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After receiving my copy of “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef,” one of the first things I did was write down a list of not-too-intimidating recipes to tackle.  The first undertaking was Lentils Like Baked Beans, a scrumptious and simple side-dish that I was happy to eat with dinner, and as leftovers for two weekend breakfasts.  Satisfied with my first Joe Beef experiment, I decided that Spaghetti Homard Lobster would be next.  After watching several video interviews, and in particular, this demonstration, it was clear that I had to try what seems to be the quintessential Joe Beef dish.

St. Lawrence Market

St. Lawrence Market

On Saturday my husband and I made a shopping list and headed out to St. Lawrence market to pick up the required ingredients.  We cheated and purchased pre-cooked lobsters, which is very un-Joe Beef of us, but I hope we can be forgiven.  I could make a ton of excuses (lack of a pot large enough for cooking lobsters, desire not to transport live sea creatures on the streetcar) but instead I’ll just promise to do it right next time.  Although, doing it wrong turned out deliciously, so there really isn’t much incentive to change our approach.

Homard Lobsters

Homard Lobsters

After making one last purchase of way too many cheap Brussels sprouts we lugged our bounty home and immediately disassembled the lobsters and began work on the cream sauce.  While it was reducing, we watched a couple of episodes of Montrealer Chuck Hughes’ program Chuck’s Day Off on foodnetwork.ca.  Then, somehow, without really even trying, we ended up with a beautiful and absolutely spectacular-tasting meal that we ate while watching the Canadiens take on the Leafs.  Unfortunately the game didn’t turn out in Montreal’s favour, which would have been a fitting end to the day even if it would have made for one very unhappy Toronto fan.  Perhaps things turned out as they should have, then, depending on how you look at it (or who you ask.)

Sauce Ingredients

Sauce Ingredients

Over the course of the rest of the weekend, we made a cheese curd sandwich and Oeufs en Pot à la Joe Beef.  Now we’re recovering from cheese-cream-bacon overload and will be taking a short break from JB’s tasty temptations.  While I’m dying to try the Hot Delicieux Sandwich, I’ll just have to be satisfied with quinoa and carrot sticks for a little while…

Spaghetti Homard Lobster

Voila! Spaghetti Homard Lobster

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Inspiration: it is something I am constantly stumbling upon rather than seeking.  It comes from people, art, events, and nature, but more than any of these I have found that places have a profound ability to stir excitement.  Perhaps it’s because places contain the characters, the experiences and the connections of life, or because they offer a unique perspective on even mundane activities that they have such a huge impact.  Going to the market or eating a meal in a new environment can be elevated to the level of the sublime when the experience connects you to the people, the history, and the soul of a place.  For me, nowhere is this more likely to occur than in Montreal.  My regular visits to the city are usually a week or more in duration, but even a couple of short days are enough to both satisfy and further pique my curiosity.

Eating and shopping in Montreal... magnifique!

McAuslan Brunch at Au Pied de Cochon and Jean Talon Market

Recently, I purchased a copy of the “cookbook of sorts”, “The Art of Living According to Joe Beef.”  In the pages of this book (which I have read from or cooked from every day since receiving it) I find kindred spirits in the proprietors Frederic Morin and David McMillan.  Their love of food, drink, trains, nostalgia, history, simplicity and humour, not to mention the city of Montreal, exceeds my own; this is not an easy feat, either in itself or for me to admit.

Yours truly, atop Mount Royal

Yours truly, atop Mount Royal

The Joe Beef philosophy is my philosophy, but before reading this book I didn’t even know it was a philosophy.  To say that this book has inspired me is an understatement.  It is the reason I am writing this, and the reason I want to continue writing about what inspires me.  What I jot down may not resonate with anyone, or it might, but either way, I look forward to reflecting on the experiences and influences that leave their mark on me.

Travelled by train from Halifax to Montreal this summer.

On board the Ocean, the oldest continuously-operated named passenger train in North America.

So what can you expect to see here?  Expect to see ramblings about food.  Expect a lot of gushing about Montreal.  Expect the odd rant about politics or the environment, and expect to be surprised.  I’m all about connecting dots in the hopes of there being a somewhat discernible picture in the end.  Right now, things look a bit scattered, but I’m confident that the more dots I find or create, the clearer everything will become.  Maybe one day my own philosophy will materialize, but for now, Joe Beef will be my patron saint and source of inspiration.

Joe Beef receipts, photos, and mementoes

Memories of past Joe Beef experiences