Articles Tagged ‘Ottawa’

OUTSIDE VOICE: Courtney Act rises from the spotlight’s mean glare to the front lines for acceptance

The road to self-acceptance is a struggle within many communities. It can be a quiet path or a sensational journey across the planet. Sometimes, it takes enough time to find a place in the world you’re already in.

Pop singer and Drag Gender-queer performer Courtney Act finds self-love with the song "Mean Gays"  Photo Credit : Magnus Hastings

Courtney Act finds self-love with the song “Mean Gays” Photo Credit : Magnus Hastings

Pop songwriter and drag performer Shane Jenek/Courtney Act was already a continental superstar back home in Australia. After auditioning in drag and ending up a semi-finalist on Australian Idol in 2003, Courtney Act (can you say ‘caught in the act’ with an Australian accent?) and her dance-pop singles landed a Sony recording contract with her top 40, tours with Lady Gaga, TV appearances. The readers of FHM Magazine even named her one of the “100 Sexiest Women in the World.”

Moving to West Hollywood in 2010 to further her career, Courtney Act was named Second Runner-Up on Season 6 of the wildly-popular TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and is now riding a wave of fame this summer. She is the first drag performer to sing with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, extended the run of her one-woman show “Boys Like Me”, and headlines in clubs and international festivals, including Ottawa’s Capital Pride this weekend.

Q. I’ve been listening to your songs “Welcome to Disgraceland” and “Mean Gays”, and particularly the acoustic Soundcloud Live and Untucked sessions. Besides your obvious talent and vocal range, I can also hear elements of Natalie Cole. Then I think, with the purity of tone in your sound, you could almost sing a Disney princess. How did you find out you had that voice?

You mean, like “Part Of your World” (from The Little Mermaid)? Thanks! When I was little, I was always being told ‘Shane, sing like a boy! Shane, sing like a boy!” and I guess before puberty, most boys have the high girlie voices. I guess because I was singing all the way through, my voice never ‘broke.’ It was a very gradual process. Unlike other boys, I guess because I was in singing lessons at the time when my voice would have broken, my range remained pretty high.

I only really started singing in drag for a few month before Australian Idol in 2003. Because of Australian Idol, I kept singing as Courtney. With Sony, I was often handed pop songs that anyone could have sung. I wanted to move to songs that nobody else could sing, so I wrote “Welcome to Disgraceland” about my favourite times in Sydney.

Q. When I heard your new single, “Mean Gays”, and saw the video, it was certainly fun, but it reminded me of about 14 people I know. Lines such as: “They’ll take you down with just one look”,  “Too young for Botox”, or “They don’t care what you’re about.” What else can you tell me about the song?

Sometimes I forget that I just didn’t move to West Hollywood, I actually moved there to the other side of the world. With “Mean Gays”, I remember writing it while driving back from Las Vegas. I had started calling a group of friends “Mean Gays” affectionately. It did start as a swingy tongue-in cheek about a group of friends I knew, but it does address a wider portion of the world that is not just that.

Also, for me, it was about my own struggle with my place in the gay world. When I came out when I was 18, I had all these ideals of the gay community thrust upon me, you know, most of them visual – how you should look, how you should act, the right gym, the right hair, the right teeth, having the perfect underwear model body and all that. At the same time, I started doing drag, and so fell in love with performing. Having the underwear model body and the Courtney Act body were mutually exclusive. I struggled throughout my 20s. Oddly I kind of blamed Courtney for some of those struggles and I then I kind of realized I had to thank Courtney because I wasn’t able to conform to the gay aesthetic ideal and therefore had to learn to be comfortable with myself how I was. In some ways, through my 20′s, I thought that Courtney was a detriment but now I realize she was an asset. A Sydney drag queen once said to me me that you have to look at drag as a strength, not a weakness. Now, it’s strangely of the greatest gifts I’ve been given.

Q. Your current success in North America now is largely due to RuPaul’s Drag Race TV Show, but how do you feel about being edited into the TV role of “mean girl” or having been painted as the “pretty over-confident one”?

It was odd for me watching it back because my experience didn’t match what I saw on the television. And I thought that it was… I felt a little bit hurt by the way that I was portrayed, because I didn’t feel it wasn’t accurate. It seemed a little obvious . They thought ‘Oh, she’s pretty. Let’s make her the mean girl’.

