Quebec Road Trp: The Meal Began With a Foie Gras Cake. It Ended With Snow and Maple Syrup.

At the same time, the province’s French roots run deep, with superb cheese makers and corner bakeries serving baguettes that would make even the most persnickety Parisian proud.

Nevertheless, while French cuisine is known for its tiny portions, in Quebec, the mantra appears to be “bigger is better.”

During an orgiastic feast last weekend at the Cabane, Martin Picard, the star chef and burly bad boy of Quebec cuisine, offered up a meal of 13 courses that was so extreme in its abundance and creativity, it was as if Salvador Dalí had been reincarnated as a chef on a farm in rural Quebec during Roman times.


A pig shaped from foie gras is among the remains of the 13 courses of bacchanalian excess at Martin Picard’s Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon.Credit Jasmin Lavoie for The New York Times
Quebec Road Trp: The Meal Began With a Foie Gras Cake. It Ended With Snow and Maple Syrup.
Quebec Road Trp: The Meal Began With a Foie Gras Cake. It Ended With Snow and Maple Syrup.

When I asked the jovial manager, Laurence Desjardins, why the meal was such a marathon of Olympic endurance, she observed that in a French-speaking province surrounded by an English majority, the food reflected a culinary cri de coeur, an affirmation of Quebec identity that was akin to a giant exclamation point.

The Cabane also reflects another hallmark of Quebec, its spirit of generosity. Ms. Lawrence noted that Mr. Picard believed in “abundance,” and doesn’t want diners to have to reach for anything. There is little chance of that when the entire table is blanketed with food.

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The first warning of bacchanalian excess arrived with the first course, the triple-layer almond cake filled with foie gras, one layer with dates and another with crème de volaille. It took four hours to make the cake, which was followed by an entire pig conjured from foie gras.

Most of the dishes were served, appropriately enough, on a tray made from tree bark. The tableware featured etchings of fornicating pigs. It was a vegetarian’s apocalyptic nightmare. There were pigs everywhere, both on the plate and in the dining room.

And just in case my stomach ran out of room, the waitress arrived periodically with a plastic funnel, of the type used to extract sap from a tree, so I could down a shot of cognac laced with maple syrup.

At the end of that meal, just when it seemed I was about to explode like a fattened goose on Christmas Eve, the desserts arrived, among them a rectangular plant-holder containing what appeared to be snow filled with maple syrup and adorned with mint.

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