Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is cementing its position as one of the gastronomic centres of North America with a raft of exciting food festivals and new restaurant openings. What’s more, right now is an excellent time to book a foodie break to the city as autumn features some of the city’s biggest gourmet celebrations.
As Jantine Van Kregten, Director of Communications at Ottawa Tourism, says: “The capital’s foodie scene is constantly reinventing itself with this year seeing a healthy portion of exciting new openings such as the Moscow Tea Room on Sussex Drive; Salt, on Preston Street; and most recently the September launch of Ottawa chef Jon Svazas’ new offering Fauna, with its focus on locally sourced ingredients. And with the Ottawa Wine & Food Festival having launched a bonus springtime version of the show earlier this year due to popular demand, it’s clear the capital’s gastronomic scene has truly come of age.
“Indeed, whilst exploring the local food scene has always been one of the highlights of a trip to Ottawa it’s increasingly being seen as the main reason to visit.”
The centre of Ottawa’s foodie scene can be found in the bustling ByWard Market district. With over 100 places to eat and drink within a four-block-by-four-block radius – not to mention one of Canada’s oldest and largest farmers’ markets, and a diverse slate of independent fashion and furniture boutiques – ‘the Market’, as it’s known locally, is the place to be. Catch culinary how-tos at the Demo Corner and look for the Savour Ottawa logo to identify locally grown and produced foodstuffs, both at a farm stand and in a restaurant. Or catch Market’s Harvest Festival celebrations (October 17-19), complete with food demonstrations, a street party and live entertainment.
Alternatively, Rendezvous des Saveurs de l’Outaouais (October 15-19) will feature a celebration of the region’s cuisine presented by acclaimed local chefs and restaurateurs.
Less formal foodie adventures can be had at the Brookstreet hotel’s Food & Wine Raves during which chef Clifford Lyness invites guests to take over the kitchen and help prepare dinner while grooving to some top tunes.
Such events serve as tasty appetisers for the Ottawa Wine & Food Festival (November 6-9). This four-day gourmet celebration at the Ottawa Convention Centre, which has been a highlight on the capital’s packed events calendar for almost 30 years, showcases all that is great and good in the capital’s food and drink scene, with demos, tastings and talks aplenty. And as Van Kregten points out, the great news for attendees is that if you like what you see at this year’s event you won’t have to wait a whole year for a second helping as this year saw the festival’s organisers launch a springtime version due to popular demand.
Sweet-toothed visitors may prefer to hang on until May however when the city plays host to the Desserts of the World Festival while fans of Northern Spanish and Mexican cuisine should hotfoot it down to Navarra in ByWard Market, whose chef/owner René Rodriguez won the coveted title of Top Chef Canada in the latest season of the TV show.
Another area of heightened activity is the capital’s vibrant craft beer sector. Alongside en vogue bars such as Mill Street Brew Pub and the four Clocktower Brew Pubs, there are now more than 20 breweries in the area and local operator Brew Donkey even runs popular brewery tours. Recent openings include Sens House, with its retractable roof and sprawling patio for outdoor dining and supping in the summer months, above the also-recently-opened Lowertown Brewery in the central ByWard Market district, and the stylish Bar 7 at Casino du Lac-Leamy.
Ale fans shouldn’t miss the week-long National Capital Craft Beer Festival held in August, with all manner of beer tastings and food pairing events on offer backed by great music. Other boozy events to beer in mind include Oktoberfest Ottawa at Clarke Fields Park in Barrhaven (October 3-5) and Beau’s Oktoberfest (October 3-4), which attracts 10,000 people to the tiny town of Vankleek Hill.
Some of the capital’s hippest hotspots can be found in the Hintonburg neighbourhood, home to the free-admission Ottawa Brewery Market (October 25) and the delectable creations of the recently opened Holland’s Cake & Shake, such as the Elvis Truffle with peanut butter, banana and bacon. One of the best ways to get a taste of the area’s foodie offerings is on the guided culinary walking tour of Wellington West and Hintonburg offered by C’est Bon Epicurean Adventures, which also offers foodie tours of Ottawa’s ByWard Market, Chinatown and Little Italy districts.
No foodie tour of the capital would be complete however without some samplings of its food truck operations such as Angry Dragonz and Ad Mare mobile seafood. Simply download the handy StreetFood app and take your taste buds on a great value culinary tour of the city.
For more information on Ottawa visit: www.ottawatourism.ca