Gastronomy and Life's Other Pleasures

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Posts tagged Ottawa

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South Beach Creamery, Bells Corners, Ottawa

I am actually a bit embarrassed to admit that I partook in this humongous sundae! The husband and I had driven past this little truck in Ottawa’s west end a ton of times before we finally decided it was time to stop and check it out. 

I was kind of hoping for some homemade ice cream, but was disappointed to learn that they served Nestlé ice cream. Nonetheless, as we perused the menu, we were immediately drawn to their crazy sundaes. Bonus: everything was on sale because it was the end of the season, so the sundaes were basically half price! (SCORE!)

We ended deciding to share the poutine sundae, which sounds really weird but was actually quite genius in its presentation. Two generous scoops of your choice of ice cream (we chose pralines and cream - there were limited choices as they were closing for the season the next day) came topped with caramel sauce (to mimic the gravy), vanilla wafer cookies (to mimic the french fries) and mini marshmallows (to mimic the cheese curds). There was also sliced banana and generous flourishes of whipped cream, both of which weren’t there to mimic anything but to make the sundae more decadent and delicious! Obviously this was one super rich sundae, and we weren’t able to finish it all, but it was pretty creative. 

If you like simple, run-of-the-mill ice cream, this little truck is for you. From our experience, they are also good at turning these simple ingredients into something fun with their creative sundaes (there was a whole menu of them - at least 8 or 10 creations!). However, if you prefer a homemade product, this is not the place for you (check out Carp Custom Creamery - see my review here). I’m not sure if we’ll revisit this truck, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it if you’re looking for a quick, cheap, basic ice cream cone.

Filed under food dessert treat ice cream food truck Ottawa Bells Corners sundae vanilla wafer cookie marshmallows caramel sauce praline pralines and cream whipped cream sweet

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Lunch and treats at Holland’s Cake and Shake

I get so pumped when a new shop or restaurant opens close to my work because it means that I can get out at lunch time for some adventures and try some new things while I’m at it! This was just the case with Holland’s Cake and Shake, which I patiently watched and followed on social media since the spring when they first started getting the shop ready for opening day.

They finally opened their doors on July 15 of this year, and I was there within a few days! Owned by Chef Michael Holland, known for his work as the pastry chef at Ottawa’s popular Atelier, the shop offers a selection of mini cakes, tarts, muffins, scones, cookies, in-house made soft serve ice cream, milkshakes (including the cake shake: take one of the mini cakes and blend it with soft serve and milk), sundaes and sandwiches. But don’t let your eyes glaze over: these are not your average desserts. Chef Michael Holland’s specialty is to be quirky and playful. An example of one of the crazy cake flavours featured in the shop so far is the orange Kool-Aid cake with Red Bull pastry cream, lemon icing, streusal and raspberries (see here).

I have tried a few of the treats from the shop (a future post), but today I wanted to tell you about their lunch special. Each week, the shop offers two different sandwiches two times a week (Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday to Saturday), which can be purchased alone or bundled into a brown bag lunch combo by including a drink and your choice of a cookie or a brownie for $8.50. So far, the sandwiches have all looked so amazing, and all have been served on in-house made bread. WOW! I have only tried one sandwich so far, but it was so great: simple, fresh ingredients that made for a delicious lunch. The sandwich I tried was a combination of roast chicken, gravy mayo, mozzarella, spring mix, and potato chips on their homemade bun. I made mine a combo, and chose the brownie. and house made lemonade. The brownie was mind blowing: rich and soft, almost like fudge.

I highly recommend Holland’s Cake and Shake: everything is made in-house, which I love, and you can really see the love in all of the treats and food items they produce. Bonus: there is currently a pop up Ministry of Coffee counter, offering everything your caffeine dreams are made of. I wish this little shop all the best and I hope that it sees success!

Stay tuned for a future post on the wild and wacky treats of Holland’s Cake and Shake!

Filed under food Ottawa restaurant shop Westboro Wellington West Hintonburg Chef bake cake shake sandwich bread homemade brownie review Michael Holland dessert lunch chicken in-house made homemmade

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Dinner at Tennessy Willems

It had been quite some time since the husband and I had been back to Tennessy Willems since our first visit last January (see here), so we thought it was time to return. I also thought my mother would really enjoy their pizza, so it was a good excuse to take her there while she was visiting recently.

