Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Foodie Edition

You’ll remember that I’ve written about my summer working at the Confederation Centre Courtyard Café? (It was where I used to indulge my love of butter tarts, made not by brittle pastry chefs, but by a round, grandmotherly baker.)

I had a terrific summer there, eating not only butter tarts, but, when I tended bar for the dinner theatre in the evening, discovering, in the huge walk-in fridge, vast bowls of butter frosting.
Don’t worry; I never double-dipped my spoon (I didn’t win my boarding school’s dining room etiquette award for nothing!).

But I digress already.

Part of what made that summer magical was meeting a great group of students with whom I waited tables during the busy lunch hours. One was a triple threat who had also won a Miss Teen PEI pageant; another, a budding law student who left us to take on social work a couple of weeks into the summer; another, an Anne of Green Gables look-alike with wild-turkey eyes, and my new buddy J, who was one part pirate and two parts teddy bear.

J was a great pal because he loved music, food, and was well connected in the social department—manna for someone returning from boarding school who felt out of the loop.

That summer J and a group of us had an enviable summer—late-late-night meals with producers of and actors from the Charlottetown festival; live intimate concerts by fantastic Charlottetown musicians; delightful witty conversations to our teenage minds (we rechristened the part of the café veering out into the hallway the “existension” to suit our Camus-esque leanings).

I never spent a full year on PEI anymore, but every time I’d come home I’d run into J—in the Confed Centre, in a café—and we’d take up right where we’d left off. Even Mr. C and I caught up with him at the late, great Pat’s Rose and Gray, home to exquisite carrot cake with thick cream cheese frosting (I *do* like frosting) and housed in a vintage apothecary.

Last summer was the first time I’d been home in some 15 years, and as my situation was different (three children! academic conference!), I didn’t hit my usual haunts and wondered whether that was why I didn’t run into J. And why didn’t I call him? Ummm, I had forgotten his last name. Major oops.

Yesterday, as Mr. C and I were nosing around the downtown, I picked up a local arts newspaper. We were driving back to the beach and I mused that I had forgotten J’s last name and was brainstorming a bit. But it wasn’t there.

As I turned the pages of my paper, though, I let out a shriek of delight. For smiling up from the pages was an image of J, who’d just returned to PEI to become the Executive Chef of a well-praised waterfront seafood joint (slow-cooking, 90-percent local ingredients).

In the years between meetings, he’d taken to the chef life, even hosting his own cooking show on TV for two years!

I won’t out him here, because Mr. C and I haven’t yet descended upon him for a meal, but I’m excited to reconnect. And maybe invite him over to ignite our barbeque, you know.

Happy Canada Day, literal and symbolic Canadians!


La Belette Rouge said...

Happy Canada day and happy eating!

K.Line said...

That's fantastic. You have to out him after you meet him again. Must know who it is!!

enc said...

What a great story. I wasn't even there and it took me back to a happy place.

Toby Wollin said...

Great story. The best (and that even includes the measure of my three now grown kids)family vaca we ever took was a ten day trip to Cape Breton Island so that I could fiddle my brains out at a workshop and the kids could go to all the CBI things. One of the teachers was an amazing person named Richard Greene who, like seemingly everyone else out there, was not only an amazing fiddler but also a champion step dancer.

Belle de Ville said...

Now Prince Edward Island is on my list of places I must visit. J.'s restaurant sounds wonderful.