Tag Archives: Byward Market

Chef Cesare Santaguida and Celebrity Chefs of Canada

I had the opportunity last Monday to go for lunch with the lovely Lynne Frappier of The Twisted Chef blog, one of the bloggers involved with Celebrity Chefs of Canada. It was great to catch up with her, and of course to share our excitement over this event (also to talk about her appearance on CTV this week).

We met up at Vittoria Trattoria in the Byward Market. The restaurant owned by one the Chefs I am paired with for the event, Cesare Santaguida. Its a beauty of a spot. White table linen (personal fave), dark wood, outstanding bar and prestigious wine list. It was a delicious, long lunch, filled with all my favourites, not to mention the attentive and enthusiastic staff. What a pleasure for a Monday afternoon.

Grappa Steamed Mussels

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad


The Sophia

Chef Cesare Santaguida

Yesterday I had a chance to sit down with Chef Santaguida, to ask him a few questions and discuss the event March 25th. He is paired with Chef Vikram Vij from Vancouver’s Vij’s, a Chef I have long adored, I found out Chef Santaguida is also a fan of Vij.

We started off the conversation by talking about his Grandmother, his inspiration for cooking. I could tell by the sound of his voice, the way his eyes lit up when he spoke of her what she meant to him. She actually worked in the kitchen of the old Vittoria on Bank St. for half days (sometimes the whole day) until they moved to the Byward Market. Sadly, she passed away just last month at age 100.

How long have you been in the business?

Before having the restaurant (20 years), I have always worked in the restaurant business, all Italian. I started by chopping vegetables in my Grandmother’s kitchen when I was a child. We have been at the Market location for 16 years and we have our other location on Riverside.

I know your Grandmother was a big inspiration to you, what other people or things inspire you?

I am inspired all the time. A walk through the Market on my way here and all the vendors produce inspire me. I am inspired by my Fathers garden. My Father will bring by peppers, or basil or whatever he has picked fresh from his garden that day.

What is your favourite menu item here, or what do you order most frequently?

I love the Margherita Pizza. I eat that all of the time.

What is your favourite guilty pleasure food?

Junk food. I am huge fan of junk food. Oh and burgers and fries.

When you sit down with your family to eat a meal, whats on the table?

Pasta and a meat dish, always pasta. In the winter months my Mother puts pasta in soup.

Do you have a favourite Ottawa restaurant?

I have lots, but the one that comes to mind first is Atelier, its a special place, and a great experience.

Last year I noticed your whole family attended the event? Do you expect the same this year?

Yes, in fact last year my parents weren’t even supposed to attend but arrived in town last minute and were able to come. yes they will be there.

We had the opportunity to talk about a number of things, his partnership at this same event last year with David Rocco, his favourite NYC restaurants and his up coming trip to cook at a food event in Rome, just making it home in time for Celebrity Chefs of Canada.

I am looking forward to seeing what this team has in store for us. Last year we were blown away by Chef Santaguida’s scallops cooked on a Dean and Deluca salt block.

My time with Chef Santaguida just further confirmed for me what a fabulous and exciting food community we have. Celebrity Chefs of Canada is a must attend. I am also thinking Chef Santaguida is going to have a little angel cooking right along side of him.

For ticket info visit Celebrity Chefs of Canada.


Restaurant18: An Almost Wordless Weekend Post

When my friend Jillian asked me to go to Restaurant18 to experience visitng Chef Gustav Tragardh’s culinary mastery, I happily went along. I did not have the intention of blogging about it. I wanted to be fully in it to sit back and enjoy the experience without finding words for it. Impossible. I sat at a table of foodies, people who live food experiences daily and really know their stuff. We covered a lot in a few hours. I loved this experience with them.

Hosted in partnership with the Swedish Embassy, Tragardh, Sweden’s 2010 Chef of The Year surprised and delighted his guests with a heavenly five course dinner.

Thanks Nicole for reminding me this week what a lovely evening we had.

Below, venison tartar, whitefish roe and lobster mayo with pickled cucumber, smoked quail egg, watercress and rye bread crisp.

Below, halibut oyster and horseradish with light root vegetables, anchovy and oyster-browned butter broth.

Below, suckling pig served with crispy assorted mushrooms, cauliflower and marrow jus.

Below, goat cheese brioche with cloudberry peserve.

On Restaurant18, if I could sit in the beauty of this space on a daily basis I would. Exquisite.

Tastes Like Summer Tomato Salad

I picked up a wonderful mix of tomatoes on my usual Wednesday morning trek to the Byward Market. I like to get there early, enjoy a cafe au lait and apricot brioche at Le Moulin de Provence. It gives me an opportunity to speak to the vendors and see whats available before they get too busy. Usually by 8:30 I have made my purchases and already heading home to write for the rest of the morning (this particular morning I was also lucky enough to enjoy a cup with Don of FoodiePrints).

