Author Archive

SHOP TALK: Spread Local Love With Made-in-Ottawa gifts

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.

Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio
Styling by Sarah Fischer and Whitney Lewis-Smith
Classy Cards

Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio Styling by Sarah Fischer and Whitney Lewis-Smith

Photography by Marc Fowler/Metropolis Studio
Styling by Sarah Fischer and Whitney Lewis-Smith

Alice Hinther makes quirky throwback cards that are sure to bring a smile to even the most stubborn Grinch. Composed of vintage photographs and whimsical expressions that push the envelope of civility, Classy People cards are loved by anyone who enjoys a good laugh. $4 each. Mags & Fags, 254 Elgin St., 613-233-9651.

Old Ottawa
Take time over the holidays to reflect on precious moments from the year gone by with this set of cards featuring 12 different street scenes from the city as it appeared in 1938. Old Ottawa cards are a personal project by City of Ottawa archivist Alain Miguelez; the story behind each scene, and how it exists today, is described on the back. $30. Books on Beechwood, 35 Beechwood Ave., 613-742-5030.

Buy the Book
Some say you shouldn’t gift a book you haven’t yet read, but given that these books by Ottawa authors hit shelves just this past fall, the bookworms on your list will forgive you. Get to know the seven stages of winter (anticipation, despair, sarcasm, etc.) in Scott Feschuk’s The Future and Why We Should Avoid It ($22.95), or take off to where it’s really cold with Jennifer Kingsley in Paddlenorth: Adventure, Resilience, and Renewal in the Arctic Wild($29.95). Perfect Books, 258 Elgin St., 613-231-6468.

Proulx Poster
Have you seen those striking graphic Timber Timbre concert posters tacked on telephone poles about town? They would look just as striking on the wall of a home office or child’s bedroom. Designed by Ottawa artist Ross Proulx, the posters (shown in the background) playfully depict well-known cultural references such as the Three Little Pigs and a sailboat meeting its demise on a typed page — after all, loose lips sink ships. $40. Ross Proulx,

Stock Style
Was Rudolph from Ottawa? Maybe not, but Lisa Anderson is, and she’s the brains behind these pretty cards that have been spotted at craft fairs and indie boutiques. Heart Meets Paper cards are printed on 80-pound white linen card stock and feature striking yet simple festive graphics. $4.50 each. Heart Meets Paper,

CITYHOME 2014: Pops of colour, texture key to Hintonburg renovation

This article originally appeared in CityHome 2014 as “Material World.” Visit our Facebook page for more photos and details about featured items.


Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

When Emma Doucet, owner of Grassroots Design, first clapped eyes on the turn-of-the-century semi-detached house in Hintonburg, it was in a sorry state. The pink-grey brick house had at one time been split into a duplex. It had vinyl flooring, and the fireplace had been torn out.

But some of the original features remained, such as deep baseboards and wonderful 10-foot ceilings, as well as a bay window that allows light to flood in. “The first thing we did was lay hardwood flooring,” says Doucet. “Then we got rid of the pot lights in the living room. We wanted to update this house but to do it with integrity, respecting the era.”

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Rather than using colour on the walls — “I find high ceilings with a darker colour oppressive,” she explains — she chose to layer her decor with neutral walls, adding colour splashes and texture with accessories. “I find that good design doesn’t assault your senses,” she says, “and when you add colour through lamps and accessories, it’s easy to change it out.”

You might think that Doucet chose the blue and orange accent pillows to tie in with the painting in the dining room, “but the painting came after the fact. It belonged to the owner’s grandmother and works perfectly.” Once orange became the statement colour, Doucet and the owners opted to use it also on the wall of the basement stairwell. “Originally it was all dark grey neutrals, but this was the pop of colour it needed.” Doucet then carried the blue from the ground floor down to the lower level to tie the whole house together.

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

Photo by Justin Van Leeuwen

MOST WANTED: Jamón Ibérico

This article first appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Ottawa Magazine.


Photo by Luther Caverly

Photo by Luther Caverly

A plate of sumptuous charcuterie is a treat any way you slice it. But if you’re looking to increase the decadent factor at your next dinner party, jamón ibérico is a must. This rare cured ham is made in Spain and Portugal from the meat of special free-range pigs — pata negra, named for their black hooves. The animals roam freely through the forests and fortify themselves mostly with fatty acorns. The salt-cured meat follows a highly regulated aging process, often drying for up to four years.

It’s pricey, but jamón ibérico is worth every penny: it is beautiful to look at and emits a rich, nutty aroma; on the palate, the taste is intensely salty-sweet. The creamy, acorn-enriched fat literally melts in your mouth. Be sure to enjoy it at room temperature, not chilled, with some simple bread and a splash of good olive oil. A robust Spanish red would pair well, as would a sherry, but a crisp beer will do just fine.

La Bottega Nicastro,
64 George St., 613-789-7575.


ROUNDUP: 10 Christmas Markets and Craft Shows

Kelsey Kromodimoeljo is the Sales Coordinator for Ottawa Magazine and loves the ins and outs of working for a magazine. In her spare time, she can be found exploring the local food and shopping scene. Follow her on Twitter @kelseykromodi

When coffee-lovers switch from pumpkin spice to eggnog lattes, you know it’s the holiday shopping season. This year we are seeing big transformations in the major shopping centres in Ottawa, but 2014 is also bringing more festive fun with lots of Christmas markets and craft shows appearing across the city. A trip to any one of these holiday troves will have you picking one-of-a-kind gifts and supporting local.

In fact, we love these hyper-local events that showcase one-of-a-kind, often hand made, gifts so much that we shone a spotlight on Made in Ottawa products in our Winter 2014 edition feature, “Local Love.” It was through tracking down cool vendors and exploring the local craft scene that we realized many of these business owners only sell through events like those listed below. If you love local, handmade gifts, make sure to get your hands on that issue! Many are participating in these markets — check out OM Tips for highlighted vendors to look for.

This photo from the Local Love gift guide in our Winter 2014 issue shows products by My Stow-n-Tow, Rekindled Lighting, Andrew O-Malley, Julie Thibault, and Becca Wallace. Photo by Marc Fowler - Metropolis Studio.

This photo from the Local Love gift guide in our Winter 2014 issue shows products by My Stow-n-Tow, Rekindled Lighting, Andrew O-Malley, Julie Thibault, and Becca Wallace. Photo by Marc Fowler – Metropolis Studio.

Capital Pop-Up Shop! Handmade Charity Show: The Holiday Edition
Nov. 22
Where: Bronson Centre, 211 Bronson Ave.,

Partial proceeds from this display of local artisanal work will go to the Ottawa Food Bank and other local charities. Love thy neighbours and bring non-perishable items for the community and you will surely be on Santa’s nice list.

Admission is free but non-perishable food items are welcomed.

OM Tip: Did you (or someone on your Christmas list) see the Local Love gift guide in the Winter 2014 edition of Ottawa Magazine? Featured artists Becca Wallace, Heart Meets Paper, Littlest Bird Workshop, Split Tree Cocktail Co., and Janie & Pamalamalas will be at the Capital Pop-Up.

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SNAPSHOT: Join the party! Nordstrom event announces jobs, charitable projects, and more

Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging


The excitement has been building for months, if not years, and last night all those who have been awaiting the arrival of Nordstrom came together at Lago to hear the latest news about the American retailer’s plans for their new Rideau Centre store.

Whatever you think about shopping (or U.S. companies entering the Canadian market) one thing is certain: Nordstrom will bring 400 jobs to the city.

Jim Watson shares a laugh with attendees at the Nordstrom event on Nov. 19. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

Jim Watson shares a laugh with attendees at the Nordstrom event on Nov. 19. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

And another thing I can say with confidence: Nordstrom takes their hiring seriously. This past April, they reached out to us to let us know they had hired a store manager for their Ottawa store. That means they hired Ottawa store manager John Banks over a year before the store even opened! Now, I’m not too knowledgeable about the department store retail industry, but I have had plenty of department store experiences, and most of my interactions with staff involve hunting down a salesperson and/or being told that they can’t answer my questions. So they caught my attention with this small, but significant, announcement.

Then, when Nordstrom PR guy John Bailey asked us out for lunch last summer, I had to check my calendar again. Really, you want to sit down and talk to us a full 10 months before you’re opening doors?

We lunched, and they charmed us more. They told us of their No. 1 Rule when it comes to employee guidelines: Use Good Judgement In All Situations. It sounds pretty basic to someone like me who is supported by a publisher who lets me make decisions on my own all the time, but I have been in different situations and I know all about overly controlling bosses and rules-for-the-sake-of-rules.

We also heard that John Banks took an extensive French immersion program as part of his training. Bravo!

In short, if I was in retail I would apply to Nordstrom. Check out the positions here. Hiring begins in January.