Obviously, when I see myself on television I’m aware what that world is all about, but seeing the manipulated image on TV was a lot more challenging than I thought, you know, I felt a little bit hurt. I don’t care what people think if what they think is about who I am if I’m being myself. If you don’t like it, that’s completely fine by me. But, when I’m being portrayed as not myself, and people don’t like me, then that’s a challenge. As a result, I’m now traveling around the world more than ever and meeting more people who can get to know the real me.

 

Courtney Act Carnival Photo Credit: Magnus Hastings

“I was just thinking today while getting ready. I didn’t just go on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I had moved to the other side of the world.” – Courtney Act – Photo Credit: Magnus Hastings

How do you think drag fits into your own sense of gender ?

I do think that drag and gender do intercept. The path I’ve chosen to express myself creatively, it does give a sense of gender. I think for a long time I pretended that I put on drag like somebody put on a uniform. I think that I was in some ways, maybe, scared of admitting that perhaps there was something more than just putting on a costume. I’d say that it was some sort of internalized transphobia in some strange way. There isn’t a full acceptance of drag within the gay community. Living in L.A. has given me a chance to get to learn more about myself and I love the term “gender-queer.” I love the term “queer” for sexuality and I love the term “gender queer” for gender identity, because there’s also a political element to it, refusing to be put into a box for gender. I feel we’re on the leading edge of that civil rights movement now.

Courtney Act performs as part of the Bank Street BIA & Capital Pride Rainbow Party Friday Night Aug. 22 at Barrymore’s. You can hear more of Courtney Act at www.courtneyact.com

MY LOOK: Inspired by Courtney Love

BY EMMA PALING

(Previously published in Summer 2014 edition of Ottawa Magazine)

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Fashion plate Lisa Strueby is wearing a Band of Outsiders blazer, LaMarque leather shorts, a camisole from J.Crew, Chanel glasses, and Chloé sandals. Photo by Remi Theriault

 

What do you think about when you get dressed in the morning?
I like to dress up for work, but I’m not in a traditional legal role anymore, so I’m not putting on suits all the time. I like to look good, but I like to be comfortable.

How do you stay creative working in an office environment?
I’ve always kind of marched to the beat of my own drum when I get dressed, so I’ve never felt constrained by a dress code. I like to be dressy, so for me, it’s just about exploring different ways to incorporate a professional look while still having fun with it. You can be feminine or masculine, and women have so many options compared with men.

What influences your style?
It’s not just individuals — and for sure there are individuals — but I do read a lot about fashion. So I do look at fashion shows and what’s happening in the fashion world. One of my biggest influences at the moment is the Man Repeller.  She’s probably my favourite fashion interpreter of the moment just because she uses humour, brings intelligence and feminism into fashion, and doesn’t take herself very seriously. She’s not afraid to try things, and to me, that’s really an inspiration. She incorporates everything, and that’s kind of my approach — that fashion isn’t just about clothes per se, it’s how you’re expressing yourself. Music, literature, movies, art — to me, that’s what it’s about. So whatever your creative interests are, fashion is just one aspect. My influences are everything, including travel. I find it very intellectually stimulating to follow fashion these days.

How has travelling influenced your style?
It’s kind of the whole lifestyle. So in Brazil, for example, people’s lives gravitate around the beach and being near the ocean. But people don’t take towels to the beach — they take sarongs. You can whip the sarong around your body and then use it as a towel. To me, that’s just genius: incorporate what works practically in your life and bring it into your style. Your fashion should fit into your life. It shouldn’t be separate.

What particular artists influence you?
I am still a big Courtney Love fan. I think she’s a great example of someone who is irreverent and feminist in her fashion. She wasn’t looking for cues or approval from other people, and now, all of a sudden, she’s in the front row at shows and designers are referencing her.

You’ve mentioned a few times how feminism plays into fashion. Is that important to you?
Very important. There will be arguments that feminism and fashion are polar opposites, but I really feel strongly that the opposite is true — fashion is just another area where women really do things for themselves and express themselves in different ways. If you’re dressing for the male gaze constantly, then that obviously is not really a feminist take on fashion. But if you go in the opposite direction and really do things for yourself, it can be a very empowering thing.

