Ottawa Farmer’s Market going into 6th season with new President

The farmers have been given the eh-okay that this year’s farmers markets will run again this year. Although the recession and the plans of construction for the Landsdowne park have been in the midst, we are good to assume we will be seeing our local purveyors every Sunday this summer.

“We are trying to make sure when Lansdowne is redeveloped, we have a strong presence in the square in front of the Aberdeen pavilion and working towards having a seven-day presence there, making it a huge farmers’ market,” said new President Robin Turner of Roots and Shoots farmstead.

To read more, check out YourOttawaRegion http://www.yourottawaregion.com/news/article/958712–ottawa-farmers-market-names-new-president

For shoppers in the Glebe area, this is definitely good news, and I would say with the idea of losing the Ottawa Farmer’s market more of us should be frequenting the market more often. There truly isnt a better place to buy in-season fruits, veggies, and local meats and cheeses.

Agjackk

 

SideDoor Contemporary Kitchen and Bar

Wow – what an overwhelming response to my latest ‘rambling’ of the Side Door soft opening. It looks like not a lot of information is on the web yet but hopefully this will help.

Some months ago, a compilation of owners from the Restaurant Eighteen/Social team and the Foundations team decided to join forces and revamp the existing Foundations spot (18b York Street). In doing so, they hired Executive Chef Matthew Carmichael (Restaurant Eighteen/Social) and Chef Jonathan Korecki (Restaurant Eighteen/mise en gear) to head the kitchen. Their first trials were during the week of New years Eve, with a staff they were unfamiliar with, and a menu created just for January 31st, 2010.

A celebrated close occurred on January 1st for a month long cleansing and reconstruction of the restaurant to be. During this time, a hard working staff from several restaurants in the market worked at rehiring, re-menuing, redecorating, and regrouping.

After an anticipated month, the name came to be the ‘Side Door’ – a Contemporary Asian bistro comprised of vegetables, seafood and meat (as laid out on the menu) in fingerfood sizes and sharing style. A list of Asian twisted Martinis and a range of Sakis (along with traditional wines and beers) are offered to match your palate.

Friday marked the friends and family night where staff were given the opportunity to get their feet wet with a selection from the menu, and reacquaint themselves with the layout of the restaurant. What an incredible night! The following evening the restaurant was officially open with a complete offering from the food and drink menu. After two days of closing (for family weekend of course) the Side Door is officially up and running.

So whats it like?

Well it has a similar overall look to Restaurant Eighteen and Social since all are housed within the beautiful heritage buildings of York and Sussex. But the Side Door has a much more Zen atmosphere about it. With the 2inch thick White Oak Table tops and comfortable black leather benches, along with the open concept kitchen and tall vases of dried flowers, a mixture of soft but vibrant music makes the restaurant feel ‘warm and comfortable’ to say the least.

No more short skirts and 4 inch pumps for the female servers. Its classic dark blue jeans and black t-shirts with long aprons – Asian style – to wear these days. Each dish is presented on an array of bowls and plates from China town, and chopsticks presented on the tables upon seating (along with the classic fork, spoon and knife – just in case).

Have you eaten there yet? What did you think? This isnt my official review on the sidedoor since they did just open, but I hope this provides you with enough information for now.

As promised, here are the pics…

 

Front windows looking onto the courtyard

Cocktail floor with bar and main entrance

Empty bottle chandelier overlooking the side dining room

Larger Dining hall with view of the kitchen (not seen here)

check out more on Ron Eade’s blog http://communities.canada.com/ottawacitizen/blogs/omnivore/default.aspx

Sidedoor Contemporary Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Soft Opening Last night – SideDoor

I was very privileged to attend the soft opening of the new restaurant “The Side Door” last night. To all you late night clubbers, Foundations is no more. Move over for The Side Door – a contemporary bistro and bar. With the concept of a multiplicity of sharing fingerfood dishes, with an Asian inspiration, Executive chef Matt Charmichael and chef Jonathan Korecki presented a sneak peak of their menu last night to friends and family.

Tonight, Saturday, the restaurant has their official opening to the public. If you are in the mood for fresh tacos, dumplings, curries, salads, springrolls,… definitely make your way over to the side door.

