Eating & Drinking

101 TASTES: Ottawa Magazine presents the must-eat list you cannot resist

101 Tastes: the must-eat list you cannot resist
From left (top): La Belle Verte’s raw raspberry cream chocolate tart; Rhubarb tart at Three Tarts; Amandine tarte aux abricots (bottom) (Image: photoluxstudio.com/Christian Lalonde)

41 | THE NUN’S FETA AT THE VIEUX HULL FARMER’S MARKET

The first thing you notice when you approach the stall displaying fresh spanakopita, moussaka, and boxes of traditional Greek cookies and sweets at the little farmers’ market in Old Hull is that it’s run by nuns. The sisters from Le Troupeau Bénit, a Greek Orthodox monastery in Quebec, make all the products by hand, including three varieties of excellent feta using sheep’s and goat’s milk. $31 per kg. www.marchevieuxhull.ca. ~SW

42 | LA BELLE VERTE’S RAW RASPBERRY CREAM CHOCOLATE TART

On a crust of raw nuts and seeds, with layers of vegan raspberry “cream” and a raw mousse made of cacao nibs, sweetened with agave nectar and date juice. This is a fabulous dessert? Yup. Shockingly good, given no butter, no cream, no Callebaut. Smooth, rich, and layered, with a terrific textural balance, it has an adult whisper of sweetness. A terrific indulgence after a live-forever raw quiche lunch at La Belle Verte. $6.50. La Belle Verte, 166, rue Eddy, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-778-6363. ~AD

43 | RHUBARB TART AT THE THREE TARTS

Rhubarb and strawberries — that classic happy marriage of sweet and tart — bobbing up and bursting forth from a buttery custard pond on a classic sweet-crust pastry. Hello, spring. $14. Three Tarts, 1320 Wellington St. W., 613-729-9832. ~AD

44 | AMANDINE TARTE AUX ABRICOTS

First off, what a rare beaut, this tarte! Makes for divine eating too. No wonder, given that it’s pâte sucrée filled with almond cream. On top, poached apricots — juicy. The whole of it glazed. We must be in heaven, no? So next we must turn to Gatineau baker, patissier, and co-owner of Les Plaisirs Gourmands sont simples, David Leluan. Nous vous remercions, Monsieur Leluan. Varying prices according to size, starting at $2.65. Les Plaisirs Gourmands sont simples, 59, boul. St-Raymond, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-771-4761; 835, rue St-Louis, Gatineau (Gatineau sector), 819-205-2299. ~CD

45 | CHOCOLATE CRICKETS

One day a regular Miss Chocolat customer bought chocolate crickets — she’d found the perfect party favour — from maitre chocolatier Nathalie Borne. Next day she returned with the lot — none of her guests would take the plunge. (Borne gave her a refund.) You heard right — real crickets. Don’t worry, though, they’re not alive: they’ve been cooked and dried and rolled in cheddar. In the interests of research, we tried the little gems. The verdict? After nibbling around the edges of the pastille, enjoying some rather extraordinary chocolate — well, time to bite further. Crunch. Rather like praline. Dare ya! Available in milk chocolate or dark. $1.50. Miss Chocolat, 173, prom. du Portage, Gatineau (Hull sector), 819-775-3499. ~CD

46 | ATELIER’S 12-COURSE BLIND-TASTING MENU

An unremarkable building with a dining room that seats 22 and a kitchen that features no stove: this is Ottawa’s most remarkable restaurant? Yup. Granted, it’s not for everyone. You don’t approach Atelier seeking a bite to eat. You arrive with your senses up, ready to be astonished and to spend three or four hours of focused attention. Atelier’s chef/owner, 2012 Canadian Culinary Champion Marc Lepine, was a stagiaire at Alinea in Chicago and remains a keen student of what you might call innovation in the kitchen, though he calls what happens at Atelier “modern Canadian cuisine.” Lepine’s 12-course tasting menu goes way beyond the traditional nouvelle boundaries of cooking. He’s not interested in exalting our native products in the simplest possible way. His dishes are stunning — an ode to detail, to teamwork, to manipulation with piercing focus of resonant flavours and textural combinations. There’s irony at play here and certainly whimsy, the courses at once interactive and memory jogging. In a city awash with casual comfort food, Atelier reminds us what the high end is all about. $110. Atelier, 540 Rochester St., 613-321-3537. ~AD

47 | LES GRILLADES FATEH

Served on Sundays as part of the Lebanese breakfast menu, fateh is like a warm, buttery breakfast casserole that combines crispy-fried pita chips with toothsome chickpeas, all smothered in creamy yogourt and tahini. The dish is then drenched with warm butter (yup, you read that right) and sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. Move over, seven-layer dip and poutine, there’s a new delectable dish of decadence in town. $11.99. Les Grillades, 85 Holland Ave., 613-792-3224. ~SW

48 | SALMON JERKY AT CHELSEA SMOKEHOUSE

Nothing makes you feel more Canadian, eh, than chewing on a stick of maple-syrup-saturated salmon jerky. Chelsea Smokehouse co-owner Line Boyer says people are so addicted to her jerky, she can hardly keep up with demand. The flavour is pure, the texture is oddly enjoyable, and the ingredients are fine and few: salmon, salt, maple syrup, sambal olek, and maple wood smoke. $1.60 per 100 g. Chelsea Smokehouse, 706, rte. 105, Chelsea, 819-827-1925. ~SW

49 | GRILLED FOUR-CHEESE TOSTO

At Bread & Sons, this quickie lunch is called tosto — Italian for “at once” or toast — but really it’s a grilled cheese. A sumptuous one, though — no surprise, given the tweaking persistence of ever imaginative owner and baker Yoav D’Vaja. The crunch of these buttery ridges and edges yields to a rich, oozing concoction of four melting cheeses. (No, we’re not at liberty to give out the recipe.) Then, depending on which one you’ve ordered, you might hit the sharpness of giant capers, the sweetness of caramelized Spanish onion, or the fresh through-cut of Italian parsley. Don’t forget a bite of the simply made coleslaw, then another of dill pickle. Certainly the best grilled cheese — uh, we mean tosto — ever. $7.96. Bread & Sons, 195 Bank St., 613-230-5302. ~CD

50 | THE BAGELSHOP’S CARAMELIZED ONION CREAM CHEESE

Not since peanut butter and chocolate has there been a better flavour combo. When gently caramelized onions get folded into smooth deli-style cream cheese, you’ll want to put it on everything. Try a smear on a warm sesame seed bagel with ribbons of smoked salmon, and you’ll never go back to plain. $5.69/250g. Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli, 1321 Wellington St. W., 613-722-8753. ~SW