Tag Archives: Ottawa Restaurants

This is What I Know

I know its time. As hard as it is to admit it, instead of slowing down my life is gearing up and headed in a new direction, and I have to say goodbye to my lovely lemon kitchen.

I’m sad for a thousand reasons, but despite all my promises, I have been neglectful and know there is no time to play catch-up.

I have had more great opportunities then I can count because I started a blog almost five years ago. I have met good, good people some of whom are my closest friends today. I have met some great Chefs and been involved in great events. Things I would not have necessarily been part of.

I realized this quite clearly over the past several weeks, at the opening of a new restaurant (NEXT) by my favourite Chef and friend, Michael Blackie, at a lovely union of two people I heart (you know who you are) and helping to celebrate a new winery being opened by people I respect and care about, Three Dog Wine. All because I met them through the lemon kitchen.

I also love this adopted city of mine, Ottawa. I know that it is far from the “boring” place it has been labelled. There is so much going on and so much to do. Full of amazing culinary talent and events our weekends (and most times weeknights) are full. Great Farmer’s Markets and local businesses supplying the best possible product.

They also give, and give endlessly. I know this because I work in the charitable sector and I endlessly ask. They work together and support each other like no other place I have seen.

I feel lucky that I have ended up where I am. Thanks for listening and for all of your great feedback. Keep on trying new things, going to new restaurants, supporting our Farmer’s and making your own kitchen as lemony and delicious as you can. I’ll see you around.


Zolas and Sunshine

For your viewing pleasure, a beautiful evening at Zolas during their annual party (this year a cocktail pairing) and a little love to the Sunshine Foundation in preparation for their upcoming Bright Night Big Dreams Masquerade Ball at Ashbury College October 27th.

Well done Chef Antonio and team Zolas!


On our mission to expand our dining experiences beyond the downtown core, we jumped in the car Sunday and headed out to Zolas Restaurant in Bells Corners for a late lunch.

I had recently met Gina Vacchio sister to Chef/Owner Antonio Vacchio while planning an event. This bubbly, excitable soul encouraged me to stop by some time. So I did. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon, good food, good wine, good company.

We started with the Porchetta Poutine topped with a perfectly cooked fried egg. The golden yolk really added warmth to this indescribable mouthful of complete and utter genius (with a Pelee Island red, perfection). Zola’s own delicious Porchetta. Heaven. That is all.

Next up, Chicken Gorgonzola. A gorgonzola cream sauce topped with roasted pine nuts served with seared vegetables and roasted potatoes, a creamy, dreamy dish. For the gorgonzola lovers out there this is a real treat. This sauce served with my personal favourites, pine nuts, over a moist, generously sized chicken breast.

We finished with, Penne with Hot Sausage (Grandpa’s recipe), pan seared calabrese sausage in a spicy tomato sauce. As you know I like a little heat, but really need the flavours to shine through. This dish did the trick, layers of tomato and spice with a nice kick.

Zola’s open style kitchen and funky atmosphere really lend to its warm, inviting feeling. The little Italian shop out front offers up pasta (both fresh prepared and packaged), a variety of canned goods, and take home meals. Soon to come sandwiches to grab and go, including the delicious porchetta.

Question….does porchetta trump bacon? Perhaps…..

As I said in the beginning of the post, my first experience with Zola’s is in planning an event for the Sunshine Foundation happening, Saturday, October 27th, 2012 at Ashbury College. The Sunshine Foundation is the only national Canadian charity to provide individual dreams to children with severe physical disabilities (such as spina bifida or cerebral palsy) as well as life-threatening illnesses. In fact, 80% of Sunshine Kids are challenged by a severe physical disability. Sunshine was the first organization to bring DreamLifts to Canadian children. Sunshine’s one-day, whirlwind DreamLift adventures transport approximately 80 children by plane to an exciting destination such as a Disney theme park.

This event, Bright Night, Big Dreams Masquerade Ball is being hosted by the National Capital Chapter. Some of the food I showcased today will be on the menu for the evening along with Pelee Island wines, a martini bar and some great big band music.

For ticket information visit Eventbrite.

For your added viewing pleasure:

Please plan on a visit to Bells Corners and Zolas soon, and if you want to support a great cause join us in October!

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.

The Lemon Kitchen’s Top 10 for 2011

I am a food blogger. I don’t critique, I talk about food. I talk about food that I like or a great food experience I have had. If I have a bad experience, I don’t share it unless I really feel it neccessary. Why? Because your experience may be different.

I do this for fun, because I enjoy it and fortunately for me it has allowed me many memorable experiences and introduced me to many amazing people.

This year I found many things in this great city of ours that I loved, 10 in particular . I want to share them with you. I suggest if you get an opportunity to try them do so, I can almost guarantee you will love them too.

Top ten favourites this year:

1. Almond Brioche – Art-Is-In Bakery
Heaven in your mouth. That is all.

2. Latte – Raw Sugar
Nadia and her team really can brew a decent cuppa. A close second is T.A.N. Cafe is Sandy Hill.

3. Breakfast Kaiser – Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill
In fact every brunch item at this neighbourhood pub is worth a try. Wendy’s poached are the best.