I cant wait to review this place!

To see my full blog on the restaurant, click here

Gold Medal Plate Finals in Kelowna, this Saturday

Its that fantastic time of year again – the Gold Medal Plate Finals!!!

Each member of the finals has already won gold standing in their own regional competition. During this weekend’s festivities they battle it out in their own Kitchen stadium – all in the name of fun of course – to bring home the Gold Medal Plate.

This year’s teams include

Robert Clark of Vancouver (C restaurant, Nu Restaurant and Lounge, Raincity Grill)

Andrew Fung from Edmonton (Blackhawk Golf Course)

Dan Walker of Saskatoon (Weczeria Food and Wine)

Frank Dodd of Toronto (Hillebrand Winery)

Martin Juneau from Montreal (la Montee de lait)

Michael Moffatt of Ottawa (Beckta’s and Play Food and Wine)

Jeremy Charles from St. John’s (Raymonds)

Duncan Ly of Calgary (Raw Bar)

As a ritual, Friday night will consist of food pairing to a mystery wine, presented to them on Thursday night. The dishes are of limited price and will be both cooked and presented on Friday. Saturday is the traditional black box competition where each team is presented with a specific array of limited ingredients, and each team presents a delectable dish combining all the available ingredients.

As you may recall, last year our very own Chef Carmichael (Restaurant Eighteen) was presented with a gold medal in the Ottawa regionals and got to bring home a sparkling bronze for our city from the Finals in Vancouver. Below, his team shares a victorious first place in Ottawa. This year we cheer on Chef Moffatt as he battles it out in kitchen stadium. Good luck out there!

Tickets are available online at http://www.goldmedalplates.com.

Make sure you tip your waiter extra, and say thank you to your cooks this evening

I remember as a little girl that Valentine’s day would come on the 14th of February and we’d prepare Vday cards for all the kids in our class. It was so much fun to open your brown bag of cards and see who had their “eye” on you. Then we’d rush home to go through them again with mom, and come dinner time, there would be a spread of chocolates for us to dive into. It was never about going out, or spoiling one another with gifts – it was about doing something nice for others, getting nice things in return, and sharing the time with people you love.

When I found true love, I was turned off by the hype of Valentine’s day that I – being the girl – decided we were not going to buy into it all. 9 years later we still dont do anything aside from the usual (and heartfelt) kiss and “happy valentine’s day” on the phone. This year, I began thinking about how I have to forfeit my husband on Valentine’s day because everyone else in society wants to take their sweetheart to a restaurant for an expensive meal that someone else made for them. Cue in the grocery store roses and a box of lindor chocolates (you wouldnt believe how many guys I saw at 11:30 this morning buying a teddy bear and a tripack of londor chocolates from Metro). So not only do I have to sit at home alone on Valentine’s day but he has to be at work extra early to prepare for the mass entrance of deuces around 7:00 this evening – all with special requests of champagne and a quiet spot to themselves. How many people will get engaged tonight as well?

Well here is what I ask of you all. If you are one of those lovely couples who decide to eat out tonight, make sure that you tip your waiter extra, and say thank you to your cooks this evening. They are there away from there families (like they are on Easter, Canada day, Thanksgiving, Christmas…) putting love into your meal. They may not want to be there, but they’ve put their heart and souls into making this a special evening for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day Ottawa.

Here are a few menus to check out for this evening (if you haven’t made reservations already)

Juniper Kitchen Wine Bar Valentine’s Day Menu

Biagio’s Valentine’s Day Menu

Restaurant Eighteen Valentine’s Day Menu

Courtyard Restaurant Valentine’s Day Menu

Whalesbone Valentine’s Day Menu

Steak Valentine’s Day Menu

Canvas Valentine’s Day Menu

Social Valentine’s Day Menu

Changes to Landsdowne Park seems to be counterproductive to the local scene

CBC News reported a Whole Foods Store opening in the Landsdowne Park, in the center of the Glebe. This part of town being very progressive in local foods no doubt has some serious issues with this US store coming into town. The below article speaks to Amanda Watkins, who is a manager at the nearby Wild Oat bakery, and Stéphane Sauvé, manager of the Glebe Meat Market; both who seem unthreatened by the new store but are disappointed that such a place would be accepted in this area. In my opinion the worst part of it all is that we are pushing the Landsdowne market out to make room for a store that brings in imported goods from the US.

