A Saturday in Ottawa.

I try to go away every Labour Day weekend if only to distract me from the inevitable, and to drsg out summer as long as I can. This past labour day weekend found us in Ottawa, a city that I love, it’s full of interesting things to see, the Parliament Buildings, the National Gallery, etc. etc.  But honestly, I go for the food and to shop. I’m not much of a mall shopper, too predictable, too boring, and I prefer to support the small guy or girl, but there’s something about Ottawa that just loosens up my wallet.

Ottawa, population 900,000,is our capital city but also the home of so many international embassies that need to be catered to, full of people who may be used to something more then the Gap or Aeropostale. It’s also  a bridge away from Quebec which I think provides a fresh eclectic vibe to the city. And when you’re downtown, in particular in the Glebe neighbourhood  you are surrounded by independent shops, bakeries and restaurants without a Walmart to be seen anywhere.

The Byward market, home to the ubiquitous Beaver tail is also a real farmer’s market where real farmers come to sell their own produce, cerises de terre anyone? The market is also surrounded by small independent food shops; cheese, fish,  bakeries and others. My favorite shop in the market area, maybe my favorite food shop in Canada for price, selection and super helpful staff and a laid back European vibe is La Bottega, it never fails to disappoint me and always offers me something new. As well, they make a terrific cappuccino, a perfect respite after a strenuous morning shop of too many choices.

After filling a large bag at La Bottega, we visit EQ3 a store that sells Canadian made modern furniture, to dream about a leather couch in a soft butterscotch brown that we’ll never have, two cats and an English Bull Terror Terrier =no new furniture, ever. I could spend hours at the market but i have to limit my time, there’s so much I need to do.

It’s back down Bank St. for coffee at Bridgehead and treats at Second Avenue Sweets, the lemon tart is the the kind of dessert that I dream about, tart, creamy and full of flavour. I think that we sampled just about everything that they had left on a late Saturday afternoon, and it was all delicious. It’s a store with integrity, everything is made fresh everyday, what’s left over at night is either offered to the staff or frozen to give to a local shelter. And their hand made, hand wrapped caramels are so moreish to the point of being addictive, I know, I’ve eaten six of them today.

Another favorite store in Ottawa, is one for cooks, C.A. PARADIS, on Bank St.  A restaurant supply store that caters to people who know what they want. It’s also the store where I am am able to buy what I need, in this case a fine chinois to make jelly, but also it’s the place to purchase things that you really love but don’t need…a heavy blue denim cook’s apron?

It’s possible on Bank St. in the Glebe to buy everything that you would ever need from locally owned independent retailers, from screw drivers and canning supplies at the hardware shop, to clothing to hand forged knives.  And all of this in one day.

It’s hot and I’m tired, time for a cocktail made by the lovely Vanessa and then dinner at the Light of India, a favorite. In Ottawa there are so many choices and next trip I promise myself to go to somewhere new. But it’s difficult when there are too many choices,  too many things to see, do, eat and places to shop, I get like an overwhelmed and cranky  like a little kid, and I need to pace myself, one Saturday at a time.

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C.A. PARADIS 1314 Bank St. Ottawa On

Second Avenue Sweets (right off Bank St. ) 151B Second Ave Ottawa On

La Bottega Fine Food Shop Byward Market with a second location, on Bank St.

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