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Ottawa

A Taste of Ottawa: The Capital’s Signature Dishes

BeaverTails, shawarma, poutine, perhaps pho. The capital isn’t lacking for acclaimed fast-food options. But stop for a minute and take your taste imaginings to a higher plane. What restaurant dishes are Ottawa classics?

These are unique to a particular dining room, and beloved by legions of fans who extol their virtues far and wide. Signature dishes might be innovative and complex, but they could just as easily be simple. Nevertheless, they have two things in common: they’re instantly cherished and nearly impossible for the chef to remove from the menu.

Any debate over a definitive list could last well into the night, so we’ll just start here with six picks.

Les Fougères’ Duck Confit

783 rte. 105, Chelsea, Quebec, 819-827-8942, fougeres.com

Chef Charles Part’s duck confit is legendary. Little wonder, since the chef-owner has been refining it for upwards of two decades. It boasts a skin that’s deliciously crisp, and the accompanying potato galette is always perfection.

Benny’s Bistro Salmon Gravlax

119 Murray St., 613-789-6797, frenchbaker.ca/reservations

Benny’s Bistro has been serving up “French fast food done right” for years. Its house-made salmon gravlax is a thing of beauty, with an oozy sunny-side-up egg, a warm fingerling potato salad, and olive tapenade on the side.

Mariposa Farm’s Foie Gras

6468 County Road 17, Plantagenet, 613-673-5881, mariposa-duck.on.ca

This farm’s ethical farming practices produce tons of delightful goodies, but none quite as delicious (or coveted) as the duck foie gras.

The SmoQue Shack’s BBQ Chicken

129 York St., 613-789-4245, smoqueshack.com

There’s barbecue and there’s the way chicken’s done in Kentucky: a spicy rub, a sugar and honey brine, and an apple wood smoke. The SmoQue Shack’s secret sauce? A bourbon glaze with hints of vanilla.

Absinthe’s Steak Frites

1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138, absinthecafe.ca

Absinthe sees a large and devoted following for chef-owner Patrick Garland’s steak frites. Its marinated hanger steak paired with hot fries is a don’t-you-dare-take-it-off-the-menu staple.

Allium’s Banoffee Pie

87 Holland Ave., 613-792-1313, alliumrestaurant.com

This yummy pie has a graham cracker crust filled with layers of creamy toffee, sliced banana, and heaps of whipped cream, all topped with chocolate shavings.

Bytown’s Best Beers

By Matt Harrison

It’s a golden age of sorts. Golden suds that is. Awash in beer, the capital’s not quite drowning but rather happily drifting along in a frothy sea of microbrews. Last count finds the area home to at least two-dozen breweries and growing.

Not confined to area pubs and bars, the breweries themselves have become tourist destinations such as Beau’s Oktoberfest in September (less chance of snow!), or Les Brasseurs du Temps, a beautiful stone brewery located in Hull’s former waterworks building with patios overlooking — fittingly — Brewery Creek, an arm of the Ottawa River.

What’s driving this industry? The answer is found in the hardworking brewmasters who pride themselves in being natural and authentic. But to stand out, you also have to be a little quirky (the Broadhead team brags about giving up shaving for its craft) or take a mad-scientist approach to experimenting (an Earl Grey Marmalade Saison anyone?), or get creative with naming beers (Bog WaterPink FuzzHeller Highwater).

We asked some of the city’s top brewers to talk about what makes this city’s suds scene so great.

Father-son team, Tim and Steve Beauchesne of Beau’s Brewery. Photo courtesy of Beau’s.

Beau’s Brewing Co. (Since 2006)
Steve Beauchesne, co-founder, and CEO

What makes your brewery unique?
Our close-knit family and friends, company culture, and each of the beers we brew.

What is your favourite beer?
Bog Water. It started us on a path of experimentation, and has spawned so many interesting projects. When we decided to brew a Gruit beer [brewed with herbs other than hops], I don’t think we fully realized how much it would impact our brewery. Now with a full-time Gruit program, and as originators of International Gruit Day, it is something that many brewers [worldwide] look to us as experts on.

Les Brasseurs du Temps (Since 2009)
Alain Geoffroy, president

What makes your brewery unique?
BDT is the first craft brewery established on the Quebec side of the Outaouais. It is literally a temple of beer brewing more than 35 different types of beer [always 17 fresh beers on the menu], located in a heritage centennial building and featuring a self-guided beer museum.

What are your most underrated and favourite beers?
Underrated: L’Allumante is our nut brown ale. Despite the fact that it is our second best-selling beer [OK, not really underrated!], it remains, to my point of view, one of the best American-style nut brown ales you can find: a subtle nutty flavour sustained by a long and smooth bitterness. Favourite: La Framboyante, our raspberry pale ale. Fruit beers tend to be oversweet to my taste. La Framboyante has a perfect balance of bitterness [like biting into the raspberry seed] and sweetness of the fruit.

Brewery Kichesippi Beer Co. (Since 2010)
Paul Meek, co-owner and president

What makes your brewery unique?
Our commitment to brewing rare global styles and making them available to our customers. Logger (Pennsylvania Porter), Wuchak UK (British IPA), Donny’s Dort (Dortmunder), Phoenix and the Cat (Rauchbier), and Dartmouth Common (Steam Beer) are all great examples of [our] hard-to-find global styles.

What are your most underrated and favourite beers?
Underrated: Probably our Kichesippi Logger. The style is a Penn Porter, which was a style created by Yuengling in the U.S. It is a not a traditional British Porter or Baltic Porter as it uses a lager yeast instead of an ale yeast. Favourite: Our Kichesippi 1855. The great thing about this beer is that it teaches the customer that the colour of the beer is not directly related to its flavour. When you try this amber ale with your eyes closed, you would never guess that it’s a darker beer in the glass.

Laura Behzadi, co-owner of Bicycle Craft Brewery.

Bicycle Craft Brewery (Since 2014)
Laura Behzadi, co-owner

What makes your brewery unique?
We pride ourselves on sourcing local ingredients when available and our passion for craft beer ensures that our beer is delicious every time it’s poured. We are also avid supporters of women in the brewing industry and celebrate International Women’s Day every year with Freedom Machine, our cherry pale ale that’s named after the suffragette name for the bicycle.

What are your most underrated and favourite beers?
Underrated: Vinternat Liquorice Stout. The added raw liquorice root gives the beer a crisp finish that cools the mouth and is very thirst-quenching and refreshing. Most people are surprised when they try it. Favourite: Velocipede IPA. It’s our flagship beer and is inspired by the original name for the bicycle. Hoppy, with citrus notes and a refreshing bitterness — it’s perfect any time of year.

Whiprsnapr Brewing Co. (Since 2014)
Ian McMartin, founder, co-owner, head brewer

What makes your brewery unique?
We have a baby system (150L) and a big system (2000L). The baby system allows us to play a lot and have lots of different beers on tap, while the big guy lets us get our beers into the LCBO and The Beer Stores. We also have a great front-of-house area [for] events.

What are your most underrated and favourite beers?
Underrated: Our Carol Anne Irish blonde ale. There’s just so much flavour in it for such a light, easy drinking beer [4.7 percent]. It’s got a lot of body from wheat and honey malts, and loads of hops give it a real spring-like aroma. Favourite: Our ginger coriander cream ale. It’s based on some of the travel I used to do to China, Malaysia, and Singapore, and the flavours they use in their foods: ginger, coriander, lemon, and honey. The beer is light, crisp, bright, vibrant, packed with flavour, but still balanced.

Canadiana Shopping in the Capital

By Nicole Bayes-Fleming and Chris Lackner

You can visit Canada’s capital, and take a small piece of the country home with you. Loosen your patriotic purse strings at the following shops and boutiques.

 

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Patriotic Payment

Spend like a true Canadian with coins made in honour of the country’s 150th celebration. The Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a collection of coins designed by Canadian artists, featuring national imagery such as the CN Tower, the beaver, and First Nations artwork. The toonie’s depiction of two canoeists gazing upon the northern lights also comes in a glow-in-the-dark version. Check your change, or purchase the limited editions designs at the Mint.

320 Sussex Dr., 613-993-8990

Sizzling Souvenirs

Kitschy souvenirs are easy to find in Ottawa. Ditch those maple syrup bottles and Mountie key chains for something from Maker House Co. The handmade items retain Canadian sentimentality, while supporting local artisans. You’ll find gear by North Standard Trading Post, bookmarks made of birch bark, and prints of different Canadian cities and provinces.

987 Wellington St. W., 613-422-6253

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First Nations’ Art

This purveyor of genuine First Nations’ fine arts and crafts from the Arctic and Canada’s West Coast has been a fixture on Sparks Street since 1963. At Snow Goose you’ll find original works of art, including soapstone carvings and masks, along with a large selection of dreamcatchers, original Inuit prints and carvings, Indigenous jewellery designs, and leather goods.

83 Sparks St., 613-232-2213

Wrap Yourself in the Flag

Victoire: Mainly Canadian designers, plus pop-culture accessories in a store aesthetic self-described as, “Rock ’n’ Roll tea party”.

Ottawa_Necklace (1)

Magpie Jewellery: The majority of their accessories are Canadian, including First Nations designers. If you’re feeling really patriotic, pick up the Ottawa Necklace from local designer Lissa Bowie.

Flock Boutique: Unique and handmade garments from over 150 Canadian designers; also visit their sister store in the market Workshop Boutique.

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Boogie + Birdie: Feels cosy and Canadian with largely local products — from scented candles to animal mugs to artisan crafts, colourful scarves, small ceramics and one-of-a-kind jewellery.

Homegrown Gifts

J.D. Adam Kitchen Co.: Set the table with Canadian and local kitchenware at this colourful, dynamic shop in the Glebe.

Market Organics: This health food store in the ByWard market carries plenty of local goods, from body care and nutritional products to local food purveyors. Their built-in kitchen even offers daily specials.

 

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Roots: Roots is living up to its name with special merchandise for Canada’s 150th. Locations include Westboro and three shopping centres: Rideau, St. Laurent and Bayshore.

Ottawa the Bold: 2017 in the Nation’s Capital

By Joseph Mathieu

Summer in the capital always enchants, but this year will be truly spellbinding. Canada’s 150th birthday finds Ottawa exploding with red and white, cascading with culture and embracing the extraordinary. Artists and performers from afar will highlight their cultures while celebrating their ties with Canada, the downtown core will ignite with fiery, fantastical beasts completing a quest, and a rift in the space-time continuum will be discovered and explored underground. We are talking about an Ottawa awash in magic, wonder and revelry — a city breaking with tradition and showing off just what it can do. Why not? You only turn 150 once, right?

Kontinuum: An Underground Journey Through Time

Kontinuum (July 16 to Sept. 14)
This free, interactive, immersive experience built around the construction of the new light-rail train system in Ottawa is the brainchild of Moment Factory, the wizards behind more than 400 multi-media productions around the world. The company is proud “to tell stories in unusual environments,” says MF’s Marie-Claire Lynn. The Lyon Street transit station is a case in point. Kontinuum centres on city workers finding a “breach” in the space-time continuum while digging to erect the station. This tear in reality allows visitors to experience alternate dimensions and invisible frequencies – auditory, visual and vibrational. Guests traverse three floors of architectural anomalies and life-like panoramic projections, and have the opportunity to visualize their own, unique “frequency,” which then becomes part of Kontinuum’s ever-evolving visual and auditory DNA.

La Machine’s Long-Ma & La Princesse

La Machine (July 27-30)
Get ready for the streets, buildings, and trees of downtown Ottawa to become a stage for two towering beasts. “The Spirit of the Dragon-Horse, With Stolen Wings” stars a 20-metre-long spider named La Princesse and a 12-metre-high horse-dragon named Long-Ma. With skin and features of sculpted wood, the massive pair’s mechanical guts and skeletons of steel move with the help of 33 operators. The monumental, four-day play will be the first North American performance by La Machine, a French production company based in Nantes. “Every driver has one role, one function and all together [they] make the machines emotive as well as mobile,” says La Machine’s Frédette Lampé. “The link between the operators and the machines is not dissimilar to that of a marionnettiste to its marionette, but we call them architecture in movement.”

Inspiration Village on York Street

Ottawa Welcomes the World (March until December) lives up to its name. All year long, the capital’s embassies and high commissions are marking their country’s national celebrations at the Aberdeen Pavilion and the Horticulture Building in Lansdowne Park. Enjoy music, food and art from around the world — but no jet lag. For programming, visit Ottawa2017.ca. Meanwhile, Inspiration Village on York Street (May 20 until Sept. 4) is home to 20 sea containers converted into a multi-use space featuring 880 hours of programming. You’ll discover special exhibits, live performances showcasing our provinces and territories, and activities for kids such as a costume photo booth, and photo cutouts of popular Canadian animals.

Ottawa Welcomes the World

Ottawa Welcomes the World

The International Pavilion (June 27 to Dec. 8)
A new building at 7 Clarence Street welcomes various countries, including summer hosts like Germany, Ireland and Belgium to will showcase their culture and traditions, and promotes their ties to Canada. With inspiring stories from immigrants and ex-pats, examples of partnerships leading to innovation, interactive presentations, and dynamic storytelling, the pavilion will serve as a enjoyable way to see how other countries perceive our own. For programming, visit the National Capital Commission site.

Terre Mère at MOSAÏCANADA 150

MOSAÏCANADA 150 (June 30 to Oct. 15)
Mosaïculture is the intersection of tapestry and topiary, the latter of which is the pruning of hedges into recognizable shapes. In other words, it’s all about creating living artwork with plants. For 107 days, Jacques-Cartier Park will host the biggest horticultural event in Canada, with MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017. The free exhibit’s themes will reflect on 150 years of history, values, culture and arts in Canada through some 40 different organic wonders.

6 Easy Weekend Getaways from Montreal

By LAUREN CRACOWER

Golf Le Diable (Photo: Tourisme Mont Tremblant)

Golf Le Diable (Photo: Tourisme Mont Tremblant)

With so many long weekends on the horizon this summer, now is the time to jump into the car and discover what local gems lie just beyond Montreal. Here are our top six picks for an impromptu last-minute getaway.

Go to the Montreal getaways »

Weekend Roundup: Best Bets for October 19 to 21

Friday, October 19

Bruce Springsteen brings his Wrecking Ball tour to town

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will rock the stage of Scotiabank Place this evening as part of their North American Wrecking Ball tour. The Boss, who made a name for himself in the mid-70s with hits such as “Born to Run,” is known for putting on electrifying live shows. Don’t miss your chance to experience one of America’s musical greats.

Consider yourself a wine connoisseur? Put your know-how to use this Friday at the city’s first ever taste-and-buy. Hosted by the sommeliers over at Savvy Company, the Outstanding in their Fields event will showcase wineries from Niagara’s renowned Twenty Valley region. Guests can sample (and ideally purchase!) goods from nearly 25 large and boutique wineries, including Peninsula Ridge Estates, The Good Earth Food and Wine Company and Flat Rock Cellars.

Houston Ballet captures the fascinating, albeit controversial, life of French Queen Marie Antoinette in the Canadian premiere of Marie at the National Arts Centre. Choreographed by Stanton Welch and set to the music of Dmitri Shostakovich, the performance boasts beautifully crafted period costumes, talented actors and a riveting storyline.

Saturday, October 20

Matthew Barber plays two nights at the National Arts Centre

Toronto-based singer/songwriter Matthew Barber concludes his Tour for the Haunted Hillbilly at the National Arts Centre this weekend. Featuring songs off his newly released self-titled album, the two-night engagement will highlight the young musician’s 60s- and 70s-inspired folk-rock sound.

If you’ve ever had an interest in dance – or you’re just looking for a more creative way to exercise — Saturday Salsa at the Ottawa Arts Court may be just the thing you’re looking for. Created by ComeSalsa.ca, this monthly event offers beginners the chance to sharpen their Salsa skills in a relaxed and welcoming environment. Though classes are typically $5, first-timers are invited to test the waters this evening with a free workshop.

The Ottawa Valley Crafts and Collectibles Show is perfect for those looking to get a head start on their holiday shopping. Located at Library and Archives Canada, the event will feature a wide selection of fine art, books, home décor, beauty products, culinary giftware, and antiques.

Sunday, October 21

Hog’s Back Park is one of the sites for this year’s Explore Geoheritage Day

In celebration of National Science and Technology Week, Carleton’s Earth Sciences department is teaming up with the Ottawa Gatineau Geoheritage Project for Explore Geoheritage Day 2012. Guests are invited to join the volunteer guides at Champlain Lookout, Brebeuf Park, Hog’s Back Park and Cardinal Creek Karst to discover how geological processes have shaped the region’s landscape.

Enriched Bread Artists’ Open Studio is celebrating its 20th anniversary – and you’re invited to join in on the fun. The cooperatively run studio space, which at any given time houses the work of roughly 20 contemporary artists, will be opening its doors to the public throughout the month of October. Stop in today for an artist talk with EBA member Sally Sheeks, or visit their website for a full list of events.

The biannual Antiquing in the Fieldhouse sale returns this weekend to Carleton University with 40,000 square feet of unique vintage finds. On offer will be retro handbags by Gucci, Prada and Fendi; vintage Tiffany’s, Cartier and David Yurman jewelry; and works of art by 20th century artists such as George Barbier and Georges Lepape. Tickets are $10 per person, and re-admission is free.

Google Chooses Three Canadian Sites as World Wonders

By SHANNON KELLY

Google counts Ottawa

As part of its new World Wonders Project, Google has chosen three Canadian heritage sites to share the spotlight with Versailles, the ancient temples of Kyoto in Japan and Yellowstone National Park in the U.S. as some of the top heritage sites around the globe worth seeing—virtually, at least. (more…)

Lightning Across a Purple Sky: Ottawa, Ontario

Every Friday we feature an inspirational travel photo of a Canadian destination taken by one of our readers.

Why we chose it: This stunning shot says two things: patience and timing. (Well, maybe three things: patience, timing and a tripod.) The purple sky is simply amazing, the treeline silhouette is a perfect frame and the clarity in the clouds at the centre of the image are fantastic. Bring on the rainstorm season! (more…)

Ottawa and Quebec City Airports Named Best in North America

Ottawa International Airport (Photo: morethanreal)

Ottawa International Airport was rated the top North American airport and the Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport was rated the best regional airport in North America in the Airports Council International’s annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. (more…)

5 Ottawa Lunch Picks Perfect for Winter

Fraser Café (Photo by fieldtripp)

We’ve been following Ottawa Magazine’s online weekly lunch picks of the best places for a midday meal this winter. If you’re visiting our nation’s capital, try these restaurants that received glowing reviews: (more…)

Hot Date: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

A still from the film "Sfinga."

Jan. 23 and 24. The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour travels across the world, hitting 32 different countries and presenting audiences with films on exploration and adventure, culture and environment, and winter sports. Programming for each stop on the tour is tailored to suit each and every locale, meaning the experience is never the same. Besides the beautiful cinematography, the joy of this yearly film fest is that you get the experience of climbing a mountain without having to leave your seat!

Ottawa’s WinterBites Begins Today

Enjoy a sexy dinner at Kinki Asian-Fusion Restaurant during WinterBites.

Winter in Ottawa “bites” less this year, thanks to a new food event, WinterBites, launching today and running through January 28.

What better way to ward off the nip of a central Ontario winter than by tucking into a gourmet three-course meal—at appetizing prices, no less? (more…)