TBBs do Lunch – Carmen’s Veranda

Three of us had the occasion recently to meet up for lunch.  We love to do this!  It’s a quick face to face touch-base for us to share what’s been going on in our busy lives and gives us the opportunity to try out some of Ottawa’s great restaurants.

This time we chose a charming little spot on Bank Street called Carmen’s Veranda.  Located “between the bridges – Landsdowne and Billings”, the decor is a delightfully eclectic blend of your mom’s kitchen and a laid back art gallery.  Not so coincidentally, the walls were covered with the work of local artists which are available for sale.

CV-photos-big-3Photo credit: Carmen’s Veranda

With a small menu that changes monthly, Carmen’s Veranda offers a Latin based menu that includes soft shell tacos, enchiladas and tostadas. Very reasonably priced, the presentation of these dishes is truly a work of art.  Check out these delicious Chorizo Meatballs:

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I am STILL talking about them!

Carmen’s Veranda is open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday and you can bring your own wine (for a $10 corkage fee) on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

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I am definitely returning for a din-din soon!

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Mary Anne BorderMary Anne says: ” I find Carmen’s Veranda never disappoints. I really enjoyed my carrot-ginger soup,  my chicken taco, and, of course, the company I dined with!”

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Friday Night Wine Pick: Somewhereness Part Deux

somewherenessLast week Mary Anne shared her favourite wines sampled at the wonderful “wine” event Somewhereness at the new location for the Orange gallery.   This event for the “trade” was a bit of a departure for us, as most of the wines were only available to restaurants in the area.  However, we persevered and made our way through the 12 winery booths, testing at least 2 wines at each.  Sometimes …. you just HAVE to!

Before I start on the wine – let’s talk about the venue!  Orange Gallery recently relocated to 290 City Centre Avenue and was a perfect location for this event.  Artwork is displayed throughout several large bright rooms, leaving plenty of room for milling about and tasting wines.  Full of wonderful pieces, this is the one that caught my eye – a location I hope to visit one day!

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OK – back to wine!  There were many delicious wines tasted, but these are wines that made an impact to me.  First up is a pink sparkling wine.  Now if anyone knows me they know neither pink nor bubbly are my “things” … but the TBBs are slowly converting me … thanks ladies!

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From the 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, the Cuvée 13 Rosé was a delicious blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.   Using the traditional method, which has the majority of the aging process happen in the bottle, the 13th Street Winery has had a lot of success with their sparkling wines and this one is no different.   With a lovely deep pink colour, this rosé has hints of berry and light spice.  The Pinot Noir is quite evident in the taste.  Dry to the palate, this bubbly is quite nice on it’s own or paired with fish, charcuterie or creamy cheeses.

Luckily this rosé is available at the LCBO

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13TH STREET CUVÉE 13 SPARKLING BRUT ROSÉ
VINTAGES 147504 | 750 mL bottle
Price $ 24.95 

My second favourite is from Malivoire Wineries, located on the Niagara escarpment.  Malivoire has 4 different vineyards from which it produces 2400 cases of wine annually.  Selections range from Gamay, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnays and Cab Merlot blends.

malivoire melon

I chose this wine for it’s uniqueness – it’s the 2013 Melon (pronounced “ma-lawn”) which is sourced from Melon de Bourgougne vines (used also to produce Muscadet).  This white is quite fruity and crisp.   The Melon pairs quite nicely with fish and seafood, but is also a great sipping wine for those warm summer evenings that are soon upon us (I HOPE!).

The 2013 Melon is not available from the LCBO, but can be ordered from the winery itself.

These wines will take us nicely into summer patio weather, don’t you think?  Now if only Mother Nature would cooperate!!!

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Donna ThumbnailHappy sipping … Donna

 

 

 

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Locally Made Sweets…Just In Time For Easter!

Everyone likes an excuse to indulge in something sweet right? With Easter just around the corner, I decided to do a little research, just to help you out a bit.

There is a plethora of local candy makers in the Ottawa area. I picked up samples of just four at one of my favourite go-to stores, The Red Apron, but they are available in numerous locations around the city (just check the candy makers websites).

caramelI first discovered Morsel Artisan Caramels around Christmas time. OMG they are melt in your mouth pure buttery goodness! My favourite is the sea salt caramel, there is just something about that sweet/salty combination that I love, but they also come in Pistachio Cardamon, Espresso Orange, Matcha Black Sesame and Vegan Coconut.

Next up is ChocoSol , a learning community/social enterprise that focuses on making the ‘food of the gods’ – commonly known as cacao – into fresh, whole food, stone ground chocolate on an artisanal scale. It is Toronto based, but I love their 5 Chili Bullet bar so much, plus the philosophy behind their business, that I had to include them. Ingredients in the bar consist of cacao, raw sugar, cacao butter, 5 kinds of chilies, allspice, achiote, and sea salt. Pure goodness, and one little dark square is all I need to satisfy any chocolate craving. It packs a punch!

hummingbird chocolate

Hummingbird produces chocolate in much the same way as Chocosol, slowly and directly from cacao beans grown by farmers they have a partnership with in Bolivia. Bo-nib-ia is a dark and crunchy, deep, savoury chocolate bar. It has single malt to molasses notes, and is sprinkled with cacao nibs. Kinda sounds like describing a wine, doesn’t it? Because it is 70% cacao, a little goes a long way. Diet friendly, I say!

