Now I know this is when I would normally do a summary and things did get bumped a bit with my gushing over my new spikes (still in love) but last week was a bit of a write-off. I was so busy at work that there would be times when it got so crazy that I would forget to eat. One minute, I’m just settling in and the next it’s almost time to go home. So I went to visit my friend in Ottawa for two reasons: to decompress but also because for the past two years, we had run the Hypothermic Half Marathon in Montreal and it’s usually around Valentines Day so it just made sense that I would go. It’s a tradition if you will.
I drove to her place in a snow storm that turned a four-hour trip into a drive that lasted over five hours. Fun. She greeted me with a steaming bowl of homemade cassoulet which I devoured before we settled down to finish watching “Stranger Things”. I don’t have Netflix and the last time I was there we watched the first six episodes. So it was only two more to finish. Now I have to wait for the next season. While watching TV I had the chance to snuggle with the resident kitty.
The next morning we went to Art-Is-In Bakery for two two reasons: the food is amazing and the last weekend when I was up, I had noticed a cute guy. My friend has seen him there a few times since then so the joke was that we were going to look for him. He wasn’t there but my breakfast sandwich on crazy grain bread was outstanding. I also got an apple/raspberry turnover to share. So tasty.
We wandered around Hintonburg in Ottawa for a bit, ducking into stores to keep the extreme cold at bay. We toyed with the idea of skating on the Rideau Canal but I’ll admit that after the week I had just had, I wanted to relax. We stopped for coffee at Thyme & Again (okay we split a chocolate peanut butter square with the coffee) and then went to Suzy Q Doughnuts for, well, donuts. We needed the extra calories to stay warm after all. I got the Crazy Goat donut which was chocolate and coffee.
So we went to Fromagerie St-Albert. They sell cheeses and other food items and you can watch the cheesemaking process. Which we did. After poutine. So here’s my take on poutine: it is the ubiquitous Canadian food. I mean we have other food items but none that are uniquely Canadian like poutine. And here with fresh squeaky cheese curds, it was good. Very good. In fact some of the best I have ever had. After trying to puzzle our way through the various cheese-making steps (we never did figure out where the towers were that compressed the cheese), we enjoyed some gelato. I had chocolate and she had cheesecake. In all honesty I could have gorged myself on the entire case. The texture of my gelato was perfectly dense yet smooth. I left with smoked cheddar and some cheese curds and brie and all kinds of cheesey goodness.
Then we went to Union Local 613 for dinner. It’s a somewhat southern-themed restaurant that makes their own mixes and syrups. A nice touch. I had the catfish with cheesy grits and washed it down with a dark n’stormy. My friend had the fried chicken also with cheesy grits. I’ve never had catfish before and with the cornmeal crust and tomato/okra garnish it was quite tasty. They used hominy grits instead of more finely ground cornmeal and it felt like I was eating macaroni and cheese. But we didn’t just go for the food.
Union Local 613 has a speakeasy. That’s right, a speakeasy as in a throw back to Prohibition days. You put your name on a waiting list and when space frees up, someone comes and escorts you to the basement. You stand there for a moment and then they pull back a bookcase to reveal a smaller bar area. It’s dimly lit which is why I didn’t get a photo of it and a much smaller space so there are fewer people and it’s less crowded. The walls are bare brick and concrete and some of the walls and the ceilings are bare, rough-cut wood. I really liked it and would recommend you visit there just for the speakeasy. In homage to the occasion I ordered a sazerac. Having never had one before, I’m not sure how it stacked up but I don’t think I’ll be ordering that again.
We went back to my friend’s place and watched the Michael Bolton Valentines Day special. Even though I’m not a Michael Bolton fan, I thought it was pretty funny. Or maybe it was the sazerac.
The next morning we went back to Art-Is-In and lo and behold, there’s the guy. My friend told me I had to at least talk to him and that I wasn’t from around there so if I got rejected it doesn’t matter and she was going to disappear for a while to give me time.
Damn. I ordered my breakfast sandwich and a bottle of ketchup to take home because it is fantastic then walked over to try and work my magic. And I failed. Miserably. Oh well. I had a mess of cheese waiting in my car and a sandwich to console myself with.
Unfortunately by the time I got back to my car, the snow started to fall. This time it took six hours to get home. Yes six hours to do a four hour drive. I stopped once for gas and that was it.
But cold and snow aside, it was a great weekend.