Posts tagged lunch
Posts tagged lunch
Weekday lunches: quinoa salad served over spinach
During the last few grueling weeks of cold, snow and general yucky weather, all I was craving was the fresh, bright flavours of salad. I think my tastebuds were trying to demand that springtime get its butt to Ottawa and fast!
So I turned to my newest cookbook (see here) for some inspiration and found this delicious quinoa salad. It has colourful veggies, seeds and quinoa, all tossed in a fresh, homemade vinaigrette. I decided to serve the quinoa salad on top of a bed of baby spinach to add some green goodness. This salad totally quenched my craving for the fresh and bright flavours of spring!
Quinoa salad - adapted from the Toronto Star Cookbook by Jennifer Bain
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup organic quinoa (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1 large carrot, shredded
- 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)
For the Dressing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp honey
- salt and pepper to taste
Make the quinoa: bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium and add the quinoa. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and keep covered for about 15 minutes.
Make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well mixed.
Toss carrot, bell pepper, cranberries and pepitas in another bowl. Add cooled quinoa and dressing and toss. Serve on top of a bed of fresh baby spinach or as is.
I ate this over a span of a few days for my work lunches and the flavours got better as the mixture had a chance to rest and mix together.
Lunch at Spris - South Beach, Miami, Florida
I did a heck of a lot of restaurant research before the husband and I left on our South Beach, Miami, vacation this year, and I was glad that I did. There are so many places to eat, I don’t know how one makes any decisions!
One of our first lunches was at Spris (pronounced “sprees”), a little Italian place on Lincoln Road (South Beach’s famed pedestrian walkway/mall) known for its thin crust pizzas. With more than 30 different kinds of pizzas from which to choose, it took us a while to decide!
I couldn’t help but start off my lunch with a cappuccino, which they made perfectly, and even served with two cute and delicious little almond cookies. We decided we wanted to try an appetizer, so we settled on the $4 fresh rosemary focaccia (thinking it would be a small-sized treat). We were blown away when basically an entire pizza arrived! We were pretty hungry, so we had no trouble eating every last delicious wood-fired bite!
For our main we settled on the Salsiccia Gorgonzola Dolce pizza to share, which came topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Italian gorgonzola cheese and crumbled Italian sausage. This pizza was a delight! The crust was thin but not overly crispy, the toppings were ample but not overwhelming, and the gorgonzola added the perfect spike of flavour to the whole thing.
This is a great spot if you’re looking for authentic, wood-fired, thin crust pizza. Its location on Lincoln Road is also great for outdoor eating (they have a huge patio) and people watching!
A special treat: Flapjack’s Pancake Shack
Who knew that Ottawa would fall in love with a small shack serving up pancakes, panwiches (a pancake breakfast sandwich), and other delights like pancake poutine, all over the course of one the coldest and longest winters that we’ve had in quite some time.
I finally got my chance to try one of their most popular menu items, the Jimberrr! Watson panwich - a concoction of two of their buttermilk pancakes (secret recipe!), double-smoked bacon, a fried egg and a slice of gouda cheese, all served with a side of real maple syrup (and cutely named after our mayor, Jim Watson). It was delightful! The pancakes are everything that pancake dreams are made of: they’re light and fluffy with that perfect buttermilk flavour. The rest of the sandwich was just as excellent, and everything came together wonderfully.
This is a fun little spot, and I can’t wait to go back to try more of their menu items! Ottawa has gone pancake crazy, and I love it!
Weekday lunches: kale, bacon and white bean smash
Is this a pretty little dish or what? I was looking to try something completely different for my weekday lunches recently, so when I stumbled across this recipe on the President’s Choice website, I decided to give it a try.
This dish is very simple, and uses many pantry staples like canned tomatoes and beans. But its flavour also comes from a few fresh ingredients, like bacon, onions and the superstar veg kale! I have a rough time digesting raw veggies (TMI?) so I have been looking for ways to incorporate cooked kale into my daily diet. This recipe is excellent for that since, as you know, greens tend to wilt down quite a bit, so a LOT of kale becomes a little after being heated ever so slightly!
