Cabane à Sucre PDCPosted By Jennifer Ho Oct 30 2012 · 1 comment · Events
Finally. It’s come time for us to share with you the legendary, all-encompassing, truly epic cabane a sucre au pied de cochon experience. Is there anything else like it? Probably not. After signing up a little later than we meant to for this season’s apple themed menu, we got a call from PDC two months after we were waitlisted asking if we wanted to fill in for a last minute cancelled reservation in the middle of the week. Practically jumping out of our seats, we didn’t think twice about accepting – with a couple days of advance notice, we took advantage of the time in between to gear up – mentally and physically. Trust me, this is no joke. All I had the day of was a glass of orange juice. Do not take PDC lightly. The food will totally kick your ass and ride you around the block if you aren’t careful. Actually, scrap that. It’s going to destroy you anyway.
Planning to pick up a few people along our way, we headed towards the car an hour and a half before our reservation. Then – what do you know – the top part of the convertible refused to come down! We couldn’t very well drive with the top down in the chilly weather… So, after almost hour of fiddling with the parts and fighting mounting feelings of nervousness, we decided to abandon the car, take a cab, pick up our friends and use another car located in the West Island. Yes, we wanted this badly. We zoomed on the highways and sped through the countryside to make it there on time (don’t worry, we did this within reason): if we were late or did not show up for our reservation, we were forewarned that 50% of the fee ($50) per person would be automatically charged to our credit account.
Arriving pretty much right on time, we eagerly made our way through the hay and the leaves and the mud to wait outside the long cabane alongside groups of people who had been waiting for over half an hour for their respective tables. We prepared to wait equally as long but after about ten minutes, our names were called and we were led inside. Long wooden tables are placed across the restaurant with long benches for seats. The layout promotes a communal type of dining – it is not uncommon to have two or even three different parties chowing down together, sitting side by side, elbow to elbow. The food itself is meant to be shared amongst diners (party by party) – the size of each dish depends on how many people you are. They are thoughtfully planned out so that there is more than enough for all. Let me say it again, more than enough for all.
Looking around, we observed servers wheel carts full of a variety of dishes past and smells of braised meat, freshly grated cheese and apples wafted enticingly by. At this point, we were all ravenous and ready to dig in. Soon enough our server came to explain the concept and dining style to us and offered us some of their house made apple cocktails. One was a dirty apple martini with a brined core and the other was more sweet, made with sparkling apple cider. We all went for the latter. Towards the end of her spiel, she encouraged us not to be shy – if we couldn’t finish a dish or two (or three), there were plenty of take out boxes at our disposal. Funnily enough, as we were waiting outside we saw every group leaving the restaurant had at least two of these boxes (per person) in hand.
Minutes later, the feast began. 11 courses? No sweat.
Usually, when you start off a three course (or more) meal, the appetizers are relatively light and serve as a gentle prelude to the main body of the course which are typically heavier. Nope, not here. Picard foregoes the typical pleasantries, breaks the rules and gets you to dive right in. Way hardcore. Starting off with a thick and creamy squash soup topped with amaretto and almond crumbs, I think this is one the best I have ever had. Filled with apples and perfectly melty gruyere cheese, we agreed that its’ rich and lovely flavors were spot on. FYI PDC sells big mason jars of the soup for $8 a pop. I got two.
Head cheese was served sliced, placed artfully over and around a cleaned pig’s skull. The terrine was very tasty – made with the flesh of the pig’s head and bound by gelatin, there was a nice vinegary taste to the meat. Also, great, eye-catching presentation.
Then, the sheep’s milk cheese served with a full honeycomb and bits of foie gras. Surprisingly light, it had a fluffy texture that was pretty mild. When paired with the almost cloyingly sweet honeycomb, it was a hit out of the park. Plus, extra points for the usage of the actual honeycomb. It was cool to actually be able to eat the thing – you could feel the little hexagons of honey on your tongue.
These three courses could have consisted of the meal in its entirety. If dessert had been served right after this, I think it would have probably been enough. But nope. Not even close. 8 more to go. Egging each other on and forcing ourselves to think positively, along the lines of “we can do this, we can do this…” we made our way through the meal, working hard at eating our best. Next came the cavatelli and liver stuffed ravioli topped with big chunks of foie gras all soaked in an apple based sauce. We saw the served grating the parmesan fresh from a giant wheel for the party next to us, but perhaps because of our location in a busy section of the restaurant, it may have been hard to do it for us on our side. No matter. Our plate came and we went for it. It’s worthy to note that the amount of foie gras served was very generous and added a texture richness to the dish.
Onto the big mains. Simultaneously landing on our table all at once, we had the glazed apple beef roast with cooked oysters and roasted carrots, eggplant crepes with hazelnut broccoli, salmon “en papillotte” cooked in newspapers and stuffed with apples which came accompanied by a creamy sauce made with apple cider along with clams, escargot and potatoes. It was at this point where I think I undid my top button. Shit was getting reeeeal. The beef roast tasted almost like a brisket and the meat was marinated to the point of flaking off the bone. The cooked oysters were a nice touch – hardly see that anywhere either. The fish was one of my favourites of the mains. The big hunk of fish (size of my two forearms put together) was seared nicely and still raw on the inside. With some of that creamy apple based sauce drizzled on top – this one was golden. My least favourite was the hazelnut broccoli – a bit too thick for me.
After this – we asked our server how many courses had yet to come. He casually said off the cuff, “Oh probably three or four – it depends on what desserts are available tonight”. We all looked at each other and started laughing, mostly because we were already dying and the thought of eating more was just craziness. But don’t get me wrong, we were still excited, ready to move on to the sweet portion of the meal. We were served a classic apple pie, marbled honey and apple sorbet with cotton candy on top, a sticky apple and plum toffee pudding and a chocolate-apple soufflé. All of these were d-i-v-i-n-e. The pudding was outstanding. Completely phenomenal. coming out of a tin can, the server literally splashed caramel sauce all over it. It was poured with a heavy hand and soaked the entire thing through and through. So, so, so delicious…
Stumbling out of the hot, meat scented cabane stupified, almost delirious with mixed feelings of joy, satisfaction, dizziness and overwhelming relief, I can only define the meal as pure, unadulterated excess. It was completely ridiculous and amazing, in the best ways possible. Inducing a sluggish state known as the food coma, I’m sure we all happily fell asleep that night. If you haven’t gone yet, it is an experience that you won’t soon forget, I’ll promise you that. If you’re like me, you probably won’t eat anything the next day and hit the gym almost every day for a week afterwards. Yeah, eating at PDC will do that to you. But it’s worth it.
FYI Reservations for the winter sugar shack edition opens on December 1st. Get on it!
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