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Spring cleaning

Good bye winter food

This weekend, I’m in spring cleaning mode. After my maple menu which was heavy on roots, duck, ham, beans and maple of course, I’m ready to move to lighter fare, even if spring isn’t fully here yet (it’s snowing outside). Nonetheless, there is reason for optimism. The river ice broke last weekend to a loud thundering boom, causing customers to run out and witness icebergs crashing down, alongside the resto amidst the river swell. It looks like the worst is over and we might avoid major flooding after all. François has already picked a few flowers and sprouts (just to show off) despite the huge snow banks on the property. He’s convinced that spring will happen quickly, and that it will be a good one because the ground never froze completely with all the insulating snow, and the slow seep meant the earth stayed gorged with water. He is especially excited about what that promises mushroom wise. To prove his point, he showed me a handful of plants that stayed green all winter, as well as day lily bulbs that are already 6 inches long and white as endive beneath the snow.

The snow is slowly but steadily melting, but in the meantime, I will have one last go at the winter stuff. I’ve cleaned out my freezers and walk-in, removing the last of our stored roots, as well as any winter left-overs. I have 6 grey bins of sous-vide bags and various containers of soup, sauce and ice cream to unload. It’s all good stuff, but I need to move on. Solution: time to throw a party. On an off night when there is no hockey game, of course. It will be a ‘Spring Cleaning Buffet’ for staff and close friends of les Jardins Sauvages. Free food, BYOB, a campfire – a winning recipe for a good time, and a therapeutic, formal good bye to winter food for me. Friends will be happy and my fridge will be ready for the arrival of spring things. I will joyfully cook and eat cassoulet, tourtiere and the like for the last time this year, providing a symbolic shift to spring and summer cooking for me.. Ça va faire du bien.


One last winter feast, my spring cleaning menu

Mixed charcuterie: Duck rillettes, Foie gras torchon, smoked duck, veal tongue

Mixed pickles, preserves and mustards

Sausage, olives and spiced nuts

Cured fish platter: cured brochet, char gravelax, smoked cod

Smoked salmon mousse on toast

Tomato crinkleroot bruschetta

Mixed greens with house vinaigrette

Asian style vermicelli salad with asparagus and egg

Gnudi with sea spinach, parmesan and rosé sauce

Game tourtiere

Cassoulet with my homemade sausage and ham

Venison ragout

Crepinettes of duck confit, gizzard and liver stuffing

Roasted root vegetables with gremolata sauvage

Root vegetable and wild greens gratin

Chocolate elderberry mousse cake

Pecan maple tarts


Various wild flavoured ice creams and sorbets

I had to throw a few tomatoes and greens in just to balance this meat-heavy stick- to- your- ribs menu ; I hardly want anyone to get killed in this rite of passage from winter to spring. Loosen the belt buckle, crack open the wine, and let’s go. One last winter binge and I’ll be officially ready for spring.


While in spring cleaning mode, I'll unload the last of my winter pictures too..

a wild deer spots me

Moments before the ice broke

François making tire for the kids









creamy pea and nettle soup

pea and nettle soup with smoked ham and maple sap foam

char, cured and smoked with root veg remoulade and pickled buds







Quail, wild ginger maple sauce, sesame soba noodles and quail egg (poached in maple sap)

Balsamic-Maple glazed duck, mini cassoulet

just about the last of the root veg








A pretty winter soup: beet, cabbage and foie gras ravioli

cooking ham

rabbit two ways, root veg


















venison, wheatberry mushroom risotto


melting the snow


Looking ahead to spring:

My menu this week (April 19th) shows a lighter touch, a whiff of spring in the air.  I am planning a full fledged spring festival menu for the two first weeks of May.  You can also view that here; I will be announcing it this week.


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