As the gloom and chill of the winter secured its grasp on the region, our culinary inspiration shifts to the rich, layered flavors and techniques of the classic French bistro kitchen and the rustic country cooking of French Canada.
We have always enjoyed this type of cooking at Ma(i)son and the soul-warming goodness one experiences after a wonderfully delicious winter meal.
To further explore these flavors, our staff ventured to Montreal during our annual winter break in January.
We made several reservations at long admired restaurants to fully immerse ourselves in the type of cooking that we found ourselves gravitating to during the chilly winter days…chilly by the way is an understatement of the extreme winter conditions we experienced in Montreal…pass the Foie Gras scarf please!
After several days of intense gluttony and life-changing meals (and once our hearts regained their normal rhythmic beat) we decided what better way to share our travel experiences with our friends and customers than to put on a special dinner to commemorate our ‘greatest gastronomical hits’ from the trip!
and thus… ‘Le Grand Service’ was born…
The dinners took place on March 6th and 7th and like our other Dinner Series events in the past, the menu was not revealed until the evening of each dinner. We did however issue a bit of a forewarning regarding the French-Canadian dinners…bring lots of wine and be ready for a wild night!
Each Dinner Series event tells a particular story…
The Whole Hog Dinner which told the story of a specific animal, the versatility of pork in the kitchen, the depth and variation of flavor within a single animal and our dedication to our whole animal philosophy.
The Tomato Dinner told the story of a particular vegetable, the breadth and diversity of it and the beauty of seasonality…
…as we introduced the menu and the evening to our guests at ‘Le Grand Service’ we stated that this dinner would also tell a story…the story of restaurant people’s vacations and the extreme eating that takes place–Enjoy the recap!
The guests snacking on Foie Gras & Maple pinwheels and ‘Orielles’–crispy pork fat!
1st Course: ‘Bloody Cesars’
A classic Montreal concoction (the Canadian cousin to the Bloody Mary) that is typically topped/covered with an overwhelming array of seafood, cured meats, pickled vegetables and even in some cases, barbecued ribs–pretty much anything goes and it is literally a dish in itself…what better way to start!
2nd Course: Smoked Meats
If there is any one gastronomical item most associated with Montreal it has to be smoked meat! This typically means brined and smoked brisket, cooked until meltingly tender, sliced by hand and piled high on bread with mustard and a pickle. We brined and smoked beef brisket from Weaver Valley Farms in Strasburg and served that with what are affectionately known as ‘Pork Fish Sticks’–a dish made popular by our friends in Montreal at Joe Beef–we smoked and shredded pork shoulder and shaped it to resemble fish sticks….the meats were accompanied by housemade baguette, pickled vegetables and a whole grain mustard aioli.
3rd Course: Lobster Poutine
Perhaps the most famous Quebecois dish of all is Poutine. Traditionally a pile of fries with gravy and fresh cheese curds– certainly a meal in itself. We took the classic which we enjoyed in Montreal in many forms and created a more luxurious version using lobster. We broke down the lobsters, used the shells and roe to make and incredibly rich gravy with brandy, lots of shallots and herbs. We incorporated the picked lobster meat with the gravy, smothered our frites and topped it all with handfuls of fresh cheese curds and a shower of chopped tarragon…absolutely delicious!
Stay tuned for PART 2 of our ‘Le Grand Service’ recap!