Woaah! Vagabrothers reporting from Ottawa with some good news.
Canada’s capital is really really cool.
Let’s be honest, Ottawa is the underdog city of Canada,
even though it’s the capital,
Lately ,it’s been out shined by its neighbours, Toronto and Montreal.
But now, things are changing.
Half the population is under 35,
and employment is high,
which combines to make a young prosperous city
with an appetite for good food, drinks and culture.
Ottawa’s story begins back in the day when the British built the Rideau Canal
to link the St Lawrence river with Lake Ontario
to protect this vital water way from American invasion,
Hello, don’t mind me. I’m just practicing my French pronunciation under our little umbrella.
The British brought in thousands of Irish and Scottish
workers to complete the 202 km long canal,
which is the oldest, continuously functioning canal in North America
and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ottawa was later chosen as capital
because it’s literally right on the border of French speaking Quebec and the rest of English speaking Canada.
That is Ontario.
[Speaking French] That is Quebec.
C’est bon! C’est tres bon.
Well, that’s Parliament
and it kind of looks like a combination of Notré Dame and Big Ben,
which I think explains a lot about Canada.
That was deep.
And very simplistic.
While the ruling classes lived up on Parliament Hill,
the canal workers lived in Byward Market,
a rough and tumble neighbourhood
where the past times of the day were drinking, gambling and prostitution.
Now a days, it’s the cultural hub of the revitalised downtown,
where top-notch restuarants breathe new life
into the historic buildings that surround the daily market.
So we met up with Tracy from C’est Bon Food Tours
and took a stroll through Byward Market.
Now the reason food’s so damn good here
is there’re 1200 farms within the city limits,
more than Canada’s other major cities combined,
which means farm-to-table is nothing new.
Local food is huge here and the green symbol of Savour Ottawa
ensures that what you’re eating is grown locally.
So we dropped in on Rochon’s family market
who’ve been selling their home-grown produce for three generations
and are still the choice supplier for local chefs.
I think they want the best quality for what they’re giving to their customers,
and it supports the market
And I know for a fact that if you go to a restaurant in the market,
you really appreciate seeing on the menu that it’s local and fresh.
Byward Market has tons of stalls and stores,
and each one adds a little something different to the recipe.
We started with the house of cheese.
So we’re at the House of Cheese.
On this block alone there’s a thousand types of cheese,
And there’s half of them in this store,
which means, Marko is a happy traveller right now.
Mark’s go-to-joke is always ”My achilles heel is goat cheese.”
It’s not a joke.
I think you’re in for some trouble here, Bro.
As you can see we have about 500 different types of cheese in store.
In the past we used to import a lot more cheeses
But as trends change people want to support local more so we’ve got more local
Right next door is Sasloves Meat Market
where we sampled a rich and creamy terrine of local paté.
And it’s not just Canadian food either.
The Byward Market sells cuisine from around the world.
And just down the street,
The Bottega Italiana sells all the good products from the Old Country.
Down the street is The Grand.
Once upon a time a notorious by-the-hour hotel,
Today a first class pizza joint.
So we sat down with the owner and asked him how Ottawa’s food scene has evolved.
The last five years has changed a lot.
The last ten years had great change.
There’re lots of new restaurants have come up.
The neighbourhoods and the restaurants have all started to develop together.
So you know there used to be just the Byward Market.
Now there’s little pockets in Ottawa where cool neighbourhoods
and cool little restaurants.
When it came to dinner we had two great experiences:
Innovative tapa- styled dishes at Play
and burgers and beers at the Black Tomato with local food blogger Don Chow.
After that Don took us to sample Ottawa’s favourite dessert.
A pastry called the Beaver Tail.
The biggest tradition with Beaver Tails is this;
In the winter time there isn’t a lot to do
But we have the longest skating rink in the world.
What happens is you skate couple hours in the canal.
They have these on the ice,
So you finish your skating.
You fuel up.
You grab a Beaver Tail.
That’s the tradition.
You gotta squeeze the lemon on nice and hearty.
There you go
I don’t know what to think about this.
Supposedly really good.
There’s a lot more to Ottawa than just downtown.
So the next morning we hoped in a cab and headed west.
Okay, so we just got to Hintonburg and Wellington West.
These are the up and coming neighbourhoods of Ottawa,
about 15 minutes from downtown.
Apparently ,they’re full of cool stores
and boutiques and great restaurants and bars, so let’s go check it out.
One of the first places we stumbled upon was Victoire,
Aahip boutique specialising in local craft
whose owner, Regin, told us why she loves Ottawa.
Man, Ottawa has always been cool,
and people who live here know that.
But I know people outside the city don’t know that.
You’ve got to talk to the right people or people who live here,
and then you’ll find the cool stuff that’s happening.
But it is hard if you’re coming from outside the city to find those things,
like where the cool bars are or the fun dance parties.
But people who live here know, we have fun, it’s so good.
So we took her advice and met up with Brad from Brew Donkey Craft Beer Tours
who took us to his favourite nano brewery
Beyond the Pale in Hintonburg.
Boys want a slice?
It’s cut-off Thursday
Yeah, it’s cut-off Thursday!
Beyond the Pale’s ambitions are not to dominate the market
on a national, regional or even a city wide level.
Instead, they focus on serving their immediate neighbourhood
with most of their beer sold in refillable growlers.
The local movement that was farmers markets
about four or five years ago in Ottawa
created a local drive for people to get local produce.
That’s now translated in to :get your local beer.
You’re not going to your local baker to get bread.
That was something that changed.
Everybody’s going to their supermarket to get bread
Well now a days people want to go to the local bakery and get bread,
and they similarly want to go to a local brewery to get beer.
People want to support somebody that they can know makes that product.
They’re shaking a hand with the brewer
If you would have been here yesterday,
Shane would have been here having a beer with you.
Nothing goes better with good food than good beer
So we had dinner at the Wellington Gastropub,
a neighbourhood favourite
with artisan food,
a select beer list,
and a monthly vinyl record club
where they match tasty tunes with delicious beers.
After a few days of eating and drinking our way through the city,
the next morning, we crossed the Ottawa River
to treat ourselves to a little bit of luxury.
Well it’s been an indulgent week, but we’re not done yet.
We just crossed over the river to the Quebec side,
and we’re now at Nordik Spa.
Nordik Spa is one of the largest spas.
It’s THE largest.
It is the largest spa
In North America,
and we are in for a treat.
Well this is officially the best way to start the day ever.
Oh my God, I can’t wait for this.
So apparently It’s going to go like this;
We ‘re going to have a first sauna treatment
They’re going to beat us with sticks for half an hour. Nice.
And then we’re going to go in the cold water pools
and then down to the Kálla treatment
which is like the Dead Sea.
Basically salty water where we’re going to float on our backs.
And guys this is the most scenic spa I’ve ever seen, Ever!
So let’s get in it. Nice. Very nice.
I guess it’s time to go.
Soaking in the outdoor tubs in Nordik,
we started to appreciate having visited Ottawa in Autumn.
The colours are beautiful,
the beers are seasonal,
and the harvest makes the food that much better.
So we took the slow way back to town,
passing through Gatineau Park
to soak up some natural beauty
before making one last stop at La Brasseurs du Temps
to try all twelve of their beers
and eat some epic poutine.
Well that was our week in Ottawa!
If you’ve been to Ottawa or you’re from there,
make sure you share your tips and advice in the comments box below
so we can make a travelling community in their.
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