinally, the roast pork loin. The waiter initially forgot to pour the sauce on our slice, so I tried it bare, and I found nothing special about it. But once the waiter was called back and he dosed the meat with a pear gravy, it seemed the very properties of the meat had changed. The gravy, tasting like pear, but without any sweetness, opened up the pork and allowed the taste to resonate in the mouth.

With some maple syrup on ice for dessert, I practically rolled out of the McAuslan brunch at Au Pied de Cochon and shuffled home in an absolute afterglow of beer and one of the best meals I’ve experienced.

Au Pied de Cochon
536 Duluth Est



djou / February 19, 2008 at 08:59 pm
i can't believe that i missed this event! had i known about it, i would have gone and eaten myself into a food coma...

once again, i love the pictures :)
Jeff / February 20, 2008 at 12:48 pm
KIM ... Wow wow wow.. I want this to happen every Sunday morning.. is there any chance of a repeat? How does this work? do I just show up or make reservations. ?

kim / February 20, 2008 at 12:58 pm
Jeff, I'm sorry to say that the brunch is not offered every Sunday - it was a special event happening just on February 17th.

I too wish it happened every Sunday.

And thanks, djou!
k / February 21, 2008 at 09:21 pm
Looks decadent - how much does it cost?
kim / February 22, 2008 at 09:13 am
Such decadence cost $50/person. Considering I must've drank at least $25 worth of beer, it was all quite the deal.
A long, luxurious, hedonistic deal. :)
kellypea / February 23, 2008 at 05:09 pm
Oh. My. Gawd. I'm swooning just thinking about this experience. Once a year? How did you get in? The presentation on some of those dishes is something else...
rich / February 29, 2008 at 10:46 pm
The McAuslan brunch comes but once a year, alas. But, if you check their website, you'll see Picard and crew are planning something special for St. Patrick's Day. Now there's a scary thought.
Kaviar / January 16, 2010 at 01:26 pm
Delectable ;-) - In Truth nice recipes. I love your homepage, carry on!
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