Lisa’s outfit

 

SHOP TALK: Etsy Roadtrip comes to LeBreton Flats

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Photo courtesy FASHION Magazine.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

Cascais dress by Tangente. The local eco-friendly designer Tangente will be at the Etsy event on Monday, Aug. 4.

 

We’ve been hearing a lot about the revitalization of LeBreton Flats, but other than Bluesfest the area still seems like a bit of a dead zone. But what’s this … the Etsy Roadtrip is coming to town, and setting up shop at the Flats? And since we also hear that the online shopping site is planning world domination, perhaps the time has come for this storied part of the city to shine.

With The Merry Dairy, Streetside Curry, and Bridgehead on board, it’s certainly worth checking out. Another nod to the event is the involvement of Campy Home — that’s the new endeavour by Handmade Harvest co-founder Emily Arbour. Cute candles, nice packaging — seems like a good hostess gift for that next barbecue!

And there’s music! Kelly Sloan and the Claytones. We’re just getting wind of this event now, so not sure about the schedule of events, but it seems like a reason to take a bike through that part of the Ottawa River pathway.

Read more about the tour from our sister mag, FASHION.

Etsy Roadtrip pop-up shop. Monday, August 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Lebreton Flats

 

 

 

 

 

ARTFUL BLOGGER: Monia Mazigh’s new novel unveils portraits of Muslim women in Ottawa

BY PAUL GESSELL

Monia Mazigh, the author of Mirrors and Mirages, released by House of Anansi Press, July 11, 2014

It’s a pity that Monia Mazigh did not win the riding of Ottawa-South for the NDP in the 2004 federal election. Imagine her in Parliament today, a smart, principled, fearless MP in a hajib firing questions at Stephen Harper and his cabinet. She could have made Question Period a whole lot more interesting.

 

Well, we didn’t get Monia Mazigh the MP, but we do have Monia Mazigh the author. Her newest book, Mirrors and Mirages, has just been launched in English. It’s a novel about a handful of Muslim families in Ottawa and how they — the mothers and daughters especially — deal with the pressures that come with being Muslim in Western society. It’s a rare opportunity to hear these issues discussed frankly, albeit in fiction, from the viewpoint of a Muslim woman herself.

 

Mazigh first became a public figure in her role as the wife of Maher Arar, the Ottawa engineer who, despite having committed no crime, was essentially kidnapped by American authorities in the United States in 2002 and sent to Syria for a year of torture and imprisonment. Arar’s courageous spouse took on the authorities in Canada, the U.S., and Syria and eventually marshalled enough pressure to secure the release of her husband.

 

But Mazigh is much more than a loyal wife. She has a PhD in finance from McGill University in Montreal and is the author of two books, both written originally in French and, more recently, both translated into English. The French version of Hope and Despair: My Struggle to Free My Husband Maher Arar, was a finalist for the Ottawa Book Award in 2009. Then came the novel Mirrors and Mirages, which was shortlisted for the Trillium Award as the best French-language fiction in Ontario in 2011. Now we have the English translation by Fred Reed of Mirrors and Mirages.

 

9781770893597

 

The Trillium jury, in shortlisting Mirrors and Mirages issued this statement: “With a surprising touch, Monia Mazigh achieves a tour de force in this novel: showing us the true faces of individual Muslim women, most of them young, she makes it impossible to shunt them into the category of ‘the Other,’ hostile and disturbing. Though they have not renounced their faith and embraced secular modernity, they are contemporaries of their fellow citizens and part of our common humanity whose dreams and passions they share.”

 

Although billed as a novel, Mirrors and Mirages is really a series of parallel stories about Muslim women in Ottawa. Some of the stories intersect and others stand alone.

 

One story is about a family of Pakistani immigrants in Ottawa. Contrary to stereotype, the family does not pressure their teenage daughter to wear a hajib or other conservative clothing. Instead, the daughter has fallen under the influence of fundamentalist imams on the Internet and has decided to wear the niqab, the head-to-toe covering with only eyes showing. The parents are shocked. Things get really hot when the daughter’s boyfriend, a seemingly fine, upstanding young man, is arrested on terrorism charges.

 

Another story deals with a Québécoise mother opposed to all religions whose daughter converts to Islam. Family tensions ensue.

