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WINTER 2014 ISSUE: Why Eat Out?

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The Winter issue cover shot was taken by Christian Lalonde and features Supply & Demand’s squid ink rigatoni

It’s a question that challenges assumptions and calls restaurateurs to make their pitch, which is exactly what Shawna Wagman was trying to do when she invited five insiders from the city’s foodie scene to gather at Urban Element earlier this year. As Shawna wrote in her introduction, cooking for chefs — and probing them with questions about the industry — was an exhilarating and frightening experiment. In fact, the same words might be used to describe running a restaurant. This past year was a particularly tough one for the industry, but hard economic times don’t appear to be stifling the creativity in our city’s kitchens. While many were saddened to see the end of Domus, this year also saw the opening of five new restaurants on Bank Street alone. So it would seem Ottawans have plenty of answers to the question on our cover.

This food feature also celebrates the first year of Anne DesBrisay’s tenure as Ottawa Magazine’s restaurant critic. Of course, Anne has been writing about Ottawa restaurants for decades, but having one person serve as chief taster for a publication is a unique treasure. Check out her “Dish List” — it’s both a summary of her most memorable meals and a guidebook for those who wrestle with menu decisions. (Who doesn’t?)

Speaking of guidebooks, we tossed some fun bits into “The Encyclopedia of Eating Now.” Perplexed by small plates? Looking to perfect your reservation-making technique? Questioning the allure of brunch? Shawna Wagman offers informative and witty remarks for all this and more.

Also in this issue is “Northern Contact,” a series of articles on Ottawa’s connections to the Far North. Like Leslie Reid, my father travelled to the Arctic and was amazed by what he saw there; my sister, too, felt the call of the North and is now living in Yellowknife. I have yet to visit the land of the midnight sun, but I have been watching this aspect of our city’s culture since I settled here. I have grown to appreciate the Inuit population as a remarkable treasure that contributes much to our identity. And as a society, I believe we are beginning to recognize the North as a thriving, dynamic area from which we can draw knowledge and inspiration.

Coming up: We are already well into the planning of our annual Interiors issue. Once again, we’re working with Great Space guru Sarah Brown to bring the most spectacular homes to our 2015 edition. This time around, we’re visiting a glamorous condo, an artist’s home with a breathtaking view, and a classic mid-century modern abode, among others. As Interiors becomes a celebrated part of the local design scene, it allows for unique opportunities for partnerships among editors, art directors, photographers, writers, and subjects. Without giving away too much, I will simply say that we are having a whole lot of fun, which can only lead to great things.

This City
Reason to Love Ottawa: Because a geodesic dome in Brewer Park is extending our growing season
By Matt Harrison
Photo by Luther Caverly

Meet this little guy — a creation by Ottawa junk hound Dan Austin — in our holiday gift guide. Photo by Marc Fowler - Metropolis Studio

Meet this little guy — a creation by Ottawa junk hound Dan Austin — in our holiday gift guide. Photo by Marc Fowler – Metropolis Studio

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QUEST: 3 crave-worthy dishes enlivened by herbs

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

By CINDY DEACHMAN

Costolette d'Angello. Photo by Giulia Doyle.

Costolette d’Angello. Photo by Giulia Doyle.

Herbs can be thought of as more than just a garnish for a dish such as Cephalonian hare. Find the unkempt vegetation in A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Oberon, king of the fairies, says, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” This, the bed of Queen Titania. And what of medieval mystic Saint Hildegard of Bingen, offering her sage recipe? “Take sage and pulverize it. Eat this powder with bread and it will diminish the superfluity of harmful humours in you.” (Hildegard maintained one was healthy when the humours — bodily fluids — were in balance.)

Of course, it has been known forever that herbs will invigorate any dish. The volatile compounds are what count. Dill — well, we can’t help thinking of pickles. Holy basil, with its scent of cloves, elevates pad Thai to another plane. And where would we be without wormwood? Up the creek without our necessary glass of absinthe, right?

Costolette d’Agnello
Robust, spiky-leaved rosemary is pungent with minty pine. So what better match for the herb than lamb? Italian restaurant Giovanni’s offers a rosemary rack — the best in the city, I’ll wager. “If you treat it right, [the meat] shines through,” says chef Filip Szardurski. Rosemary, garlic, house-made demi-glace, and olive oil give this seven-rib rack of lamb superb flavour. So tender, so juicy! The sparkle comes from lemon. No fancy-dancey here, just classic cuisine at its best. “A dying art,” Szardurski opines. Best hurry down to Preston Street, am I right? $44.95. Giovanni’s Ristorante, 362 Preston St., 613-234-3156.

Matcha Black Sesame Caramels
For years now, the Japanese have been flavouring sponge rolls, ice cream — marshmallows, even! — with their ceremonial green tea. Well, why not caramels? Robin Coull, owner of online confectionery Morsel, says she “completely fell in love with matcha” while living in Japan. Coull’s matcha black sesame caramels are made through the slow cooking of cream and sugar. Bite into one — not too hard and not too soft. Butterscotch flavour is followed by the nuttiness of black sesame seeds and the grassy herbal qualities of the matcha. All flavours then roll into one. Sweet. $6.95/pkg. Morsel, 613-601-6764.

Chinese Chive Pancakes
Frank Pay, owner and chef at Harmony, calls these gems pancakes — they remind us all too well of calzones. Jiucai hezi (chive pockets) are popular in Pay’s hometown of Dezhou in northern China. “Some put meat in them, but we like chives,” Pay declares. These turnovers are pan-fried to a golden brown until the dough is as crisp and light as pastry — with a bit of tug and chew. The garlicky bright green Chinese chive filling, with traces of scrambled egg throughout, is piping hot. Feel free to down anytime. Two/$4.95. Harmony Restaurant, 769 Gladstone Ave., 613-234-9379.

 

SHOP TALK: Spooky chic outfits for fall

This article was originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

Photo by PhotoluxStudio.com - Christian Lalonde. Styling by Sarah Fischer.

Photo by PhotoluxStudio.com – Christian Lalonde. Styling by Sarah Fischer.

Step out of the shadows in this statement jacket. Made of Italian silk twill bonded to Italian wool, the J. Crew floral coat will bring warmth and drama to your fall wardrobe. Plus, the neutral colours of ivory and black work well with autumn’s dark palette. $1,114. J. Crew, Rideau Centre50 Rideau St., 613-563-7349.

Featuring trendy cut-outs and a gold-coloured back zipper, these leather Louise et Cie Sarimenta pumps ($200) are an excellent investment for the fall season. Pointy toes and a slim 3½-inch stiletto heel will make them your go-to date-night shoes. For a day-to-evening bootie, look to the Vince Camuto Klayton peep-toe ($180). Simple yet on-trend, this glamorously structured shoe is embellished by the statement zipper. Town Shoes, Bayshore Mall100 Bayshore Dr., 613-596-2378, and two other Ottawa locations.

This versatile Montgomery coat by Maestrami is made in Italy exclusively for Ottawa retailer Armen. The toggle fastenings and dark navy colour lend the coat a casual, rugged look. And with 80 percent wool, this is one topper that will work well into the colder months. $650.
Armen, 100 Murray St., 613-244-3351.

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GREAT SPACE: Luxury living at the SoHo Metropolitan Residences

Originally published in the October 2014 print edition of Ottawa Magazine.

By MICHAEL PRENTICE

Ottawa sees its fair share of jet-setting visitors who call the city home for a month or so every year. Whether they are beginning an ambassadorial post, consulting with a high-tech firm, or participating in a ministerial meet-up, the new SoHo Metropolitan has incorporated two floors specifically for these high-flying people.

This one-bedroom suite features a breathtaking view of the city

This one-bedroom suite features a breathtaking view of the city

Earlier this year, 17 senior Canadian diplomats spent several weeks in the nation’s capital learning foreign policy before taking up new ambassadorial posts around the world. They stayed at Ottawa’s hip new SoHo Metropolitan Residences on Lisgar Street. The suites, fitted and furnished by high-flying Canadian interior designer Brian Gluckstein, are part hotel, part home away from home.

Suite hotels are nothing new to Ottawa, but many of their traditional customers are families and other people visiting the capital for a brief time. SoHo Metropolitan Residences are designed for people who want to stay for at least one month.

“We want them to feel exactly as if they were at home,” says David Kelley, senior manager of the residences. Kelley also manages a similar project that opened 10 years ago in Toronto. The 25 suites of the Ottawa residences occupy the top two floors — the 16th and 17th — of a recently completed condominium apartment building, the latest project of prominent developer Bruce Greenberg.

The residences offer many of the same amenities as a hotel: concierge, gymnasium, meeting and party rooms, television lounge, sauna, hot tub, outdoor lap-swimming pool. But there is no restaurant or food service.  Each suite has everything required for day-to-day home living. There’s even an umbrella in each hall closet.

In the smaller suites, the bedroom has no window and is separated from the living area by sleek sliding opaque glass doors.

In the smaller suites, the bedroom has no window and is separated from the living area by sleek sliding opaque glass doors.

Diplomats and well-heeled new-comers to the city form a sizable chunk of the clientele, since they often need a place to stay for a few weeks while they search for a permanent home. Other guests are those whose work brings them to Ottawa for an extended period.

The suites range in size from 520 square feet for a small one-bedroom apartment to 1,030 square feet for a two-bedroom apartment. In the smaller suites, the bedroom has no window and is separated from the living area by sleek sliding opaque glass doors. The fittings and furnishings are top-of-the-line, with Italian marble in the bathroom and high-end appliances in the kitchen. Some of the suites have balconies, and a few offer views of Parliament Hill.

This level of luxury comes at a price. A small one-bedroom apartment costs about $4,050 for 30 days, and a $7-a-day fee for use of facilities such as the pool, sauna, hot tub, and outdoor barbecue. A large one-bedroom is about $4,650 for 30 days, and a two-bedroom rental is about $5,850. Still, compared to the Château Laurier, where a simple hotel room (with no cooking facilities) typically costs about $270 a night or $8,000 a month, the SoHo residences seem to corner an important luxury market in the city.

Click on the thumbnails for more images from the SoHo Metropolitan.

 

 

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