Ottawa City Hall erupted with appetizing flavours this past Sunday, as local restaurants dished up samples of their culinary specialities as part of Support Local month.
Doubling as a fundraiser for University of Ottawa campus radio station CHUO, the first annual Taste of CHUO brought together almost a dozen restaurants that offered everything from Ethiopian cuisine to Salvadoran dishes to Caribbean flavours.
Local brewer Kichesippi Beer also poured some of their tasty creations for those looking to wash down all of the tasty treats.
“The name ‘A Taste of CHUO’ is an invitation to the station,” explains Karen McHarg, sales and marketing director for the radio station and the event organizer. “I wanted it to be a bit eclectic because CHUO is eclectic…. It changes every hour.”
With the wide range of dishes on offer, McHarg definitely met her objective of providing a venue in which local eateries could advertise their distinct menus.
Wanting to try as many edibles as possible, I went to several tables to see what they had.
Habesha, located at 574 Rideau Street, served up an impressive set of samples. I tried two different portions: the first made with spicy lentils; the second a nice combination of cabbage, potatoes and carrots. Both servings were accompanied by injera, a flatbread with a spongy texture that is used to pick up the food.
A few tables away, El Tucan from 85 Montreal Road offered pupusas, a traditional dish from El Salvador made with maize flour that can be filled with pork, beans and/or cheese. Cabbage and hot sauce accompanied the meal. As someone who has eaten Central American food for years, I was impressed with the flavour and texture of the pupusas, which were delightful.
The Imperial Gastro Diner, meanwhile, had a wonderful plate made of double-smoked bacon, chorizo sausage and homemade manicotti. With a reasonable amount of spice this pasta plate was quite good.
All of this tasty food called out for a beer, so I ordered a dark lager, with the tongue-and-check name “Logger,” from the friendly folks at the Kichesippi Beer Co. The rich flavour was the perfect beverage for a very delicious meal.
“This is the first annual [event],” promises McHarg, who tells Apartment 613 that she would also like future food exhibits take place in the fall. “Our year always starts in the fall because of the school year.”
From across the bridge in Gatineau there was Le P’tit Grecque, located 264 Saint-Rédempteur, who served up Greek food, while back in Ottawa lovers of Caribbean cuisine could taste samples from Bananas Caribbean Grill and Take-Out in Orleans, Island Flava at 409 Dalhousie and Island Spiced, a local company that specializes in making Caribbean-flavoured hot sauces.
For all of those who indulged in the food – and you can count me in this category – the friendly folks at Sage Wellness were offering up massages to relax.