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I don’t drink coffee. Coffee and my stomach have never been on good terms. Perhaps because of this, or thanks to the numerous happy memories I have with tea (a mug while painting with my mom as a kid, putting in way too much sugar in a fancy tea cup at my great nana’s, and cuddling up on the couch with some girlfriends and a hot mug in my student digs) – I’m an avid tea drinker.
Coming on December 1st, 11am to 6pm, to the Ottawa Convention Centre is the second annual Ottawa Tea Festival! Click here for more information.
Mad Hatter: Do you care for tea?
Alice: Why, yes. I’m very fond of tea.
March Hare: If you don’t care for tea, you could at least make polite conversation!
The festival gives you a chance to learn about other cultures through tea! Musical performances, dancing, tea ceremonies, workshops and more – this is a whole day dedicated to my favorite drink! It’s also raising money for ‘Asha for Education’ a group that is helping children in India through Education.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here. I’ve already given away one pair on facebook but I have 4 more pairs to give out! All you need to do is comment on this post about your favourite tea. I’ll randomly select 4 winners on Thursday. Good luck!
Thank you so much to my friend Kylie for writing this post for me!! I’m eternally jealous that she got to attend such an amazing event and am currently on the hunt for a sugar daddy who would like to take me to such fine foodie evenings in exchange for being completely embarrassed at my behaviour as I flirt with the guy pouring my wine. But enough about me and my wine… to Kylie for her account of Gold Medal Plates 2012!
I Can’t Believe I Didn’t Eat The Yak!
This past Monday I was given the amazing opportunity to attend the Gold Medal Plates event held at the NAC. The event raises money for the Canadian Olympic Foundation while highlighting Ottawa’s best chefs. Many cities across the country host a similar event. The winning chef from each city meet later in 2013 to determine Canada’s best chef. Last year the winner was Ottawa’s own Marc Lepine from Atelier.
Eight local restaurants showed off their talents and it was impressive. Eight mini plates paired with Canadian wine and beer. The evening finished with dessert provided by the NAC.
There was no description provided for the dessert but I would call it lemony ball of goodness with chocolate gold pebbles and hazelnut crumbs. Divine!
Unfortunately, I drove so I only sampled a few wines. The wines (and beers!) were all Canadian. The ones I tried were amazing and paired well.
The food was unbelievable, I was proud of our Ottawa restaurants and believe they are as good or better as restaurants in Vancouver, Toronto or Montreal.
3rd place and my favourite –
Jonathan Korecki – Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar
Wild Turkey, kabocha and YOW curry
2nd place and so good my colleague went back for seconds
Jason Duffy – Arc Lounge.Dining
B.C. Ling cod, smokey “porchetta”, mushroom cake, green tomato chutney, pickled cherry-fennel pollen earth, basil
The winner? And the kicker? I didn’t try this dish. I was so full and I thought to myself there is no way yak is going to win. I was wrong. And to be honest I was a bit hesitant, I had never eaten yak. Biggest disappointment ever.
Jamie Stunt – OZ Kafe
Pan seared Tiraislin Farms yak, prawn pickle, crispy tomatillo, smoked boar vinaigrette, herbs, citrus, and spice
The evening ended with performances by some of Canada’s great musical talents – Sam Roberts, Ed Robertson, Barney Bentall and Alan Doyle.
What a memorable evening – if you ever get a chance to attend, do! You won’t regret it! And remember to try the yak!
Some of the best meals of my life have been with my fellow food bloggers. Besides insanely good company they allow me a luxury that no one else can offer… they encourage me to slack off and goof around. In the best way of course! By that I mean to say – if you are looking for a detailed, informative and professional post about the first Knives out Ottawa event (which was held at Murray Street Kitchen Wine and Charcuterie on October 22nd) - then might I suggest Foodie Print’s coverage??
Also their photos are killer. I, on the other hand, am still struggling my way through the dimly lit maze that is using an SLR. Bah well… this post isn’t really about that.
No. It’s about how much fun this dinner was. The whole night you could tell the Chefs were having a great time – and so were the diners.
