The Bird. Oh lordie, the bird! Have you ordered a fresh, local, pink-and-plump, contented-till-the-day-it-met-its-Maker variety bird? Or will you head to the supermarket and buy a ‘butter’ basted frozen rock of a beast with a wing tip missing?
Rather depends on your budget and your beliefs, but this story isn’t about that. This is about avoiding the whole turkey thing — the ordering, queuing, collecting and lugging home, stuffing, trussing, roasting, (Is it done, good God is it done? How do I tell if it’s done?) making gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry jelly… Just how many years now have you been doing the damn Turkey Dinner my friend? Quite right. Too many.
So here’s an option for shaking it up. Head to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market’s Christmas Market at the Aberdeen Pavilion in Lansdowne Park. There’s no finer feel-good food shopping (plus crafts, jewellery, butcher blocks, wool, soaps, stocking stufferish stuff) in the city. Heaps of late fall vegetables and fruit, great wheels of cheese, local meats, jugs of apple cider, jars of pickles, combs of honey, bars of chocolate, cartons of eggs, plus ice cream, coffee, cupcakes, breads.
By all means buy your Brussels sprouts and carrots, beets and kale from Needham’s Market Garden, or Bryson Farms, or Jambican, or Roots & Shoots, or one of the many other fine purveyors of gorgeous winter produce.
You’ll need wine. You can get that at the By Chadsey’s Cairns stall from Prince Edward County winery owners Richard Johnston and Vida Zalnieriunas. Around the corner from them is Michaelsdolce, where you’ll want to pick up a few jars of spiced cranberry jelly.
From there you head for the Great British Pasty & Pie Co truck. It’s always parked in the northwest corner of the Cattle Castle and it’s hard to miss. Now take a big breath, swallow the guilt, and buy a bunch of Matt Grant’s excellent ‘Christmas Dinner Pasties.’ Tucked into a tidily pleated pastry turnover (his mum’s recipe, God love ‘er), moist chunks of roasted turkey, aromatic stuffing studded with Upper Canada cranberries, cubes of soft potato, and the usual sort of turkey seasoning… and there you have it: the bits and pieces of The Turkey Dinner wrapped up in one handy hand-held, half-moon of pastry! Pasties get baked from frozen and are ready in about 20 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the pastry is golden and the filling steaming hot. No thermometer required. Fantastic with a dollop of cranberry jelly.
Then pick up apple pies from Hall’s and a pint of Pascale’s wildly wonderful eggnog ice cream. Or inject a little Asian into your tradition and buy a of pack of Liz Mok’s Moo Shu ice cream truffles, cheekily named, exotically delicious. And finally, coffee from Poppa Bean, and chocolates from Hummingbird, and voila! You’re done. Well done. Merry Christmas.
The Christmas Market runs for one more weekend.
Saturday December 19th and Sunday December 20th from 9am to 3pm.