Tag Archives: recipe

Pig cheeks at Navarra

13 May

This weekend Ottawa’s own, Chef Rene Rodriguez won the latest edition of Top Chef Canada. Chef Rodriguez runs Navarra on Murray St. here in Ottawa. Sarah and I ate at Navarra in 2010 and it was great. I thought I would repost my original post today in honour of his win. Congrats Chef Rodriguez!


Last Saturday my beautiful girlfriend took me out to supper at Navarra Restaurant for my birthday. Navarra, located on Murray St. in the market, is a small Spanish influenced restaurant. The food is inspired by the regional cuisine of Navarra, Spain. Navarra’s capital city is Pamplona, best known for the running of the bulls! One of the first interesting things about Navarra is that when you are making a reservation, they don’t ask you when you would like to dine but rather ask which sitting you would like. We chose the latter one, this way we could eat more snacks (cheeses and pate before going!). When we got there I was a little surprised by the size, it isn’t big, so make sure to make a reservation. We were greeted when we came in and shown to our seat right next to the front window. Whenever I get seated right next to the window at a restaurant, I always joke it’s because I am pretty and they want to attract more customers. In reality they probably think I am scaring some of the customers away! We had a great server that night; he helped with explaining what some things on the menu were and was very friendly. I’ll let everyone know, if you’re in to tall, dark and handsome men, with a bit of a Spanish accent, the servers are one of the main attractions! (I am thinking of one person in particular that I used to work with, I believe you know who you are!)

While the restaurant and the servers were nice, the real reason for visiting is the food! Chef Rene Rodriguez, shows off the delicious products and his amazing skillapp in the kitchen. To start we shared the tasting of Iberico Pig Salchichon with coriander spiced hazelnuts, roasted beets, pear chutney, goat cheese crustini and baby arugula. While the whole plate looked and tasted amazing (I could have eaten a whole pound of the hazelnuts!) the star was by far the Iberico Pig Salchichon. Iberico Pig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iberian_Pig) is a breed of black pig form the Mediterranean. They are known for their ability to accumulate fat under the skin and between muscular fibres. This fat was evident in the Salchichon, a type of sausage. I enjoyed eating the slices of sausages on their own.

short ribsFor our mains my girlfriend had the red wine braised beef short ribs with  gorgonzola polenta, friend rapini, fresh herbs and piquillo BBQ sauce. While normally I find people use too much gorgonzola and thus it overpowers the taste of everything else, this wasn’t the case. From the couple of bites I could steal it was a perfect balance, and tasted amazing, the short ribs were fall off the bone delicious!


For my main I felt like being adventurous and tried somecheeksthing I had never had before, pig cheeks. I have never had pig cheeks before and worried that they either wouldn’t taste very good or that the texture would totally throw me off, but I wanted to be adventurous! I was rewarded! The pig cheek that I had was amazing. It came with preserved baby tomato jam, thyme infused parsnip silk, roasted eggplant, pistachio romesco, basil, sundried tomato vinaigrette, and spot prawn. The pig cheek was nice and crispy, the inside was nice and soft. It tasted a little bit like bacon! The parsnip silk was really good too, especially with the roasted eggplant. The whole meal was amazing, I ordered a Spanish beer and even that was great!

I would totally recommend this restaurant! If you are going to go, try not to go when someone is holding a Christmas party, people always seem to get really loud! If you want more info on Narrvana check out their website at www.navarrarestaurant.com. Up next is Zen Kitchen, stay tuned!

Navarra on Urbanspoon

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing

5 Mar

We have been eating a lot more salad. Instead of potatoes or rice, we load our plates or bowls with leafy greens and veggies. Not being a huge fan of iceberg lettuce, which doesn’t have much nutritional value, we use a premade mix of greens from Farmboy. I am not too sure what’s in the mix but it tastes great. Eating a salad with your meal is a great way to feel full without adding too many extra calories. However it’s pretty easy to ruin a healthy salad, all you have to do is drown it in store bought dressing. One serving of store bought, 2 tablespoons, has between 100 and 200 calories. That’s a lot. One way I sometime try and get away from these extra calories is by making my own dressing. One of my favourite dressing recipes is for Caesar Salad. I tend to use this dressing on every salad I make and the recipe below makes enough for a few days. I found this recipe online at theblackpeppercorn.com. Give the recipe below a try and let me know what you think.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing 


  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmigiano reggiano
  • 1½ anchovy paste (I didn’t have this and it was still really good)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. In a glass bowl whisk together all the ingredients except the olive oil, until smooth and creamy. I am too lazy/weak to whisk everything together, so I used my immersion blender in a tall plastic container.
  2. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, while whisking or blending. Add the olive oil slowly to allow it to emulsify.
  3. You can store the dressing in the fridge for up to a week.
  4. Use on your favourite salad and enjoy!

Greek Style Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

3 Mar

I haven’t been posting on Adventures of an Ottawa Foodie a lot in the past few months. I have been focusing on my new blog Stu Tris and trying to get it up and running. Now that I am in a better schedule for updating it, I am going to get back to posting about food! 

With a lot of my time, money and energy dedicated to training for triathlons, I am not eating out as much as I used to. Now we try and cook dinner a lot more at home and use the healthiest ingredients we can.

This weekend I tried this recipe that I found on Triathlete.com. This recipe is has a lot of great flavours and gives the classic meatball a twist with some new flavours. This isn’t a quick recipe so I would recommend it as a weekend meal, or something to prepare in advanced. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Greek Style Meatballs with Roasted Red Pepper Marinara



  • Roasted Red Pepper Marinara
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 32 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 16oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt and pepper

 Greek Style Meatballs

  • 20 oz lean ground turkey
  • ½ yellow onion, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/3 cup sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon salt and pepper 


Roasted Red Pepper Marinara

  1. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, salt and pepper, sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes, roasted red peppers and basil. Stir to combine. Lower heat to low and simmer 45 to 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Let sauce cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender until mostly smooth.

Greek Style Meatballs

  1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the turkey, in a large bowl.
  2. Gently fold in the turkey, to incorporate all of the ingredients.
  3. Form meatballs and place in on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 45 minutes.
  5. You can either serve the meatballs and sauce on pasta or bake the meatballs with 2/3 of the sauce for an additional 25 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

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