There is no shortage of Farm to Table experiences in Ottawa, with a host of trendy eateries serving local produce, meat and cheese and organizations such as Savour Ottawa who works to develop and promote Ottawa as a year round culinary destination with robust offerings of local food.
This week, my husband and I attended our first ever Farm to Table Event hosted by Santé Restaurant on Rideau and Sussex. The menu centered around the rare heritage tunis lamb from Hawk Hill Farm in Dunvegan, just east of Ottawa, on the way to Montreal. Their lamb is raised humanely, grazes in open pastures and is absolutely delicious! The farmer, Laurie Maus, was on hand to educate us on their heritage livestock and why the meat is so flavourful. The chef, Daniel Guerra, served every part of the lamb … from head to tail…yes, even the tail, in a variety of dishes like organ meat and creamy polenta, roasted lamb shoulder, lamb chops with Israeli couscous and a savory lamb and lentil cassoulet. A fragrant risotto was also on the menu and was prepared with another featured ingredient – olive oil.
The Unrefined Olive, located in the Glebe, offered an interesting and educational olive oil tasting. Even though I lived in Italy for 10 years, I had no idea that olive oil was so diverse. I know how to tell the difference between a high quality and low quality oil, but Elizabeth Kilvert, an olive oil sommelier, took oil tasting to a whole new level. We were first instructed to cover a little metal cup containing olive oil with our hands so the oil would warm up before we carefully sipped and tasted. The blood orange olive oil was divine and I could just imagine all the creative ways I could use this gem of an oil. The next sample was bitter, herbaceous and peppery … just perfect for my taste buds! The Unrefined Olive is a full on olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting bar and I know that I will be making a visit soon.
However, what is good food without a glass of good wine! Denis Perrault, pictured above, was entertaining and down to earth as he presented his excellent Domaine Perrault wines from Navan. Denis told us the story of how he added vines to his dairy farm and started producing wines with help from the University of Guelph. He had no idea that the soil and climate in Navan would produce such fine tasting wines and we all appreciated his pairings, from Rosé to Chardonnay to Cabernet … it was difficult to pick our favourite.
The dinner was arranged at a common table and we enjoyed meeting new people and sharing a fabulous meal together. A great evening of culinary discovery and delight and highly recommended. Be sure to visit these local treasures and create your own Farm to Table experience!
*photo credit Sean Sisk Photography