Posts tagged Ottawa
Posts tagged Ottawa
The most perfect mini corn breads to accompany a southern BBQ-style lunch from @DoubleDsBarBQ - always a delicious meal!
My favourite @FlyingBanzini cheesecake yet: the eggnog cheesecake! A perfect two-bite treat.
Mother Nature: 1
A typical day in the winter life of an Ottawa city dweller!
So snowy in Ottawa today! Winter is officially here.
Lunch at the Flying Banzini (round 2)
I was excited to return for a second lunch at the Flying Banzini recently; my first experience was fantastic (see here) and I couldn’t wait to try another of their delicious sandwich creations.
After being warmly greeted by the owner, Dave Scharf (he is so incredibly friendly and helpful!) I placed my order. This time, I opted for the Swing Swing Swing panini, which contains smoked salmon, spinach, red onions, capers and dill cream cheese all on a rosemary focaccia bun. I have an obsession with smoked salmon, so my hopes were high for this panini. It delivered! The classic pairing of smoked salmon, red onion, cream cheese and capers is artfully and skilfully brought together in this panini; there was the perfect amount of each ingredient on this sandwich.
Of course you don’t leave the Flying Banzini without also having one of their delightful mini cheesecakes! This time, I had the pumpkin cheesecake, which came topped with marshmallows - wow! The texture of this cream cheese was incredible: soft, silky and smooth. I managed to scarf it down before I had the chance to take a photo so you’ll just have to use your imagination about what this little gem looked like!
Once again, I’ll be back to the Flying Banzini, hopefully sooner rather than later this time! My next quest is to try one of their soft roll sandwiches…my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
Dinner at Luxe Bistro
I was at Luxe for dinner about a year ago this month celebrating the husband’s birthday. It was our first time at Luxe and we had an excellent meal. So when my bff suggested celebrating her birthday at Luxe one recent weekend, I knew it was going to be a night to remember!
With seven ladies in our party, we were given one of Luxe’s corner booth tables, which, in my opinion, is one of the best seats in the house. Our first order was to get the birthday girl a drink, so we ordered a bottle of wine to her liking: the only malbec on the menu, this. It was delicious - velvety smooth and easy to drink.
For my meal, I wanted to experience a different side of Luxe’s menu (I had the bouillabaisse last time), so I opted for two appetizers for my meal. I started with the tuna crudo (my first photo) from Luxe’s cold seafood bar. Thick, luscious pieces of fresh tuna came drizzled in yuzu ponzu sauce and topped with crispy fried ginger and a few thin slices of radish. I savoured every single bite of this dish! It is one of the best raw tuna dishes I have ever had, and it was a perfect portion size. I would eat this again in a heartbeat!
For my main dish, I ordered the steak tacos from the appetizer menu (my second photo). Described as Asian stir-fried beef topped with pickled daikon and carrot, fresh jalapeno, sour cream, cilantro and lime, these were just as tasty as they look! I’m not sure exactly what the “Asian” flavours on the beef were, but it was incredibly rich tasting. The richness of the beef paired with the pickled daikon and carrot was delightful.
And if you think at this point I hadn’t had enough - you’re right! My other bff and I decided to share a dessert, and we were not disappointed. Simply named chocolate spring rolls, this dessert (my third photo) is comes exactly as described! Light and crispy spring rolls filled with dense, dark chocolate ganache. The rolls were served with two dipping sauces for further indulgence: banana Anglaise and caramel. To finish off my meal with the perfect touch, I had a cappuccino; it is my favourite way to end the night!
Overall, we had a fantastic time at Luxe, and everyone, the birthday girl included, enjoyed their meals immensely. Our servers were fun and attentive, and helped to make the birthday girl’s night perfect. I would highly recommend Luxe for a night out!
Weeknight dinner: chicken chipotle chowder
My cravings for soup, stew and chili are endless lately! We had our first (wet) snowfall in Ottawa this past weekend, and I was not the happiest of campers to see my old foe Mr. Snowflake. I know it is futile to complain about the weather so, with that, I’ll end my weather-related rant.
Now on to the good stuff: the soup! I used to be intimidated by the thought of making a chowder-type soup. My impression was such that these kinds of soups were complicated to make and heavy, but I’ve learned that this is not the case at all! Best of all, I think I’ve found a new favourite recipe, which is this chicken chipotle chowder. This recipe comes from the fantastic Our Best Bites blog, and you can link to the original recipe by clicking here.
What’s not to like about this soup? Lean chopped, cooked chicken breast, diced red potatoes, black beans, corn and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for that smoky kick: it is a meal of a soup! I added a diced orange bell pepper for an extra veggie infusion but otherwise stuck to the recipe as directed and was thrilled with the results. I really like that low-fat milk (I used 1%) is used in this recipe instead of cream: I guarantee that you will be satisfied by the creaminess of this soup!
Some snippets from a night to remember! Celebrated my bff’s birthday in style (and with delicious eats!) at @luxebistro last night. This malbec was a dream on which to sip! More to come on what I ate and why I loved it!
Lunch at Ad Mare (round 2)
Look at that beauty!! I couldn’t tell you the last time that I had a lobster roll; I think it has been years. My first experience at Ad Mare (see here) was so great that I knew I had to return to try one of their signature offerings, their lobster roll.
I was so impressed by the amount and quality of lobster in the sandwich: it was piled high! The dressing on the lobster was light with a strong lemon flavour. Overall, a wonderful experience! I also got to try their maple vinaigrette salad dressing, which was delightful. There are still a few more menu items that I would like to try at Ad Mare, so I will be back!
Dessert at Sweet Castle
I have found a new obsession: Lebanese sweets! I’m not talking about baklava, I’m talking beyond it. I had seen these interesting looking cookies many times at different shawarma restaurants, but had not purchased one to try. I finally got my chance when the husband and I discovered Sweet Castle, a shop dedicated solely to Lebanese sweets and desserts.
