Bizarre Foods: Montreal
In his beautifully written article in the final issue of Gourmet magazine published in 2009, Adam Gollner wrote about a trip up north, 11 hours by train, to go hunt and fish with Fred Morin and David McMillan of the famous Joe Beef restaurant in Montreal. This passage became my inspiration for the Montreal shoot of Bizarre Foods. Gollner put it perfectly…
“Most of Montreal’s finest restaurants tap into the mythology of the well-fed outdoorsman, whether it’s the “man-sized French Canadian cooking” of Martin Picard’s Au Pied de Cochon or of Old Montreal’s Le Club Chasse et Pêche, named after northern sporting lodges and decorated in kind. These restaurants, like the institutions they revere, are temples of hedonism. It’s as though overindulgence became a way of compensating for—or obliterating the memory of—the hardships endured by the coureurs de bois. As early as the 19th Century, sporting periodicals were already describing larders bulging with baskets of Champagne, magnums of claret, a “fair allowance” of dry Sherry, barrels of India Pale Ale, and cases of “eau de vie pale et vieille for medicinal purposes.”
Montreal has always inspired some of my most deeply resonant lost weekends. There is no city on earth better geared for a weekend of madly obsessive chowing than the Quebecois pleasure dome of Montreal. And its not just Montreals finest eateries that plug into the aestehtica of indulgence, the casual joints do as well. From Abu Elias butcher shop and café to Schwartz’s Deli, nothing is small and light in Montreal. And the star of the show? Meat. I love this town.
We ate terrine and offal at DNA where chef Derrick Damman is crushing it, serving truly inspired food that loudly screams its Canadian provenance, we destroyed 70# of BBQ with Fred on the back porch of Joe Beef with the crew from Fleisher’s Meats in NYC, we mowed down 6 courses at Au Pied de Cochon, 3 at La Banquise, 4 at Brome Lake Duck, 12 at Abu Elias, dozens at Jean Talon and Atwater Markets, 9 at Martin Picard’s Cabin Sucre, and the list goes on. I only at two courses at Schwartz’s, but it was a BBQ duck and a monster of a smoked meat sandwich and I was playing it cool because I was trying to impress the insanely sexy and divinely funny wing-woman I had accompany that day, Nadia Giosa of Bitchin’ Kitchen fame.
Best moment not seen on camera: we ate all day at Atwater market and all night at Joe Beef with Fred and stopped in to shoot some b-roll at APDC and I was going to eat a maple pudding for show. I was stuffed and deliriously full. I was hallucinating on an overdose of pork fat and oysters, butter and lard, potatoes and grilled smoked boiled braised sauteed roasted meat of all types. I was swaying like a drunken fat girl at prom. It was ugly. So I am at the table eating, Chef Emily and manager Marc taking good care of me because Martin was up north at Cabin Sucre where he retreats in Spring to get away from the headaches of being Martin Picard. Well, all of a sudden course after course start arriving, beef tartare cones, marrow bones with foie gras and truffle butter, roasted pork cheek confit with foie gras, curried whole pork shoulder (yes I said whole!) and more…I look up, and who is pulling the strings, trying to crush me as any chef would to any other they see in their dining room…Martin. He had driven in from the country just to make sure I was buried alive under an avalanche of the best food in town. I still haven’t recovered and that was in March!
Enjoy the show, it’s one of the best we ever created. And more importantly you need to spend more time in Montreal, its where my step-dad lives and I get there often, but it’s never enough. Catch the full episode Tuesday, July 12 at 9pm ET/PT on Travel Channel.