I was happily surprised by TW’s new tapas menu, which is in addition to their regular menu. There were so many things that I wanted to try! It was tough to choose just one to share with my mother. In the end, we couldn’t resist the chicken liver and foie gras paté, which came topped with a maple jelly and three pickled cherries. Talk about amazing! The paté was absolute perfection, with the salty/fatty/creamyness of the foie gras and chicken liver being cut ever so gently by the sweetness of the maple jelly, and the tartness of the pickled cherries. Also, pickled cherries?? Wow - a pure delight. As well, I can’t forget to give a shout out to the accompanying toast points: they were crusted with salt and pepper, and tasted incredible. The perfect vessels!

A visit to TW would not be complete without having their mac and cheese, so we shared it among the three of us as an appetizer. It wasn’t quite as delicious as I remember it (I remember the tarragon flavour in the sauce being way more pronounced last time, which I loved, whereas it was much more subtle this time), but it was still solid: rich, creamy and oh-so-indulgent.

For our mains, we decided to share two pizzas: the wild boar (with local wild boar sausage, caramelized apple, sage oil and two-year-old cheddar), and the Capricciosa (with fire-roasted tomato sauce, fior di latte, cremini mushrooms, artichokes, Kalamata olives and Pingue’s capicola ham). Let’s start off by saying that TW’s crust is one of the most amazing in the city: that wood-fired smokiness just can’t be beat! The crust is thin, yet light and fluffy (not a thin papery crisp, which I find dissatisfying). The toppings on the wild boar were lovely, with the caramelized apple adding sweetness to the sausage’s saltyness. My mother and I thoroughly enjoyed the Capricciosa, as we are partial to toppings like olives and artichokes, which were ample and tasty.

Overall, it was a great meal (with lots leftover to enjoy the next day!), and the husband and I can’t wait to go back to try even more of their delicious pizzas…I still want to taste the pulled pork pizza!

Filed under food dinner supper Ottawa Wellington West Hintonburg pizza Tennessy Willems restaurant review mac and cheese sausage pizza crust boar artichoke olive sage fior di latte dough fresh wood-fired

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I finally tried an affogato for the first time EVER today! I can’t believe it took me this long to try a treat that combines two of my favourite things: gelato and espresso. I had seen that Trii Lounge, a little outdoor gelato stand near my work, was selling affogatos, so I knew I had to try one. Trii Lounge’s affogatos come with one or two scoops of gelato topped with a shot of espresso, chocolate ganache drizzle and cookie crumble. You can choose your flavour of gelato, and I chose tiramisu. It was DELICIOUS! The gelato melted slowly and gently, and sweetened the espresso. I loved the added texture from the cookie crumble too. A fantastic first affogato!

Filed under food Ottawa Westboro Wellington West Trii Lounge affogato gelato espresso snack sweet treat dessert caffeine summer chocolate ganache tiramisu cookie cookie crumble

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Brunch at Navarra

Having brunched at Navarra once before (see here - it was amazing), I was pretty excited to return. I thought it would be fun to take my mother there during her recent visit, so off we went. 

As some of you may know, Navarra’s owner and head Chef, Rene Rodriguez, won Top Chef Canada earlier this year. I was wondering if the experience might be a little different at Navarra since my last visit due to Chef Rodriguez’s huge success on Top Chef Canada, but it was very much the same. I don’t think the fame has changed anything about this already fantastic spot, and I think it is a good thing. In fact, for a Sunday brunch hour in Ottawa (Ottawans love their brunch, let me tell you), I was kind of surprised at how quiet it was at the restaurant. 

The menu had of course changed since my last visit, and I was excited to try something new (and perhaps try a few bites from the plates of my brunch companions). As you can see from my photos, it was a beautiful spread! I don’t feel my words can do this beautiful and delicious food justice, so I’ll let my photos do all the talking (if you click on the photos, I have added captions to at least give you Navarra’s description of each of the dishes).

I’d still like to get to Navarra for dinner: just reading the menu makes me drool! If you’re ever in Ottawa, this is definitely one restaurant I highly recommend. 

Filed under food brunch lunch Ottawa restaurant Navarra lamb serrano ham egg scrambled eggs frittata feta feta cheese dining fine dining bricklayer chilaquiles Spanish Mexican review

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Dinner at Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar

While my mother was visiting one recent weekend, we decided to try somewhere new for dinner. I had read about Juniper’s recent menu overhaul (see here), and thought it would be fun to give it a try. The husband and I had been to Juniper once many, many years ago, so it was also time for us to return.

I had forgotten about Juniper’s great the atmosphere. It is so big and bright from all of the floor to ceiling windows. We were promptly greeted and seated when we arrived, and that great service continued through the evening.

