Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grillin' on the Balcony - Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops

I've always been a city girl. The closest I ever came to living in the country was during my childhood, when we would stay with my grandmother during part of the summer. But my grandmother lives in Belgium. Belgium, as I am sure some of you know, is a very, very small country. So really, no matter where you are in Belgium, you're never very far from a large city. We would drive to Brussels at least once a week.

Most of the time, I'm quite content being in the city. Especially in Montreal, where there are certainly places you can go to get your dose of grass, trees, and other green things. The only thing I sometimes deplore is that I usually have very little space to grow fresh herbs in. Because, as a cook, I depend on fresh herbs very much - and the storebought variety doesn't come cheap, most of the time.

The apartment we're living in now has a relatively nice balcony, but unfortunately it doesn't get a lot of direct sunlight, making it less than ideal to grow things on. Fortunately, Laurent's parents live close by, and are lucky enough to have a house with a garden. Not only that, but his mother has a degree in botany, so she knows how to get plants growing. So, every summer, she gives us healthy potted herbs that last throughout the season.

This year, the strongest plant is without a doubt the rosemary. Look at it, it's huge!

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of rosemary is lamb chops. Beef burgers too, but mostly lamb chops. Ideally, I would grill them on an open-flame barbecue, but unfortunately, our building's regulations specifically prohibit us from keeping a barbecue on the balcony. Why? Probably for the same reason we're not allowed to hang laundry out to dry there, either: it makes the building look bad.

Now, I'm not sure whether anyone actually routinely checks our balcony for illicit barbecues. Probably not. But I'm reluctant to take the chance. Why? Because we're already sort of breaking a building rule, because of Q-Tip.

Who it Q-Tip, you ask? She's my pet rabbit. And no, she isn't white.

She's almost nine years old. She doesn't have a lot of energy these days, but to be honest, she hasn't really displayed much of that since she was three. I think she's been nine years old in her head for a long time now: grouchy and apathetic, except when you bug her too much, in which case she becomes absolutely fierce. Or if you threaten her food. She really likes her food, and will defend it with her life:

Nevertheless, there's something irresistibly endearing about a cantankerous, bad-tempered bunny. She's a prey that thinks she's a predator, and you just have to love that. In fact, all the staff at the veterinarian's are completely in love with her, even though she regularly tries to bite or scratch them. As for me, I think she's the best bunny in the world, and wouldn't trade her for anything.

Anyways, in theory, our building doesn't accept pets. Except I know for a fact that some tenants openly have cats, so I guess it's primarily noisy pets that aren't tolerated, like dogs and birds. So Q-Tip shouldn't be too much of a problem. Still, why take a risk? And that's why we keep her undercover and scrupulously respect all the other rules. (By the way, Internet: you'll keep this to yourself, right?)

So, no charcoal barbecue on the balcony. But we recently got one of those small electric grills that you can store indoors and briefly take outside when you want to use it. Sure, it's not quite the same, but it's better than nothing. And so, the other day, we officially inaugurated it with garlic and rosemary lamb chops.

There isn't much to explain about this dish: the lamb chops were coated in minced garlic, olive oil, and chopped fresh rosemary, then left on the heated grill for about 6 minutes per side (for medium rare); we also threw a couple of large rosemary sprigs directly onto the grill, for extra aroma.

I made a side of green kidney beans, briefly sauteed with olive oil and shallots. Green kidney beans, or flageolets in French, are a staple in Western Europe, and most frequently accompany lamb and red meat, but I had trouble finding them here. I'm glad I did, though: they are small and have a very delicate flavour that is difficult to replace.

I predict there will be more grilled meals to come!

P.S. Laurent has just brought to my attention that the way I've organized the photographs in this post makes it look like the last two are "before" and "after" pictures of Q-Tip... as in "before" and "after" being grilled over the barbecue. I can assure you that I have never had any serious intentions of making Q-Tip my dinner. I threaten her with it every now and then, but that's as far as it goes. :-)


  1. MMMMMM;.....lamb chops with fresh rosemary always works well, I think! Yum, indeed! Your rabbit looks so cute!

  2. Ooo, this is such a funny post... Q-tip looks adorable and 9 years for a bunny is extremely old!! A friend of mine has a bunny, who I have nicknamed "The Bunny from hell" He is white with one black eye, which makes him look evil by default. And he is huge too... double scary..:)
    Living next to Belgium; I know that it's a tiny country although not much bigger then our own little country. I never really think of it as little but I guess compaired to Canada it must be miniscule!

  3. No way Laurent, I could not read this that way.
    I really hate spending money for 'fresh' herbs that hardly last a day. I feel positively 'rich b***h' every time I pick herbs out of our back yard ;) (hope that's ok).
    A dish that doesn't need explaining and looks delicious as those lamb chops ... that's grand.

  4. natural vitamin sources is to eat garlic to taste great, even better than the antibiotics he is my miracle swine flu.