Return to Transcripts main page
ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN
Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown: Canada
Aired May 11, 2013 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST (voice-over): It takes a special breed to live in a province like Quebec. It gets cold in winter, and winters are long. It takes a special kind of person for whom frozen rivers, icy wind-whipped streets, deep seemingly endless forests are the norm.
I will confess my partisanship up front. I love Montreal. It is my favorite place in Canada. The people who live there are tough, crazy bastards, and I admire them for it. Toronto, Vancouver, I love you, but not like Montreal. Why? I shall explain. All will be revealed. In the meantime, check this guy out.
(On camera): What's the Post Office's motto? Neither rain nor sleet nor driving snow nor plague of locusts prevent the mail carrier from delivering my junk mail?
(Voice-over): Here in Montreal, the simple task of delivering the mail in winter comes with its own set of hurdles. Icy hurdles.
(On camera): I got to ask, do you have special equipment for this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got on, like, slip on boots. We do have our boots in the rains -- sorry, when it gets icy with the spikes on them. And they give us also slip on the spikes for when it's icy.
BOURDAIN: Any sort of city ordinance that you have to shovel or -- they're not penalized financially?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, nothing like that.
BOURDAIN: Any injuries in the line of duty?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've had several, like, tumbles, one incident I was off for two months. I thought I broke my ankle.
BOURDAIN: What is the most perilous aspect of the job? Would it be dogs or icy stairs?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In this area there's a lot of dogs, but I would say icy stairs.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): It's one thing to have to work outside in this wintry mess, but it takes a strange and wonderful kind of mutant to actually find it pleasurable like, well, these two gentlemen. (On camera): Do you like the cold? I mean, by you, I mean the Quebecoise.
FRED MORIN, CO-OWNER, JOE BEEF: It cleans the streets of (INAUDIBLE).
BOURDAIN: The cold?
DAVE MCMILLAN, CO-OWNER, JOE BEEF: The frigid cold keeps the riffraff out of the city, for sure.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Fred Morin and Dave McMillan, restaurateur, chefs at the legendary Joe Beef, (speaking in foreign language), historians of their beloved great white north, princes of hospitality.
And what do men like these do for fun when the rivers turned to ice three-feet thick, when testicles shrink and most of us scurry for warmth and shelter? If they were like so many other Canadians, they would go ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River.
MCMILLAN: The cabin fever induces in the Quebecoise family because we are confined perhaps to spend so much time indoors. A lot of the families love to do, you know, activities together, like this, go to the cottage, goes ice fishing, you know, it gets you out of the house. And it's very much a family thing.
BOURDAIN: Like many of their ilk, they seek one of the temporary small towns of sled-born cabins, drill a hole in the ice, and wait. But these are not normal men.
(On camera): So is Quebec better than the rest of Canada?
BOURDAIN: I mean, come on. You can't think about that long.
BOURDAIN: Now wait a minute. Now are strippers paid hourly here? Is that right? It's not a tip system?
MORIN: It's considered an art -- a performance art.
BOURDAIN: You consider it a performance art. So how does that work? You don't --
MCMILLAN: You pay for a song. You pay for a song. And then -- BOURDAIN: You pay per song.
MCMILLAN: Yes. And then you can get a dance in the back, which is a private dance. And that's 10 bucks a song, five bucks a song in public.
MORIN: That's why I go to (INAUDIBLE) strip because the songs are super-long.
I'm a bit (INAUDIBLE). You know, I go for the king shrimp and lap dance.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): After a suspiciously stunned-looking fish emerges from the deep, previously whoof (ph) and all by an eager producer no doubt, it is ignored, because Fred and Dave do things differently. No crudely fried fish and bread crumbs for these large living 19th Century men.
(On camera): Wow. Holy shit. Look at that.
(Voice-over): Instead, a hearty lunch of French classics, accompanied by many fine wines and liqueurs, as befitting gentlemen of discerning taste who've exhausted themselves in the wild.
(On camera): So this is how you live?
MCMILLAN: Well, more often than not, yes.
MORIN: We always have to travel well and eat properly. We're taking a natural white wine, (INAUDIBLE), white burgundy. These are Glaser bay oysters as well as a couple Boujelois thrown in there.
MCMILLAN: They're delicious in my prized possession those little --
MCMILLAN: I mean, the funnest part about the restaurant business isn't the cutlery. It's just the spoon is absolutely gorgeous. You know, Fred has a wonderful collection of tableware. Without getting, you know, snobby or elitist, you know, eating off vintage tableware is one of the great joys out of life.
BOURDAIN: Well, this is the interesting paradox of you guys. You aspire to -- to run a democratic establishment, and yet you are hopeless romantics when it comes to --
MCMILLAN: Painful nostalgics.
BOURDAIN: The art of living. Right? What the -- (Voice-over): Sustenance is required.
(On camera): Holy -- look at this.
(Voice-over): Like say a consomme of oxtail to begin. Followed perhaps by a chilled lobster a la Parisian?
MCMILLAN: The art of dining is kind of disappearing much to our chagrin. I work super hard at being an excellent dining companion.
BOURDAIN (on camera): When seeking excellence in a dining companion, what qualities does one look for?
MCMILLAN: I turn my phone off. I -- you know, I never put my elbows on the table. I don't --
MCMILLAN: Of course. Come prepared with stories. Don't drink too much, don't become sloppy.
BOURDAIN: Come prepared with anecdotes?
BOURDAIN: No elbows on the table?
MCMILLAN: No, it's not -- it's not proper.
BOURDAIN: I'm a total failure as a dining companion. What is that?
(Voice-over): What's that, you ask? An iconic (INAUDIBLE) era classic of gastronomy?
(On camera): Look at that sauce. Holy crap.
(Voice-over): The devilishly difficult (INAUDIBLE) ala Royale, a boneless wild hair, in a sauce of its own blood, a generous heaping of fresh black truffle, garnished with thick slabs of foie gras, seared directly on the top of the cabin's wood stove.
(On camera): Damn, look at that.
MCMILLAN: We're in a wooden shack, over three feet of ice, and 100 feet of water.
BOURDAIN: You are hopeless, hopeless romantics, gentlemen. Oh, Jesus. Look at that. Oh.
(Voice-over): The seared foie is perched atop in ethereal suspension of Joe (INAUDIBLE) inspired potato puree. Of course.
MCMILLAN: This is (INAUDIBLE) from (INAUDIBLE) Vineyard by Teddy (INAUDIBLE).
BOURDAIN (on camera): Nice.
MCMILLAN: That's wonderful.
BOURDAIN: Yes, yes, it is. Really, is there a -- is there billionaire or a despot anywhere out on Earth who at this precise moment is eating better than us?
BOURDAIN: No. Look at that.
MCMILLAN: (Speaking in foreign language)
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Cheese. There must be cheese. In this case, a voluptuously reeking Epoisses, who some less hardy outdoors might call overripe, but not us.
(On camera): This is awesome. What do we have here?
MCMILLAN: A few Cuban.
BOURDAIN: Wait a minute, you guys have a much more relaxed attitude towards the importation of Cuban cigars.
(Voice-over): Chartreuse, of course, and a desert as rare as it gets, a dinosaur era monster long believed extinct.
MORIN: This is Gateau Marjolaine.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Who does this?
MORIN: It's one of those, like, painful nostalgic things.
(Voice-over): Layers of almond and hazelnut meringue, chocolate butter cream.
(On camera): My god, look at that. Damn, that's good.
(Voice-over): For these guys, this is normal. This is lunch.
MORIN: Some days it's like playhouse in my house, it's French playhouse.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Yes, what do you do?
MCMILLAN: They get dressed at their house.
BOURDAIN: No way. Tell me all about it.
MCMILLAN: Yes. The kids, too.
BOURDAIN: He's a dandy.
MCMILLAN: He's a dandy. MORIN: A Sunday dandy. Last time I did, I did (INAUDIBLE), primrose and the Linzer Torte, I made (INAUDIBLE) caramel, I made salad a la orange.
MORIN: I made (INAUDIBLE).
MORIN: With a creme fraiche, and then a huge cheese curd that was about like 15 kinds of cheese.
BOURDAIN: Right. And how many people are in your family at this meal?
MCMILLAN: Him and his wife, and two young boys.
BOURDAIN: And how old are the kids?
MORIN: Two and 4.
BOURDAIN: So you, your wife and a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old.
MORIN: They don't make it to the end, usually, after like -- I have to like prematurely open --
MCMILLAN: They don't like (INAUDIBLE)?
BOURDAIN: And I'm thinking this, and I'm think, well, that's really tough, but I'm also thinking, you know, I've got to do that. I want to do that. And actually my daughter would totally be into it.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Once every few decades, maybe every century, a nation will produce a hero. An Escoffiere, a Muhammad Ali, a Dalai Lama, a Joey Marrone, someone who changes everything about their chosen field, who changes the whole landscape. Life after them is never the same.
Martin Picard is such a man. A here-to-for, an encounter hybrid of rugged outdoorsman, veteran chef, with many years of fine dining experience. Renegade, innovator, he is one of the most influential chefs in North America. He is also a proud Quebecois, and perhaps he more than everyone else has defined for a new generation of Americans and Canadians what that means.
He's an unlikely ambassador for his country and his province. Maybe not so unlikely. I mean, look at him. Out for a day, trapping beaver with local trapper Carl.
(On camera): So the bait is wood?
MARTIN PICARD, CHEF: Yes, just the bark.
BOURDAIN: They eat the bark?
PICARD: Yes, yes, yes.
BOURDAIN: I understand in pioneer days, beaver was the financial engine of Canada?
BOURDAIN: Empires were built on it. Every hat practically in the world was made of a beaver pelt.
PICARD: That's why today it's the icon of Canada.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): To a lesser extent, the tradition continues today. Carl continues to trap, usually called on by provincial officials to trap beaver and clear away dams and control what could become an destructively over populated situation.
(On camera): Hello, my little friend.
PICARD: This is a young one. And those are the ones we want to eat.
BOURDAIN: What would you compare the meat to? Is there anything like it.
PICARD: That's the thing, you know, there's nothing like it. You know, when you eat beaver, you understand that it's beaver.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Martin, along with an encyclopedic knowledge of fine wines and an attachment to the music of Celine Dion, is a big believer in honoring history and tradition. If you still trap beavers, you should, if at all possible, cook them and eat them, not just strip them of their pelts. And as incredible as it might seem, you can cook beaver really, really well.
Beaver tail, on the other hand, is not actually beaver at all, rather a quick spoonbread type of thing that in our case goes somewhat awry during an inadvertent inferno.
(On camera): The sauce, it almost looks like chocolate. So rich looking, huh?
PICARD: I love it. When it's like this. Some people don't put too much blood, but I like when it's very thick.
BOURDAIN: Wow. It's absolutely delicious.
PICARD: Yes, it is. I wasn't joking about it.
BOURDAIN: It tastes like chicken.
No, it doesn't take like chicken at all.
PICARD: This is your first time?
PICARD: Wow. That's something. I think you almost eat everything.
BOURDAIN: Yes, at this point, you know animals, they see me and they're like oh --
PICARD: No, no. Not him.
BOURDAIN: Yes. Not that guy.
(On camera): There's a joke around here somewhere, but to tell you the truth, the stuff is just too good.
(Voice-over): It's like 10 below zero in this freaking town. And that generally does not spell good time for me. A good time for me is more like a palm tree, a beach, a swimming pool, with only cold thing is my beer. But no. These hearty culinarians of the north like to frolic in the snow and ice. More accurately they like to obey their genetic Quebecois imperative to risk dental and maxillofacial injury, by skating around, slapping at a hard disk, trying to drive it in each other's general direction.
I believe they call this sport hockey.
(On camera): This is not in my blood. Do you skate?
MCMILLAN: Yes, we grew up on rinks like this.
BOURDAIN: Does everyone in Quebec, it's pretty much obligatory?
BOURDAIN: Here's your stick, kid.
MCMILLAN: What else can you do? There's no reason to live here if there's no hockey.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Hockey rinks pop up all over the city to accommodate Montreal's desire to risk teeth, groin and limb. And right behind Fred and Dave's restaurant Joe Beef, a pickup game of chefs, cooks and hospitality professionals is under way.
(On camera): Some of these guys have put (INAUDIBLE) a little long and a tooth to be out there, swinging sticks at each other and skidding around in the ice. This is normal behavior. People actually do this for fun?
MCMILLAN: Yes. Yes. Absolutely. This is every day Quebecois, growing up, playing hockey. Canadian national sport, man.
BOURDAIN: Right. And this young one is already being indoctrinated. Hello, young man.
MCMILLAN: You want to play? Are you good at hockey? Are you going to be a goalie or a player?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A player.
MCMILLAN: A player.
BOURDAIN: Am I going to get, like, a mouth full of puck, by the way?
(Voice-over): Being catered with Fred and Dave's usual restraint.
MCMILLAN: Come eat.
BOURDAIN: Hot coco in Styrofoam cups? No, try a titanic Chucrute Garni ala (INAUDIBLE), containing Flintstone-sized hunks of pork belly, (INAUDIBLE), bacon, homemade Boudin Blanc, kielbasa, smoked chops, plus veal and pork links.
(On camera): Oh, yes, this is a truly heroic Chucrute.
MCMILLAN: Look at that beautiful work of linking (INAUDIBLE).
BOURDAIN: This dish is the single best argument for sharing a border with Germany.
(Voice-over): And, of course, the finest wines known to humanity.
MCMILLAN: German wine, Silvaner, in pirate bottles.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Sweet. What am I drinking here?
MCMILLAN: Canadian Riesling. This is Norman Hardie Riesling from Prince Albert County five hours from here. Amazing wine.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): There's an allegory here somewhere. I'm reaching for it. Something about Fred and Dave's reckless abandon, coupled with precision and technique. A hockey metaphor, perhaps. The hell with it. Look, sausages.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Montreal to Quebec City by rail. 160 miles of wintry vistas, whip past the windows, evocative for some of another time. MORIN: The Canadian caviar, Sturgeon Canadian caviar.
BOURDAIN: I'm not sure about Dave McMillan, but in Fred Morin's perfect world, we would all travel by rail. It would still be the golden age of rail travel.
(On camera): So tell me about the great Canadian rail system.
MORIN: It's purely emotional.
MORIN: There's nothing rational about it.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Fred is what one might call conservatively an aficionado.
(On camera): So how extreme is your railroad nerdism?
MORIN: This is how bad it gets.
MCMILLAN: You have other operating manuals?
BOURDAIN: Of this model train.
MORIN: Yes. The model.
BOURDAIN: So you have other operating manuals?
(Voice-over): Books, printed ephemera, collectibles. Fred retains an enduring love for the great iron horses that still take passengers across the frozen land he calls home. But it's something more than just nostalgia. It's also an appreciation for a dying art.
MORIN: It's like the old cruise ships. You transport your comfort, you know?
BOURDAIN: For those halcyon days of cross-country rail, there were lavish dining cars, luxurious sleeping compartments, a bar car with liveried attendants.
MCMILLAN: Look at the menus, how people used to eat on the trains. It's also an inspiration on how we cook in the restaurant.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Casserole and sweet breads and fresh peas with Veronese sauce. Leg of lamb (INAUDIBLE) jelly.
MORIN: Some very nice pictures in the dining by train book, with the guy holding the turkey and cutting the turkey. And you order a drink, it comes from a bottle made out of glass, into a glass made out of glass.
MORIN: Which is kind of cool in our day and age.
BOURDAIN: It goes back to service, doesn't it? Thank you.
(Voice-over): We are presented with a perfectly serviceable omelet. There may no longer be a smoking lounge with brass pitons, but this does not mean a traveler has to suffer.
(On camera): So you always travel with a truffle shaver?
MORIN: During truffle season.
BOURDAIN: As a gentleman must. Hold on. Wait a minute. I've got to get a inaction photograph. Hold on. Canadian rail. People are going to be expecting, wait a minute, where is my fist-sized truffle?
MCMILLAN: Can I get the truffle option, please?
BOURDAIN: Oh, of course. Don't forget the foie.
(Voice-over): Quebec City, one of the oldest European settlements in North America. Samuel de Champlain, known as the father of New France, sailed up the St. Lawrence and founded the site in 1608. When the fighting started with you know who, Quebec City was the French stronghold until the bitter end when the French fell at the plains of Abraham.
The French may have lost that one, but some things French have stayed firm, unbowed, resiliently unchanged by trends or history.
The Continental is the kind of place about which I am unreservedly sentimental.
MCMILLAN: When I was younger, I ate here with my grandparents and my parents, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, that's older restaurant in town. It's open since 1956.
BOURDAIN: Classic, unironic, cuisine (INAUDIBLE), meaning dishes you haven't seen since like forever. A hipster-free zone of French, continental, ocean liner classics such as Caesar salad, tossed fresh to (INAUDIBLE) tableside and beef tartare, also prepared tableside as one must.
Shrimp cocktail, not a deconstructed shrimp cocktail mind you, a shrimp cocktail, the way Jesus wants you to eat them. All served by a dedicated professional.
(On camera): In culinary school we were taught this. I mean, real customers as your final class. We had to do the (INAUDIBLE) of fruits, tableside, all of that, which inevitably would fly off the fork or land (INAUDIBLE) soup. I was so bad at it. I would run into trouble and I would be like, I'll be right back, behind the scene. I bite with my teeth. Stripping the thing. At least once a day one of the students would set themselves or the customers on fire. The bather would, like, spill, and they'd light, there'd be this line from, like, the thing down up across the floor up their leg.
(Voice-over): No, that shit doesn't happen here. Like I said, professionals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to go like a big fireball.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Fireball. Good.
(Voice-over): The kind who know how to properly prepare these dishes.
(On camera): Sweet.
MORIN: Like a goose bump moment.
(Voice-over): For Dave, another classic, filet de boeuf en (INAUDIBLE). A filet mignon, a sauce made of cognac, cream and glass (INAUDIBLE).
(On camera): That is nice. Look at that.
(Voice-over): And for Fred, scampi Newburgh. When is the last time you saw the word "Newburgh" on a menu?
(On camera): Awesome, absolutely awesome.
(Voice-over): But for me, that most noble of dishes, Dover sole. This appears to be one of the few remaining servers alive who knows how to take that fish off the bone, sauce it, and properly serve it.
(On camera): Thank you very much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bon appetit.
BOURDAIN: Merci. Man, I love this place. I'm so happy. It's very comfortable. There's continuity in this world.
(Voice-over): Across town, another thing entirely. The younger, wilder L'affaire est Ketchup, which I'm reliably informed means everything is cool in local idiom.
At this point in my life, I just don't know anymore. Are these young cooks, these servers, these dedicated entrepreneurs, are these hipsters? Or am I just a cranky old who think anybody below the age of 30 is a hipster? I don't know, but I admire them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So how much did it cost you when you opened?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not much.
BOURDAIN: Look at this tiny electric four-burner stove. At no point in my cooking career could I have worked with one of these without murdering everyone in the vicinity before hanging myself from the nearest beam.
(On camera): How long did it take to adapt?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say like three months. At the beginning, I was lucky that I didn't have, like, a lot of customers. It was like, oh, man. I was freaking out.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): And yet these kids today, look at them go, serving a wildly ambitious and quite substantial ever-changing menu out of this -- this Suzy homemaker oven. Tonight there's razor clams with burned (INAUDIBLE), and a cream of haddock roe.
(On camera): Very cool. Thank you. I love razor clams.
(Voice-over): And coquille St. Jacques. You'll notice that nobody in Quebec seems to skimp on the portions. A (INAUDIBLE) of foie gras, head cheese with (INAUDIBLE) mustard, and Ris de veau truffe, that's truffled sweetbreads, and you got some goose hearts (INAUDIBLE) for good measure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now the goose heart is excellent. Goose heart.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Hearts in general.
(Voice-over): Also you got your morue salee with grilled tomato bread. That's salt cod for you, Anglos.
I'm all swollen up, like the (INAUDIBLE), and ready to burst in a livery omni-directional mist. Hotel motel time for me.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): How Canadian is Quebec? Are they truly one entity or two? This is a question that has been wrestled with for some time. Quebec is certainly part of Canada, but in many ways both culturally, spiritually and linguistically, it's very much another thing entirely. There's a lot of history, much of it contentious. Go back far enough and you get a clearer picture of why.
The French arrived on the shores of Quebec City in the early 16th century that succumbed to the military might of Great Britain in the mid-18th. Thus began a gradual but steady persecution of all things French. The Quebecois had struggled mightily to hang on to their French heritage and language. The issue of seceding entirely a notion that persists to some extent even today.
Journalist Patrick Lagace meets me at Bistro M Sur Masson to help me understand a little bit of what many Quebecois feel is at stake.
(On camera): So I was going to talk about the whole history of French Quebecois identify. A separatist movement, but I have to get right to the pressing matter of the day, pasta-gate.
PATRICK LAGACE, JOURNALIST: Pasta- gate. What do you want to know about pasta-gate?
BOURDAIN (voice-over): For those not up on current Quebec politics, pasta-gate refers to an incident where local authorities notified an Italian restaurant that they were in violation of French laws because they used the word "pasta" which is Italian.
(On camera): This is --
LAGACE: OK. Stop apologizing, OK?
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Don't get me wrong. My last name is Bourdain. I lean French. Hard.
(On camera): I am enormously sympathetic to the language laws.
LAGACE: You don't think it's preposterous?
BOURDAIN: I do not think it's preposterous. But here we have a situation.
LAGACE: It is stupid. I agree with you completely that this province 40 years ago was in some respects an English city, so we needed to have language laws for signage and stuff.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Now signage, for instance, must by law be principally in French. French first in all things.
LAGACE: But ever bureaucracy produces byproducts of stupidity, and that was it. And you know what? It will not stand.
BOURDAIN: The Anglo Canadians treated French-speaking Quebecois like second-class crap for much of history. So I get it. I'd be pissed, too. I want my own thing and when I got it, I'd wake to make sure there's no backsliding to the bad old days.
LAGACE: When the (INAUDIBLE) Quebecois, the first sovereignist party to be elected, it was in 1976, it didn't come out of a vacuum. It came out from a couple of decades of awakening and struggle.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Fifty years from now, will people still speak in --
BOURDAIN: -- predominantly French in Montreal?
BOURDAIN: No doubt about it.
LAGACE: No doubt about it.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): French first is something most would agree with. How far and how rigorously you want to go with that? Well -- (On camera): Do you think there was ever any possibility or real majority or plurality of Quebecois who would have voted in separate nation status?
LAGACE: You know, in English, you guys say timing is everything.
LAGACE: And timing was never better than in the period 1990, '91, '92, because in '95 this country came inches from being broken up.
BOURDAIN: Close. Yes. And do you think it will ever happen in the history of the world?
LAGACE: I don't know, but I know one thing. Anybody who says separatism is dead in this country and this province is a fool.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): No matter how you feel about Quebec as either separate from or as an essentially part of greater Canada, any reasonable person loves this place.
(On camera): Correct me if I'm wrong, Wilensky's is famous for the sandwich? The special.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wilensky special. Right.
BOURDAIN: And it was tradition does this fall?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's basically Eastern Europe. It was a survival thing. It was because they were poor. And that's what they could make.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Wilensky's, an old-school corner institution around since 1932, serving up pressed beef baloney and salami sandwiches, or specials as they call them, along with egg creams and milkshakes.
(On camera): So the special and an appropriate beverage and egg cream? Very happy.
(Voice-over): Here's how it goes. There are rules. The special is always served with mustard. It is never cut in two. Don't ask why, just because. That's the way it's always been done. A little respect for tradition, please.
(On camera): I'm happy now. You know? Some things are beloved institutions for a reason. This is delicious. Thank you.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): The tradition of the cabane a sucre or sugar shack is as old as maple syrup here in Quebec, where 70 percent of the world's supply comes from. Deeply embedded in the maple syrup outdoor lumberjack lifestyle is the cabin in the woods, where maple sap is collected and boiled down to syrup. Over time, many of these cabins became informal eating houses, dining halls for workers and a few guests, where a lucky few could sit at communal tables and enjoy the bounty of the trees and forests around them.
Martin Picard has taken this tradition to what is somehow both its logical conclusion and insane extreme, creating his own cabane a sucre open only during maple season and serving food stemming directly from those humble yet hearty roots. It makes perfect sense in one way, I mean, 130 acres produce about 32,000 gallons of maple sap, which run through these tubes to here where they're cooked down to about 800 gallons of syrup, which is more or less what they use per season here.
Nothing leaves the proper. And it makes sense, while you're here to raise hogs, and cattle on the property. And maybe keep a cabin or two around for any friends who get too loaded to sleep it off. But this? This? Is there really any reason for this?
(On camera): What are you doing here? Why do you have to make life so hard? If money were your primary motivation --
BOURDAIN: This doesn't seem like the fasters road to untold wealth.
PICARD: My grandfather, you know, had a sugar shack. Everybody had a -- you can go back, you know, three generations, they had a sugar shack. And I'm very proud of Quebec. I'm very proud of Canada, you know?
BOURDAIN: You celebrate Canadian history, you celebrate Canadian traditions, you celebrate Canadian ingredients in a way that no one else has. Are you some kind of patriot? Is that what's going on here? Is it national Quebecois fervor?
MCMILLAN: That's very much it. He's very much a patriot. I say it all the time, it's one of the most important restaurants to me, in North America if not the world. It's an art installation if you actually -- if you look at it.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): The meal begins -- begins with a tower of maple desserts.
(On camera): Good lord.
(Voice-over): Sponge maple toffee, maple doughnuts, beaver tails, maple cotton candy, but wait, there's more. Almond croissants, whip-it biscuits, some nougat.
(On camera): There we go. I think that's a first for me. I've never seen that done.
BOURDAIN: Not with a hammer.
(Voice-over): Let the madness begin. Next, a whole lobe of foie gras with baked beans on a pancake cooked in duck fat, of course, cottage cheese and eggs cooked in maple syrup.
(On camera): Wow, that's awesome.
(Voice-over): There's a healthy salad, sauteed duck hearts, gizzards, and pig's ear, topped with a heaping pile of fried pork rines.
(On camera): Good lord.
(Voice-over): And a calf brain and maple bacon omelet. And these.
(On camera): How is this made?
PICARD: With love.
BOURDAIN: With love.
(Voice-over): Panko (ph) encrusted duck drumsticks with shrimp and salmon mouse and maple barbecue sauce.
(On camera): Good lord. Wow.
PICARD: So this is a classic Quebecer dish, it's called la tourtiere, you know, a meat pie.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Tourtiere de Shack, a whole lot of cheese, foie gras, calf brain, sweetbreads, bacon and arugula, but with Martin, that's not sufficient.
PICARD: Usually there's no truffle, but I just.
BOURDAIN: Yes, black truffles.
(On camera): More truffle.
PICARD: There's going to be too much truffle.
MORIN: My blood is getting thicker as I look that.
BOURDAIN: And now the main course, a homegrown smoked right out front local ham with pineapple and green beans almondine. And chicken, but with Martin the chicken is never just chicken.
PICARD: That's (INAUDIBLE), with foie gras and lobster. We pump lobster bisque in the chicken.
BOURDAIN (on camera): In the chicken.
PICARD: Yes. BOURDAIN: Good god.
(Voice-over): There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
(On camera): Someone should be singing the national anthem now, I mean really.
(Voice-over): And practically prehistoric old school Canadian classic. Maple syrup is heated, then poured on snow, becoming a kind of taffy, but the preferred delivery mechanism does present some issues.
PICARD: No, no, no, no. Take a big one, and you have to suck it. Don't swallow it, you know. Look, you have to go like that, slowly, slowly, no? Slowly, slowly. That's how it's good. That's it.
BOURDAIN (on camera): Got to do that in a manly way? You just don't look down. You sort of look away, a distracted way. It's like I'm not really (INAUDIBLE).
MCMILLAN: The best way is to look up.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Finally there's maple meringue cake and maple ice cream with chocolate shards.
(On camera): Any suggestion on how to attack this?
MORIN: We did it once. I won the check (INAUDIBLE) for the ice cream cone. Chefs suggest that eat the ice cream like that.
PICARD: That's the thing. I think there's too much focusing on the food. You know? Like, wow, this is very intellectual and I wow, and then blah, blah, and have done too much all those shit, you know? I don't want to do that. I don't want to play game anymore.
MORIN: Because food is feces in waiting.
BOURDAIN (on camera): This is CNN.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): If there's one thing you always need on a cold snowy night, it's yet another hearty meal. I meet back up with Fred and Dave in Liverpool House, the sister restaurant to Joe Beef.
MCMILLAN: I think we always compensate a little bit with overabundance of food because of our insecurity of not being like good cooks.
MORIN: You know, you know what, it's a combination of low self- esteem and generosity that explains the amount of food perhaps. BOURDAIN: First course. Look at that. Unbelievable. Look at the aspic work.
MORIN: This is smoked veal and potatoes inside. Salmon pastrami.
BOURDAIN: But wait a minute, this is super classic.
(Voice-over): And this. Egg and aspic, soft boiled or poached egg in clear gelatin set broth classically garnished with white ham, tarragon leaves and black truffles.
(On camera): Oh, my gosh. I was pretty sure that I would live the rest of my life without ever seeing this again. Delicious.
(Voice-over): But tonight after a full week of Franco-Canadian full on assaults on our livers and our lights, Fred and Dave's sauce would be both delicious and merciful to take advantage of the somewhat lighter and insanely delicious fare by their brilliant chef Omar, who's from Pakistan. Amazing authentic Pakistani food.
(On camera): So what do we have here?
MORIN: Butter chicken crab, octopus (INAUDIBLE), little eggplant grazed with (INAUDIBLE), pomegranate, a little mushrooms, rabbit (INAUDIBLE), fingerlings with (INAUDIBLE) fennel. This is donkey in a hurry.
BOURDAIN (voice-over): Yes. He did say donkey meat. Is there something wrong with that? The dishes continue, a Pakistani gumbo with okra and coriander, and sesame seed and green pepper curry, hanger state (INAUDIBLE). All beef scotched egg, a pouri (ph) with horse meat tartar and an authentic goat (INAUDIBLE).
(On camera): Wow.
MORIN: Are you full?
MCMILLAN: Yes. Food for 12.
BOURDAIN: We did good work here.
(Voice-over): In the end, but perhaps as a nod to the Anglo tradition however there will be stilt.
(On camera): This is a genius meal.
(Voice-over): These princes of gastronomy never a suboptimal moment, nothing short of excellent accepted. Beyond excellent. Too much excellent, yes, possibly. Over the top? Yes, definitely.
It all comes around in the end, the circle of life. We begin at the beginning. The heart and soul of every right-thinking Quebecois apparently.
Ice, a stick and a puck. Fred and Dave and Martin Picard are joined by the original god of Montreal gastronomy, the great chef, Normand Laprise, to watch their beloved Montreal Canadians lay waste to the Carolina Hurricanes. All the while eating, of course, and drinking as it turns out the finest wines known to humanity.
(On camera): Yes. Here we go. Whoa.