eating in the nation’s capital

On a relative whim I left for Ottawa with some friends for the long weekend. Having never been there outside of a motel in the biggest snowstorm in the city’s history, I was excited to check it out but wasn’t expecting much.

Being away from my home kitchen effectively zaps any desire in me to cook and replaces it with the desire to eat out as much as possible.

I went to Ottawa without knowing that it was a food-town and was pleasantly surprised right from the first meal we had at a little Italian cafe called Pasticceria Gelateria Italiana. In the morning with my friends there are two factions: those who need coffee and those who can wake up without the assistance of some dark, hot beverage. Me, being of the chemically defendant camp, joined two other friends at the cafe around the corner because our Ottawa host promised good, strong Italian coffee. We ordered our hot beverage of choice (mine a cappicino) and a pastry (mine a nutella biscotti) and sat around a little table inside to people watch.

I loved the pace of this little spot, observing that my cappicino would have been hurriedly handed to me in seconds at the Starbucks down the street but instead was slowly carefully prepared by one person who did that very thing every day. The walls were covered in clippings showcasing the cafe’s long history as a favourite in Ottawa and every glass case contained something beautiful that I wished I had ordered. We returned to the cafe every morning we spent in Ottawa.

For lunch on the first day we all agreed it would be shwarma. There is something undeniably delicious about those Lebanese pitas and so we each got one and walked a few blocks to enjoy it in the sun on a grassy knoll in front of a Ottawa University building. With our bellies still bursting from lunch, many of us attempted to squeeze in the Ottawa-touristy specialty: the beaver tail. Obama ate one once, don’t you know?

For dinner we went to a tiny little pho place off the beaten track and took our times eating the delicious noodle soup we had each ordered.

By far the most exciting part of my Ottawa eating, though, was eating my first Banh Mi at the Vietnamese submarine place called Co Cham. I’ve been wanting to try this sandwich for a long time but didn’t have occassion until a friend and I found ourselves hungry and in Chinatown. I regret not taking a picture but we each ordered the most classic sandwich and paid only 2.25 for them (!). The sandwich was so good and we ate slowly, not knowing when we would eat one such sandwich again.

Now, back in Guelph, I am happy to be reunited with my kitchen. I have some ambitious cooking plans for the next little while but let the record state: Nicole, a fairly discerning eater, was very impressed by the eating in our nation’s capital.

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