Some people keep a picture of their loved ones in a locket like this… Kelly from The Gouda Life keeps a tooth from a pigs head she ate here at Murray Street KWC
Each of the 7 chefs (plus an additional 8th course created by Murray Street’s Paul Dubeau) created a course based on the theme of the night: “Pig and Music”. Who were those Chefs?? What were their dishes? I’m not completely inept – here you are:
Paul Dubeau – Murray Street Kitchen, Wine and Charcuterie
Liver & Scraps Amuse Pork liver hotdog, steamed bun with, Paul’s spicy mustard
“Mule Skinner Blues” – Lonnie Donnegan
Patrick Garland – Absinthe
The Head Head cheese, porchetta di testa and jowl pogo
“Pigs on the Wing” – Pink Floyd
Jamie Stunt & Simon Bell Bones – Oz Kafe
Pork consommé, smoked carrot ‘steak’, caramelized onions, marrow & horseradish butter
“Hearts & Bones” – Paul Simon
Chris Deraiche – Wellington Gastropub
Loin Grilled pea meal bacon, sunchoke, mustard hollandaise, pickled quail’s egg
“Guyute” – Phish
Steve Mitton – Murray Street Kitchen, Wine & Charcuterie
Blood & Offal Pig’s blood spaetzle, crispy confit pig’s tounge, smoked heart meatballs, trotter broth, pork rinds
“Filipino Box Spring Hog” – Tom Waits
Arup Jana – Allium
“Sacrilegious Goat Curry” Crispy pork shoulder curry, potato-peanut croquette, curried garlic puree, green chilies, mint yoghurt
“War Pigs” – Black Sabbath
Marc Lepine – Atelier
Sous vide pork leg, truffle, ramp, charred corn, chimichurri
“Pig” – Weezer
Marc Doiron – Town
Apple pork belly tart tatin, bourbon washed bacon ice cream, smoked crème fraiche
“Killer Parties” – Hold Steady
It was an amazing dinner, but I’ll say that I’m happy I had salad for lunch so that I could handle the pork-ness of the meal and have room for everything!
But it isn’t just amazing food, drink and service that make a wonderful meal. It’s your company as well. If you have never had the chance to dine with myself and the good folks at Foodieprints and The Gouda Life (and I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine) – this is what it sounds like:
“Can we eat the shit of this yet?” – My eternal lack of patience ever present (no wonder my photos never look as nice…)
“That sounds kind of dirty no? Asian style steamed bun??? Anyone?”
“Comes with happy ending!” – Oh Don…
“I love these little fuckers” – an eloquent quote about Paul Dubeau’s Hot Dogs
“Yeah, but I don’t want it near my crotch”
“Honey, be married a while longer and you’ll be grateful” – words to live by
“Oh man up and do it until you like it!!” – I have no idea what she was talking about… but really, it could apply to most anything
“What do I put in my mouth first?”
“Just put something in there and ask questions later.” - I needed a bit of instruction on where to start with Patrick Garland’s huge platter
“It takes more time than my boyfriend” – If you are reading this and think it might be about you… it probably is… Jared
“He IS a tit”
“I’m always surprised by his titiness” – This time not about you Jared
“Have you tried not giving a fuck?” – always great relationship advice from this crew
“Is it the tounge or the balls that has got you nervous?” – Discussing Chef Mitton’s crispy pigs tounge and smoked heart balls sounded so dirty
“He’s just sitting there with a big shit eating grin” – You know we love you Don…
These were actually a sample of the notes I wrote that night. Thank you guys for being real writers so the rest of us (meaning me) can dick around.
There are many things I’m enjoying about my new single life and a couple of things I hate. One of the biggest, and lamest, changes has been my new found dependence on public transportation.
I hate taking the bus. I’d rather walk. But when that’s not an option I’m often left standing at the side of the road freezing my tail off wondering why I’ve seen 6 buses come the opposite direction while I’m still standing here.
Luckily in the past week I’ve been given two secret weapons to aid in this endeavour – which I am more than thankful for with the snowy weather just a couple months away.
Not so secret weapon 1 – GPS bus tracking
Just text 560-560 with the bus stop number and bus route number (example 7567 7) and you will get a text back right away with the next three times the #7 bus is supposed to stop at stop number 7567. The times with an *, are real time from the GPS on the bus.