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2011/02/10/ottawa-whole-lansdowne-210.html

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2011/02/10/ottawa-whole-lansdowne-210.html#ixzz1DndmHXJA

Welcome Chef Vallipuram to Ottawa

Grill 41, named after the year Lord Elgin Hotel was built, announced they are bringing in Chef Brian Vallipuram to become their Executive Chef.  He brings with his a Canadian-inspired menu, what he likes to call adult comfort food. With a list of accreditations including Executive Chef at Mark McEwan’s North 44 and his own Axcess in Toronto, Ottawa should be thrilled to have an experienced chef move to the city. Together with Michael Smith, who has frequented Ottawa several times in the last 12 months, Vallipuram will continue to support local foods and make a mark on the city’s culinary dining experience.

Welcome to Ottawa!

 

Kraft Dinner made with Cauliflower. Does it stand up?

The roads are gross and the dogs are running a muck which means, it is the perfect day to pick a fun activity to tackle. Today we put the new KD Cauliflower to the test. We did it up right though – hotdogs and all. If you havent heard about this, Kraft decided to put out a line of SMART food that should taste identical to the original Kraft dinner but modestly more nutritious. Lets be honest, what they really mean is not so horrible for you. You can look at some of the critics out there who have put this smart food to the test and have rated this very low with the asumption that Kraft wanted this meal to be healthy. In fact, quite the contrary. I do beleive that Kraft wanted this meal to taste just as ‘dirty’ but consists of a portion of your vegetable intake for those frustrated moms.

We decided to base this test solely on taste. We dont choose to eat KD for nutritional value (especially with those hotdog slices added in). If you are craving some KD you want the SMART  food to taste identical to the original.

I didnt know this prior to making the boxes but in fact KD SMART has 33% less pasta than the original. Good thing we bought two boxes. Beware the pasta does cook a bit quicker than you are used to, but to our delight the cheese powder is just as electric orange as it should be. A little bit of milk, a little bit of margarine (or butter in this case) and some crushed pepper to add some flavour…voila! The KD SMART tasted identical to the Original.

For us, KD Smart passes the taste test. We may not ever decide to go for the SMART choice again, but should the time arise that we need to, it aint bad at all.

Canadian Celebrity Chef Event missing something??…oh… celebrities.

This year was the first annual celebrity chef event. It was quite the spectacle at the time we arrived; vendors and chef pairs setting up before the hundreds of guests arriving to tantalize their tastebuds. Upon the approach of 6:00 there were food fans of all backgrounds entering the main doors of the NAC stopping at every booth to experience a taste of vibrant flavours. I had the opportunity to try 5 (out of 8 dishes), which delighted me to see such a great turnout to the show.

I take my hat off to each team that slaved for an intense 3 hours pumping out creative and beautiful dishes without the luxury of custom kitchen accessories by their side. I promise to have pictures and descriptions of each dish very soon (although you probably have had the pleasure to see each dish on many of the food blogs already…he hem…). That being said, I was caught up in the thought of meeting some celebrities that night, aside from Kevin Brausch who I have a secret food crush on. Looking around, … looking around.. reading the pairs of teams… nope. No celebrities to be found. I then though, am I contradicting myself in thinking that the chefs from around the country are not celebrities. So I put my theory to the test. Stopping several of my friends in the lines, I asked “are their any celebrities here?”. I did not lead on to what I thought a celebrity was but I dont think I needed to because 100% of the answers were: NO.

ce·leb·ri·ty / səˈlebrətē/• n. (pl. -ties) a famous person.∎  the state of being well known: his prestige and celebrity grew. ~ Oxford dictionary

1: the state of being celebrated

2: a famous or celebrated person ~ Merriam Webster Dictionary

Alright so, we had several immaculately talented paired chefs from around Canada expressing their talents at the one-of-a-kind event and each one showed their true colours. [If we are not going to support Martin Picard from Montreal] we are lucky to have our neighboring chefs come to Ottawa in the middle of winter for Michael Blackie. BUT –  No offence to any of them but none have shown their celebrity status (are stardom) other than Blackie and his chef duo Chef Lyon from Toronto on TV. Okay so maybe I am exaggerating but there seemed to be a huge spectacle over at the Blackie/Lyon booth near the West end of the hall. I have to admit, even I was drawn to this end, simply to see what the ‘celebrities’ of the night would be up to.

