City Bites

FOOD BUZZ: Sugar Shock: The coolest thing to happen to Winterlude is Montreal’s hottest chef!

Au Pied de Cochon illustration by Tom Tassel

Stuffed maple-glazed quail is not exactly standard sugar shack fare. But Martin Picard, owner of Montréal’s Au Pied de Cochon restaurant, is not your standard chef. His legions of adoring fans get their long johns in a knot this time of year trying to secure a coveted reservation for the celebrated Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon, a one-of-a-kind haute sugar shack located in St-Benoît de Mirabel, Quebec. The APDC folks started accepting email reservation requests on December 1st. But there is some sweet news for Picard devotees in the capital: yesterday, Ottawa’s Winterlude organizers announced that Picard has agreed to recreate his famous gourmet sugar shack extravaganza in the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of Civilization on February 4. The four-course meal with wine, which marks the official opening of Winterlude, costs $125 plus tax.

I was pleased to see that Taste of Winterlude will be more than just a series of set menus at participating restaurants around town. Instead, organizers have tried to inject some creativity into the event by developing unique “culinary experiences”, something that you wouldn’t otherwise find on a regular evening (dueling sommeliers at Play, dining with farmers at Murray Street, a playful Québécois feast at the Wellington Gastropub…) as well as walking tours of food shops and a cocktail party where guest wear bathrobes (at Spa Nordik)! Events run between Jan. 27- Feb. 21, 2011. For details visit: http://www.canadascapital.gc.ca/taste-of-winterlude/. Tickets go on sale starting Dec. 9.

And if you find yourself seeking even more culinary adventures to fire things up through the coldest months of the year, check out Montreal’s popular urban winter party: High Lights Festival from Feb. 17-27, 2011. This year’s surprising theme is Celebrating Women, and it continues to pair international chefs with Montréal chefs. Chef Anne‑Sophie Pic, the sole woman in France to have earned three Michelin stars, will be among 50 exceptional women chefs and wine producers from around the world who will come to Montréal to take part in the festival. Pretty cool, eh?