The magic of a neighbourhood

So, we have been gone for SO LONG because we bought a house, renovating a house, and are continuing to renovate this house. But. I've learned, or re-learned, the importance of neighbourhoods, and how they define different areas in this city.

This past Saturday, I got to experience a new neighbourhood, and learn a bit more about this fair city that I live in.

All this learnin' (best said with a redneck accent) was made possible by the lovely, gracious, funny, charming, and all around amazing Paola St-Georges of C'est Bon Cooking (@cestboncooking on the twitter). Paola is just, one of those people. When you meet her, you feel like you've known her for years because she has this demeanour that is so welcoming, loving, and passionate about her work. That's why I was so SO SO excited to get the opportunity to go on one of the Edible Ottawa Tours offered by C'est Bon Cooking.

The cherry on this food tour pie was that the tour was of a hot hot hot area in Ottawa, Wellington West. These Edible Ottawa Tours are exactly what they sound like, an opportunity to eat your way through an area, while learning about the area, the restaurants, the food served in those restaurants and the people who are behind these restaurants.

Enough of the blah blah blah. On to the food!

A tasty bite from Chef Jason Laurin of Essence Catering - chicken on rice cakes (not the gross kind). Chef Jason started the tour off on a high point, I was actually a little concerned what we would encounter after this!

We next strolled to Burnt Butter (@burnt_butter), a brand new restaurant that is less than a week old! We had these lovely hand made pasta tortelloni that were made with lobster. LOBSTER. The pasta was pillowy soft, and the sauce was perfection, velvety and smooth. Burnt Butter is a place that is "italian inspired" but reminds me of the excellent italian food back home. It is not pretentious, and is easily the best pasta I've had since moving to Ottawa seven years ago.

After that, we ran across the street (due to the rain) and went to the Back Lane Cafe (@BackLaneCafe on Twitter). Again, I was blown away. The food is focussed on local ingredients, and it shows. However, the standout item for me was the chocolate bar. Shortbread cookies, dolce de leche, sea salt and espresso ganache. It was magical, and for someone with a sweet tooth, it was nothing short of perfection.

These are baguette's from Back Lane Cafe. I'm telling you now, if you head here, order anything that involves pastry. I'm not sure who's responsible for this bread, but they have major skill.

Cookies from Credible Edibles (@creded on Twitter). Good to know that healthy food can taste great too! I always have that issue with healthy eating, but I'm thinking that maybe I'm approaching it wrong!

Oooooh onto treats from Thyme and Again (@thymeandagain on Twitter). In order, peach HOMEMADE marshmallow, coconut macaroon, and a lemon square. I may or may not have eaten extra peach marshmallows. I'll never admit it.

Bagels from the Ottawa Bagelshop. These are darn good bagels, crusty on the outside and soft on the inside. It's always nice to know where a solid breakfast option is available!

Last stop, 3 Tarts. And this particular tart, at 3 Tarts... is worth trekking from whatever part of town you're in to this place immediately. I can't explain it, you just seriously have to try it.

Look at all this freaking food! And I ate all of it, proudly. Okay, maybe I left the bagel for breakfast on Sunday, but this was a ton of food, I didn't even eat anything for the rest of the day!

Folks, this is only a portion of what we saw, ate, and learned about on the Edible Ottawa Tour. Go see Paola, asap. It's so worth it.


Um, hello?

Wow, has it really been three months since we posted?! I guess it has. Well, we're back. Or I'm back. In any case, I have stuff to tell the internets about, and to heck with it if no one is listening!

Going to Town... <-- that's a pun!

On Good Friday, K and I decided we would go for lunch with some friends since we were both off. The friends happen to be Steph and Drew, two very popular tweeps.

For lunch we decided to go to Town, 296 Elgin St.

I liked their fun menu presentation on a clipboard.

We all decided on some drinks, Drew and I had a pint of Kichesippi Natural Blonde. K and Steph both decided on a glass of White wine.

We also all decided to share the Super Green Gnudi.

Doesn't look so green when you put Marinara sauce on it, but they were amazing. They were the perfect blend of acidic tomato, rich cheeses and yummy deep fried goodness! The order had 8 pieces of Gnudi so 2 for each of us and was $13.

