What happens when you mix America’s badass chef with Montreal’s culinary enfants terribles? For food nerds and francophiles who have a thing for irreverent personalities, it’s a delicious combination.
It’s no secret that Anthony Bourdain loves Quebec. His 2011 Montreal episode of "The Layover" was a passionate ode to “where the cool kids hang” and when he touches down in the city on Sunday, May 5 for his Guts and Glory tour, he’ll be joined by his Canadian pals and Joe Beef partners David McMillan and Frédéric Morin for some laughs and questions about French cooking lore. And lucky for fans stuck at home, Bourdain’s new CNN show, "Parts Unknown," will feature Quebec as the destination on the same night.
Unlike the Montreal segment of "The Layover," which was shot in the summer, Bourdain recorded the "Parts Unknown" Quebec episode in snowy and freezing February. He and his crew were hosted by McMillan, Morin and Au Pied de Cochon’s Martin Picard among other Quebecois chefs for several days of food, booze and ice sports that included seeing the Montreal Canadiens and playing a game of shinny hockey behind Joe Beef's sister restaurant Liverpool House. In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada, McMillan says it was visual Canadiana at its best.
“We had dinner in an ice-fishing cabin, which was off the chain,” he says.
“We prepared a very elaborate French dinner in a sugar shack that sits like three people on the middle of the lake in the middle of f*cking nowhere and it was a very beautiful meal that could have been in a two-Michelin star restaurant in Paris.”
Other highlights of the trip included talking politics at the iconic Jewish deli Welinsky’s in Montreal and eating at Picard’s Cabane à Sucre, located in the woods in St-Benoît de Mirabel, about an hour’s drive from Montreal. After a scenic train ride to Quebec City and the annual winter Carnival, Bourdain and the clique of Quebecois chefs discovered the lost art of table-side service at Le Continental and had an “oddball house party” style meal at L’Affaire Est Ketchup (which translates to ‘it’s all good’).
For McMillan and Morin, one of the best parts of the filming was changing Bourdain’s mind about chartreuse, the herbal French liqueur made by Carthusian monks.
“There’s this f*cking crazy-ass one which is made when the monks were in Spain, like when they were banished from France for a small period. It’s called the Tarragona chartreuse, that’s very expensive,” says McMillan. “It’s not expensive like douchebag expensive, it’s just very...how can I say, Star-Trek-nerd-like collectible chartreuse. If you’re into Star-Trek it would be liking getting a bottle of Romulan ale.”
So, what other goodies did they have? According to McMillan, there was a baseball-sized truffle that the crew spent more or less four days trying to consume, and "la tourtière a Martin" stuffed silly with cheese and foie gras.
Hungry yet? You’ll just have to watch the episode to get your fill.