This recipe is fantastic! It is simple, quick, healthy and delicious. I found that the flavours were even better the next and subsequent days. I’d even recommend waiting to eat this until the day after you make it! Click on my photo above to link to the recipe - I made it exactly as described on the President’s Choice website. This is the perfect light stew for a cold late winter morning! (Yes, I know, it is spring, but not in Ottawa!)
I have been eating this same salad for lunch all week and I am still addicted to it! There is nothing better than roasted veggies and quinoa for a hearty salad.
Lunch at A Thing for Chocolate
I’m lucky to work near the very up and coming neighbourhood (or perhaps it has already arrived?) of Hintonburg. It seems like there is always a new restaurant or shop that is on the verge of opening up, so I always have lots to explore!
Most recently, I noticed a little shop with a catchy name with an ‘opening soon’ sign on it’s doors: A Thing for Chocolate. With a name like that, I was intrigued!
A friend from work and I decided to check it out one day during our lunch hour. I had done a little bit of research online to try and find out exactly what we might find, and I was delighted when I discovered that this new little cafe would be serving crepes, both of the sweet and the savoury variety.
I wanted to try a savoury crepe for my first visit, so I chose the English crepe, which is filled with scrambled eggs, bacon, fresh tomato, cheddar cheese and Dijon mustard. Served with a side of greens drizzled lightly with a balsamic vinaigrette, this was one amazing crepe: light and fluffy, and filled with just the right amount of ingredients. My friend had the house special (sweet) crepe, which comes filled with your choice of fruit (strawberries, bananas, blackberries, blueberries - or all of the above!) and their in-house made chocolate spread, either in milk or dark chocolate. She loved it! The chocolate is of the highest quality, and the fruits were incredibly fresh.
I couldn’t resist trying one of their Death by Chocolate brownies (I mean, come on!) and I was not disappointed. This is a brownie at its best with a crisp top layer and a dense, rich inner layer. To help cut some of the sweetness, I ordered a cappuccino, which the owner, Omar Fares, makes on the strong side, which is absolutely perfect to me!
Overall, this is a great little spot. There is, however, limited seating, so I wouldn’t recommend going with a big group. The service, while good, is relaxed, so be careful if you’re tight for time. But if you have a free afternoon, it would be a great spot to relax in their big, comfy chairs and sip coffee and eat chocolate!
The owner loves to chat and is incredibly friendly and personable, which I loved. It is so invigorating to see the passion in an owner’s eyes and to hear it in his voice - he wants to be there and is excited to share his passion for excellent chocolate, crepes and coffee with his customers. I can’t wait to return: next time, obviously I’ll have a sweet crepe!
Another Flying Banzini conquest: the meatloaf sandwich
As I have mentioned before, I’m slowly making my way through the Flying Banzini’s sandwich menu bite by delicious bite. It has been one tasty adventure after another so far!
When the Flying Banzini changed their menu a few months ago, I was excited about the new soft bun sandwich options, mostly the meatloaf sandwich. Meatloaf on a sandwich! It made my mouth water with delight just thinking about it. So when I finally sat down to sink my teeth into this hearty sandwich, I could barely contain my enthusiasm. A giant (and I mean GIANT) slice of Chef Nico’s meatloaf comes piled upon one of one of the Flying Banzini’s in-house made soft buns, with your choice of toppings (I chose the chipotle ketchup at the recommendation of my server and added fresh greens and sliced tomato). This sandwich was perfect - it was a monster of a lunch size-wise (let’s just say that I didn’t need to eat dinner that night) and worth every bite and penny. Chef Nico’s meatloaf is tender, not too salty and oh-so-meaty. The chipotle ketchup added a delightful but not too spicy kick. Overall, this has been my favourite Flying Banzini sandwich so far!
A lovely cappuccino on a rainy day - at Art-is-in Bakery.
Another lunch at the Flying Banzini (trying their online ordering system)
I was a bit short on time during the lunch hour one recent day, so I decided to put their take-out/online ordering system to the test. It is a pretty detailed system that asks you to spell out exactly what you want right down to specific sandwich toppings and condiments. I placed my order, and, at my designated pick-up time, I arrived at the restaurant. It was a success! My order was ready to go, I simply had to pay and collect my yummy sandwich. I’ll definitely use their system again in the future when I need to get in and out quickly!