Sometimes it backfires and the bus is delayed a little longer than you were told last time you checked, so you can re-text to check on it.
Invaluable when it comes to knowing if there is another bus coming shortly after that packed one, or if the bus is running 2 minutes early so shake a leg! It will also allow you to maximize your time in a warm sheltered spot before heading to the bus stop.
Not so secret weapon 2 – Cream of Fall Vegetable Soup
Quick and simple. Throw it in a pressure cooker and you’ll be warmed from the inside out in no time.
1 yellow pepper, seeded and cut into large chunks
1 sweet potato cut into large pieces
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
1/2 a turnip, chopped
1/4 cup quinoa
1/4 cup barley
3 cups broth
1/2 red onion
1/2 TBSP dried dill
1/4 cup sour cream
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 TBSP dijon mustard
Combine first 9 ingredients into a pressure cooker, turn on high and lock lid. Once lid locks into place turn heat down to medium and allow to simmer away for 30 minutes until everything is nice and soft.
Add final ingredients and combine with an immersion blender or in a regular one. Check seasonings and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
Before I was blogging and working for one of the best culinary schools / tourism companies in the city *cough cough* shameless promotion *cough cough*, I worked for a variety of non-profit organizations including United Way / Centraide Ottawa.
One of my favourite events of the year – Schmoozefest! Put on by the ‘Next Generation Cabinet’, the fundraising event seeks to bring together young professionals with VIP’s from all different industries.
Over the past couple years they have been focusing more on the foodie side of things as well! At last year’s event Chef Michael Blackie from the NAC was one of the VIP guests. This year they have moved locations so that they could bring in 4 local restaurants to provide the eats!
Who will be there, donating their time and food for their community?
Grill 41 – Buy your tickets before the 19th of October and be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to this Lord Elgin Hotel restaurant.
TacoLot – Serving up their signature tacos!
Hang10 – Fresh California style edibles
Mellos - Just after celebrating their 70th anniversary, Mellos will be providing their signature meatloaf sandwiches
In addition to networking and great food – there is also a load of great prizes and auction items including over 100 gift certificates to Pizzaza!
If you are looking for a great night to make some connections, eat some great food and support your community – look no further and click here to purchase tickets!
** Updated **
Grill 41 Chef Brian Vallipuramhas just announced what they will be making for the event: Savory crepes filled with tandori bison, arugula and blackcurrent sauce and Crepes suzette with nutmeg ice cream, mandarine and Grand Marnier. Drool…
According to the Random Number Generator, the winner is… #1 – so the first person to leave a comment on my Monday post. Sometimes it pays to be first!
That makes Lucie Desjardins the winner!! Congratulations Lucie. I will send your email to Savvy Company so be on the look out for your tickets to be emailed to you!
Didn’t win?? Remember that you can snag $10 off regular price if you use this link to purchase and the discount code: SIMPLYFRESH.
Hope to see you all there! Come up and introduce yourself. I’ll be the overly enthusiastic girl with two glasses of wine in her hands at all times.
I’ve been a bit of a shitty blogger recently – BUT I’ve been away. I’m here to make it up to you with some very exciting news about an event that is coming to the National Arts Centre on October 19th that is sure to please your inner wine lover.
A blurry glass of wine at Red Sky – a 56th floor outdoor, rooftop bar in Bangkok. Posts to come!
Savvy Company has invited over 20 Niagara wineries to take a short break from harvest season to come down to Ottawa so that we may taste their wines! There is also the opportunity to purchase (which is always a wonderful opportunity since many of the vintages are not available for purchase from anyone but the winery itself). You’ll get to sample over 50 wines while they meet grape growers, winemakers and winery owners.
Normal ticket price is $60 – today is the last chance for the early bird price of $55. BUT you can also snag $10 off regular price if you use this link to purchase and the discount code: SIMPLYFRESH.
I’ve also got a pair of tickets to give away! Just comment on this post letting me know your favorite wine. It can be a type or a specific bottle. Don’t forget to leave your email address so that I can contact you if you are the winner! I’ll do a random draw for the tickets Friday October 12 at noon.