 

And then there is the young Muslim mother in Ottawa forced to flee an abusive marriage. While establishing a new life for herself, she manages to land her dream job with a company in Dubai. She moves there and is a great success in the corporate world. But her happiness crumbles again when her Dubai boss wants to begin a romantic relationship.

 

By the end of Mirrors and Mirages, each of the main characters must make an important decision. We will, one hopes, get a sequel to see the aftermath of those decisions.

 

 

PLAYLIST! Stuntman Stu, Jim Watson, Mark Monahan, and more notable Ottawans reveal their Ultimate Summer Song

By FATEEMA SAYANI

This sleek little speaker is made in Ottawa by PowerStick. The PowerSound operates with BlueTooth and near field audio to play music from a phone, tablet, laptop, or other media player — and can charge your electronics, so the party never stops. Photo by Christian Lalonde.

This sleek little speaker is made in Ottawa by PowerStick. The PowerSound operates with BlueTooth and near field audio to play music from a phone, tablet, laptop, or other media player — and can charge your electronics, so the party never stops. Photo by Christian Lalonde.

Summer songs have a sort of timeless quality. Their sunny vibes bring to mind the open road, late-night walks, cottage parties, and that tinge of bittersweetness in knowing that it’ll all be over by fall. We’re striking while it’s hot with this list of summer songs from Ottawans of note. Use it to compile your soundtrack to summer.

 

“Flashback” Jazzanova Remix – Fat Freddy’s Drop, 2005

“DJ Trevor Walker was playing a remix of this tune like mad that summer. It was just a must — I would drop everything I was doing, and I would run to the dance floor and dance to the whole track like a horny teenager.”
Claudia Balladelli, Music Programmer, Mercury Lounge

 

 

“Young Leaves” – Attack in Black, 2007

“Everyone in my hometown of Sudbury listened to Attack in Black’s album Marriage on repeat when it came out in the summer of 2007. “Young Leaves” reminds me of late-night barbecues, sloppy bush parties, and group hugs.”
Sarah Bradley, Musician, Fevers

 

 

“Here Come the Girls” – Ernie K-Doe, 1970

“I spent a lot of time in Louisiana during the summer of 2010, covering the aftermath of the BP oil spill. I constantly heard this song on the radio, fell in love with it, and that fall my bridesmaids made their grand entrance to a hooting and hollering crowd at our wedding. So fun!”
Robyn Bresnahan, Host, CBC Ottawa Morning

 

 

“Bobcaygeon” – The Tragically Hip, 1999

“Not only one of the most beautiful songs ever written but quintessentially summer in Canada — it evokes the pull of starry summer nights in cottage country, hot city nights, disquieting political unrest, life choices, and love.”
Simone Deneau, Producer -  NAC Presents, National Arts Centre

 

 

 

“Joppa Road” – Ween, 1994

“This song brings all the best of summer together for me. Road trips, slow drives, longing … very nostalgic, and what is summer if not an idea that rarely comes to pass? It’s also pretty danceable in a cheesy, carefree-hippie kind of way.”
Dayanti Karunaratne , Editor, Ottawa Magazine

 

 

“No Sleep Till Brooklyn” -  Beastie Boys, 1987

“While not necessarily my favourite song by them, it’s definitely an anthem that evokes road trips and fun times, part of which are necessary for a great summer.”
—Caitlin Kealey, Partner, MediaStyle

 

 

 

“Little Deuce Coupe” – The Beach Boys, 1963

“It’s the first tune that comes to mind when I’m asked what my favourite summer song is — it’s nice and catchy.”
Mark Monahan, Executive Director, Bluesfest

 

 

“Smooth” – Santana featuring Rob Thomas, 1999

“It’s my go-to summer song lately. It’s just a great tune!”
Catherine O’Grady, Executive Director, Ottawa Jazz Festival

 

 

“Places and Space” Donald Byrd , 1975

“Written and produced by the genius Mizell Brothers, this song has power, man. I close my eyes, and the chillest, most laid-back ’70s vibe comes over me. The lush, soaring strings, the groove, the jazz choir — I can feel the ocean breeze blowing in my hair, the beating hot sun, and peace and contentment. Ah, life is good.”
Marielle Rivard, Vocalist, The Souljazz Orchestra

 

 

