(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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3, 2, 1, DRINK!

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Coke vs. Pepsi

Beatles vs. Stones

Athens vs. Sparta

Tom Brady vs. Peyton Manning

These are some of the greatest rivalries known to the world. We’d like to add one more:

Beer vs. Wine

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Restaurant International at Algonquin College is offering the opportunity for this rivalry to finally be solved, over a five course dinner specially prepared to match with five beers and five wines. A resident beer expert and sommelier will be on hand to help the diners decide on the ultimate food pairing winner.

The showdown occurs on February 27th, and Fat Girl Food Squad has ringside seats. Get your tickets and join us for the epic battle.

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Sip N’ Slurp ‘N Ottawa

Sip N' Slurp

Sip N’ Slurp!

One thing we here at Fat Girl Food Squad can get behind is messy eating. Be it overflowing burgers, melting ice cream or sticky stringy cheese, we’re always on the look out for something that lets us really get our hands dirty. Or, in this case, our faces.

Sip N’ Slurp is Ottawa’s Noodlefest, brought to the city by Privé Food Thought, the same group who brought us the incredibly successful Underground Food Market.

Get your Noodlefest tickets fast; the Food Market sold out, and there’s no doubt Ottawa’s noodle craving will match it. And if you can’t make it, check back here for our fully, messy coverage.

It Gets Fatter Project is Reorienting Desire Tonight in Ottawa

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Tonight Ottawa is lucky enough to have the It Gets Fatter Project in town, hosting an event on Reorienting Desire. The It Gets Fatter Project is a body positivity project, started by queer fat people of colour FOR queer fat people of colour, and this workshop will serve as a space to examine how fatphobia structures our visions of desirable bodies.

We reached out to It Gets Fatter Project and they were awesome enough to answer some of our questions. We can’t wait to go hang out with them tonight.

Is this your first event in Ottawa? We’re excited to have you!

It’s Asam’s first time, but Sara presented the keynote at last year’s Project Acorn gathering. We are excited to be back!

Obviously being fat is a gendered conversation, but can you give us a quick rundown of why it was important for IGF to be a poc led project, for poc?

I think for fat folks who are racialized the answer to this question is as obvious as fat being a gendered conversation. The ways in which we experience body shame and body policing are so intimately tied to processes of racialization that I actually don’t even know how I could think about fatness without thinking about race, (or really, how I could think about the body without also thinking about the ways in which it is gendered and raced and classed etc).

Just to start off with, fatness & race are rarely discussed together within white fat activism. And yet, discourses around obesity often visibilize and centre on fat poc – even as these campaigns have little to no input from the people who are being used as props to signify the dangers of obesity. The idea that Black people have “bad” eating habits and only have themselves to blame for being fat is so pervasive in US pop culture it goes almost unquestioned or even unnoticed. And how fat racialized bodies are policed and shamed is intimately tied to histories of colonialism and imperialist and orientalist stereotypes of “the Other.” (For instance, it might be “liberating” for a white woman to walk around without shaving her armpits, but the same choice from a dark-skinned woc will mean she will often get read as a “savage” who doesn’t know how to conform to Western standards of hygiene and needs rescuing.)

When we started IGF it was because we didn’t feel there was any space in fat activism to talk about these things. There is a long history of fat activism being centred and being dominated by the voices and narratives of white fat people. Unfortunately, for a lot of poc these voices just don’t resonate because we don’t see ourselves in these narratives. It is impossible for poc to divorce their race from any aspect of their lives, and any discourse or activism that doesn’t even notice or mention race is obviously not gonna be very useful for most poc.

Finally, 500 years of colonialism has meant that so many Black, Indigenous and poc communities have internalized white, European standards of beauty and aesthetic norms. One of the most painful experiences I have had as a fat brown guy has been the constant fat shaming in my own community. But this is painful especially because I know skinny white bodies were not always idealized in my culture. There is so much anecdotal evidence (art, poetry, music, etc.) that shows us that all kinds of bodies were revered in South Asian culture. And yet because of colonialism that history is often lost or remains unspoken. These are conversations white fat activists wouldn’t even begin to know how to have. So I think all of these things illustrate the importance of poc only spaces for fat poc’s.

