December's Can't-Miss Dish

Tourtière Paired with Le Monde Perdu Cocktail - Café du Pays

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it. 

On the plate: Tourtière 

Where to find it: On almost every night of the week, look for a flag unfurled above the entrance of Café du Pays near Kendall Square. It reads ouvert—“open” in French. Once inside, push past the heavy velveteen curtain and relax into this cozy haven. Old-timey lamps bathe the dining room in soft light, bouquets of herbs hang from the rafters, and a cut-crystal bowl full of oranges and lemons rests on the rosewood bar. The restaurateurs here—also behind Mamaleh’s and State Park—kept their fingers crossed that guests would dig French-Canadian fare. Judging by the crowd, they’re succeeding with flying colors. 

Notes on the nosh: Tourtière, a savory meat pie, has long been a Christmas Eve tradition for Heather Mojer, one of Café du Pays’ co-owners. “It’s getting harder and harder to find a home-cooked version, so we really like to have it on the menu,” she says. Mojer explains that her great-grandparents on her mother’s side—whom she refers to as Mémé and Pépé—emigrated from Quebec to Massachusetts at the turn of the 20th century. They serve as inspiration for the delectable dish. Head chef Dan Amighi starts with cuts of farm-raised venison and Ossabaw pork, which he grinds, browns in fat, then braises in stock. To the meat, he folds in roasted vegetables and warm spices, then encloses the filling in a buttery pastry crust for one. Glossy cubes of pickled beets and a chutney-like ketchup round out the festive presentation. 

Sip alongside: A cocktail called Le Monde Perdu is delicious with the pie. Jamaican rum, Calvados, lemon, and Demerara sugar (crafted into a syrup using cinnamon tea) are shaken with ice, strained, and served in a rocks glass. Mojer loves how the funky quality of the rum combines with the snappy apple brandy to lift up the rich dish. Something tells us that Mémé and Pépé would approve. 

Insider tip: A family-sized version of Tourtière, plus condiments, can be special ordered for $40. Contact the restaurant at bonjour@cafedupays.com by December 18 for pick-up on December 21, 22, or 23.

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