“Power of Love” (Extended Dance Mix) – Huey Lewis and the News, 1985

“The classic song from Back to the Future has been on my radar ever since the movie came out almost 30 years ago. I crank it up every chance I get, especially on a warm summer day driving around the capital.”
Stuntman Stu Schwartz, Host, MAJIC 100

 

 

 

“Rockaway Beach” – The Ramones, 1977

“Although released almost 37 years ago, “Rockaway Beach” has become a timeless summer classic. I love this song because it’s part Beach Boys and part machine gun, and when it comes on the radio on a summer evening when I’m driving with the windows down … it’s absolutely perfect.”
Slo’ Tom Stewart, Musician

 

 

 

“Here Comes the Summer”  The Undertones, 1979

“Growing up in Ireland, two minutes of sunshine was always welcome. If it was okay by John Peel, then it was okay by me. Fantastic sleeve too.”
Shane Waldron, Co-Owner, The Wellington Gastropub

 

 

 

“Summer of ’69” – Bryan Adams, 1985

“I don’t actually remember the summer of  ’69 because I was so young then, but it’s always been a great summer song that still finds its way onto the playlists at events and parties. I saw Bryan Adams for the first concert at the Corel Centre, and I presented him the key to the city in the ’90s.”
Jim Watson, Mayor, Ottawa

 

OUTSIDE VOICE: Jon Hynes moves keenly to the front with confident “Watchful Creatures”

By Glenn Nuotio

Jon Hynes + cat

Songwriter JON HYNES, a multi-instrumentalist taking his time and building a new community with the release of “Watchful Creatures”

 

It seems everyone in Canada’s indie music scene should have met, heard, or performed a show with Jon Hynes by now. Since leaving St. John’s (as singer/songwriter of the acclaimed band Trailer Camp) for Toronto in 2008, followed by a move to Ottawa in 2011, his back-up vocals, guitar, bass and percussion abilities have assisted an impressive list of already innovative musical acts, including Betty Burke, Gentleman Reg, Matthew Barber, Hidden Cameras, Hey, Rosetta!, and Jeremy Fisher. Just back from this summer’s Dawson City Music Festival as drummer of Evening Hymns, and about to split after Ottawa’s Arboretum Festival in August for 9 weeks to play bass for The Wooden Sky across Europe this autumn, it’s difficult to keep track of what he’s doing lately and for whom. He managed somehow to also fit in his own debut album launch in Ottawa on Friday, July 25.

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WEEKENDER: Five things to do on the weekend of July 24 to 27 (The Almost Free-Edition!)

BY MATT HARRISON

 

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Famed American hip-hop artist, activist, photographer, and director Ernie Paniccioli will be speaking on Saturday, July 26, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Gallery 101 as part of the five-day Asinabka Film and Media Festival

Asinabka Film Fest (almost FREE)
The third annual Asinabka Film and Media Festival, which celebrates local, national, and international Aboriginal filmmakers, kicks off this Wednesday, July 23 with an outdoor screening of two films on Victoria Island: Decolonizing Together, and Rhymes for Young Ghouls — the director of the latter will be in attendance. Each night during the five-day festival, screenings (and parties) will take place in various locations throughout the city. Thursday, July 24’s screenings take place at Gallery 101, accompanied by food and music (cash bar); Friday, July 25’s films will be shown at SAW Gallery. At 10:30 p.m., there’ll be live music, with a spotlight on Nogojiwanong (Peterborough) musicians: Sean Conway, Tara Williamson, and
 Sarah DeCarlo ($10 cover). On Saturday, July 26 there’s an artist’s talk with director, and well-known hip-hop photographer, Ernie Paniccioli, at Gallery 101 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., with more screenings that evening at the Museum of Nature, starting at 7 p.m. and ending at 1 a.m. ($10 cover). Sunday, July 27 brings the festival to a close with another outdoor screening at Victoria Island at 8:45 p.m. For a more detailed look at the festival, click here.