4. General Blackie’s Chicken – Le Cafe
Just the right amount of sweet and spicy yumminess.

5. Pistachio Gelato – Stella Luna
Smooth and luscious. I want more always.

6. Shrimp Pad Thai – So Good
Finally found something comparable to Karma’s. It only took 4

7. Potato Latkes – Rideau Bakery
Greasy deliciousness. They need to make them at Rideau on Saturdays. Sweet potato latkes rock during holiday season. You can eat these cold or take them home and re-heat.

8. Veggie Burger – Hintonburger
Falafel patty on a bun. Genius.

9. Meatballs in Aurora Sauce – Parma Ravioli
Perfect meatballs in the best tomato sauce ever. Buy an extra sauce.

10. Bianco Pizza – Tennessy Willems
Pear and gorgonzola on a pizza. Nuff’ said.

Honourable mentions: michaelsdolce jam and Happy Goat Coffee

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.

Easy Pulled-Pork

It’s been a hectic time around here, and the blog has been neglected. I apologize. Things seem to be settling down a bit and we are getting into a nice flow.

This weekend we really wanted to take it easy. Nowhere to go and no company meant we were pretty much free. I was missing my foodie friends, so I decided to see how the Ottawa Foodie Challenge was shaping up. We met the foodiePrints crew down at Isobel’s Cupcakes new location in Hintonburg and were able to enjoy a good coffee and great conversation.

Taking time to do a few things we wanted meant a good supper with little work. Before we left I started my pulled-pork in the slow cooker. I have been asked for the recipe several times because it’s so easy and good.

Here it is:

1 really good pork roast 2-3 pounds (not tenderloin)

1 bottle of Root Beer ( the single serving size, I prefer A & W)

Roast, root beer and some salt and pepper in the crock-pot on high for 5-6 hours. At the end of 5 hours drain the root beer off, shred the roast, pour a good bottle of barbecue sauce over the shredded pork (some folks like a little less, use your own judgement) and cook on high for another 30-45 minutes.

Serve on crusty rolls with your favourite coleslaw.

There it is folks an easy recipe that will let you enjoy your day. My good man makes his oven baked fries to serve with this.

An Evening at Le Café

We treated ourselves to dinner at the NAC`s Le Café recently for our anniversary and what a treat it was. We were lucky enough to be able to choose from the prix-fixe menu offered Monday through Saturday at 8pm. This was fabulous food at a sinfully, exceptional price (two can dine for $39…yes, you heard that right).

We both started with Goodnight Irene a hurricane maki roll, spot prawn and oyster mushroom with house pickled daikon and sticky soy BBQ paint (yum). These were lovely, fresh little rolls, even the non-sushi man ate them.

In keeping with a fish theme, for my main I chose Swim with the Fishes which is an EV olive oil seared striped bass filet over sun-dried tomato chèvre orzo with fennel basil relish.

This dish was brilliant. The star of the plate was cooked to perfection, tender and flaky. The added attractions were stars on their own, a deliciously creamy orzo left me wanting more and my fave, baby bok choy was heavenly. All of this served in generously perfect portions.

My good man chose Roast the Beast a triple AAA roasted beef rib eye with veal marrow jus served with Yukon potato hay and a side of truffled parmesan aioli. He is learning that beef shouldn’t be cooked well and is enjoying it. The veal marrow jus was a big hit.

For dessert Adrian ordered the CMP. C.hocolate M.arshmallow P.eanut Valrhona chocolate ice cream, hard crack sugar top, marshmallow topping, organic honey baked peanuts. This was a sweet lovers dream. It was a bit of work to get him to share.

I chose the Jerry Garcia cheese cake with graham and pistachio crumble and a neat little serving of the best blueberry sorbet I have ever had. Again, perfect serving sizes which I especially like for dessert.

This fine dining room leaves the sterility of formal behind. It is warm and welcoming, with beautiful lighting and views. The hosts and wait staff were so accommodating. Excellent service all around.

I think the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into developing this menu was genius (love the names and descriptions). Each and every item intrigued me and I will now take the opportunity to try more and take family and friends with me. Well done Chef Blackie!

Stella Luna Gelato Café

On a recent visit to Sunnyside I happened upon Stella Luna Gelato Café. Curious about the popularity of the place and the buzz around their gelato I decided to go in.

I was looking for a pistachio and Stella’s Sicilian Pistachio made on sight from scratch did the trick. One taste of this creamy, lusciously smooth treat and I was hooked. Owner Tammy Giuliani stopped by my table and suggested I try her new Pumpkin Pie flavour. She brought it to me in a lovely little sundae dish, topped with real whipped cream. This new flavour put me in mind of the up-coming holiday, it tasted exactly like my favourite holiday pie. I also got to taste their blood orange gelato and now I know what a friend meant the other day when she said she craves it.

This is a truly outstanding product and we are lucky to have them here. They did exactly what they intended to, brought a piece of their Italy to Ottawa.

Stella Luna’s deliciousness doesn’t stop there. They also serve sorbetto, frappe, smoothies, panini, waffles, crepes and hot beverages. I can’t wait to go back! My suggestion if you haven’t been, go as soon as you can.

Stella Luna Gelato Café, 1103 Bank St., Ottawa 613-523-1116