The early spring tradition of the sugar shack (or “cabane à sucre”) is a given in Quebec, which, for city folk like us, used to mean piling into a car for a chilly ride up to some rustic cabin. Last year saw an ingenious innovation to the tradition: The urban-chic sugar shack of La Cabane, in the Old Port…
Last year was the blockbuster premiere of La Cabane and it did not disapoint. It gave Montrealers the best of both worlds: a stylish urban destination with all the delicious tastiness of the terroir in every bite, cooked by Marc-André Jetté of the award-winning Les 400 Coups.
This year the tasting menu is being handled by Chef Martin Juneau, who recently opened the much buzzed-about Pastaga in Little Italy.
Under kicky temporary chandeliers made of macramé lampshades (the kind your Quebecoise aunt used to decorate the guest room with), the sugaring-on takes place in a soaring loft room with a moody mural of a winter birch forest against one wall. If the air gets too cozy inside, you can take your cocktail- the Kir Quebecoise comes highly recommended – outside to huddle next to the fire.
Starting with smoked-salmon rillettes and a “smoked-meat style” bison canapé, the menu quickly moves to the big time – an elegant and tangy duck broth-noodle soup with stuffed cippolini onions and duck-fat soda crackers, followed by a crispy pork breast and blood-sausage pie, accompanied by large skillets of white molasses-baked beans, served family-style. Of course, a pitcher of maple syrup is at your elbow throughout the meal for extra flavour!
The meal is topped off with a trio of maple-sugar treats, most notably a homemade Whippet. These delicious marshmallowy treats are apparently all the rage this year, as, just last week, we tasted some at Martin Picard’s Sugar Shack. We absolutely approve.