Wrestling with C.S. Lewis’ Demon
Although C.S. Lewis is more commonly associated with ‘children’s’ series, the Narnia Chronicles, the bulk of his writings concern Christianity (Narnia is, in fact, an allegory for various Christian themes). In his collection, one book in particular stands out: The Screwtape Letters, which involves a professor named Screwtape who is actually a demon from hell who councils a pupil called Wormwood on how to undermine faith and promote sin. It is, essentially, a satirical exposition on how to avoid temptation and sin. It also makes delicious subject matter for a theatre company with a mandate to address works that explore faith and spirituality. No surprise then that the Ottawa-based 9Th Hour Threatre Company is putting on The Screwtape Letters this summer. The play will be performed in the studio at the Great Canadian Theatre Company from Thursday, July 24 until Saturday, August 9. Most weekday showtimes are at 8 p.m.; weekend shows vary. See schedule. Tickets from $20.
The GCTC is at 1233 Wellington St.

Centretown Movies (almost FREE)
Since the days of drive-in movies, there’s been something magical — and very summery — associated with watching a movie outdoors. Centretown Movies has been showing flicks outside in the summertime for decades now, becoming sort of a seasonal rite. The venue has changed over the years, but that fun hasn’t — especially with a schedule that includes new and classic, sappy and campy. Already one week in, this Friday, July 25 Centretown Movies’ Outdoor Film Festival in Dundonald Park shows Rent, which is hosted by the AIDS Committee of Ottawa. The following night, Saturday, July 26, watch the adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel fall in and out of love in 500 Days of Summer. Movies begin at 9 p.m. and they’re pay-what-you-can. The festival runs every Friday and Saturday until August 16. Friday’s films tend towards awareness of such social issues as mining, homosexuality, AIDS, etc., while Saturday’s films are more entertainment-driven. For the full schedule check here.
Dondonald Park is at Somerset, between Bay and Lyon.

Photo by Alexis Francoeur-Leblond

Empty Shelves play — for free! — on Friday, July 25 at 8 Locks’ Flat Gastropub. Photo by Alexis Francoeur-Leblond

Empty Shelves (FREE)
My ears are tingling, partly due to the ear infection I garnered over the weekend, but more likely because there’s a new, and definitely buzz-worthy addition to Ottawa’s burgeoning indie scene — Empty Shelves. Though they’ve only released two tracks so far, both portend to their future capabilities. The sound of a ticking clock at the beginning of Where Are You sets a constrained measure, both moody and beautiful, and which finally bursts out as a jangly-pop song; while Day Art Circa moves with restrained intensity that swells to create an Explosions in the Sky moment. As a six-member band, they have the potential to create more elaborate sonic soundscapes — which they do — but they also know when to shut down and linger in quieter moments. Empty Shelves play on Friday, July 25 at 8 Locks’ Flat Gastropub on the Rideau Canal — a perfect setting to enjoy their thoughtfully constructed music.
8 Locks’ Flat is at 191 Colonel By Drive

Quebec Craft Beers (FREE)
Ever wondered what Quebec craft brewers are up to? On Saturday, July 26 come out to the first edition of Marché des Brasseurs to find out. A project of the Brewery Market, which has hosted events since 2011 to promote craft/artisanal beers, the event is being held at the picturesque Hendrick Farm in Old Chelsea. Sample beers from Le Trou du Diable (Shawinigan), Brasserie Dunham (Dunham), the Microbrasserie le Castor (Rigaud), la brasserie Benelux (Montréal) and, closer to home, Les Brasseurs du Temps (Gatineau). All ages are welcome. Beer and food can be purchased at the event, which runs from noon to 6 p.m. There’s even a shuttle bus that leaves from Ottawa (Fairmont and Wellington). Reserve here.
Hendrick Farm is at 3, Chelbrook, Old Chelsea

 

 

LUNCH PICK: Build a DiVino’s lunch — divine!

BY ANNE DESBRISAY

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Cauliflower and carrot soup. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

To celebrate their first year as new owners of DiVino Wine Studio, sommelier
Eric Diotte and chef Christian Lepore built a little sidewalk patio. The grand al fresco opening was Saturday. I stopped in for lunch on Friday, during the final flourish of construction mayhem, and got to witness the fun and the fretting while sipping an unoaked South Bay Chardonnay from Huff Estates.

I was here for the Build a DiVino Lunch! special — any antipasto and any primo for $22. I chose the cauliflower and carrot soup to start, sweetened with loop-de-loops of a sticky sweet balsamic reduction, and with a flash fried basil leaf — which limped up instantly when plunged into the pool. It was a fine bowl with good vegetable flavour, thickened with potato — creamless/flourless. Which meant I could splurge on a wildly rich second course.

