(N)oodles: Ottawa’s Sip N’ Slurp Noodlefest

Photo by MC Bennett

Based on the crowds and lineups at Privé Food Thought’s Noodlefest, Ottawa is super into sipping and slurping.

There were two rooms this time; Privé learned quickly from their overpacked first event, the Underground Food Market, that one room for vendors and one room for eating was the best way to go. Even then, seating was scarce and line ups were long.

Photo by MC Bennett

Crowds amass, awaiting their noodles

We took what we learned at the Underground Food Market and started to divide and conquer; MC took on the Phở Me? Phở You! line and I headed to Gongfu Bao. We waited about fifteen minutes in each line, though some booths had less and some had an even longer wait.

I got two dishes from Gongfu Bao, the shiitake mushroom and the maple charsiu pork. They’d actually suffered a severe noodle malfunction, but were serving the dishes up with their amazing ‘killer slaw’. Ok, confession: I hate slaw. But this? This I think I could eat buckets of. The pork was awesome too, but the shiitake mushrooms were beyond belief. I dropped my chopsticks and went for a spoon.

Photo by MC Bennett

Shiitake mushrooms and maple charsiu pork, with some seriously killer slaw.

MC grabbed Phở Me? Phở You!’s Báhn Cuôn with ground pork and mushrooms. The filling was good, the noodle itself left something to be desired. After a brief floor picnic we moved back into the vendor area and ended up next to Jonathan Korecki’s station!

Photo by MC Bennett

Gongfu Bao and Pho Me? Pho You! floor picnic!

The only season of Top Chef we ever watched was the one with Jonathan on it, and we’d finally gotten to go to his restaurant, Sidedoor, recently, and after loving nearly everything on that menu, we were totally psyched to see what he was bringing to Noodlefest.

Hint: It was bandanas!

Well, also duck. A bbq duck ramen, actually. We originally ordered one to share but quickly reconsidered and went back for a second one. And a bandana, because what better souvenir! Jonathan’s dish was the best one we tried; flavourful, perfectly seasoned and cooked to perfection.

Photo by MC Bennett

Jonathan Korecki cooking up some duck ramen

We ended our night with elk teriyaki ramen from MSG Catering. The elk was tender and delicious, and we got the freshest batch, since we’d waited for them to boil the water to cook the noodles! We loved the little containers it came in too, it made for a great presentation.

Photo by MC Bennett

Some super signage from MSG Catering

All in all, Sip N’ Slurp was a success for vendors and eaters alike. Next up: Tacofest. Stay tuned.

Squad Leader Kelly sipping and slurping!

Squad Leader Kelly sipping and slurping!

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Ottawa Goes Underground (with Hot Cream Holes)

photo by M.C. Bennett

Kelly enjoys some Hot Cream Holes

We spent the three weeks leading up to Privé’s Underground Chef’s Market trying to explain to people what it was, without truly having any idea.

‘I think chefs can come try their new recipes?’

‘Yeah, I think it’ll be booths with different local food!’

‘You buy a ticket, and then you can buy food from restaurants and chefs. I think.’

All of these are correct. And all of them are understatements.

The first (of hopefully many) Underground Chef’s Market was a success, both for the vendors and the consumers. At its core, it was a large hall with tables lining the edges and each vendor had a selection of tasting plates priced at under ten bucks apiece. You lined up, paid for the dish, and enjoyed your food standing at bar tables, sharing with equally food-enthusiastic strangers.

photo by M.C. Bennett

Rosie’s shows off paella; their signature dish.

Beyond that, it was a perfect example of Ottawa’s meteoric food scene. There is a call for this; people want new food, they wantgood food and they want Ottawa food. The market sold out of tickets, and the volume of people buying food probably could have supported many more vendors.

There were about thirty vendors present, with selections ranging from donuts and baked goods to chocolate sushi to paella and pupusas. The two most popular (based purely on length of lines) were Gongfu Bao’s dumpling food cart and 327 Wine Bar’s duck confit sliders. Line-ups were long enough that we didn’t actually get to try them.

That would actually have been our only complaint; long and confusing lines made waiting for some of the dishes frustrating, and hopefully the organizers can address this for future events.

The dishes we did try were amazing, though. Mitch’s Pork Station was serving up confit pork belly with smoked bacon perogies and a sassafras sauce, all of which just melted in your mouth. A lobster and mushroom risotto with a parmesan crisp was flavourful and delicious. We tried mustard and sausages, a honey sauced peach cobbler, and some waffles topped with jalapeno whipped cream. We also tried paella from Rosie’s Southern Kitchen and Raw Bar, something which is going to be a signature dish when they open in the Glebe later this winter. It was delicious, not too spicy and packed with seafood. And of course, Hot Cream Holes; small donuts sliced in half and lightly fried, with ice cream in the middle. Add on a variety of toppings (salted caramel, chocolate sauce, a cherry) and you’ve got yourself one of the messiest most delicious desserts we’ve ever eaten.

photo by M.C. Bennett

Pork belly confit and perogies from Mitch’s Pork

The Market was a kickass food experience that we can’t wait to see grow and improve as the food scene in Ottawa grows too. Up next from Privé? Sip and Slurp Noodlefest, a Taco Festival and a Slider Festival. Hell yes, we’re hooked.

Ottawa’s Underground Food Market

Privé Food Thought

So, maybe you have a great food idea. Maybe you’ve got the next cronut (the crookie?) or the next ramen burger (chicken chow mein sandwich?). Or maybe you have an ironclad stomach, a great eye for trends and a really strong opinion on your food.

Privé Food Thought’s Underground Chef’s Market is a social event where aspiring chefs, professional chefs and entrepreneurs can premiere their newest recipes and where the adventurous public can try them all out.

The Market is going to happen a few times a year, and for this month’s event, vendors can register for free! It’s ten dollars for the public to enter, and vendors will be pricing food for under ten bucks. The first one is going to be November 30th from 5-10pm at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

So get your creative flow going, and come up with that next big thing. (Maybe avoid the whole chicken chow mein sandwich.) Tickets available here, and the vendor application is here!