Tag Archives: review

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

Sweet Maple Syrup!

8 Apr

This weekend was what seemed like the first real weekend of spring. We finally got some nice weather, meaning there was some sun, it was above freezing and there wasn’t a snow storm. Since the weather was nicer than it had been we decided we needed to get out of the house and have some fun in the great outdoors and maybe grab a bite to eat. Around here (eastern Ontario and western Quebec) this time of year is all about the maple syrup. When we get temperatures that are above freezing during the day and below freezing in the night, the sap in maple trees starts to flow and it’s time to turn it into syrup.

IMG_1051Canada is famous for our maple syrup. So famous that the maple leaf is on our national flag, you can buy it as a souvenir in most Canadian airports and it makes the news when a large amount of maple syrup is stolen. (Great Canadian Maple HeistMost people think about putting maple syrup on pancakes, which is delicious but there are so many other uses. You can use it to flavour coffee, make maple butter, in baking, on oatmeal and in so many other ways. Not only does maple syrup taste great, it also brings back fond memories of sticky breakfast with friends and family.

IMG_1049This past Sunday, Sarah and I decided to go out to Proux Farm, where they have a sugar shack. A sugar shack is always located in a forest and is where a lot of syrup is made. Maple syrup is made by drilling into the trunk of a maple tree and placing a tap. As the syrup moves from the roots of the tree to the top, some of it flows down the tap and into a waiting bucket. The sap is then boiled until enough water has evaporated to make it into syrup. It’s amazing how much sap is needed, for 1 litre of syrup; you need 20 to 50 litres of sap.
IMG_1050At Proux Sugar Shack, you can see the sap being collected, sap being turned into syrup and get a meal at the buffet. Sarah and I took advantage of the buffet to douse our food in lots of syrup. The food at the buffet was pretty good, nothing amazing but the whole experience is worth the $20 per adult price. If you do decide to go for the buffet, be prepared for a wait and for there to be a ton of children. By the time we were leaving the line just to be seated was at least 40 minutes long. My favourite part of the morning is when we got the maple syrup snow taffy. This is when hot syrup is poured onto cold snow and then wrapped around a popsicle stick. If you’ve never had one of these sweet treats, you need to head out to your closest sugar shack and give it a try!


Mobile Seafood

19 Mar

Last year Ottawa was bitten by the food truck craze. City Hall finally released a limited number of permits for some new food trucks. Having worked in the east end of Ottawa for the last couple of years I’ve only had the chance to try a couple. I’ve already posted about Relish Food Truck, Stone Soup Foodworks and Bite This if you want to read a little about some of the other trucks in Ottawa. Now that I am working downtown, I am looking forward to trying a bunch more.


I’ve already convinced some of my new colleagues to brave the weather and walk down to Ad Mare. Ad Mare is located at Slater and O’Connor, which is super convenient / dangerous for me because I work less than 5 minutes away. The day that we went it was super cold out but there was still a line, so you know the food has to be good.

Ad Mare specializes in seafood. In the past there menu has included items like crab grilled cheese sammy, shrimp po’boys, fish tacos and fish & chips. Once a week they have lobster day, which is the day we went to Ad Mare, lucky for us.


On the menu that day there was lobster mac n cheese, lobster rolls, lobster poutine, fish tacos and fish & chips. By the time we got there the lobster mac n cheese was already sold out, so I got the lobster poutine. It was delicious! The lobster poutine was hand cut chips topped with butter poached lobster, cheese curds and gravy. When I originally ordered it, I was afraid that there wasn’t going to be a lot of lobster, I was happy to get lots of lobster, claw meat and tail meat. It was super tasty. It was a little pricy compared to other poutines but I’ve never had another poutine with lobster. I will definitely be back to Ad Mare, probably more than once. If you’re in the downtown core Ad Mare is a must try. If you’re coming from outside the downtown core, pick a nice day so you can enjoy a meal outside.

You can find Ad Mare on:

Facebook – www.facebook.com/AdMareSeafood
Twitter – twitter.com/ad_mare
Web – admareseafood.com

Ad Mare on Urbanspoon

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