definition: Nirvana – a state of perfect happiness; an ideal or idyllic place; bliss

After dining at Ottawa’s Navarra, I can honestly say that I have reached food Nirvana!  It seems that the universe was waiting patiently to give me the opportunity to dine on the exquisite, creative and absolutely divine cuisine of Rene Rodrigues, Top Chef Canada 2014.
I have tried many times in the last few years to nab a reservation but always seemed to be out of luck.  Not surprising since this tiny Murray St. restaurant only seats about 30 guests at a time.  Finally, last night was my lucky night, and with two birthdays to celebrate (mine and my man’s – only 2 days apart) it seemed as though the stars were aligned in our favour.

I do have a tendency to want to know everything about a place before I go (boring right?) but I can’t help it … I am just too curious!  Of course I went on-line to check out the menu, only to find that you have two choices for dinner – Tasting Menu 1 (5 courses ) Flavours of Central Mexico Menu $68 and Tasting Menu 2 ( 5 courses) Flavours of Northern Spain Menu $75.  Ok … well that makes it easy but also a bit scary!  What if I don’t like the pigs cheek?  What is hibiscus mole?  This is risky business!

We were both convinced that Tasting Menu 1 seemed like the safest bet but after we arrived on the scene we decided that made no sense at all and ordered 1 of each … what the heck … take a walk on the wild side!  Like I said, Navarra is tiny and although we were lucky enough to be seated at the window, our closest neighbours were about 6 inches away.  Believe me, after a glass of the Chef’s wine pick (a Spanish number that worked perfectly with the meal) and our first bite (Taco di Chicherron in a Jar for him and Steak Tartare for me) we were in a world of our own … void of anything or anyone (except our excellent waiter) and proceeded to enter a pure state of foodie englightment!

I am not a food critic by any means, so I won’t go into detail about each dish but I will say that pigs cheek is the most amazing, melt in your mouth, bacon X 10, scrumptious, decadent, must I say more … morsel you will ever taste!  Rene Rodrigues is a master of not only taste but something that goes beyond food … something in the realm of body, mind and soul …. the alchemy of flavours that take you to a truly blissful state.  Rene’s dream is to run with the bulls one day and I wish him luck …. but for me, he is already a matador in the kitchen!