Are conversations about fatness, and specifically about fatness and race easier to have in queer spaces? How much does intersectionality play into the IGF project?

I think it really depends on what kind of queers are present in the room. Sometimes folks will internalize dominant ideas about race & fatness, and so obviously those conversations are even harder to have than with say, straight white folks who just don’t like fat or queer people. But IGF is born through the intersections we carry as queer, racialized, fat folks and so we try our best to make sure the spaces we create and facilitate are always keenly attuned to the ways in which intersectionality impacts our experiences of marginalization.

What’s the best response you’ve witnessed to fatshaming?

“Fuck you, no one cares about your diet!”

What do you think of the recent articles about how fat positivity isn’t just for bigger women? I noticed you used ‘self identify as fat’ on your tumblr. At what point does thin privilege take over self identifying as fat? Does it?

There’s definitely this hierarchy of who gets to be celebrated for speaking out on fat issues and who gets completely ignored. Even within fat activism supersize folks have often felt excluded (even at NOLOSE!). There’s also the danger of who becomes the “face” of “fat positivity”. The idea that Lena Dunham’s body is radical or revolutionary in any way to be so nude all the time on Girls just shows how much work there still needs to be done when it comes to body positivity. These are things we are still thinking about, but so far we haven’t had any issues with workshops or video submissions. At the end of the day, as long as folks are aware of the privileges they carry and how much space they take up, we’re not interested in policing definitions of fatness. Just don’t be a jerk about it.

Reserve tickets for tonight’s 6:30pm event at venusenvy.ca, by phone 613-789-4646, or in person at the Bank St. Ottawa location. 

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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!

Ottawa Enjoys Toothsome & Some Exciting News

Tasting coffees and trying pastries at The Ministry of Coffee

Tasting coffees and trying pastries at The Ministry of Coffee

Fat Girl Food Squad Ottawa hosted our first event last week, called Toothsome; a coffee seminar and pastry tasting with The Ministry of Coffee and Get Your Sweet Fix.

Both M.C. and I are huge coffee lovers, and since Ministry of Coffee is our new favourite spot to stop for coffee, we were excited when they seemed as eager as us to do an event together. Throw in Get Your Sweet Fix, the two amazingly talented girls who make the pastries for the café, and we had an event!

Coffee, brewers and accessories as far as the eye can see. A coffee addict's dream.

Coffee, brewers and accessories as far as the eye can see. A coffee addict’s dream.

Sarah and Nadia brought peach and pear upsidedown cake, plum cheesecake with sugared sunflowers, coconut raspberry squares and (my personal favourite) crabapple dulce de leche scones. Get Your Sweet Fix makes everything by hand, and they try and use seasonal ingredients as much as they can, so everything tastes incredibly fresh and delicious.

Get Your Sweet Fix putting out roasted plum cheesecakes.

Get Your Sweet Fix putting out roasted plum cheesecakes, and an array of coffees from Calgary roasters Phil and Sebastian.

Alex and Fadi broke out the coffee alchemy and did Chemex pourovers of Phil and Sebastian’s Kiawamaururu Kenya. We were also lucky enough to try the same bean brewed through a siphon method, something I’d never had a chance to see before.

The guys from Ministry made us a cup of coffee using the siphon method. Gotta love some alchemy with your coffee.

The guys from Ministry made us a cup of coffee using the siphon method. Gotta love some alchemy with your coffee.

The Ottawa crew wants to thank both the Ministry of Coffee and Get Your Sweet Fix for helping us make this event such an amazing success. We’d also like to thank everyone who came out and tried coffee and ate pastries and chatted to us!

Here’s to a ton more events, a ton of new friends and, hopefully, a ton of coffee.