I am currently making my way through the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwich menu, so on that day, I went for the porchetta. Described on their menu as “marinated pork loin stuffed with Luciano’s sweet Italian sausage, fennel seeds, sweet chilies, sage and sea salt, wrapped in bacon and slow roasted,” this sandwich was incredible. So many amazing flavours in each and every bite! I added fresh tomato and spinach as toppings as well as Major Craig’s mango chutney as my choice of sauce. This is one beast of a sandwich, so come with an appetite! I think the porchetta has been my favourite of the Flying Banzini’s soft bun sandwiches so far, but I’ve still got a few to go before I make any final decisions! haha
Grand opening of Panera Bread in Ottawa!
The husband and I visited Panera Bread last night for it’s grand opening in Ottawa. This is the very first location in our city, so we were very excited to see how it compared to the U.S. locations that we have visited over the years.
When we arrived, the line up was almost out the door! But the restaurant itself seemed less busy; most of the tables were unoccupied. I think most people were taking their food to go.
Our wait wasn’t too long, and we didn’t mind since we were just so happy to not have to drive over 2 hours to our nearest location. The husband ordered his tried and true favourite Panera meal, the bacon turkey bravo sandwich with the mac and cheese for his side. I opted to try two items that I have never tried, the Napa almond chicken salad sandwich and one of their brand new salads, the Mediterranean shrimp couscous salad. Both were delightful! The salad was incredibly fresh, with a mixture of spinach and romaine, and topped with lemon balsamic dressing, Panera’s “signature couscous blend,” sundried tomatoes, feta, olives and shrimp. I would order both again in a hearbeat!
We talked with a few of the employees both while waiting in line and while dining, and they explained that Panera is taking a new approach in their restaurants in terms of how the food is delivered. If you’re familiar with Panera’s current operating standard, you will know that, as the customer, you place your order at the cash, and you’re given a buzzer that advises you when you’re food is ready for pick up at the pick up counter. Panera’s new model (which they told us that they would soon be rolling out in their U.S. and all other restaurants) is that, after the customer orders, they are still given a buzzer and can go and sit down at a table (if dining in), and the food will be delivered by an employee right to your table. We were told that Panera feels this is what the customer wants and it will provide a more enjoyable experience. It also allows them to make a few subtle changes to the way they serve their food, such as serving the sandwiches on real porcelain/ceramic plates instead of the lightweight melamine plates.
We were pleased with the service: our food came very quickly and there was no confusion or mix-ups with our order. We are both looking forward to enjoying everything Panera has to offer, now close to home!
Lunch at Absinthe (another contribution from the husband)
The husband has been enjoying quite a few lunches out lately, and I was very impressed by his choice for his recent outing to Absinthe, one of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa.
Being a bit of a picky eater, the husband has what you’d call a more simple palate, but he is impressing me lately with his eagerness to try new things. So when he told me he had ordered the beef stroganoff for lunch at Absinthe, my jaw dropped!
Described on Absinthe’s menu as sauteed beef tenderloin with mushrooms and sour cream in a dill and brandy sauce, served over fresh spätzle, the husband said it was absolutely delicious! This was his first time having spätzle, which is basically just like egg noodles, and he loved it.
So when will it be my turn to lunch at Absinthe? Soon, I hope!
Lunch at Art-is-in Bakery
The husband and I were lucky enough to get out a little early from work on New Year’s Eve this year, so we took advantage of the rare occasion of having our car at work to go to Art-is-in Bakery for lunch.
I was determined to try something new (how many times can one eat their amazing clam chowder? Many times, it seems), so I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, which was a new lunch item (well, new to me since the last time I had been there). Served on a bun instead of Art-is-in’s bread, this sandwich was piled high with tender and juicy pulled pork, fresh slaw, arugula and a spicy jalapeno cream cheese. It was pretty spicy for a spice wimp like me, but it was so tasty I couldn’t stop eating it. It was very different than any other of Art-is-in’s sandwiches that I’ve tried, but it was a welcome and delicious change.
