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ByWard Market

Hot Dining: Portuguese and Italian Fare at Cafe Spiga

Pasta is a specialty at Cafe Spiga

Pasta, fish, grilled meats; it’s the best of both worlds at Cafe Spiga, a restaurant in the ByWard Market that fuses Portuguese and Italian fare. Popular dishes include salted cod, almond crusted chicken with figs, chorizo dishes, an assortment of pastas and sauces, and caldo verde, a hearty Portuguese soup. Specially selected wines from both countries round out the meal. It’s a white-linens type of restaurant, but popular on weekends with families for its fresh and tasty offerings. 271 Dalhousie St., 613-241-4381.

Q&A with The Good Lovelies on their Christmas Tour

Get your fill of holiday music with The Good Lovelies.

This Canadian folk group takes the stage at Shenkman Arts Centre on Dec. 13 as part of their special Christmas tour. Where Ottawa editor Misa Kobayashi caught up with The Good Lovelies in advance of their local show to find out about their travel essentials, where they love to eat when they’re in Ottawa, and more.

What’s your favourite activity to do on the road?
Well, we bought some skipping ropes about a year ago. When we get restless, we get out of the car and jump rope for a few minutes. Invariably, we make friends with any young girls that happen to be around. They join in without asking. It’s a way more fun version of the elementary school playground! And we love eating in new places, checking out the local cuisine. Recently we had some incredible Indian food in Northern Ontario in Bruce Mines. Go figure! (more…)

12 Days of Christmas in Ottawa

By Misa Kobayashi.

While the traditional carol offers up lords-a-leaping and swans-a-swimming, we bring you 12 ideas for fun outings and events to take you through the holiday season (no partridge required). (more…)

Hot Dining: A Taste of the Highlands

Highlander Pub is a favourite for scotch lovers.

Located in the ByWard Market, the Highlander Pub offers something a little different from a traditional pub. Besides a unique selection of microbrews and imported draughts, this Scottish establishment is Ottawa’s only gold level single malt scotch bar (with an entire wall devoted to their scotch selection, it’s no wonder they’ve nabbed this honour). Live music Wednesday to Saturday nights and some traditional dishes like bangers and mash (with sausages made in house) round out the experience. 15 Rideau St., 613-562-5678.

Hot Shopping: Cute Christmas Ornaments

This fun ornament offers a touch of Canadiana to any tree.

For all those eager beavers out there (ha ha) who are planning ahead, ornaments by Whigby are the ultimate souvenirs. Brightly coloured in “Canada red,” each of the ornaments feature an iconic symbol of our home and native land. There are nine shapes in total, which include a goalie, a polar bear, and a bush plane ($16.95). Get yours at Paper Papier, a boutique in the ByWard Market that’s also known for carrying unique stationery, writing instruments, and personal organizers. 18 Clarence St., 613-241-1212.

Notes from an Ottawa Fashion Blogger

Marilou Moles is the founder and creative director of Twenty York Street, a local fashion and lifestyle blog. Here, we get her thoughts on Ottawa’s style scene.

Marilou Moles from Twenty York Street. Photo credit: Jose Perez-Alvarez.

What role does fashion have in shaping a city?
It inspires creativity and self-expression! Fashion is global; when you take home pieces from different parts of the world — whether through travels or local stores — it enhances that city’s identity, if only through the medium of fashion.

What are your favourite places to shop?
I’m a huge fan of Banana Republic and the Rideau Centre. I also love local brands Kania and Miikali, and accessories from frAsh by Isobel Walker!

What’s your favourite neighbourhood for shopping?
I love the ByWard Market. It has everything, including clothes, shoes, gourmet food, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and — when you get hungry after shopping — lots of cafés and restaurants to choose from. Though the Glebe also houses fantastic spas and stores like Thann.

What Ottawa store is a hidden gem?
Everyone is gushing about Roadtrip right now because it has a fantastic selection and most items are under $100!

How would you describe Ottawa’s style to someone who’s not from here?
Evolving. The city’s style is definitely a superb representation of its multicultural and multi-disciplinary citizens. Though the weather — especially in the winter — is a huge factor, Ottawa has its own unique style identity. You’ve got the classic dressers, preppy, sexy glam, hip-hop, eclectic street style, and the downright wacky!

Read more from Marilou at www.twentyyork.com.

10 Things to Do for $10 or Less

Who says you have to break the bank to have fun? Not us, that’s for sure! Here are just a few activities you can do in Ottawa on the cheap.
By Misa Kobayashi

The ByWard Market. Photo credit: OTCA.

1) Outdoor markets: $0-$10
This city has an awesome selection of farmers’ markets from which to score baked goods, fresh produce, flowers, jewellery — you name it. Located in the heart of downtown, the historic ByWard Market is a must for its bustling shops and vendors. Another top pick is the Ottawa Farmers’ Market on Sundays in the Glebe neighbourhood. We love the many restaurants that set up shop in the outdoor food court. See www.byward-market.com or www.ottawafarmersmarket.ca.

2) Downtown art galleries: Free
Check out a contemporary art exhibit at the City Hall Gallery, Karsh-Masson Gallery, or Ottawa Art Gallery, all of which are located within walking distance of each other in the downtown core. Even better? All offer either free admission or pay-what-you-can. See the gallery listings for more info.

3) Splash pads: Free
Beat the heat on a hot day with your kiddies at one of the city’s splash pads. Our favourite is Brewer Park (100 Brewer Way), for its excellent picnic spots, sprinklers, mini water slide, and three different play structures. A list of splash pads can be found at www.ottawa.ca.

Buskerfest on Sparks Street.

4) International Busker Festival: Pay-what-you-can
This annual fest lights up Sparks Street Mall from July 28 to Aug. 1, when performers from around the world strut their stuff. Enjoy daily shows that captivate and delight with performances that are all about unusual — and often daring — talents. See www.sparksstreetmall.com.

5) Lunch at Di Rienzo: $5-$10
This authentic grocery and deli, located in Little Italy, is part corner store, part sandwich shop. Locals arrive in droves at lunchtime, so there’s often a line-up out the door. Choose your bread, your toppings, and your meat, and grab a seat at the park across the street, or take a stroll through the charming neighbourhood. 111 Beech St., 613-729-4037. (more…)

Hot Dining: Sushi in the ByWard Market

There's something for every taste at Wasabi.

Wasabi’s elegant dining room is a resplendent oasis in the bustling ByWard Market. With more than 300 items on the menu at this Japanese restaurant and sushi bar, deciding what to order can be a challenge. We suggest their signature shrimp-tempura roll, or the original Spezza Salmon Special conceived by Wasabi-frequenter — and Ottawa Senators’ player — Jason Spezza. Relax in a booth, or schmooze in the lounge, but be sure to stroll past the sushi-creation station where you can see the experts craft each delicious piece. 41 Clarence St., 613-241-3636.

Q&A with Tokyo Police Club

Tokyo Police Club. Photo credit: Chrissy Piper.

This Canadian indie band has received worldwide success over the past few years, performing at the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, opening for The Flaming Lips, and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman. In advance of their concert in Ottawa on April 8, Where Ottawa editor Misa Kobayashi caught up with Tokyo Police Club‘s drummer Greg Alsop to talk favourite road activities, Ottawa audiences, and their appearance on Desperate Housewives.

You’re often on the road touring. What two or three items do you consider your “travel essentials”?
If I’m allowed two items: A toothbrush and toothpaste. If I can bring three items though, then it’s coffee, pure granulated sugar, and dentures. The allowance of that one extra item really lets me let go of oral hygiene. Lucky for me and my teeth, we as a band have a two item limit.

What’s your favourite activity to do on the road?
Long drives are where I get most of my reading done nowadays, so that’s my favourite road activity.

What was the inspiration behind the new album [2010’s Champ]?
I think we wanted to make an album that you could put on at a party, or you could listen to alone on headphones, or play while driving to work, or maybe even at work (depending on where you work, of course).

What’s going through your head right before you go on stage?
I’m wearing pants? I’m wearing pants. Here you go. (more…)

Q&A with The Good Lovelies

The Good Lovelies

This Canadian group won a Juno for Roots/Traditional Album of the Year in 2010, has recently released their third full-length album, Let the Rain Fall, and boasts a lighthearted, folksy sound that calls to mind sunny summer days. Where Ottawa editor Misa Kobayashi caught up with The Good Lovelies in advance of their local show to find out about their travel essentials, where they love to eat when they’re in Ottawa, and more.

What was the inspiration behind the new album?
The new album is a celebration of our lives together on the road, touring this big country of ours. We spend a lot of time together, performing on average 150 shows per year, and that experience is reflected in the album’s lyrics. It’s an upbeat, happy record, with moments of melancholy (particularly when we sing about wanting to be home).

What’s your favourite activity to do on the road?
Well, we bought some skipping ropes about a year ago. When we get restless, we get out of the car and jump rope for a few minutes. Invariably, we make friends with any young girls that happen to be around. They join in without asking. It’s a way more fun version of the elementary school playground! And we love eating in new places, checking out the local cuisine. Recently we had some incredible Indian food in Northern Ontario in Bruce Mines. Go figure!

You’re often on the road touring. What two or three items do you consider your “travel essentials”?
Needless to say, our bags are very heavy when we leave home. Here’s a snapshot of what’s in them:
Caroline- running shoes, a good book, earplugs for sleeping
Sue- hair dryer, slippers, and a camera
Kerri- iPod, glasses, and a notebook

What’s the best thing about touring?
There are lots of great things about touring. A friend of ours said that in a way we have “working vacations,” we get to see so many different places, and experience different parts of the world. We also get to see friends who live far away more often than we would if we were still living full time in Toronto. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: Valentine’s Day Edition

Friday, February 11

Jim Bryson and The Weakerthans perform Feb. 11 at Capital Music Hall. Photo credit: Kelp Records.

Canadian indie legends The Weakerthans teamed up with local hero Jim Bryson to record The Falcon Lake Incident last year, and are taking the album on the road. Playing Bryson’s hometown after weeks of touring, catch this amazing collaboration at the Capital Music Hall this Friday with your valentine. Have dinner in the bustling Byward Market or on Elgin Street. End the night with a glass of wine at Must in the Market.

For any gentlemen looking for last minute bling for their lady friends, Disegno Fine Jewellery is hosting a “Men’s Night” from 4 to 8 p.m. to offer a wee bit of guidance. This evening of shopping includes beer and chips, a hockey puck with every purchase, and of course, a sweet selection of beautiful baubles (RSVP required, 613-482-1614).

Saturday, February 12

The outdoor baths at Le Nordik are amazing in winter. Photo credit: Le Nordik.

Take a romantic getaway for two this weekend with an intimate spa session. Both the chic Holtz Spa downtown and Gatineau’s Le Nordik nature spa offer relaxing, romantic packages for couples. Enjoy the Chocolate Delights package at Holtz or take an energizing dip in the Nordik baths.

For a cost effective Valentine’s date, take in Winterlude with a romantic skate on the canal – there are plenty of places to rent skates if you don’t have a pair. Warm up with a BeaverTail or hot apple cider as you walk through the ice sculptures in Confederation Park with your sweetheart.

It’s the last weekend for the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s acclaimed Strawberries in January. Curl up next to your sweetheart and enjoy the fizzy romantic comedy of four singletons trying to find love in the dead of a Montreal winter. Have dinner at the ultra trendy Wellington Gastropub or delight in a vegetarian meal at The Table for a romantic night, enjoying the best the up-and-coming Hintonburg neighbourhood has to offer.

Sunday, February 13

Enjoy a sexy evening out at Kinki Asian-Fusion Restaurant.

Dinner and a movie could be a boring date, but not if you’re watching one of the most endearing love stories to hit the silver screen. Amélie, the mad-cap story of a Parisian girl finding love for those around her, is playing Sunday to Tuesday at the Bytowne Cinema in the heart of Ottawa. Mix it up and grab dinner somewhere fashionable like Ottawa’s Asian fusion favourite, Kinki.

If you like dancing, swing by the Canada Aviation and Space Museum Sunday afternoon for a ton of big band favourites. The “Con Amore” concert will feature the Grey Jazz Big Band and roses will be handed out to the first hundred women wearing red. It’s free with museum admission, so take in the museum’s collection of aviation artefacts while you’re there.

Monday, February 14

Instead of chocolates and flowers, buy the one you love a personalized sonnet, performed on bended knee. On Valentine’s Day, you can send a costumed actor from A Company of Fools to deliver a Shakespearean poem to your sweetie’s work or home, along with a small bag of sweets.