Westboro will be filled with holiday cheer this weekend as some of the city’s best merchants gather at a local food fair.
Scheduled for Sunday, December 9, the Taste of Ottawa- Westboro Holiday Food Fair will take place at 430 Churchill Avenue at Byron from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission and parking is free.
In preparation for Sunday, we contacted some other merchants to see what they would be selling at the fair, which is the inaugural event of the Ottawa Specialty Food Association.
First up is Mike Kositsin from Ottawa Valley Honey, who operates 170 colonies at nine different locations with his wife Crystal.
“We’re a taste of the Ottawa valley,” says Kositsin, who is based outside of Arnprior. “I have been a beekeeper for 10 years, and learned from my grandfather who was a beekeeper since he was 18 in the 1930s.”
Having purchased Kositsin’s honey on two separate occasions at the Ottawa Farmers Market, I can vouch for the deliciousness of his product. I would especially recommend the Goldenrod and Clover, which will be on sale at the fair. For those who want a softer taste – the Goldenrod is stronger – you can purchase the Wild Flower honey that was harvested in July.
“What you should know about us is that we don’t put anything in our honey,” Kositsin tells me over the phone. “We leave it like the bees made it.”
He also points out that he and his wife will be selling beeswax beauty products, such as lip balm, soap, lotion and body scrub.
For those who love pies, you can purchase several goodies from Life of Pie.
“We’re a family-owned bakery and at the (Westboro) food fair we will be selling a lot of Christmas treats,” says Kerry Duffy, owner of Life of Pie. Among the baked treats will be gingerbread, cookies, vegetarian mince meat pies and tortieres.
“Everything is made in-house by hand,” says Duffy. “A lot of (our products) are made by using my grandmother’s recipes.”
Similar to Kositsin, who learned from his grandfather, Duffy acquired her baking skills from two generations of women in her family. She learned her baking from her mom, who in turn learned from her grandmother.
Finally, we spoke to Sharon Fernandez, a social entrepreneur who runs the online store Tea & Ginseng. Having previously operated stores on Bank Street and Second Avenue in the Glebe, Fernandez now operates an online tea business.
She says that food fairs like the one in Westboro are essential for small businesses, many of whom struggle to compete with larger companies.
“We are in a difficult period for small business,” she says. “We are fighting being taken over by big business.”
That being said, the power of a small merchant is that they can sell handmade products whose quality is significantly better than those at big stores or supermarkets. In the case of Fernandez, this includes selling tea that she brews herself and which have great health benefits.
Among the tea that shoppers can purchase are Rooibos Provence, a smooth South African brew that is ideal for Christmas, cranberry apple, a Chinese white tea called Pai Mu Tan and cream of earl grey, which has a vanilla flavour.
The Taste of Ottawa – Westboro Food Fair takes place Sunday, December 9, at 430 Churchill Avenue at Byron from 10 am to 4 pm. Admission and parking is free.