The 2012-2013 edition of Ottawa Magazine’s Eating & Drinking Guide is a food lover’s bible for everything local, with 80+ pages of restaurant, wine, food shop, and kitchen store recommendations. Look for it on newsstands or order it here.
Sneak Peek: Ottawa Magazine food editor Shawna Wagman provides the Eating & Drinking Guide with her choices for 15 taste-worthy additions to the local food scene. Here, her second five picks for tastiest new entries to the city’s simmering culinary landscape. (To check out the first five, click here.)
The Nutty Greek Bake Shop
Take the warm, comforting sweetness of lemon, cinnamon, and honey; add a bunch of nuts; and you are halfway to understanding the magic of this new big-hearted bakery in Little Italy.
In Greek baking, walnuts are revered the same way that pistachios rule the Lebanese kitchen in pastries. So at Nutty Greek, Ottawa’s first Greek bakery (in almost 30 years), you’ll find walnuts that are crushed, rolled, layered, and sprinkled over many of the dozens of treats on offer.
Anna Papadopoulos, who co-owns the shop with her entire family — sister Eleni, brother George, and parents Christina and Tom — works wonders with these ingredients. Don’t miss the melomakrona, a traditional moist, cake-like cookie dipped in honey syrup and flecked with orange zest, or the knockout feta cheesecake topped with sour cherries from Greece. 490 Rochester St., 613-680-0806.
The indigenous food of Oaxaca — the region in southwest Mexico known as the land of seven moles — is the inspiration behind Ana Collins’ takeout and catering food shop in residential Vanier. Here, she aims to serve the warmth of the Mexican culture and community as much as the densely nutritious, fresh, and vibrant food that she experienced while living and studying there. Taking up the labour-intensive tradition that dates back to pre-Columbian times, Collins and her kitchen crew happily steam up the shop every Friday night making fresh tamales — small packages of corn masa dough — for Saturday’s customers. The daily menu includes quesadillas, memelas (little corn tortilla pizzas), and nourishing chili-spiked soups, among other traditional fare — all featuring her own freshly made, whole-grain white corn tortillas. 62 Barrette St., 613-842-9058.
Hot on the heels of the success of Edgar, Marysol Foucault has launched Odile, another tiny oasis of taste in a Hull neighbourhood built for utility. Here she extends her passion for beauty, seasonality, and tiny details. Odile has joined its sibling in serving what is perhaps the region’s most wildly adored weekend brunch. The Dutch Baby tells you everything you need to know about how this kitchen thinks: take a beguiling golden pancake that puffs up high like a soufflé, crisp around the edges like a crepe, and custardy inside like flan. Top said pancake with caramelized slow-cooked pork belly, a crumble of five-year-old cheddar, chunky apple purée, and a glug of maple syrup. Dinner service is where Odile shines in her own right — its small menu might be described as traditional Québécois with a modern twist. 47, ave. Montclair (at Berri), Gatineau (Wrightville sector), 819-205-4425.
Relish the Flavour Food Truck
Paul Bergeron started out as a line cook and sous-chef at Fraser Café and likes to say he attended the Fraser School of Cooking. But he admits that being Simon Fraser’s brother-in-law probably helped him get his foot in the door. With dreams of one day owning his own restaurant on wheels, he stepped out of the shadows and into the driver’s seat of a blue-and-orange truck dubbed Relish The Flavour. He now roams the city, appearing at festivals and events and serving his famous flavour-packed sandwiches (for instance, a Berkshire-pork-belly reuben or a chimichurri BLT) and S’mac ’n’ cheese, a favourite of University of Ottawa students, who have been spoiled by having Relish parked on their campus during the school year. See @relishtruck on Twitter to find out the truck’s location. 613-266-0538.
Richard’s Hintonburg Kitchen
Former Juniper and Domus chef Richard Nigro has reinvented himself as a neighbourhood personal chef after a career spent in fine dining. His new shop gives west enders no reason to cook ever again, with an ever-changing selection of restaurant-quality takeaway lunches, dinners, snacks, and catering. His internationally inspired menu is a testament to Nigro’s love of spice and new flavour combinations. His own line of spice blends, rubs, salts, and hot sauces, as well as pickled vegetables featuring produce from the nearby Parkdale Market, is used in the cooking and also sold as pantry items. At lunch, the Kitchen cranks out an eclectic menu of soups and salads, grilled paninis, the daily meatball, and a selection of hand-held savoury bundles that include samosas, Jamaican patties, Italian calzones, North African wraps, and Vietnamese rice-paper wraps. In the fall, there are plans to offer a “roaster of the day” for dinner, such as stuffed and roasted chicken with accompanying sides that serves four to six adults. Saturday mornings are extra sweet, with fresh crepes, scones, and sticky buns to start the day. 1200D Wellington St. W., 613-422-2680.