This is the first recipe I have made from The Chez Piggy Cookbook, despite the fact it will always be my favourite restaurant and I have had the book for years.
Chez Piggy was opened in 1979 in a refurbished limestone stable by Zal Yanovsky and his partner Rose Richardson. Both Zal, who was the co-founder and lead guitarist for The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Rose are gone now but the Kingston institution lives on. I started going there in 1988 when, as a grateful starving student, I won a $25 gift certificate in a raffle. I used it to buy dinner for L where, my courage bolstered (and, I have always assumed, her resistance lowered) by a nice bottle of wine, I proposed.
A few years after graduation, we returned to Kingston to work. I ended up working just a few doors down from Chez Piggy with a great group of colleagues who invited me to join their long (very long) Friday lunches there. The courtyard terrace in summer is a wonderful place to eat. The filtered shade of the central locust tree, the grapevines that cover the fence and the high limestone walls lend an old-world air to the place. The food is very good, but that’s just part of what makes Chez Piggy a landmark.
Nowadays, we go back at least once a year to have lunch on the terrace. The locust tree and the grapevines are a little thicker around the middle (hey, who isn’t?), but everything else is much the same under the stewardship of Zal’s daughter Zoe.
It took me a while to open the cookbook I bought a few years ago on one of our visits because it’s hard to imagine eating Chez Piggy food out of context. But, Kingston is two hours away and I had a craving for the carrot salad that’s been on the menu since the beginning. It’s one of my favourites and, although this turned out just like I remember it, it is still best eaten with good friends in the filtered shade of a locust tree.
Adapted from The Chez Piggy Cookbook, compiled by Victoria Newbury
1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
3/4 cup chopped parsley
1 small red onion, finely diced
Scant 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the carrots, parsley and red onion. Whisk together lemon juice , olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and toss with the salad. Enjoy.