Towards the middle of the show, I heard Blackie repeatedly say hi to several of the chefs only to say “sorry I gotta run for a photo-op”…hmmm…Towards the end of the night there were several teams waiting by the front steps for the downstairs after-party to begin. I, like too many others, were being entertained by Brausch in anticipation for the night’s events to continue and be hosted by one of the biggest partiers of the city – Blackie. Was I ever disappointed to see that after upwards of 25min of waiting, Blackie was already celebrating in his office with his Chef costar Lyon and some other big-timers while some well-known bloggers were left outside snapping pictures of every moment.

Alright so its the first time someone from Ottawa has taken their efforts into making a chef appreciation event. Oh wait, there is chef appreciation night every last Monday of every month at Oz. Lets try this again. Alright so its the first time all the chefs in Ottawa have had a chance to celebrate cooking together. Oh wait, there is the gold medal plates and the duelling chefs. … So what is it that Chef Blackie was trying to achieve? The only different at this event is ‘celebrity’ and … there werent any. Alright so this is the first time Blackie is in charge of a festive dinner…oh wait, that was kiboshed by Martin Picard’s decline at the Winterlude dinner… damnit Im really trying here.

Where was Guy Rubino (starred in Made to Order, and Iron Chef America)?

Where was Lynn Crawford (starred on Iron Chef America, Restaurant Makeover and hosts Pitchin’ In) who is probably the most down to earth chef in all of Canada?

Where was Susur Lee of Susur and Lee (starred in At the Table with Susur Lee) who has many students of his own right here in Ottawa?

Where was Josee Di Stasio (author of À la di Stasio and Pasta et cetera à la di Stasio)?

Where was David Adjey (starred on Restaurant Makeover, Iron Chef America and hosts in The Opener) who works in Toronto like so many other chefs who attended this year?

Where was Ricardo Larrivee (host of Ricardo and friends) who is right next door and retired?

Where was Rob Feenie, who partied with the Ottawa Gold Medal Plate finalists in Vancouver?

Blackie did you attempt to contact any of these Canadian celebrities? Well I will say this again – the chefs who shared their time and their smiles with us did an exceptional job and we thank you for making this event a success! As for Blackie, I’m speechless.

As promised here are the pictures I enjoyed taking from this year’s Canadian Celebrity Chef Event 2011

 

Chef Lyon Schmoozing in front of his kiosk
Assembly line at the Blackie/Lyon kiosk
Blackie/Lyon dish: Sweet grass cold smoked Charlevoix veal, crisp potato girdle, feta and sage infused retention, firecracker spot prawn crisp, cloud Horse mead-lychee sting
Chef Moffatt and Chef Walsh preparing their hot dish
Moffatt/Walsh dish: Drunken squab and Newfie screech, tatin of sunchokes, foie gras crepinette
Team Lepine/Cloutier strutting their plating styles
Lepine/Cloutier dish: Kushi oyster, honey flavor roasted foie gras terrine, marrow bones with chardonnay viinaigrette and bacon foam
Chef Bear educating the liner-upers of his fresh dish
Long/Langley dish: Shiitake poached pickerel, beurre noisette, dressed grains and greens, crispy creme fraiche oyster

Again, I take my hat off to each team who had to assemble dish after dish, hour after hour, with very little space and equipment to work with.

As the night started winding down there was a bit more socializing.