Last, but not least, is a new one I discovered, by Baroness Chocolates, called Dob Dobs. It is described as “chocolate that lingers on your taste buds like a loving embrace and then slaps you in the face.” Chocolate, caramel and pecans combine to delight the senses! Since it is a mix of dark and milk chocolate, it is a little lighter than the other bars, but every bit as delicious.

Now, in case you are worried about indulging, research has shown that cacao isn’t candy, it’s food.  According to Chocosol, “It’s high in zinc, iron, magnesium and antioxidants. It improves blood flow, relaxes the muscles, raises our spirits and energizes. Cacao beans also suppress appetite.” I feel much less guilty now. Happy Easter!

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 Mary Anne

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Friday Night Wine Pick: Lots to Choose from at Somewhereness!

somewhereness

Earlier this week Donna and I had the privilege of attending Somewhereness at the brand spanking new Orange Art Gallery. What exactly is Somewhereness you ask? Well, let me explain. Author and Wine Spectator columnist Matt Kramer has used the term to describe the blend of terroir, climate, vine and vintner that lets a wine stand apart. In 2007, a group of 12 wineries growing small lots of site-specific vines in Ontario’s ancient glacial soils decided to invoke the word Somewhereness to describe their approach to winemaking and how it contributes to the elusive characteristics in every sip of their wine.

“You can’t fake ‘Somewhereness’. You can’t manufacture it. Indeed, you can’t even figure out its source. But when you taste a wine that has it, you know.”  Matt Kramer, Making Sense of Wine

Now that we knew what Somewhereness was, we wanted to taste it! Donna and I had no problem finding many new favourite wines among the 12 wineries proudly pouring their wines into our glasses! I am going to share some of my picks below and Donna will share hers in next weeks Friday Night Wine Pick.

cave spring 2010

I am not normally a big Riesling fan, but two in particular have won me over, big time. Cave Spring Cellars, a pioneer of the wine industry in Niagara, has been a significant player in the refinement of the regional style for Riesling with their 40 year old vines planted in limestone-clay soils. I found their 2011 Riesling CSV(a few bottles of the 2010 are left at Vintages  #566026) to have a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. It has flavours of lime, apple and pear, with some floral and nutty notes. It is off dry but fruity enough to please, with a medium finish. I am picturing it paired with roast turkey, seafood or creamy cheeses.

charles baker reisling

We had a nice chat with Charles Baker, a seasoned veteran of the Ontario wine and restaurant industry, who decided after 20 years of buying and selling Ontario Rieslings to make his own. His wines quickly became some of the regions finest examples, and I now know why! I sampled the 2013 Ivan Vineyard Riesling, the 2012 Picone Vineyard Riesling and then the 2010 Picone Vineyard Riesling vintages. All were delicious, but the wine really came into its own as it aged. The 2013 was fresh and like pure, fruity juice. The 2012 was more balanced and developed, and a little bit sweeter. It also had more minerality, as it is from the Picone Vineyard. The 2010 was heavenly! It was the smoothest and best balanced of the three. It had flavours of pineapple, honey, florals with some spice. It was medium bodied and drier on the palate than the younger siblings. There are a few bottles of this one still left in the LCBO (Vintages #241182), but don’t wait too long if you want to indulge! Cheers!

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 Mary Anne

Donna BorderDonna says: “What a great event!  The venue was wonderful and the wines were delicious.  And like you Mary Anne, reislings are not my go to wine, but these will probably make it onto my dinner table this summer.”

 

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[…] Friday Night Wine Pick: Lots to Choose from at Somewhereness! […]

New shop on Bank – Grey Horne

Mary Anne and I checked out Grey Horne, a new furniture store on Bank Street recently, after a particularly delicious lunch at Carmen’s Veranda (with fellow TBBer, Donna).   Having seen the Citizen’s article a few weeks ago on Grey Horne, we were anxious to see it ourselves.

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Loved the exterior and the nice pop of colour on a cold grey Ottawa day.

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Immediately upon entering we spotted some great gift ideas.

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The perfect small space wine holder.

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Wine in a bag….anyone?  I know a few peeps this would be perfect for….ahem….

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Or perhaps a few of these cognac glasses would be the perfect house warming gift.

Grey  Horne specializes in furniture custom made in Holland, Denmark and Austria as well as green products.  After meeting store owner, James Flynn, Mary Anne and I had a little walk around and did a few sit tests to ensure they were comfortable as well as beautiful.   And we have to say that these all passed with flying colours!

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Hans Wegner Shell Chair – what a statement this chair makes and super comfy!

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Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair with Oiled Atelier desk from Team 7photo 1

Cherner Armchair, table and stool

 So if you’re looking for some midcentury modern styling in your home, be sure to include this store on your rounds.

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Lisa

Donna BorderDonna says: “Well darn, I’m sorry I couldn’t visit this spot with you gals!  This looks like a great addition to home stores in Ottawa and what a perfect location.  There’s nothing better than spending an afternoon strolling this area of Bank Street!”

 

Mary Anne Border

Mary Anne says: “Notice how the wine related stuff caught our attention first? A great place to try out statement chairs!”

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