Participating wineries include:
13th Street Winery
Angels Gate Winery
Calamus Estate Winery
Cave Spring Cellars
Creekside Estate Winery
De Sousa Wine Cellars
Di Profio Wines
Fielding Estates Winery
Flat Rock Cellars
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery
Kacaba Vineyards & Winery|
Malivoire Wine Company|
megalomaniac – John Howard
Cellars of Distinction
Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
Rockway Glen Golf Course & Estate Winery
Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery
The Good Earth Food & Wine Co
What are you waiting for?? WINE!!
The final stop on our Savour Ottawa farm tour was to visit one of the farms that is housing bees for Halsall’s Honey. Owner Brent has about 200 bee hives that he has set up on various farms in the Ottawa area.
I seem to learn all about bees, just to forget everything I know about them and re-learn it years later. I visited the ‘Bee Exhibit’ at the Big Apple theme park as a child (and incase you are wondering… yes Mr. Applehead DID come to my 5th birthday party. Jealous?). Then I re-learned all of this information during a visit to the Agricultural Museum a few years ago. AGAIN in a documentary about bees a couple years after that. And now, from Brent. Let’s hope the 4th time is a charm and some of this bee knowledge will stick.
Sure bees are cool. They help crops grow, make amazing honey and have a pretty cool system of working. But what I was really interested in was their reproduction. Seriously folks… if you want me to pay attention to something it better involve food or sex. Or just say one of those words so you get my attention, then dive into what you wanted to talk about.
Did you say ‘sandwich’?? I’m listening.
I had no idea (or I totally knew but completely forgot) that bees can reproduce without having sex. For real. But they also reproduce by having sex.
A queen bee mates once in her life with several drone bees. She stores up all the DNA she will need for the rest of her life time and gets to making baby bees. Worker bees to be specific. Worker bees are all females (there is a joke here somewhere). If they were to become queens they would be fed royal jelly during their larva stage. If they aren’t… they become worker bees. These are the bees heading out and pollinating, then coming back to the hive to make honey.
Surprisingly no one was stung but Brent.
Worker bees do not mate… they can however still reproduce. The bees they make are called Drones. They are the male bees and their primary role is to mate with the Queen.
I’m not at all terrified.
So there you have it… now if only I knew about the birds I’d be all covered for this topic…
In case you missed it, last week I was on a farm tour organized by Savour Ottawa (the group responsible for bringing together verified local farmers with chefs who agree to use a certain amount of local product). The first stop was Castor River Farm, and a short bus ride away was stop number two - O’Brien Farms.
Dan O’Brien and his family produce some of the best beef in the city, and as a fourth generation beef farmer – Dan knows his cows. I never realized how much being a cattle farmer is like being a councillor. Not only are you looking for physically healthy animal, but also one that is going to gel with your animals mentally.
Why you might ask?? Or at least I did because I really had no idea. Well, a cow that is prone to high stress is dangerous for one. These are BIG animals and having them startle easily and run when you are trying to approach them is never good. Two, a cow that spooks easily actually have tougher meat as a direct result from their anxiety. Third, one anxiety riddled cow in a group of calmer cows gets the others to ‘drink the kool-aid’ so to speak. They actually spread the anxiety rather than being calmed by the other animals. So having one paranoid, conspiracy theory spreading cow can really cause trouble in a herd.
So what can you do about it?? Well, Dan buys his cows from trusted providers (for other health and quality reasons but also for the temperament of the calves). He makes sure to buy his calves from as few herds as possible. It has been shown that cows can identify and recognize their herd mates, so keeping them together as long as possible helps them to unwind.
Dan also plays music for his cows. They claim the cows are big fans of Magic 100, but recognize that just having background noise helps the cows from startling at every random sound and helps them get used to human voices.
Bull hooks used on the … well… bull. Also help to calm down the big fella. He LOVED being scratched with it. He was so relaxed it made me want to go next. But instead I just went to lunch and scratched my back on my chair. Close enough… I guess… for now…
Thanks so much to Dan and his family for welcoming us onto his farm and for answering my several questions. I’m sure more than a couple made them scratch their heads.