For my first time at the shop, I decided to ease into things and try something that I’ve seen everywhere: mamoul. Mamoul is essentially a shortbread cookie stuffed with dates. It was delicious! The cookie was soft and sweet, and the dates were perfect - not too sweet with an excellent texture. I also tried what was labelled as a “tamriyat,” which is also a date stuffed cookie but shaped as a ball and covered in sesame seeds. It tasted very similar to the mamoul but with the added deliciousness of sesame seeds.
I hope to get a little bit more adventurous next time we go to Sweet Castle; they had a huge variety of all kinds of cookies, sweets and desserts. I’ll keep you posted on my adventures!
Bao for lunch: Round 2
I couldn’t let the last bit of not too cold weather slip away without squeezing in one last trip to Gongfu Bao. I was still dreaming of my first taste of bao (see here) and was eager to get my hands on some more!
I was in for a treat that day, as the proprietor of the cart, Tarek Hassan, was preparing a special bao. The dough for the bao was spiked with tumeric to give it that vibrant yellow hue (I promise, it was very vibrant, although the fluorscent lighting under which I took this photo in my office may have skewed the colour a bit) and just a hint of flavour. It was also shaped differently; more like a thick, open-ended pita pocket than an enclosed stuffed pocket. The filling was the stuff of taste buds’ dreams: chicken and chickpea curry with cilantro and crispy skin. It had incredible depth of flavour with a slight kick to it. The crispy skin bits were my favourite as they were incredibly flavourful.
I can’t wait to visit the cart next year and see what Tarek has in store for us Ottawans with curious taste buds!
The salted caramel mocha: a Starbucks experience
I love Starbucks, and I go there fairly frequently. But I am a creature of habit: if I order a latte, it is usually a vanilla latte (or pumpkin spice when it is in season, of course). Or just brewed coffee. I rarely order any of their new drinks or fun stuff. That’s until recently, when Starbucks seems to be stepping up their game. Since becoming a gold club member in 2009 (and even prior to that), I have rarely ever received any kind of coupons or promotions from Starbucks. The reason this is a significant point is because I am one of those people who will use these types of coupons! So, when I received coupons in the mail (yes, snail mail!) recently, I was excited to use them! Which leads me to today’s post: why you should try the salted caramel mocha.
I am not cheap, but when I get a coupon that would allow me to sample something I might find delicious for almost half the regular price, I’m sold. This is how I came to taste Starbucks’ salted caramel mocha, which is one of their limited time fall drinks. I’ve tried a regular mocha once before and enjoyed it (it was a tad sweet for my liking, but still pretty tasty), so I wondered how different the salted caramel mocha would really taste. Well, was I astounded! From what I can see on Starbucks’ website, there aren’t any new flavours of syrups or sweeteners in use here: it is their basic toffee nut syrup and mocha sauce mixed with espresso and steamed milk. So what must create the most insanely deliciously sweet yet salty, buttery richness is the mixture of the decadent topping on the drink: fluffy whipped cream, drizzled caramel and what Starbucks calls “a tiny sprinkle or our premium sea salt and sugar topping.” I was floored at the depth of flavour in this latte, and I relished every sip!
If you’re looking for a once in a while delightful treat, sip on a salted caramel mocha: it is very sweet, a little salty, and incredibly rich. And now it looks like I have a chocolate chai latte in my future: I just got a new coupon in my e-mail!
Lunch at LUNCH!
You may remember my post about the LUNCH food truck, when I devoured an amazing philly cheese hoagie earlier this fall. So while adventuring downtown for some bao, I decided to stop in at LUNCH’s non-food truck Bank Street location to try one of their daily soups. I settled on the ginger yam, and when offered homemade croutons as a topping to the soup, I obviously said yes!
The soup was tasty; it had a spicy kick to it, and was heavy on the seasoning with an overwhelming almost curry-ish flavour (or perhaps coriander). The texture was amazing: velvety and smooth. The croutons were delicious and helped to tame a bit of the spicy fire on my tongue. Overall the soup was good; the price was about $3.50 for the small, which is kind of expensive but you get what you pay for - a high quality, home made product. I would definitely go back to try their other soups, sandwiches, salads and baked goods.
Lunch from Gongfu Bao
I was incredibly excited to finally sink my teeth into a bao from the Gongfu Bao, which is one of Ottawa`s newest food carts to hit the street this summer.
A little personal history on my relationship with bao (aka a steamed bun), which began many years ago when I went for dim sum for the first time. I remember that experience vividly: it was magical - an incredible adventure of a feast of mini bites for my eyes and mouth. It was on that day that I had my first taste of a steamed pork bun, and I was hooked. But here is the sad part: I have yet to be able to recreate that experience until now. I have seen a few poor imitations at some Chinese food buffets, but nothing that compared to that first dim sum experience. Needless to say, when I read about the Gongfu Bao cart, I was beyond excited!
For my first time at the cart, I had to order the maple charsiu pork bao, which is one of their staple menu items. I added a side of “killer slaw” (coleslaw) to complement the bao. Both were everything I had dreamed they would be! The dough of the bao was soft and chewy yet fluffy. I love the contrast of the slightly grilled outside of the bun with the soft fluffiness of the inside. The maple charsiu pork was delightfully sweet and salty, and incredibly tender. Amazing flavour all around! The slaw was very interesting - I loved the delicately sliced cabbage and the zingy dressing. Hands down, Gongfu Bao is my favourite of Ottawa’s new food trucks/carts! Great job, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for next season!
A very happy first birthday to my best little buddy, Bryce! Loved the adorable puppy themed (and delicious) cupcakes!