United Way president and CEO with members of the Nordstrom team. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

United Way president and CEO Michael Allen, who was on hand to talk about the fundraising gala on March 4, with members of the Nordstrom team. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

Nordstrom is looking to fill sales positions in all areas of operations including women’s, men’s, and children’s apparel, shoes, accessories, cosmetics, designer, as well as various support positions in alterations, building services, and loss prevention.

In fact, we know someone who has been hired as a one of 28 department managers. Last month, they headed to Seattle for an eight-week, manager training program. Working with “mentor managers,” they learn about Nordstrom firsthand by working in a store.

Additional positions are also available in the store’s cafe and restaurant — and we heard last night that the Calgary Nordstrom is seeing 1-hour wait times, so I’m guessing this isn’t your average department store diner.

Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

Nordstrom Canada president Karen McKibbon. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

From the press release:

“We’re looking for goal-oriented people who love fashion and want to deliver an exceptional shopping experience to every customer who visits our store – they don’t necessarily need retail experience,” said store manager John Banks. “Nordstrom is a great place to build a career. With this being only our second store in Canada, it’s a great time to get in on the ground floor with our company as we begin our growth across the nation.”



Nordstrom employees will receive a competitive benefits package, which includes dental, medical and vision options, a RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) matching program and a 20% retail discount (managers receive a 33% discount).

If you’re not looking for a job but want to get in on all the Nordstrom excitement, then you’ll want to know about the fundraising gala on March 4. That’s another story about how this company is looking to make a great first impression in Ottawa by helping the United Way and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. We have a few months to get ready for that party and talk up all the good things that will come from the fundraiser — but tickets are on sale now, and the fundraiser for their Calgary store sold out.

Me, I like shopping when it’s in the right environment. And Nordstrom, with it’s attention to hiring, charitable initiatives, and overall organization, is certainly setting the stage (and raising the bar) for shopping in Ottawa.

Linda Eagen of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation,  U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Mrs. Vicki Heyman, and Ottawa store manager John Banks. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

Linda Eagen of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Mrs. Vicki Heyman, and Ottawa store manager John Banks. Photo by Valerie Keeler, Valberg Imaging

DIY GOURMET: Chef Part of Les Fougères shares his recipe for maple-soya salmon

This article first appeared in the 2014 edition of Eating & Drinking, which is on newsstands until spring 2015. Order the 2014 Eating & Drinking Guide, and we’ll mail it you or a friend in time for the holidays. 

The Chefx tagline says it all: Recipes. Ingredients. Delivered. Launched in the fall of 2013, the business is a brilliant partnership between local entrepreneur Jeff Heaton and the who’s who of chefs around town.  Here’s how it works: you subscribe to the service and Heaton shows up at your door each week with chef-tested recipes (with easy-to-follow directions),  a cooler-full of ingredients, and a wine pairing suggestion.

In other words, you pay a bit of a premium and, in doing so, get to forgo running all over  town sourcing the ingredients to create those dishes you drool over at the likes of Mariposa Farm, Les Fougères, Whalesbone, and Black Cat Bistro.

Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you can try these yourself at home. Here, Charles Part of Les Fougeres shares a favourite, and versatile, recipe.

Maple-soya glazed Salmon
With Pink Grapefruit, Parsnip, Greens
& Toasted Hazelnuts

Photo by Christian Lalonde -

Photo by Christian Lalonde –

Chef Charles Part has been at the helm of the iconic Les Fougères restaurant in Chelsea for two decades now, serving up flavourful cuisine inspired by the bounty in the surrounding gardens. He chose this salmon recipe for Chefx knowing that the vibrant flavours would seduce the city’s home chefs. “You can use wild coho salmon, fresh arctic char, even trout. It’s a very versatile recipe,” explains Part. Still, don’t expect to find it on the Les Fougères menu every day. The chef likes to change things seasonally, challenging himself and keeping things fresh (though he does concede that he rotates a few favourites through the menu for the benefit of his gratified regulars).

  • 2 fillets sockeye salmon (skinless)
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 4 parsnips
  • 2 baby bok choy
  • 6 hazelnuts
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp sherry
  • 1 /8 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp soya sauce
  • 1 / 8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • butter ( 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp)
  • vegetable oil ( 1 tsp + 1 tsp)
  • salt and pepper

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WINTER 2014 ISSUE: Why Eat Out?


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.


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 - Christian Lalonde. Styling by Sarah Fischer.

Photo by – 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.


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.