Showing posts with label maple syrup. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maple syrup. Show all posts

29 Février's Don't Forget the Date Event

Thoughts of maple syrup, for me, always revolved around its taste (a rich complex sweetness), how it’s made (collecting the sap of maple trees during cold months and painstakingly boiling it until it reduces many times over), or its tie-in to Canadian cuisine.

Then, in February, 29 Février held an event to launch their Don’t Forget the Date campaign - the occasion now adds fighting Alzheimer’s to the mix. Although studies researching the prevention benefits of the sweetener is still beginning (in 2016 two studies found maple syrup extract prevented damages to certain proteins found in brain cells), purchasing maple syrup from 29 Février will benefit the cause: 5% of Maple-in-a-Tree product sales will be donated to the Canadian Alzheimer Societies.

François Décarie, 29 Février’s President, was inspired to support the cause after his mother was affected by the disease. He recognized the toll it has on their loved ones, leaving him wanting to do something to give back. My own grandmother has recently been touched by Alzheimer’s, although, thankfully, it’s still in its infancy and she’s still able to live an independent and fruitful life. Nonetheless, hearing the diagnosis was scary and my mother and her siblings have definitely re-arranged their lives to ensure their mother has additional support. I get it, I’ve experienced it, and I’m glad Décarie’s doing something to help.

Having the launch event at DISH Cooking Studio was the ideal venue to make us think outside the pail. Sure, maple syrup tastes so good with desserts, but just like any other sweetener, it can be incorporated into a plethora of recipes. Even before we began eating, the lightest golden maple syrup made its way into the cocktails: topped with Prosecco and squeeze of lemon or added to whiskey to temper down a Manhattan.       

For hors d'oeuvres, it was used to caramelize pineapples and brushed onto roasted golden beets to further enhance the ingredient’s natural sweetness. Adding savoury elements like gorgonzola and pistachio dust helped to keep the bites from getting overly sugary.

To end, Head Chef Gabriela Neda, whipped up a popular maple main: seared salmon glazed with the syrup (in this case combined with grainy mustard) and topped with a caper aioli to keep it savoury. The sweetness of the syrup just goes so well with the oily fish.

As luck would have it, the event was held on Pancake Tuesday so we also experienced the four varieties with its favourite companion. For desserts, François suggests using the amber variety that has a deeper taste, but is still light enough as to not overpower the dessert. Indeed, this is also my typical go-to syrup to have around the house.   

As you switch to the darker grades, the molasses taste starts to shine through followed with a lasting after taste. These are generally used to marinade meats or as a glaze on seafood but would also make a fantastic rich caramel sauce for some desserts. Having tasted the ‘very dark’ – the newest grade that was previously only sold to restaurants given the small quantities made – it has such an intense and almost earthy flavour that it’d be perfect for brisket and other heavy meats.

Before the event, I assumed that darker syrups were simply boiled longer causing the sugars to caramelize further. Although the dark ones are cooked a little longer, François explains that it’s really tied to when they harvest the sap: the earliest batches create the golden syrup while the last taps makes the very dark. Live and learn, who would have known that not only the terroir of the tree matters, but the timing as well?

I must admit, now that a can of the amber Maple-in-a-Tree sits on my counter, I’m more inclined to trigger the tap and use the maple syrup (rather than having in jumbled with the multitude of other condiments in the fridge). It’s a reminder of our Canadian staple and Février’s action against Alzheimer. Don’t forget the date. 

How To Find Them
 Price: $39.99 for one or $139.99 for all four
 Website: or through Costcos for members

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -

Au Pied de Cochon (Montreal)

Get ready for excess. You’ll leave feeling like a glutton, or if you’re a foie gras lover, marvel at how one menu can contain so many renditions of a fatty goose liver. Au Pied de Cochon has been covered so intensively that if you go expecting a light salad, you must be living under a rock. With that in mind, I steeled myself for a rich dinner, albeit one that doesn’t include the fatty liver and their duck in a can.

Even though their menu isn’t a “small” plate format, it certainly lends itself for sharing. Trust me, the portions are huge and each dish so heavy that you’ll need a helping hand. Take their cured ham from the shack ($16), the wispy slices of fragrant salty meat delicious, but the plate so filled that it’s best split amongst at least four.

Served with half a loaf of their warm toasted baguette and a liquidity sweet maple smoked mustard, the sandwich you could make from the ham would be first class. The mustard such a great touch that I even left with a jar ($6.99).

Would you be surprised to hear the duck carpaccio ($14) was the lightest thing we ate that evening? The large slice of fowl so tender that even a toothless senior could plough through the dish. If only they served this before the cured ham, the duck wouldn’t haven’t been overpowered by the charcuterie’s saltiness. The carpaccio tasted bland, even though there was tons of differing flavours and textures from the sriracha, creamy egg yolk, and parmesan shavings.

I have to give Au Pied credit for their showmanship: the hot can opened tableside with its juicy contents presented with a flourish or an entire pig’s head stuffed with lobster. You can’t help but stare at the table beside you and wonder what they ordered. Even a simple dish of bacon gnocchi ($30) starts with a giant parmesan wheel.

Oh, how the heads turn as the gigantic block of cheese is wheeled on a trolley and stops tableside. First, slices of parmesan is scrapped into the centre. Then, a pan filled with gnocchi, huge chunks of bacon and peas is added and slowly tossed and mixed so the pasta’s heat melts the cheese. Just imagine how you’d react to the intoxicating scent.

Yet, it doesn’t stop there. Afterwards, a small jug of jus is presented and you’re told that they’ll add that into the mixture so the gnocchi isn’t dry. Really, it’s an unnecessary step and renders the dish a watery mess… all that creaminess I watched them cox into the dish was ruined. Another liberal sprinkling of parmesan and a healthy dollop of fresh ricotta - the dish is finally done.

After all that, it’s a shame that the gnocchi is way too salty, drowning in a pool of oily broth, and feels like you’re eating chunks of pork belly as opposed to fluffy pasta. Disappointing to taste, but man how you salivate as you watch it being prepared.

Sadly, everything thereafter wasn’t any better. The duck fat fries ($5.75) were bordering on burnt, but somewhat salvaged by the lovely house-made aioli incorporating a great citrus twist.

A special for the evening, the steamer clams and corn ($16), was perhaps the worst course of the dinner. The cream sauce and bacon much too heavy for clams; only to be made worse by adding maple syrup so everything’s also sweet. Perhaps the chef was simply trying to cover the gritty rubbery clams. Why did I order seafood at a restaurant known for meat?

Despite thinking we showed restraint while ordering (to save room for dessert), our table of three could not get through everything. So, the lone sweet incorporating the popular maple syrup came in a cocktail form. The gin guay ($12.50) is a gin and tonic spiked with maple syrup and topped with champagne and soda water. The first few sips, while the cocktail was nice and cold, was tasty. But, once it warmed a tad, the drink tasted like ultra-sweet cough syrup.

That’s a lesson for me: you don’t go to a place known for excess and try to drink in moderation. Perhaps, if I downed the gin guay and followed the cocktail with beer for the cured ham and wine throughout dinner, the tone would have changed. 

You need to be a little inebriated and carefree to enjoy the rich overpowering dishes. Otherwise, you’ll leave like me, and wish you merely stuck with an awesome cured ham sandwich.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Montreal, Canada
 Address: 536 Avenue Duluth East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more -
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:

Au Pied de Cochon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato