I pity the vegan that lives in Montreal.
This is not a city for those that scorn meat, meat byproducts and the glories of dairy. Heck, this is a town that can't leave a plate french fries well enough alone. They ladle beef gravy atop and then generously sprinkle with fresh squeaky cheese curds. Christened Poutine, this "drunken man's best friend" is eaten in many different permutations across Quebec -- but I venture to guess that not one version is vegan-friendly.
And, rightly so.
If anything, these culinarian Quebecois take it up a notch and fry up their match-stick lovelies in duck fat. Or, if you're lucky enough to be dining at Au Pied de Cochon, your Poutine might be adorned by a slab of seared foie gras.
The ultimate meat-rific must-do in Montreal though, is indisputably a Smoked Beef Sandwich on Rye at Schwartz's Deli in the Mile End district. A hulking thing of majestic Judaic beauty, only a half-sour pickle and vinegary cole slaw are necessary accompaniments. It's all about the meat -- meat so glorious and good that even seeing a pile of it, wobbly, bright red, fresh from the smoker, being being dragged up front in a huge plastic garbage bin, didn't put me off. It only made me want it more.
I know. I'm sick.
But at least I'm not a vegan!
I was even more thankful for that, when I descended upon Little Burgundy for dinner at Liverpool House. My dining companion has a shellfish allergy, so we eschewed the restaurant's famous Lobster Spaghetti and ordered up a classic Choucroute Garni...
You see the picture above, yes? So, do I really need to tell you that this pork-centric platter was freakin' amazing? Housemade sausages, ready to dip into brown, biting mustard, served alongside soft, wilting sauerkraut, thick slices of juicy pork loin, chunks of fork-tender potatoes and a hunk of smoked pork belly.
The only way to get meatier was to actually grab a seat at Au Pied de Cochon's bar for a meal that started with a glass of homemade Maple Soda, enriched with a slug of Bourbon, joined by that decadent Poutine with Foie Gras dish I mentioned earlier. Then we moved onto Oxtail Tartare...
And, then rounded out the meat-apalooza with a dish aptly named "Duck in Can."
You. Want. This.
It is an ugly dish, so the photos just didn't look appetizing enough to place here. Yet, appetizing this dish is. Oh, so appetizing. We're talking about a lovingly seared duck breast placed in a can alongside a fat lobe of foie gras, sprigs of fresh thyme, roasted garlic and a balsamic demi-glace to hold it all together. Once safely sealed, the “Canard en Conserve” is boiled in water for 25 minutes, cracked open table side and dumped onto a plate graced with a dab of pureed celeriac and bits of toasted baguette.
We wiped the plate clean.
Then, and only then, did the one vegan course of the evening arrive.
Hmmm...Maybe it wouldn't be too bad being a vegan in Montreal after all.