On to the mains!

I decided to have the Open face Meatball sandwich and am not disappointed that I did!

The portion sizes were very big for lunch but I won't complain about that. They use a nice Art-is-in bun for their sandwiches. The Meatballs were incredibly juicy and rich, the marinara is acidic and flavourful and the cheese was just enough to add some sharpness. I'm not much of a salad guy, so I was thrilled that they used a nice light oil dressing. I wasn't as big of a fan of the pecorino rosemary potatoes, I found the cheese and rosemary both very overpowering and not complimentary to each other.

K settled on the Cavatelli pasta.

It was delicious - salty, rich, cheesy and meaty. Everything a good pasta should be.

Steph had the Linguini Nero.

While Drew had the Halibut Fritto.

As you can see from the pictures, I wasn't lying about portion sizes!

We really enjoyed ourselves, the service was great, and the food was very impressive. A great change from all of the pubs on Elgin St!



We're on a roll, can you tell? A few weeks ago, before we had to leave town, A and I decided we should go out for dinner. I told A he could choose the restaurant, which he begrudgingly agreed to do. I was expecting a reservation to one of our usual haunts, but A called me and told me to get ready - that we were going to Murray Street restaurant for dinner.

Murray Street Restaurant
@MurrayStreetKWC on Twitter
110 Murray St, Ottawa

I was SO excited. First of all, my husband used to be fairly, ahem, predictable, in his food tastes. Anyways, Murray Street isn't so far from our comfort zone, since they specialize in making tasty meats tastier. And as the title states, we love meat!

It was difficult for me to decide what to have, as the whole menu sounded delicious. A and I were both stuck on the same two menu items, so we each ordered one so we could share with each other.

I ended up with the pork (tenderloin? I think, it was a little while ago... ) with beans and a cider reduction. First of all, the plating is fantastic. Everything looked so great, and tasted even better. The pork was perfectly seared, and was very tender. I think my favourite part was the cider reduction, as it added a nice bitterness to the softness and mouth feel of the pork and beans. A very classic dish taken up a few hundred notches.

However, A's dish was the real standout. He ordered the beef brisket with sour cream spatzle and mushrooms. As you can see, again, the plating is fantastic. The colour of the beef is making me drool right now. Anyways, the beef was fork tender, and fell apart easily. The spatzle was a great side for the brisket, it was creamy and soaked up all of the tasty beef juices. I know this because I'm pretty sure I ate half of A's dish as well as my own!

All in all, service was good, food was amazing, and it was a great night out with A. Sometimes that's all a girl can ask for!



Sorry for the lack of posts recently. K and A have been dealing with a family issue back in our home town, but we are back and the posts will be coming at you steadily again.

So being from Northern Ontario, we have an appreciation for good Maple Syrup and there is none better than that from Gilbertson's Maple Products located on St. Joseph Island. K grew up with a cottage (or as we call them back home, a camp) on St Joseph Island and her and her family frequented Gilbertson's yearly during the sap run. I had only been to Gilbertson's once prior to this visit when the location was basically a shack with bench seating and you had to sit with strangers, not that it was a bad thing. Recently the location underwent a major renovation, well a complete rebuild truthfully and now offers individual tables surrounding a lovely fireplace.

But enough with the location, I know you guys only care about the food!

K and I both decide to get the Gilbertson's Sampler $11.95, which consists of a 7" diameter, uber fluffy pancake, a piece of French Toast larger than my head, Pure Pork Maple Sausage made in Northern Ontario using Gilbertson's syrup, and a choice of Maple Baked Beans, which I chose, or a cup of fresh fruit, K's choice.

My Breakfast!

K's Breakfast.

As you can tell my the pictures, this breakfast was pretty amazing! K couldn't finish all of hers,wimp. I however, destroyed mine. The pancake is massive and super fluffy. The french toast is also massive and perfectly cooked. The sausages and juicy and flavourful and my beans were smokey and had a nice hint of maple.

Oh, there was one more purchase we made, and some of you may or may not agree with it, but we don't go home often and had to stock-up!

4 Litre jug of Maple Syrup anyone? It will only set you back $63!!

So as you can see, we really enjoy our visit to Gilbertson's and will be going back next time we are back home and if any of you ever want to go visit St Joseph Island, we can recommend other places to go and fun/nerdy things to do!


Lucy returns

When we got Lucy, we didn't crate her at first when we were at work. She, like many pugs, and other dogs, developed separation anxiety. This manifested in many ways, the most amusing however, can be seen in the picture below.

Twenty dollar pet bed from Wal-Mart - destroyed. So we began to crate her and haven't had many issues since. I mean, really, how can you get too mad at a face like this?


Happy Friday.


Belonging to a neighbourhood

Since we moved to Ottawa, we lived in the Sandy Hill area, usually as close to the University of Ottawa as possible, since K was going to school there. Recently, last summer actually, we realized that we needed more room, and couldn't afford to stay in Sandy Hill. We looked and looked for appropriate places, and just kept coming back to this cute little house in Vanier, close to Beechwood/New Edinburgh. Although we had heard rumours about the crime in the area, we've not experienced any of that since we've moved here.

The neighbourhood is extremely walkable, and there are many great places within walking distance - including the Scone Witch on Beechwood at MacKay. Last weekend before K and I went to go get a patio set for the backyard, we decided we needed a filling, quick, healthy breakfast. Off we went to the Scone Witch.

K got her usual, a vanilla cream scone with half devon cream and half raspberry jam. I've never had devon cream, but K tells me it's similar to cream cheese, except way, way better. The best part about these scones, at least the vanilla cream ones, is that you can peel them apart layer by layer so you can slather each piece with cream and jam.

I usually get the full brunch special, which is a full omelette with a piece of ham, but we were in a bit more of a rush that day, so I got the egg sconewitch (get it? like sandwich?) that had fresh scrambled eggs and ham in a cheddar scone. They also put some fruit and a (very light) salad mix around the plate. It obviously wasn't much, but I appreciated the small touch of the greens. This was the perfect breakfast for us. It's really nice to have such a great spot in the neighbourhood, and we will be customers of this spot for a long time to come.


The endless search for awesome pizza

Sorry for being absent... I was in Toronto for a few days for business, then I needed a few days for recovery. I've also updated the macaron post with pictures, so you can see the magic for yourselves, and know that I'm not a total liar.

One of our Twestival co-organizers coined this phrase "the hanger" which is when you are so hungry that you start to get angry. Does this happen to anyone other than A and I? I hope it does, or else we have serious issues... So. This one night a few weeks ago we were low on foods in the pantry, so I thought it would be nice to go grab some food. Except I couldn't decide on anywhere to go, and when I did decide, that place was completely packed and couldn't fit us in. Anyways, we drove in circles for about a half hour until I finally suggested trying to see if the new pizza restaurant in Hintonburg, Tennessy Willems. When A called, they said there were a few seats at the bar they could squeeze us into. We had a serious case of the hanger at this point, so we drove there immediately.

The place itself is adorable. I don't have any pictures of the decor, because as I've said, we were only focused on the food at this point. We decided to share an appetizer and a pizza, so we began with a charcuterie plate. It had prosciutto, some terrine, and a slice of smoked duck breast.

Looks good doesn't it? And it was. The bread was homemade, which was a pleasant change from the Art-Is-In bread that is normally served everywhere (even though it rocks!)... My only issue was that I found it a bit pricey for $11, not outrageous, but I would have appreciated a little fig compote or something to really make it a great plate.

And the pizza! This is the boar sausage pizza with apples and mozzarella. I really wanted to like this, I did. And it wasn't bad pizza - I really liked the smoke that was imparted from the wood burning oven, but it just wasn't as fabulous as I had read in other reviews. I liked the flavours overall, I just wished I had chosen a pizza with a sauce, and this one seemed lonely without any. I also found it a bit oily, which may have been from what appeared to be the pizza chefs drizzling oil on every pizza that came out of the wood-burning oven. I didn't think this cheese-y pizza needed that, but again, pizza is all about personal preference right?

So, it wasn't my favourite pizza ever. On a whole, it was decent pizza with friendly service. I think I will try Tennessy Willems again to find a pizza that I like!


The ever elusive macaron

So I saved my first real recipe post for the macaron. The first time I made these, my friend coached me through the process, and when they came out perfectly, I felt like it was serious stroke of luck. I'm pretty sure I held my breath the whole time while making them... I'd heard nothing but horror stories about how difficult they are to do successfully. So much so, when I was going to make them the other day for work, I felt like throwing in the towel and ordering them instead from a local baker. Then I read this post on the BraveTart blog (whom I now absolutely love by the way) about the ten macaron myths, and regained the confidence to try to make them myself.

Macaron Recipe: Taken and messed with from the I <3 Macarons book

1 cup Almond Flour
3/4 cup Icing Sugar
3 Egg Whites
1/4 cup Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
(Food colouring and flavours - such as raspberry, are extras and totally not necessary. You can fill these suckers with anything you like)

As noted in the Macaron Myth post, this book, and most recipes, tell you to age your egg whites by leaving them out overnight, which I did in this case - but I'm thinking you don't have to, I can't see why it would matter in the long run.

Turn on your oven to 375F. Put the almond flour and icing sugar into a food processor and pulse until it becomes evenly combined. Put the egg whites and the normal sugar into a stand mixer (or into a bowl and use a hand mixer, doesn't matter). Whip both ingredients at a fairly fast speed until the white are glossy and make a stiff peak - which is when you remove the whisking device, the eggs whites stick to whisk in a soft peak that only gently folds over when you turn it right-side up.

If you want to use food colouring for the macarons, gently stir it into the egg whites now. Use more food colouring than you think you need, since they will turn darker in the oven (mine turned from blue to brown, embarrassing). Dump the almond flour mixture into the bowl with the egg whites, and stir together gently with a spatula, just to combine.

Now you have to do the macaronage, which is basically scooping up as much of the macaron batter with a spatula as you can, and mushing it against the side of the bowl in a sweeping motion, repeating this about fifteen times. If you don't know what I mean, google it. I'm sure there's a video that explains it a bit more clearly. Once you're done, the batter should gently fall off your spatula in clumps, which is the way you know you're done.

Put the batter into a piping bag, and pipe 2.5cm round circles on a baking sheet covered in a silpat or wax paper. Tap the baking sheet gently on the counter to remove the bubbles. As soon as the oven is ready, put the macarons in, sit down in front of your oven and hope like heck they rise properly. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

And to be honest, these puppies weren't perfect - a little too crunchy, possibly caused by a too hot oven. However, this was easy enough to do that I will try it again, and I hope you do too!

*** I apologize for not having pictures in this post, and for not posting for awhile. Our laptop is completed infected by a virus, and we're looking into replacing it or something... we will be back in full form soon, I hope! ***


Treats review by J!

*Disclaimer* K won a $25 dollar gift card for Auntie Loo's through a draw on Victoire's blog (love your stores!)* 

Today, we asked our friend J to review for us, since we brought over all the goods to a dinner she ever so graciously invited us to. Without further adieu, here's J!


If you ever thought that in order to have deliciously satisfying and comforting desserts requires butter, eggs and other animal products, think again. A trip to Auntie Loo’s bakery on Bronson St. in Ottawa will surely change your mind. A recent Friday afternoon visit by K meant a redemption of a $25 gift certificate and yielded a box full of vegan baked goodness. 

Among the scrumptious treats were Lavender cupcakes, Earl Grey cupcake, Chocolate Peanut Butter cupcake, Nanaimo bar, gluten-free brownie and banana cake… and they were all vegan!!! I can say that I, a long-time vegetarian with some vegan tendencies, was extremely impressed. Not only could I not tell the difference between what I was eating and non-vegan versions of the treats, I was so impressed by the flavors and textures of the Lavender cupcake and Nanaimo bar that I ate. 

The cupcake was moist with subtle hints of Lavender and the icing was similar to a buttercream but without the heaviness that normally comes with using all the butter that goes into making the icing. The Nanaimo bar was rich and full of nutty/coconutty goodness with a smooth custard centre and covered delicious chocolate. There is no doubt that I will be visiting Auntie Loo’s again! 


Many thanks to J for her post - you're the coolest vegetarian I know - and that's saying something!


Madonna Boobs

I know, I KNOW. You're sitting there going - wtf is she talking about? What place does Madonna's chest have on a site like this? Well, I'm not actually talking about Madonna's boobs, I'm talking about what our family affectionately refers to as Madonna Boobs, since I haven't yet asked my sister, who speaks some Japanese, to translate for me.

Most candy that I eat (even though now I'm not eating as much) has some kind of back story to it. These are no different. As I haven't traveled too much, I've always tended to like foods that I can't easily get. One of my earliest candy-related memories (yes, I have many) is walking from my uncle's home in Mississauga to the little Japanese corner store with my sister. We would stock up on all the Japanese candy we could (there wasn't much demand for it in Sault Ste. Marie, still isn't) and brought it home with us.

The best part was when the owners started recognizing us, even though we only visited every six to ten months. So, my cravings for Japanese candy have long been a part of my life. When I moved to Ottawa I started frequenting the Japanese store on Slater, which sadly no longer exists, and I can't recall it's name (anyone?). I'm not sure if any other Japanese stores exist in Ottawa, but for now, I have been satisfying my hankering at T&T on Hunt Club Rd. Much to my surprise, I saw a whole sleeve of Madonna Boobs!

They aren't cheap, at a little less than $5 for the whole thing - but hey, they're imported, and I never see them, so I forgave myself for buying this expensive treat. Madonna Boobs, in particular, are made with the popular (I'm assuming here) combination of strawberry chocolate and dark chocolate. If you've never had Japanese chocolate, be prepared, it's very unique. It's very smooth and the flavours are very obvious in the chocolate.

Can you see why we call them Madonna Boobs now? Their flavour is a bit difficult to explain, but if you get a chance to try Japanese candy or chocolate, do it. I also realize the timing of this post can be construed as a bit off, since I bought these before the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I guess you can take this as my call to support Japanese businesses like Meiji, and don't be scared to try Japanese chocolate!


Food court dinner

Sometimes, when you're shopping in a mall, you gotta eat. Often, there are many questionable choices in a food court. Actually, one of my most memorable meals was in a food court. It was a savoury crepe in the West Edmonton Mall, and it was chicken thai. It was fantastic, and the vendor was really sweet.

Back to my original reason for this post, needing food in the Rideau Centre. Aaron had his usual, Manchu Wok. I, however, wanted to try the newest fast food stop in the food court.

The Chippy
Rideau Centre Mall, Ottawa

The Chippy is the fast food version of Elephant and Castle, which used to be upstairs at Rideau, but has been re-branded as The EX. The Chippy's focus is deep fried seafood and fries. From memory, I think they had shrimp, scallops, and different types of fish. The special of the day was two pieces of haddock, fries, coleslaw and a drink.

The whole special came to a little more than $7. It was actually pretty decent. The fish was hot, crispy, and the batter was close to perfect... not too thick, not too thin. The fish itself was good, firm, and didn't taste fishy. The fries weren't as good, a little too soft for my liking, which was possibly caused by the oil temperature being a bit low? The coleslaw was fresh enough, but watery. All in all, a decent FISH meal in a food court. I'll be back!

- K

3.14159265s are round

Happy PI Day everybody! It's apparently also another day, ahem, which I learned about via Twitter, but I'm not going to discuss that here! To celebrate this incredibly nerdy day, A and I decided to go grab a pie for dessert. We ended up at:

Life of Pie
1095 Bank Street, Ottawa

There was only one type of pie left when we got there at 3:30, so we decided to pick a Cranberry/ Blueberry pie to take home. There were a lot of other munchies there tempting me, like cupcakes, scones, and Pascale's Ice Creams... but today is all about pie.

The pie looked like it had promise. Nicely baked and golden brown, with a thick crust - which is a must-have with me.

Unfortunately, we were disappointed by this pie. The filling was good, with tart cranberries and sweet blueberries. The crusts, however, were an issue. On both the top and bottom, the crusts were paper thin. I'm actually a little impressed they held together when I took out our slices. You could barely taste the crust through the cranberries and blueberries, and when you got to the end, a huge piece of thick crust awaited. Although normally I would find that awesome, but when I finally got a chance to actually taste the crust, I felt like it could have been a bit flakier.

I feel like today might have been an off day, since I've ordered a berry crisp and a pumpkin pie from them for Thanksgiving, and both pies were fantastic then. Or maybe the trick is to only order the single crust pies, and avoid the doubles. In any case, we will try them out again, maybe next time for lunch (and what sounds like a tempting handpie!)...



I love breakfast. I love croissants, waffles, pancakes, french toast, sugary cereal, basically anything with carbs. I seriously love pastry, and sugar.

So it has been pretty difficult for me over the past few days to generally abandon my cravings for a healthier breakfast. However, this transition was made substantially easier with Siren Granola. After seeing many positive reviews, I figured if I was going to eat food I thought would be gross, I might as well support a local business. I ended up purchasing Siren Bakery's Blueberry and Pecan Granola from Herb and Spice on Wellington.

(Insert picture of Siren Bakery Granola here)

The reason there's no actual picture up there is because I. ATE. IT. ALL. Well, by me, I mean A and I. I suppose I should put my opinion of granola in context. In the past, all granola I've eaten has basically tasted like sawdust, so to be honest, I wasn't expecting this granola to be any better. I tossed some on vanilla yogurt, and proceeded to eat breakfast.

I was incredibly surprised by not only the taste, but the texture as well! This granola is not sawdust (thank goodness!), it is chewy, sweet and hands down the most delicious healthy thing I've ever eaten. I now consider myself a total addict, and I can't wait to try some other flavours! If you, like me, have a tough time eating healthy breakfasts (or healthy food in general), I dare you to try Siren Bakery's Granola and not fall totally in love.


Au Pied de Cochon Cabane à Sucre

This post won't be heavy on the review side. Just go. If you get the chance to go, just do it. You will eat like a complete pig, and everything will be totally delicious - totally worth the money. Martin Picard was in the house, manning the smoker and talking to guests, but when we were done he was nowhere to be seen, so no picture with him sadly.

... and here we go.

My sister-in-law and her boyfriend. The cabane was a classic set up, and we sat at a table for ten.

Creeper shot of guy shucking oysters with an amazing fox hat.

Maple syrup. 'Nuff said.

Boozy coffee with maple liqueur, maple whipped cream, and burnt maple sugar around the rim. Tasty as all hell. Would have been nice to know they were $10 a pop before ordering three, but oh well.

Oyster starter served on a slab of wood. St. Simone oysters with a maple gelee. This was my frist time eating oysters. A little slimy, but edible.

Caesar-esque salad with pork crackling, ham, and cheddar. Pretty much the only green thing for the whole meal.

Maple cured fish (didn't catch what kind) blini's. Totally messed up eating this properly, but the fish was tasty.

One of the group's favourite course - pea soup with foie gras and pork. Totally divine. Would eat this for days. Also my first time eating foie gras, it was amazing!

Half a tortiere. Wish I had bought one to take home, the crust on this thing was the BEST crust I'd ever had. Served with homemade ketchup.

Deep-fried smoked salmon maki with pate (I think) and a maple soy dipping sauce.

Maple syrup soaked potatoe and lobster fritata. Amazing presentation.

What you look (and feel) like when all this food has been served to you within an hour. Delicious, delicious pain.

Maple pulled pork with maple roasted potatoes and parsnips... Apologies for the pork being out of focus, I snapped this picture quickly so I could dive in. The other group sharing our table didn't eat their HUGE piece of crackling, and I was right pissed at them for wasting something so tasty.

Chicken in dark beer and maple sauce with gnocchi. Best gnocchi I've had, ever. That's really saying something coming from me, I have high standards when it comes to gnocchi. I think the beer sauce kicked it over the top.

Apple tarte tatin. The crust was again, amazing. It was beautifully caramelized, and was as sweet as candy.

We didn't catch what this was, this occurred occasionally due to the language barrier on our part, but was soaked in maple syrup.

Maple galette with maple sugar cotton candy. This was so creamy and crunchy, it was great. It was sad we were so full by this point and couldn't finish it all.

Last but not least, maple syrup in snow. Classic and fun to eat indoors.

And that's it. So again, go. Go, go, go. The drive was terrible (the weather), the food and service was superb, and if we get a chance to go again, we will. It also only cements our desire to visit Au Pied de Cochon on our next visit to Montreal.