We decided to order a couple of appetizers to start, but before that came an adorable and tasty amuse bouche, a meaty strudel. I love amuse bouches; they are such a treat and I find that very few restaurants do that anymore. For my appetizer, I ordered the crispy lamb dumplings, which were so rich and delicious. The husband had the inverted poutine, which he liked for its unique take on the classic Canadian dish. My mother had the gazpacho, which she thoroughly enjoyed.

For our mains, I absolutely had to have the scallops with bacon-garlic scape risotto.  Wowsers - this was magical! The dash of chimichurri added an insanely fresh and tangy flavour to the whole dish. The scallops were perfectly cooked, of course! The husband had a few of the small plates for his main dish, including the pulled pork grilled cheese with onion rings and the sous vide pork ribs with fries. He enjoyed both - the ribs were very tender and flavourful. My mother opted for the cornish hen, which came with a very spicy slaw and rice. She enjoyed it but the spicyness of the slaw was a bit of a challenge.

For dessert we decided to share the brownie with ice cream. Juniper’s menu overhaul included switching out expensive, large desserts for smaller, reasonably priced dessert bites (most are just $5). Indeed, the brownie was small, but it gave each of us two bites or so to satisfy our sweet craving, and that it did! 

Overall, we enjoyed our dinner, and would return. The food was delicious, the service excellent, and the ambiance lovely!

Filed under food Ottawa dinner supper restaurant Juniper Juniper Kitchen and Wine Bar Westboro Wellington West dining fine dining lamb scallop risotto cornish hen pulled pork grilled cheese fries onion rings chimichurri brownie chocolate dessert main appetizer

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Lunch at the Mill Street Brew Pub

When your acting manager asks if you want to spend an extended lunch on a beautiful patio on a beautiful day, your answer should always be a resounding YES! One of the managers in my group happens to love beer, a good patio and delicious food, which is what has brought us to the Mill Street Brew Pub on so many Friday lunch hours over the past couple of summers.

Feeling like something fun and different, my coworker and I split the pretzels as an appetizer: these in-house made beauties came with two dipping sauces, a marinara and a mustard aioli. They were soft, chewy, and oh so salty. Perfect pretzels, really!

I was craving something other than a sandwich or a big meal for my main, so I opted for the red thai mussels, with red thai curry, coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and lime juice, served with their in-house made spelt grain bread (which is amazing) on the side. These mussels were tender and full of flavour! I preferred them over the Brewmasters mussels that I had eaten last time (see here).

It is moments like these that I have to keep in mind during the frigid winter months: the thought of a beautiful summer day on a patio with friends and good food!

Filed under food lunch meal mussels restaurant pretzel pretzels thai red curry curry steamed steamed mussels Ottawa Mill Street Mill Street Brew Pub

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Lunch at Fiazza

While doing some shopping in the Byward Market on recent weekend, the husband and I were in the mood for a snack. We decided to try the brand new Fiazza, a casual, custom pizza restaurant.

The restaurant is pretty big, occupying the space of a former bicycle shop. To order your pizza, you line up (in the manner of Mucho Burrito or Subway) to choose either one of Fiazza’s specialty creations or to pick your own toppings. For our first time, we decided to go with one of Fiazza’s specialty pizzas (which range in price from $7.95 to $12.95), the Sicilian, which came topped with local spicy Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and a mix of Fiazza’s cheese blend and blue cheese.

We watched our pizza being prepared right in front of our eyes, and then off it went for a quick bake in the incredibly hot oven (we could see the temperature gauge and it was set to around 500 degrees). As we proceeded to the cash to pay for our pizza, we noticed small containers of aioli (presumable for dipping) in the self-serve bottled drinks refrigerator, and added one to our order (for $2.95).

Our pizza came out beautifully: it was perfectly cooked for our taste, and the toppings were ample. The sausage had a bit of kick to it and the blue cheese added a fantastic tang. We realized as we were eating it that this was the exact same pizza we had shared in South Beach, Miami earlier this year, so we had some fun reminiscing about our trip and our delicious eats. But I can’t forget about the aioli: WOW! It was perfect! Super garlicky, creamy and everything an amazing aioli should be.

Overall we really enjoyed our pizza at Fiazza, and the ample open air seating area which was great for people watching. The self-ordering and pick up system allows you to have a quick bite if that is what you need, but there is still the option to linger. We can’t wait to return to try their other pizzas!

Filed under food lunch dinner supper pizza Ottawa restaurant new Byward Market dough toppings cheese self-serve Fiazza fresh Sicilian blue cheese cheese blend sausage Italian sausage local review food review