on saturday, june 25th, i ran away as soon as the market closed and drove really quickly to the airport. when i boarded the plane it was a mere 10 degrees, rainy, dreary and didn't feel a bit like summer. when i got off the plane in ottawa an hour & a half later it was like i was in a whole nother world - sunny & hot (just the way i like it).
my trip was a whirlwind of food, friends & good times. i never, ever, ever cook for myself anymore so it was so nice to head to some of my favourite spots - and a friend's new place - and enjoy all of their awesomeness. the restaurant community in ottawa is a small and tight-knit one and definitely something i miss being a part of.
i grabbed a cab straight to the wellington gastropub for a friend's birthday dinner party. the casual vibe and focus on local & seasonal ingredients at the gastropub make it one of the best in the city and somewhere i've always enjoyed frequenting. one of the best things i have ever eaten in my whole life (maybe the best) was prepared by chris deraiche of the gastropub: butter poached lobster on french toast with maple syrup & hollandaise - it was years ago but i can still taste it now. on the 25th, we dined in the white room - their private dining room - and it was awesome. i started with a bright, crunchy salad followed by pan-fried sablefish with a white bean ragout and then some pascale's ice cream for dessert. pascale's ice cream is completely decadent, addictive & ridiculous. it's so rich you can chew it, her flavours are super creative & it is the best ice cream in the universe as far as i'm concerned - if ever in ottawa, find her. there were also cupcakes and a radical buzz lightyear cake prepared by my friend lynne - perfect!
the next morning i was back at it - brunch at my friend marysol's little gem - edgar. i worked with marysol at the urban element and i always admired her wicked style & attention to detail. edgar has only been open since the fall (after i left ottawa) so this was my first visit. it was fabulous, i loved everything about it and it was completely packed the entire time i was there - yay marysol! i had the huevos rancheros, they hit the spot like nobody's business and they were exactly what i wanted. the kitchen is open, it's tiny & i can't even believe how much food they are able to pump out. marysol is actually someone who encouraged me to write a blog. mine is nowhere near as nice as her's - she eats bears - you should definitely check it out. edgar is so busy her posts aren't as frequent as they used to be, but i definitely suggest you to take the time and read through all the past posts, you won't regret it.
then it was off to oysterfest. i love oysterfest. i love oysterfest a whole lot - even though i'm allergic to oysters... i used to be the sous chef at the whalesbone with my bud, chef charlotte langley. it is a rocking little joint, filled with great people & great music (all vinyl, all the time) and every year they throw a wicked party. oysterfest is an all day party complete with tons & tons of fresh shucked oysters, delectable walleye burgers & pulled pork sandwiches. there's a highly entertaining oyster shucking competition, tons of live music & i think every single person i know in ottawa was there. it's like every good restaurant around the city must close for the day so everyone can head to oysterfest - so much fun! i wish i had some pics but at least a local blogger was also there to take care of that - check this out.
the next day was chef appreciation night at oz kafe. the last monday night of each month oz kafe hosts a guest chef, puts out a table d'hote menu & all of the chefs about town converge on this little restaurant/bar/cafe/best place in ottawa to hang out. for this i remembered the pictures. first course was a duck-elicious charcuterie board - i love duck!
duck rillettes, cured meats, smoked breast, grainy mustard, pickled vegetables - this is how i like to eat.
what's that you say? oh ya know, just a crispy duck cracklin' spearing the pot of duck rillettes - so yummy.
second course was the raw bar.
oysters on the half shell, cured salmon with creme fraiche & caviar, and little quenelles of albacore tuna tartare. the whalesbone also works as a sustainable seafood supply shop & all of these goodies came from them.
then we got into the meat.
in case you haven't noticed, i've got a thing for bbq. these ribs were so tender and the sauce was delectable. i got a little messy.
but that's not all.
bacon-wrapped tenderloin (tournedos) & scalloped potatoes topped with crumbled cheetos - yes that's right - cheetos! hilarious & delicious.
i was dining with a fellow food blogger - lynne frappier aka the twisted chef. when out with other bloggers things like this happen:
comedy gold! lynne is actually coming to visit for a few weeks to be my sous chef/partner in crime/sanity saver. we will be blogging machines i'm sure & should come up with fun new ideas in food while she's here - we both reeeaallllly love to bake.
the last course of the night was molten chocolate cake with ice cream & ganache. we were dining al fresco & night had fallen by that point so no pics - sorry.
then there was just one more day to jam pack with food & good times. i was meeting up with all the urban element gals at murray street for some afternoon meat & cheese. i never liked cretons until i tried them there - so awesome. they are also the proud owners of the best terrace in ottawa and steve mitton, the chef, is pretty much a charcuterie genius & an all-round awesome guy. the restaurant has been so successful that they've opened up a second location a few blocks away, called murray's market, where they do lots of fun stuff - including prepared take home foods - fancy that! i am totally envious of their setup. they let me explore a little & this is what i found.
my bud kyle dry-aging some epic beef.
and the biggest walk-in fridge i have ever seen filled with all sorts of goodies. the shop is upstairs and downstairs they have this massive prep area and huge cooler. i must repeat: i am totally envious of their setup.
then it was back to murray street as it just happened to be their 3rd anniversary party. yet again, all of the chefs about town congregated in one spot, more food, more live music, more awesome. a veritable who's who of people who know what's up with food. good times were had by all.
i love my little kitchen by the ocean, but i definitely miss the camaraderie and sharing of ideas that happens when you hang with other people in the food industry. maybe someday that will happen here too... until then i'll just keep flying back for oysterfest every year.