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J’adore Edgar

Edgar caféfrontI feel an inexplicable connection to Edgar, a new neighbourhood café near Parc Moussette in Hull.

Maybe it’s because I have my own dream of opening a little hospitality-related place, something like a bed & breakfast. Since I discovered in late September that Marysol of she eats bears was opening a café, I watched with admiration and anticipation as she made one of her dreams come true. It takes courage to do that. And smarts. And perseverance. I wish her success. Based on the buzz around the café’s opening, the growing chorus of glowing reviews, the packed tables, and sold-out menu items, I have no doubt she will be successful!

Maybe it’s also because I’d like to create a connection to Marysol herself. I barely know her, but she seems like the kind of person I’d like to get to know better – Someone down-to-earth who shares a passion for good food. Luckily now I can go to Edgar, and if it’s not super busy, chat a little. She already gave me a baking tip the other day!

In any case, the strongest connection is the tangible one. It’s going into a chic little café,  feeling the positive energy, and being greeted with a warm smile. Of course, there’s the delicious food – homemade with love.

Edgar kitchen and menu

Some tools of the trade. Where good food is made.

Edgar inside

Small stylish interior with a selection of homebaked sweets including the infamous brioche in the background. My order disappeared too quickly to be photographed!

I’ve tried several of Marysol’s creations, all fresh, flavourful and prepared with flair: cheddar and apple panini with caramelized onions (sweet and savoury harmony), Vietnamese sandwich (crisp and delicately spicy), breakfast wrap with egg, goat cheese, bacon, mushrooms and greens (fresh yet hearty), date and bacon brioche with orange glaze (sweet originality made better with bacon), Edgar bar (curiously nutty and delicious), and the apple-pecan muffin (wholesome caramel-y goodness). The coffee is good too! Edgar serves my ideal cappuccino: a “small” cup with perfect proportions of coffee, milk, and foam.

Fresh flowers at Edgar

Fresh flowers, just one of the pleasant little details at Edgar.

Why I ♥ Edgar

  • Soups, sandwiches and sweets are made from scratch, with love and local ingredients (sometimes from her own backyard).
  • Creative flavour combinations. There’s some serious tastiness coming out of the tiny kitchen.
  • Menu changes every day based on what’s fresh, the season and the inspiration du jour. I love handwritten menu on chalkboards!
  • Everything is served with a smile.
  • The cash receipt reads “miam miam miam.” Oh, how true!
  • Fresh frozen soups and meals to go.
  • Simple, stylish and cozy interior.
  • Marysol’s blog makes my mouth water – tasty recipes and beautiful pictures – and you can see how Edgar took shape.
  • Edgar is just off the Voyageurs bike path in Gatineau, a short ride from Wellington West and Westboro!

Things to be aware of:

  • Go early (especially if you’re looking to try the infamous brioche)! On busy days, Edgar will sell out.
  • Be prepared to take your order to go. It’s not unusual to find all 11 seats taken.

Edgar on Urbanspoon

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Good Eats at Oz Kafe

Girl's night out

We were so busy talking and eating, that this is the only picture of the evening!

The pressure is on when it’s up to me to suggest a restaurant for a girls’ night out.

If the eatery is one I’ve been to before, will it be as good as last time? If the establishment is new to me, will the food be fresh, interesting and tasty? Will the service be friendly and professional? And most importantly, regardless of whether the restaurant is new or known to me, will the girls like it?

Oz Kafe fell into the “new” category for me. Word-of-mouth brought me there, which leads me to the fact that there’s not that much information about Oz Kafe online (compared to other restaurants). Happily, it was a terrific recommendation and I think Oz Kafe is one of the Ottawa food scene’s best kept secrets.

The girls all had a seasonal squash soup to start. The smooth sweetness of the squash was contrasted nicely with a fried leek garnish. I chose the classic yet contemporary roasted hearts of romaine Caesar salad cleverly pimped up with homemade bacon lardons, fried capers, shaved Parmesan, roasted garlic and maple dressing, and fresh lemon.

The daily main course specials tempted several girls: a generous local pork chop served with homemade dumplings and many other good things (so many, that I can’t remember them all), and perfectly cooked seared sea scallops with Jerusalem artichokes and pickled beets. One girlfriend, a steak fan, had the  cast iron-grilled steak accompanied by mashed potatoes and the roasted romaine hearts Caesar. Meanwhile, my neighbour and I chose a second appetizer as a main course. She had a beautifully presented tuna dish with fresh goat cheese. I had the “Seoul Food,” Korean-style barbecued beef that came with a plate of accompaniments (kimchi, julienned carrots and daikon, and spicy soybean sauce), so that I could make my own lettuce wraps. The beef was tender and the wraps made for a light main course.

Only the two of us who had appetizers as a main course found room for dessert. She had the chocolate torte, which is intended to have a fondant center although hers was more cake-like than melting, but was delectable nonetheless. I had a bread pudding with the.most.delicious apple pie gelato. Refreshingly satisfying.

Our server was pleasantly patient and adapted to our pace, as we spent more time catching up than preparing to order.

The girls and I agreed that Oz Kafe served up delicious food with a smile. Paired with great conversation, we had a wonderful night out!

Why Oz Kafe is a Good Eat

  • Good selection of eclectic starters and mains, including fresh daily specials.
  • Many dishes are perfect for sharing, so you could spend the whole evening nibbling, gossiping and tasting a variety of dishes.
  • Generous portions. I had two starters and it made for the perfect size of meal, with room for dessert!
  • Enthusiastic, efficient and friendly service.
  • Good value: tasty food at reasonable prices.

Things to be aware of:

Oz Kafe on Urbanspoon

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Showing off the colours, the spirit and the beer!

Showing off the colours, the spirit and the beer!

What makes a good party? Plentiful tasty food and good quality drink, happy people, music, and fun. Another sign of a good party: everyone goes along.* Beau’s Brewery brings it all together at Beau’s Oktoberfest!

This year’s event sounds like it’s going to be even better than last year’s. They’ve added more beer, more food, and more activities like the who-makes-the-best-sauerkraut competition and a sausage-eating contest.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it—and envy those who will—but I had a great time last year. Here’s a glimpse of what’s in store at the Beau’s Okotberfest-ivities:

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*Note the green hats!

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GreeceAt this time last year I was discovering a small part of Greece. Beautiful landscapes, interesting history and, of course, tasty food. I would go back in a heartbeat.

Unfortunately a trip to Greece is not on this year’s agenda. I’ve been eating Greek vicariously through Saveur Magazine’s Greece Issue since I got it a couple of weeks ago. Ottawa’s annual GreekFest got me even closer to the real thing.

Ottawa GreekFest

Flags at Ottawa GreekFest

Organized by Ottawa’s Hellenic community, the Greekfest runs for 10 days around mid-August every year. It’s true to its motto “Live a Day the Greek Way” featuring Greek music, culture, customs, and food, lots of food.

To avoid the crowd, David and I arrived around 5:30. Once on the festival site—admission is free—we let sight and smell guide us to the good stuff. We ended up under a big tent where typical Greek specialties were being prepared. For dinner, we chose roast lamb and an appetizer plate which included spanakopita, tiropita, tarama, tzatziki, dolmades, feta and olives. The food may not have rivaled dishes in Greece, but the friendly people, spirit and ambiance certainly did!

Loukoumades

Dessert: loukoumades (fried pastry with honey and cinnamon) and coffee frappé.

Then we went for dessert. Mmmmm loukoumades! I never had the opportunity to try them in Greece, so was delighted to get a taste at GreekFest. Loukamades are a fried pastry dough—much less doughy though than your typical doughnut—drenched in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. They’re bite-sized morsels, light, sweet, and stickily delicious. It wasn’t long before the bees wanted some too. We couldn’t resist getting a frappé to go with the loukoumades. A Greek frappé is a lightly sweetened, frothy cold coffee made with instant coffee. Take me back to Greece!

Greek olive oil tasting

Greek olive oil tasting by Stavros Kalogerakos of Terra Foods.

After dinner, we participated in the olive oil tasting offered by Stavros Kalogerakos, owner of Terra Foods. Mr. Kalogerakos told the story of his olives, grown on his family property in Krokees in the Peloponnese and milled within 24 hours of harvest. This timely cold-press ensures that the oil retains its vitamins (A,D,E & K) and beneficial phytochemicals. What an oil. Rich green in colour, fruity, lightly herbaceous. It creates a light sting at the back of the throat, which Mr. Kalogerakos explained is due to those phytochemicals—they have anti-inflammatory properties. I didn’t need to taste twice before buying a bottle!

We ended our visit enjoying some traditional dance performances. All in all, a great Greek evening. Opa!

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Carp Farmers Market

Carp Farmers Market

Local is the way to go!

Fresh garlic

Beautiful fresh garlic.

Garlic braid

Super long garlic braid at Acorn Creek Garden Farm stand. Value: almost $300!

Rolis Rolled Sausages

Roli's Rolled Sausages' Roland Wilhelm grilling his fresh sausages.

Roli's Rolled Sausages

Roli's Rolled Sausages are made with all local ingredients.

The Carp Farmers’ Market is one of my favourite markets. It has over 100 registered vendors ranging from vegetable and meat producers and specialty food makers to artisans and craftspeople. There are vendors I don’t find anywhere else like Dobson’s Grass Fed Beef, Pork of Yore, and The Girl with the Most Cake and favourites like Rainbow Heritage Farm and Take Charge Tea, who are at Carp on Saturdays and at Lansdowne on Sundays.

The market is busy. People come to stock up on fresh foods, to chat, to exchange tips and recipes, to eat. It’s a meeting place. A happy, healthy place. Truly what a market should be. On a festival day, it only gets better.

The Carp Garlic Festival is a two-day event that happens mid-August every year. There are more vendors and more people than a usual Saturday at the market. There’s garlic, lots of garlic, in many varieties, and products like garlic fudge and garlic scape pesto. There are food demos, garlic tasting events and garlic growing workshops. It’s fun!

Of course, I bought some Russian Red from Glasgow Garlic Farm to add to the Musik I already bought at Silver Spring Farm and the garlic I grew myself—this fall, I’m planning to plant even more garlic than last year! David honed in on The Elk Ranch‘s garlic summer sausage. Available exclusively during the garlic festival, the sausage has fine texture and delicate garlic flavour.

I also enjoyed a very tasty breakfast sausage from Roli’s Rolled Sausages. What a great discovery! He makes three kinds of pork sausage and beef sausage with Dobson’s grass-fed beef. The sausage was served on sweet potato flatbread with a very fresh tomato salsa. A great breakfast (and, I must admit, even better than the market’s “classic” Bacon on a Bun).

The Carp Farmers’ Market is a great outing any Saturday, but especially worth it on a festival weekend.

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