Julian Armstrong was born and raised in Toronto but was lured to what was then the bigger and more cosmopolitan city Montréal where she embarked on a career in journalism that would see her become the Gazette’s food editor. Her new cookbook Made In Quebec is a collection of 135 recipes, organized by season, culled from five decades of covering the food scene in La Belle Provence for the newspaper.
I met Armstrong recently at a Chef’s House Dinner; part of a series of author appearances organized by cookbook maven Alison Fryer (Thai expert Jeffrey Alford is slated for April 16). Armstrong is an ardent booster of the culinary merits of her adopted province and told GFR with confidence “There’s a really good restaurant in every part of Quebec.” And her book seems written to prove it. All the recipes are ones she’s gathered from chefs across the province, which she has adapted for and tested in a home kitchen. At our table, Armstrong’s friend and colleague, Globe and Mail food writer Lucy Waverman, agreed and explained she always consulted Armstrong for where to eat on trips there.
Yes, Armstrong conceded, there’s maple in Made In Quebec, but also less-known Quebec staples like smoked fish. The recipes are a mix of traditional and modern, she explained, as we ate lamb shanks à la chef David Ferguson, who serves them at his Montreal restaurant Gus, with poblano peppers.