Somehow during my marathon of a weekend performing in Ottawa I found time to do a little exploring of the city. My schedule was quite packed. So much of my day was taken up at the theatre. We arrived Wednesday night, Thursday night we had our first performance after having rehearsals all afternoon. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we had two shows each day. If I didn’t have the desire to explore Ottawa it would have been all too easy to spend all day at the theatre and all night at the hotel. But then I likely would’ve lost my mind much sooner in the weekend. Ottawa had some very interesting and unique places that I am very glad I took the time to experience.
Friday afternoon was the longest break we had all weekend. Our first show was a school matinée performance. It began at 11:30 which means we were done by 1:30 and ready to explore. From the National Arts Center where we were performing we took a quick two block walk to the grounds of Parliament. We spent a long time standing outside taking pictures before we realized we could actually walk inside the gate and inside one of the buildings. The buildings were so grand and important looking (how fitting) and laid out on the perimeter of a lovely courtyard. The tallest building, with the clock tower, that faces the street was open for visitors to enter. Of course security was secure and we were only allowed to see very select areas of the building but the interior was just as magnificent as the exterior.
Our next stop was some food. For the last day or so I had been hearing other dancers raving about a little cafe called Scone Witch. What makes this wondrous establishment unique is not just their delicious scones but that the diner may choose to turn his or her scone into a sandwich. There is a small (yet perfect) number of choices to decide among for the scone flavor and also what the innards of the sandwich will be. I chose to get tuna fish salad with tomato, lettuce, and black olive paste on a feta and chive scone and added a bowl of chickpea and rosemary soup on the side. Boy was it delicious! I am always a big sucker for baked goods and turning it into a sandwich just makes it irresistible. The scone was perfect and fluffy from the feta. The salty wonder of the black olive paste was a nice touch to balance out the creamy tuna. The soup had a magnificent rosemary flavor. It was too good to handle and well worth the near 15 minute walk it takes to get there. While I was there I also got a sweet scone (lemon poppy-seed) and cream. How could I not? That was also so delicious I got a few more to take with me that I somehow made last to the end of the weekend.
My next Canadian culinary adventure took place on what I believe was Saturday night. (If I am remembering correctly). This time we waited until after the performance to indulge ourselves in the greasy goodness otherwise known as poutine. Poutine is a Canadian specialty. The traditional serving consists of french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. It would have been just as satisfying to go with the original but when presented with many more interesting flavor combinations at the Somke’s Poutinerie I had to go with something wild. The final choice was the Nacho Grande. Loaded on the my french fries was cheese (of course), chili, sour cream, guacamole, and peppers. Ay carumba! Thank goodness I was sharing because if I ate the whole serving by myself I likely would have had some serious issues. Never before have I enjoyed soggy fries as much as I did while I was eating that dish. With each forkful I aimed to get fries and all of the toppings at once for the full flavor experience. It disappeared rather quickly and left me full and incredibly satisfied. Good thing we waited until after the show was over to be so gluttonous.
I have just one last addition to my food adventures in Ottawa and that is the By Ward Market. This half indoor, half outdoor market place was a mere 3 minute walk from our hotel and was the source of my coffee and breakfast every morning as well as being a interesting place to wander around and observe. There were many specialty stores lining the perimeter and clustered in the middle was a strip of small bakeries, cafés, and restaurants ranging in cuisine from Greek to Indian. If I had had more time in Ottawa (and a fully equipped kitchen) I would have happily gotten all my food from the stores at this market.
Look! I had my own corner backstage!