Saturday, April 17, 2010

A can of buttery thanks

Last week, two of my work friends (whom I shall refer to as Lady N and Lady K to preserve their anonymity, for reasons that will soon become apparent) took a business trip to Montreal. They knew I'd been a few times, so asked me where they should eat.

Of course, I only had one suggestion.

Au Pied de Cochon. And get the duck in a can."

So they did. And they did.

I got a message from Lady N on Monday morning:

"PDC. Best. Meal. Ever!"

So that made me feel good.

People often ask me for restaurant recommendations, and while I love to help, I always have a nagging fear that I actually have terrible taste and I'm sending unwitting diners to the worse experience of their life.

(Case in point: Lady N went to
L'Espalier for Restaurant Week a couple of days after us. She got body-checked by the elevator, to the maître d's apparent disdain, and there was a hair in the butter and in dessert.)

At least in this case it turned out well. Back in the office, they pronounced Au Pied de Cochon fabulous, the duck in a can awesome, the place fun and lively, and the check not outrageous.

And then ... they presented me with a token of their appreciation.

Yes. Yes. Duck in a can, along with a serving of the oh-let's-just-be-honest-and-call-it-butter celery root purée that accompanies the dish.

(There was also a piece of bread for authenticity, but it had been traveling for four days and was slightly past its best.)

Now, let's just break down how much work was involved in this gift.

First off, the dish is not cooked inside a sealed can; the ingredients are fresh. Which means it needs to be refrigerated. So Lady K had to plead with the hotel staff to help her chill it for the trip home.

Second, I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to transport fresh meat across the US-Canada border. This means Lady K had to pull a
Midnight Express (except the duck was in her suitcase and she got away with it).

Needless to say, I was moved and delighted by this gift. And I knew what we were having for dinner that evening.

The cooking instructions were simple enough: place the can in boiling water for 27 minutes; let it rest for five; open and serve over toasted bread and the celery root purée.

This is how it's done in the restaurant. Simple, non?

However, when it came time to serve, we discovered that our nice ergonomic can-opener just didn't have the chops. We hacked at the can. We tried from the top and the side. We considered knives.

Eventually, we broke through in a few places — just enough for the scent of warm buttered cabbage and balsamic sauce to sneak out and taunt us.

Ten minutes later, the can was misshapen, ragged, and open. But the contents had cooled — or perhaps hadn't heated through enough — so for safety's sake, we gave everything a more intense heat-through in a pan. (I know, I know:
c'est un sacrilège.)

And then we poured everything over the toast and purée.

It was perfect: rich and dark, with a slight vinegary kick. The duck breast was tender; the foie was creamy; the cabbage was less a vegetable and more a transport mechanism for butter. Completely decadent.

So ... anyone else want restaurant recommendations?

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Anonymous JJ said...

OOOOOhhhh, la la!
The only thing I like more than a buttery fowl is butter!

9:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TAHNKS FOR YOUR SHARING~~~VERY NICE ........................................

8:49 PM  

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