Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ribfest Ottawa 2008

My peops and I sure know how to pick them! It was Ribfest in Ottawa last week, and we happened to hit the two best vendors according to Ribfest's esteemed judges. I've been living under a rock for the past four years because I didn't find out about this mouthwatering festival until this year! Thanks new friends in HR (that's you TH and KV)!

Teams from Canada and the U.S. compete for best ribs, best chicken and best BBQ sauce in a crazy five-day cook-off on Sparks Street. BBQ perfume wafts everywhere. I feel sorry for the vegetarians who work on Sparks, they must be horrified.

I only went to two places, but they both turned out to be winners. Squeaky, Em, S and I went to Alabama's Camp 31, which won for best ribs and also sold me the best six-dollar pulled pork sandwich I have ever eaten (pictured above, precariously balanced on my knees). The next day some of my work colleagues and I did a noon-hour rib run to Billy Bones, also American. When we got there the choices were overwhelming, but one of my lunchmates made the executive decision to jump in line at Billy Bones because of its great name :) Billy Bones won for best sauce and Camp 31 came in at a respectable second here, too.

These folks have a good sense of humour - the vegetarian combo, also known as the tree-huggers special, is all three meats for $18. They also ring a big cowbell when someone orders the full rib rack, which put the spotlight on S. Including my half-rack that I took home for dinner - my eyes were bigger than my stomach - I ate here three times in two days. Good times!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Cucumber, Mango and Mint Salad

Mango, cucumber and mint saladMango, cucumber and mint salad, originally uploaded by beFOODled.

Cucumber, whole mint leaves and pieces of fresh mango. Just stack them like insalata caprese et voila, you have a refreshing five-ingredient salad for summer. No dressing required — just add a bit of olive oil on top because the fresh mint makes it wonderful. I mentioned this recipe during an earlier post about the Gastonati's Indian night after PB and Jelly brought it as a garnish for their quail masala. (Psst ... Jelly, if you are reading this, Happy Birthday!)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Totoya - Ottawa's No. 1 ramen

Totoya is Ottawa's No. 1 ramen, but I must add it's also the only source of ramen in the whole city. Regulars of beFOODled will know how much I love ramen and won't be surprised that I consider this dearth a strike against Ottawa's restaurant scene.

But back to Totoya. It's a very nice, clean place. The wait staff are very friendly. My favourite dish is the ramen, which is very good. S and I order it at lunch because unfortunately it's not always on the dinner menu. You also have to go before 2 p.m. because the restaurant closes then and re-opens at 5 p.m. for dinner.

We have also been here before for Totoya's all-you-can-eat sushi evening with Squeaky, Calimocho, MV and DV (aka the Christmas elf for all you former CWFers). This special night happens very infrequently, but for $26.95 you are constantly offered platefuls of sumptuous rolls. I discovered spicy salmon and salmon-skin here, although tuna and BBQ eel are still my favourites :).

Calimocho also introduced us all to the pleasure of drinking cold beer and sake at the same time this evening ;) Totoya offers a cold, cloudy sake that's very good with beer, and oddly enough, made in Calimocho's home state of California.

297 Dalhousie Street
Ottawa, ON K1N 7E5

Sunday, June 8, 2008

In Season for June

It's June and list of ripe locally grown foods keeps growing longer and longer :) Yesterday, I visited my local market at 4 p.m., and by 7 p.m. S and I were slurping down linguine with shrimp, hot pepper flakes, garlic and fresh basil, all in a sauce made from locally grown tomatoes. This is the life, people!

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