We have some big news for this week, too! On Tuesday, September 17th at 4:00pm, you can tune into Third Wave on CHUO.fm and listen to your Fat Girl Food Squad Ottawa crew talk about food, fatness and feminism. If you’re not in Ottawa, listen online!

Ottawa Isn’t Boring: Arboretum Festival 2013

photo by M.C. Bennett

I’ve been told by a lot of people in my life that they can’t understand why I’d ever stay in Ottawa.

I’m a theatre major, a foodie, an artsy indie hipster, and Ottawa is boring, right?! t’s small, and there’s no art or music scene. Why would anyone want to stay or live here?! I used to try and convince people they were wrong, but now I just sort of laugh. Because wow, do I know better.

I call Ottawa the biggest small town ever, and the people who love it here  <i>really</i> love it here. And we’re committed to making it a thriving, artistic, heartfelt community.

One of the perfect examples of this was last weekend’s Arobretum Festival, a boutique art and music festival featuring local artists, vendors and musicians.

Oh, and chefs.

This year Arboretum Festival also hosted the Chef Sessions, a showcase of seven chefs from seven of Ottawa’s top restaurants. Between them they served six courses over six hours, trading off after each hour to hand off the to the next chef.

photo by M.C. Bennett

The list of chefs and dishes.

Not only were the food choices spectacular, but the sense of community went above and beyond. Each chef stayed to help the other ones out, bringing food to vendors and chatting with the festival-goers trying the food. These are chefs who love their work, and love their city.

photo by M.C. Bennett

Supply and Demand delivered raw scallops with creme fraiche and crispy chicken skin. This dish blew our minds. Also, it was gorgeously presented.

All of the dishes are reviewed below, but a few highlights were the tomato and onion tartlet with smoked duck from Marc Doiron of Town and Steve Mitton of Murray Street KWC, who kicked things off by setting the food bar really, really high. Patricia Larkin from Black Cat Bistro hit us with a melt in your mouth piece of maple pork belly, and Supply and Demand’s Steve Wall nailed it with raw scallop and crème fraiche with crispy chicken skin. Salty and refreshing on a really hot day.

photo by M.C. Bennett

A tomato and onion tartlet, with smoked duck breast and microgreens. Delicious, rich and an amazing start to the sessions from Steve Doiron (Murray Street KWC) and Marc Doiron (Town).

Between devouring the dishes from the amazing Chef Sessions, we got to listen to local (or nearly local) bands like Her Harbour, Snowblink and Sarah Neufeld and drink some beer from our buddies at Kichesippi Brewing Company. We also met a few more amazing foodie and non-foodie friends that hopefully we get to talk about here soon!

photo by M.C. Bennett

Kichesippi keeps us cool with the Arboretum Brew, made especially for the festival.

Whatever some people’s impression of Ottawa might be, spend some time here and it doesn’t take long for the ever-growing and wildly passionate group of Ottawa art, music and food lovers to come to light.

Ottawa is definitely not boring.

Knifewear: FGFS Ottawa Goes Under The Knife

Rock and roll knifes

Rock and roll knives

“What kind of a knife shop doesn’t have their own guitar picks?”

Some of the first words I heard from Kevin Kent, while we both snagged a morning coffee. And really, he’s got a point.

What’s more rock and roll than a super sharp, sleek Japanese cooking knife?

Uh, nothing. No, seriously. Especially if you bought it from a Knifewear store, the newest of which just opened in Ottawa (Knifewear is also in Calgary and Kelowna).

We were lucky enough to attend Knifewear Ottawa’s opening event, where we got to listen to some good music (Tindervox and James Leclaire), drink some dark and stormy’s (hello, new favourite drink, thanks Harvey and Vern’s and Kichesippi Beer Co), drink some coffee (thanks Chris and Working Coffee) and cut some defenseless potatoes with some really, really sharp knives.

Kelly trying something sharp.

Kelly trying something sharp.

Check out Knifewear for knife sharpening classes, a classic shave shop, a collection of sharp (ha) tshirts and cooking accessories and, of course, the sharpest knives in town.

All photos by M.C. Bennett