 

Stephen Beckta (owner of Beckta restaurant, and Play food and wine) in line with friend and coworker Greyson McDiarmid (Wine Manager, Play food and wine), and cheering on their teammates
Chef Korecki chatting with Food Blogger (Foodie Prints) at the mise en gear vendor booth

Chef Mike Poliquin (Metropolitaion Brasserie) sharing a drink with some friends
Chef Blackie getting in a few words with Chef Moffatt
I finally caught him. Kevin Brausch of the Food Network’s Iron Chef and the Tasty Traveler supported Ottawa’s first Canadian Celebrity Chef Event.

 

‘Duck in a Can’ man bails Ottawa’s Winterlude

I felt bad the last few days that I have been sick in bed with strep throat and havent had energy to blog. Just when I thought some time could be ignored I checked my google alerts and there it was – Ron Eade’s article on Winterlude. If you havent read this yet, this is my courtesy to you http://www.ottawacitizen.com/story_print.html?id=4093460&sponsor=

I wish I could say “ya good job Ottawa” or “Im there with ya” but …damn you! For those of you who aren’t following me, Martin Picard has single handedly changed the face of Montreal food. Not by his smooth elegance or his plating style. Not by his unique flavours or his tv show (well… maybe by his tv show) but by his crazy rustic take on food. He is a burly middle aged man who loves food, loves sauces, and loves his meat – all parts of it. What Martin Picard is most known for is his foie gras and secondarily the ‘duck in a can’ or ‘Canard en Conserve’. The duck in a can is a prepared meal that can be ordered at his restaurant Au Pied du Cochonhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=llUGqul4TtQ or ordered for take-out in a prelabed can in a prestamped bag http://www.followmefoodie.com/2010/11/au-pied-de-cochon-duck-in-a-can/.

What led Martin Picard to turn down the offer of highlighting our Winterlude is due to the protesters most offended by his use of foie Gras on his menu. Indeed the duck in a can does contain foie gras, and his local menu does feature foie. I am including a bunch of links in this blog article simply because I understand the views of Foie gras are quite controversial and I need to make sure every point I use is referenced.

Foie Gras is a delicacy in french cuisine, namely in France and other European countries. In preparation for the fattened goose/duck liver a bird is allowed to graze the farm for the majority of its life and then introduced to a regiment of force-feeding (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foie_gras). The bird is monitored on the amount of vegetable diet (usually carrrot) until the liver of the bird is fattened and of optimal size (and flavour due to the fat content of the liver). The bird is then killed for its meat and of course the liver. This procedure differs only technically to the farming regiment of cattle and other animals in preparing for food. Cows, for example, are allowed to freely graze the farm with a specific diet in mind for the quality and taste of the animal. Once the farmer is in need of supplying more meat to the market the cow is killed and preserved for shipment.

Martin Picard has chosen to recreate this delicacy in North America – preserving the true quality of the fine dish. He has not only challenged the ways in which the food is served but utilizes the finest local ingredients (http://www.foodnetwork.ca/ontv/shows/At-The-Table-With/episode.html?titleid=111987&episodeid=111324). In fact despite his love for food, he does offer a variety of fresh vegetables to vegetarians who visit the restaurant. A National Post interview with Picard Illustrated Picard’s views on vegetarians, saying ““We have a lot of people who are vegetarians who come here. We buy $8,000 per month of vegetables. We respect and they respect.”. The truth of the matter is Martin Picard respects the farmers and respects the delicate nature of each ingredient, all for the love of cooking.

As a french cook he has taken it upon himself to take the classic dished of France and transformed them into hearty mouthfulls of intense flavour. Who knows what Picard had planned for Ottawa this year, but only a few weeks after our Celebrity Chef day it would have been a great continuation of the month and a strong beginning to the new year. I have no doubt that Michael Smith will fill Picard’s shoes but it is a shame it had to go this way.

There are tons of resources out there about foie gras and the farming processes for all types of animals. I am not here to persuade you in any which way; all I ask is that you research what you eat, understand the history behind it, and then make a sound decision.

Let the games begin,

Agjackk

latest on this topic: Several Ottawa restaurants have decided to add foie gras to their festival menus in support of Mr. Picard, and online postings are comparing the NCC’s move to Europe’s import ban on seal products in the face of protests. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/quebec/duck-liver-flap-ruffles-feathers-of-ottawa-restaurateurs/article1866502/