By Hollie Davies –
Most people navigate their own culinary explorations, and have probably rarely (if ever) been on a food tour, but on Oct.19 a group of food lovers had a chance to nibble their way around Hintonburg.
Carmen MacDonald of C’est Bon Epicurean Adventures led a group of six foodies to some of the most delicious destinations in the city’s west end.
“A food tour can really help one delve deeper into the lives and culture of a community and city,” says MacDonald.
C’est Bon also offers cooking classes in owner Andree Riffou’s very own elaborate kitchen. She’s a fellow Ottawan, having studied cuisine and pastry with Le Cordon Bleu in both Ottawa and Paris.
C’est Bon’s food tours include a chocolate lover’s tour, tours of the Byward Market, Chinatown, the Glebe, and even a week-long adventure to Southwest France. This day, however, was all about Kitchissippi.
Art Is In Bakery
This bustling hot spot is fast-paced and aesthetically industrial.
Although there is an extensive brunch menu here on Sundays (which comes highly recommended), this tasting included some of the commodities they are best known for: bread and pastries.
The manager, Charles Roy, who is only two months into his career at Art is In, offered tour participants Ottawa Wild Sourdough, Dynamite Range with cheddar, chives and jalapeno, raspberry scones, and sticky buns, which are succulent and also thoroughly gooey.
It’s always quite busy for brunch at Art Is In, as well as lunch, but don’t be discouraged, the line moves along quickly enough.
West End Well
This establishment is truly innovative as it offers the option of a membership-based co-op, but anyone and everyone are still welcome to shop in the grocery section and indulge at the café.
At this stop along the tour, participants sampled English muffins with egg and tomato, and buckwheat pancakes with a peach compote.
The West End Well offers so much more to the neighbourhood – a central location boasting food, art, and learning. The cafe and kitchen services are developed and managed by Jacqueline Jolliffe, founder of Ottawa’s first organic food truck, Stone Soup Foodworks.
The cafe has also just received a liquor license, so patrons can now order up a mimosa with their healthy, locally-sourced meal.
Community members, worker members and producer members have the opportunity to pay the one time co-op membership fee of $50, which provides them with a voice in the direction and development of the co-op, a share in the profits, and the opportunity to invest in its operations.
The West End Well has the potential to work its way into many community members’ good books by doing what they can to provide and support local, organic, and sustainable initiatives. (Read more about West End Well in the KT archives.)
Hintonburg Public House
This throwback to original taverns and pubs, features an attractive blend of enhanced modern design elements, along with quirky, edgy (and often local) art on display and for sale. The flow of customers is steady. Everything is made in house, providing only the best comfort foods. The beer nuts, for example, are a must try. But at this moment on the tour, a tidbit of something entirely new was on offer: Welsh Rarebit. It’s made of pieces of homemade bread, smothered with oatmeal stout and St. Albert cheddar cheese sauce, and topped with Osgoode Orchard apple ginger compote. Tour groups are, of course, given only a sample, but a genuine order looks perfect for sharing.
Bread By Us
This is a relatively new addition to the neighbourhood, having opened in December 2013. Every loaf of bread is made with some hint of sourdough, usually an organic/non-organic blend. According to owner Jessica Carpinone, 100-150 loaves are churned out every day. Bread By Us also functions as an espresso bar, and to complement the bread on sample, delicious and warming lemon ginger tea was also offered to tour participants.
Here’s something good to know: Bread By Us allows those with extra change to pay it forward by purchasing menu items that are then made available to those in need. Buy an extra coffee or loaf, and it goes up on the board for when someone needs it. (Read more about Bread By Us in the KT archives.)
Holland’s Cake and Shake
After briefly checking out the Parkdale Market for some healthy fresh produce tasting and information about local producers, the next stop took a turn in the complete opposite direction, gastronomically speaking. Holland’s Cake and Shake owner Michael Holland offers up many “full-fat, full-cream, plenty of gluten delicious treats,” says Kathryn Ferries, one of the helpful and friendly staff members at Holland’s. She warned participants not to confuse this establishment with any old cupcake shop. Holland hails from Ottawa’s famous Atelier restaurant, and expectations are high. They also make everything in house at Holland’s (including sandwiches and their very own “Cheez Whiz”) and showcase an open kitchen. (Read more about Holland’s Cake and Shake in the KT archives.)
As the tour wound down, participants departed with gifts: local granola produced at Siren Bakery and cookies from Holland’s Cake and Shake. But perhaps the best gift of all, was the satisfaction of having engaged in a memorable activity, an opportunity to explore a potentially new food scene.
For more information about food tours and classes, go to cestboncooking.ca.