House-made fettucine. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

House-made fettucine. Photo by Anne DesBrisay

This was a bowl of house-made fettuccine, perfectly cooked to al dente, swirled in a crisp bacon (lovely) and egg custard enriched with avocado, which turned the sauce khaki green and very creamy. It was a dish that startled at first —  the avocado, such a strong presence — and then one that grew on me. And though I remain unconvinced of the pleasures of hot avocado, of this dish — matched with the Huff chardonnay — I am quite convinced.

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Dessert wasn’t part of the deal, but I was told it was straight out of the salamander — a cool maple custard in a wee mug, with a rosemary infused meringue foam. A leaf of rosemary had been candied to crown the bruléed top. Very sweet to look at; very sweet to eat.

I trust the patio got finished and the launch party was a great success.

Congratulations to Diotte and Lepore on their first anniversary.

Cost: $22, plus $10 for dessert

DeVino’s 225 Preston Street, 613-221-9760

GAME DAY! Time to get pumped with Metallica, The Trews, Blackwell, and more

By GLENN NUOTIO

Songs have been an integral part of sports and public spectacle, perhaps even before music was itself one of the contests alongside the physical events of the ancient Olympics.

A giant inflatable REDBLACKS helmet welcomes fans to the pep rally at Marion Dewar Plaza, Ottawa City Hall. July 17th, 2014. Photos by Glenn Nuotio

When the July 17 pep rally was announced to cheer on the OTTAWA REDBLACKS before their Friday, July 18 sold-out home opener against the Toronto Argonauts, the football fan in me had to check it out. With the added news that popular Atlantic Canadian rock band The Trews were chosen to play Friday’s first-ever pregame show at TD Place, the musician in me wondered how else music would play a part in the festivities.

At one point in the pep rally, mascot Big Joe flipped his axe handle over into a pretend mic and lip-synched a Shania Twain song. That was followed by Ottawa-based country vocal trio Blackwell singing “REDBLACKS style”, a modified-version of their new single “Redneck Style,” which will be released to radio next week.

Questions swirled: With a sold-out stadium crowd on Friday and a diverse city with CFL players from all over North America, would the soundtrack to motivate this new generation of #RNation take a regional Ontario approach?

Not being a huge country rock fan, was I just being a music snob?

Did our new CFL team have an official song yet?

What kind of music did the REDBLACKS as a team play in practice getting ready this week?

What about each player? What music do they need to prepare for the big moment?

I surveyed others at the rally to see if I could find out some answers.

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MALL MADNESS! The details behind Rideau, Bayshore, and St. Laurent renovations

Shop Talk is written by Ottawa Magazine editor Dayanti Karunaratne and Sarah Fischer, Ottawa Magazine account executive and fashion maven.

With the opening of the Rideau Centre food court Dining Hall later this month, and the excitement buzzing around such openings as Express and Victoria’s Secret at Bayshore, SHOP TALK surveys the big players — and fine details — in Ottawa’s mall scene.

Rideau Centre - Exterior

Rideau Centre

How much will the renovation cost:
Total value of the redevelopment project is $360 million, including Nordstrom (opening March 2015), the new Dining Hall (opening August 2014), interior and exterior renovation, and the expansion area that is due to open August 2016.

Size of redevelopment in sq. ft:
Adding 230,000 sq.ft. of new leasable area in the expansion

What big brands will you be bringing in:
Simons, Victoria’s Secret, Nordstrom, J.Crew, Zara Kids and Zara Home, Massimo Dutti, Express, Purdy’s

What’s cooking in the new food court? 
Dining Hall will feature 16 units and 850 seats, as well as a new design. Environmentally friendly features include reusable dishware, cutlery, and glasses, and full recycling facilities, including organics.

Fancy details:
All new Italian quartz flooring in the common area. Tile imported from Verona, Italy

Any environmentally friendly aspects to the new building?
In addition to the Dining Hall features mentioned above, the expansion will be LEED Certified

Things you won’t find anywhere else:
9,000 sq.ft. of original artwork commissioned for the building exterior, installed on three facades and illuminated at night

Any new parking spots?
Approximately 550 new underground parking spaces below the expansion