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Sunday, October 16, 2016

A gastronomic getaway to Ottawa and Montebello, Quebec through the fall colours



   One-Tank Trip for Oct. 15-16

     (c) By Jim Fox

   It’s the ultimate road trip at this time of year.
   That’s the drive through the spectacular fall colours of Algonquin Provincial Park en route to an epicurean adventure in Ottawa and nearby Montebello, Que.
The changing colours make for a spectacular ride through Algonquin Park. (Barbara Fox photo)
    The hills are alive with reds, yellows and oranges and should remain vibrant for the next two weeks or so.
   Turn after turn, we were treated to spectacular sights along the 56 kilometres of Highway 60 cutting through the park from near Huntsville to Whitney.
  Tea Lake at Algonquin Park with a backdrop of fall colours. (Jim Fox photo)
   There are many great photo opportunities at lookout spots, including the Visitor Centre with an outdoor balcony, numerous lakes and hiking trails.


   Eat up
   In our nation’s capital, we got a real “taste” of Ottawa, guided by Stefanie Siska of C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours, in the ByWard Market.
   “One of the best ways to learn about a city is to explore its neighbourhood food markets, discover local produce and dishes, and meet area chefs and food artisans,” she said.

Stefanie Siska of C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours shows ground cherries. (Jim Fox photo)
   Come hungry as we noshed for almost three hours in this “foodie paradise.”
   Our first stop was with Gerry Rochon tending his fruit and vegetable stand and then Robert Hupe’s Maple Country Sugar Bush.
Luciano Pradal, the chestnut vendor. (Photo by Stefanie Siska)
    Outside La Vottega Nicastro, Luciano Pradal joked while his chestnuts roasted and inside Giovanni Adamo cut some cheese for us at his popular Italian deli.
Giovanni Adamo (Jim Fox photo)
    Anne Sabourin displayed food products from every province at Canada in a Basket while Shafali’s Bazaar offered samples of naan bread.

Eric Igari of Corazon de Maiz. (Jim Fox photo)
   Eric Igari welcomed us at Corazon de Maiz with delicious ceviche, a seafood dish popular in Mexico and Latin America.
   We discovered the Grand Pizzeria & Bar in an 1882 hotel building for traditional Napoletana pizza with ingredients from Italy and its wood-burning oven.
Taking some heat at the pizza oven at Grand Pizzeria & Bar. (Jim Fox photo)
    There was a spot of tea at the Tea Store with 230 varieties while at the Cupcake Lounge we enjoyed one of 30 flavours of the sweet treat.
   Chef Tim Stock said his Play Food & Wine is a “small-plates restaurant” featuring locally sourced savoury items with wine pairings.
   Other stops were at the ByWard Fruit Market and the House of Cheese.
President Obama's favourite Canadian cookies. (Jim Fox photo)
    U.S. President Barack Obama stopped to sample a BeaverTail pastry and then visited Moulin de Provence Bakery for maple leaf shaped Canada shortbread cookies for his daughters.
   The store now sells them as “Obama cookies” and new is the “Trudeau cookie” with an edible image of a waving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
   C’est Bon offers various tours at $45 and $55 for 1.5 and 2.5 hours. cestboncooking.ca

   Wilfrid’s top for gourmands
   The elegant Wilfrid’s restaurant inside the castle-like Fairmont Château Laurier is at the top of the Ottawa food chain.
The view from a table at Wilfrid's restaurant. (Barbara Fox photo)
    Ask for a table overlooking the Parliament Buildings and settle in for superb classic cuisine.
   Executive Chef Louis Simard recommended the table d’hote menu.

Dinner is served by Sous Chef Patrick Riggins at Wilfrid's. (Jim Fox photo)
    The menu consisted with of roasted Le Coprin mushrooms, local greens and quail egg, slow-cooked beef brisket and wild blueberry cake, sweet corn ice cream and tatin apples ($69, $35 extra with wine).

A delicious and creative plate by Chef Simon Mertick. (Jim Fox photo)
   Royal Afternooon Tea is served in Zoe’s Lounge, featuring favourites of the Royal family.
   There are freshly baked scones, homemade strawberry jam, Devonshire cream, tasty sandwiches and desserts ($44).
Yucking it up with the Zoe’s Lounge tea-master. (Barbara Fox photo)

   Savourer, s’il vous plait
   Although only 1,000 people live in this vibrant western Quebec community, 45 minutes from Ottawa, Montebello is an emerging hotbed of gastronomy.
Fairmont Chateau Montebello. (Jim Fox photo)
    It’s anchored by the Fairmont Chateau Montebello, called the “world’s largest log cabin,” that has hosted many celebrities and political leaders in its 86 years.
   Surrounded by nature on the Ottawa River, it’s known for rustic, luxury accommodations and refined gastronomy.
Fairmont Chateau Montebello's Aux Chantignoles restaurant. (Jim Fox photo)
   Regional recipes are highlighted at Aux Chantignoles with signature items of duck foie gras and traditional roast prime rib of beef.
   The Seigneurie Bar has bistro fare such as steak frites and braised beef short ribs.
   In town, there’s Le Bistro with poutine and pizzas from a wood-fired oven.
Tina Touchette and Alain Boyer at Fromagerie Montebello. (Barbara Fox photo)
   Fromagerie Montebello makes award-winning cheeses while ChocoMotive is a chocolate factory in the old Montebello train station.

Isabelle Richer has a sweet job at ChocoMotive in Montebello. (Jim Fox photo)
   Brasseurs de Montebello is a new microbrewery offering several beers including a chocolate one. fairmont.com/montebello; tourismeoutaouais.com/en

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Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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