Archive for November, 2011

The Art of Living according to Joe Beef

The Art of Living according to Joe Beef by Frederic Morin, David McMillan & Meredith Erickson a cookbook of sorts - is a feast for the senses… it’s beautiful to look at, fascinating to read, and it’s full of delicious food. I don’t usually recommend cookbooks, but at this time of year if you’re looking for a Christmas gift for someone who loves food (they don’t even need to love to cook, - just eat), and who loves Montreal, you won’t score higher points with any gift. Trust me! The recipes are almost secondary here, it’s the joie de vivre feeling that comes across for Montreal that is uppermost in the writing, photography (yes! gorgeous photos) and even in the recipes. I’m not sure whether this book belongs on the coffeetable or in the kitchen, it’s that type of book. It’s part travel log, history lesson and biography as well as cookbook. And how could I not recommend a book, a cookbook no less, that has a chapter called Trains! Even the chapter on how the name Joe Beef came to be is an interesting read. The menu and wine list are written on blackboards, the dishes are mismatched, the clientel a hodgepodge of  Montreal cultures, and the food deliciously prepared by chefs who, up to the writing of this cookbook, never had written recipes. And the menu changes daily so you can imagine how many recipes they have. The restaurant is located in Little Burgundy, in the southwest part of the city. It’s an area that has seen better times, but those in the know realized the potential of this neighbourhood and are now flocking to this area not only to eat, but to live there as well. Yes, everything old is new again. Reservations are definitely required , and I think you should reserve a copy of this fantastic “cookbook of sorts”, for your favourite foodie this Christmas. It’s delicious!

On Monday Dec. 5th Shelagh Rogers interviewed David & Fred on her show The Next Chapter on CBC radio. You can listen to the interview if you checkout her show online. It’s a great interview – a bit quirky, just like the guys and the book.

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The Villa Triste

Thanks to Leslie at my favourite local bookstore for recommending this book. She was bang-on – I really liked it. The Villa Triste by Lucretia Grindle (published by McArthur & Company) is divided into two parts, one takes place in the past ( during the war in Italy in 1943) and the other in present day Italy. It’s like reading two books in one. Usually I don’t like books that flip back and forth in time, but this one is so clever – the past is written in a different typeface than the present so you automatically know where you are in time when you see the print. Smart, and helpful. Which is what you need when you’re reading a book that is 562 pages long. During the war sisters Isabella and Caterina Cammaccio become part of the Partisan movement in Italy helping people escape the Nazis. They become very skilled at their efforts, Caterina is a nurse and is able to move about a little more freely than most people and Isabella uses her love of hiking and knowledge of the outdoors to the movement’s advantage. Fast forward to the present day and 3 members of the Partisan movement are killed, one by one, and Alessandro Pallioti, a senior police officer in Florence  soon realizes that their deaths must have something to do with their involvement in the Partisan organization during the war. It’s the only thing the 3 have in common. He sets out to find as much as he can about the past and how it could be connected to the present. At one point in the book, about 2/3 along I though it began to drag a bit (remember it’s 562 pages), but by then I was so intrigued and hooked on knowing what was going to happen, I kept going. And I’m glad I did because the story picked up, and definitely didn’t disappoint in the end. My only criticism was that many people had aliases during the war, and I got a bit confused with who was really who, especially with all the Italian names, but that didn’t matter. This is really a wonderful book. I’d never heard of Lucretia Grindle before, but I’m desparate to read her other book called The Faces of Angels – it was chosen by BBC’s Front Row as one of the six best thrillers of the year.

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