I love the Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella from the Earth to Table cookbook. With this recipe in mind I made a similar version for dinner last night and it was lovely. Each tomato was like a mouthful of sun, the definition of summer. I used feta and fresh basil I picked from my garden. It really was divine.

2 pounds of assorted tomatoes cut into wedges
1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves (rosemary is good with it too)
feta cheese (as much as desired cut into chunks)
1/4 cup of good olive oil (more or less as desired)
sprinkle of sea salt
sprinkle of black pepper

Toss and enjoy. Serves 3-4

Benny’s Bistro

Invited out for lunch by my lovely daughter Friday we decided to head to Benny’s Bistro after it was suggested by a friend earlier in the week.
Lunch was divine.

I like the location, away from the busy centre of the Byward Market. I had shopped at the French Baker many times, but never ventured farther than the bakery in front. In the back we were first greeted by the wonderful smells coming from the open kitchen and then a seated by a very pleasant staff member.

The restaurant is bright, which makes up for a lack of windows, and not at all what I was expecting. It was also hot (not sure if it is air-conditioned). Suffering the heat however was certainly worth the delight of the lunch that awaited us.

They brought us fresh bread, butter and water. I ordered pan-seared scallops, with a panko encrusted cod cake, served with pork belly and a fava/ramp salad. The scallops were perfectly cooked, buttery and rich. The cod cake crust was crispy and golden and to my delight inside meaty chunks of delicate white fish. I tried to make this last as long as I could….

Cait ordered the salmon gravlax with fingerling potatoes, a sunny-side up egg and olive tapenade. She too was pleased with her choice. Of course we had to share, the lovely layers of her lunch reminded me of some of the best Sunday brunch I have had.

We couldn’t leave of course without dessert and a cafe au lait. We decided to share an almond tart (not the chocolate one, much to Cait’s dismay) not overly sweet, I found that it was a nice end to this lovely meal (the candied fruit inside was a pleasant surprise).

It’s also convenient to pick up fresh bread on the way out for the weekend. I will definitely go back, thinking it would be a good choice when the parents visit….

The E & C

Kind of sad that the Elephant and Castle is closed, however I did notice that the new pub going in is called The Exchange Pub with emphasis on the e and the c in the signage. While the E & C has not had a reputation for impeccable service (and I have been witness to it), it holds a sentimental value to me. It’s a place that my dad likes to go for a pint when he is visiting, and we always had a good time there.

Oh well, the market is booming with decent pubs….

Le Moulin

A prisoner in my own house for days due to the Olympics (never did I think it would be possible), I finally escaped today with hubby and folks in tow down to the market for lunch.

Le Moulin de Provence is a little piece of heaven right in the centre of it all. I go there to write, to people watch, I take friends there and I dream about their apricot brioche.

Today it was lunch, the place was bustling. My parents both had crab on a baguette, a soft doughy baguette filled with mounds of crab salad, so big in fact mom couldn’t finish hers. Adrian had a pizza, thin crust, tomato sauce, covered in meat (enough said) and I opted for a slice of salmon pie and an Earl Grey. The pie was simple, salmon and herbs in a light flaky crust, it is quite good and at $4.95 it is a bargain here.

The staff is quick and helpful, I have had my moments when I wondered if a few of them actually liked their jobs, but for the most part they are great all of them masters at both languages. The place is big and roomy, the noise levels can sometimes be an issue, I do like it better in the summer with the windows up, but who wouldn’t.

The display cases are filled with wonderful food both sweet and savoury. They have daily soups and serve their cafe au lait in big white bowls. They have some of the best croissants in the city (the almond is amazing).

It had a few great moments last year when Barack Obama swung by and purchased cookies for his girls, left a half-eaten cookie and took pictures with everyone.

I miss not working close to it anymore, but I guess that’s what makes it such a treat now. My Mother and I headed back after shopping and picked up bread for dinner and some hot cross buns (it’s that time of year).

55 ByWard Market Square,  Ottawa, ON,  K1N 9C3  T: 613-241-9152

Favourite #2 the Killaloe Sunrise BeaverTail

Yes indeed, I thought long and hard before adding this sugar coma item to the list. Honestly, how could I not. Ottawa is famous for this deep fried, doughy delight, around since 1978 and they are delicious.

My favourite, the Killaloe Sunrise a luscious lemony flavoured, icing sugar-coated dream, that literally melts in your mouth. If you have ever seen a Killaloe sunrise over Round Lake Ontario, it is the same thing, simply heaven.

So when next in the Byward Market, or on the canal, or in the mall, get one and enjoy. My advice-DO NOT SHARE.