Be a tourist at home – Ottawa's foodie scene is a happenin'

[tweetmeme]I was recently reminded that being a tourist at home is a wonderful thing. My adopted city of Ottawa rightly boasts of its terrific canal, manicured bike paths, scenic hiking trails, and vibrant summer festival schedule; but I’m getting reacquainted with its pleasures on the food scene. (Blame it on my having two young kids… we’ve only recently graduated from paper tablecloths at dine out spots).

A few weeks ago, Paola St.-Georges and Andrée Riffou of C’est Bon Cooking invited me to attend their beta foodie’s tour of Ottawa’s Byward Market. These two ladies are a force to be reckoned with – Paola St.-Georges is a masterful tour guide, and is passionate about helping others discover all of the market’s treasures. Chef Andrée Riffou is a Cordon Bleu Chef, with a wonderfully honed business background. Together, they’ve crafted a terrific tour that seems designed for Ottawans like me who like good food (or remember it…:-)…) and want to get to know all their city better. For $45/ person, it’s a steal of a price.

Summer tours are running on Thursday and Saturday mornings. Just make sure you have good walking shoes for a brisk 2.5 hour jaunt through the Byward Market, and don’t eat a huge breakfast before you go. With Paola and Andrée guiding you, you’ll discover new spots, and sample some delectable treats.

The tour will surely evolve, and its list of stops/ vendors may change depending on the day, but the tour I took started at Métropolitain Brasserie and ended at Murray Street Restaurant.

I toured several restaurants (like Courtyard, where we chatted with Chef Michael Hay, and sampled his tomato and cucumber gazpacho with roasted red pepper sorbet and argan oil – yum)

I visited several Ottawa stores and grocery shops – spots I may have peaked in before, but now have a much better appreciation for all they have to offer (including House of Cheese with its Appenzeller cheese, Byward Fruit Market with its terrific displays…)

And, I’m wondering how it’s possible that I never knew of La Bottega Nicastro before? (If you want a true foodie’s perspective on this shop, I met Don and Jenn @foodieprints on this beta tour – check out their awesome blog post and pics. )


I basically noshed while I learned. A terrific way to spend a couple of hours!

C’est Bon Cooking will be organizing other Ottawa area food tours (I believe Beechwood and Wellington West are in the offering), and they do team building courses and cooking lessons as well. Give Paola or Andrée a call, and they can give you full details.

But, by all means, be a tourist at home. Ottawa’s foodie scene is a happenin’.

Photos are courtesy of Christine Tripp of Tripp Photography. See Christine’s full slideshow of snaps of this tour at her facebook page, or contact her at her website.