The husband went all out and ordered the pulled pork mac and cheese, This rich concoction is a mixture of pulled pork, cheesy pasta, buttery croissant croutons, caramelized onions and tomato pesto. It is a perfect example of Art-is-in’s excellence at decadence!
We were too full to even contemplate dessert, so we had to stare longingly and wave goodbye to Art-is-in’s delightful selection of baked goodies..but there is always next time.
Lunch at Anthony’s (an entry care of the husband!)
So it seems I may be turning my husband into a food blogger! More and more he will take photos of his dining outings and lunches to share with me, and I love it!
He recently lunched at Anthony’s, a wood-fired pizza joint in Ottawa’s trendy Hintonburg/Wellington West neighbourhood. As most of you may remember, pizza is probably my husband’s favourite food of all time, so Anthony’s is his kind of restaurant.
The husband and I have actually dined at Anthony’s once before (see here), and we enjoyed it tremendously. We shared a pizza that time, so for his lunch, the husband had his choice of pizza turned into a calzone, which Anthony’s can do with any of their pizzas. Stuffed to the brim with ricotta, roasted red pepper, sausage and mozzarella, this was one delicious calzone! The husband said he ate every last bite and could have had more. He loved the light but dense crust and the extra tomato sauce for dipping on the side.
Brunch at Navarra
Well, it was my birthday this past weekend. As I get a little deeper into my early 30s, the more I dislike celebrating my birthday, but I guess that is to be expected. I am getting old!
The good thing about my birthday though is the delicious eats! Friends know my penchant for good food, so I get to indulge a lot during my birthday time frame.
A Byward Market restaurant that I had been dying to try was Navarra, and I finally made it there for brunch with some friends one recent weekend. I still have to make it there for dinner sometime, but that will have to be for another birthday or celebration.
I started off my brunch with a perfect cappuccino, which was totally adorable with its delightful foam cap. Next, we were treated to some in-house made chocolate chip scones (on the house), which were deliciously flaky and sweet.
I knew long before I set foot in Navarra for brunch that I would order their “huevos rancheros” (quotations marks are Navarra’s own). Described as “poached eggs, chicharron, black bean tostada, serrano, spicy tomato sauce and goat cheese”, this was indeed an adventure for the tastebuds! The tomato sauce had a definite spicy kick to it, and the eggs were soft and fluffy. I loved all of the different textures in the dish: the crunchy chicharron (pork rinds), the silky serrano ham, the velvety black bean sauce. My co-diners had the Mexican bricklayer scrambled eggs and the french toast, both of which also looked to die for!
I would love to return to Navarra for brunch sometime: the atmosphere was relaxed and the service was attentive without being overbearing. Most importantly, the food was incredible!
Lunch at the Flying Banzini, round 3
I’m really late sharing this lunch with you - a friend and I went to the Flying Banzini (FB) for lunch quite a few weeks ago, and I am just getting around to sharing it with you now. As well, since this lunch, the restaurant has revamped their menu, so the sandwich that I had is no longer available in its exact form. However, since I love the FB so much, I thought I’d share it with you anyway!
So far, I’ve tried a couple different panini sandwiches at the FB (see here and here) but I had not yet tried one of their soft bun sandwiches. When I went, there were two soft bun options available: roast beef (beef outside round) and porchetta. I chose the roast beef, which was described as “rubbed with rosemary, sea salt, Bytown Beanery coffee grounds, and horseradish. Served with your choice of horseradish rosemary cream sauce or honey dijon mustard” all on a soft bun. I enjoyed this sandwich very much. It was a bit heavy on the horseradish which I find can be overwhelming, but that is more my personal preference than a fault of the meat. I knew what I was getting myself into! The beef was expertly cooked and the bun was incredibly fresh and soft. I added a side of broccoli soup to my sandwich which was also very well executed.
My friend had the Wasting Away Again pizza, which comes topped with fresh basil and bocconcini and parmesan cheeses (it is basically similar to a margherita pizza). She loves it! She has had this same pizza both times she has been to the FB. This pizza is still available on the newly revamped menu.
Now that the FB has a few new soft bun options in addition to roast beef and porchetta (roast chicken, meatloaf and crispy pork belly), I can’t wait to go back and try another.