Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Importance of Eating Local

I'm baaaaaaaaaack!!! After a short hiatus from the blogging world due to a small technical difficulty, I've returned! My latest blog entry focuses on eating local and knowing where the food we eat comes from.

Growing up in a small fishing village, I understand the importance of eating local. I grew up watching the lobster and fish that my neighbors caught that day being cooked and served alongside our homegrown PEI potatoes. Knowing where the food that you eat comes from is very important

Many local restaurants are doing their part to support local, which is one thing that impressed me with Union 613, the latest stop for our dining club. Not only is the menu stacked with local ingredients, but the evening that we chose to eat there was part of a fundraising campaign to raise money for the Ottawa Food Bank called Capital Dishes.
Union 613 is located in the space that was once occupied by Restaurant Joy. The interior is like a completely different place. The new space looks nothing like the former. Gone are the cramped quarters of the former establishment. Union 613's main focal point is a beautiful bar smack dab in the middle of the restaurant. There seems to also be a lot more seating - with communal tables set up in the back for family style dining. My only issue would be that the bar stools were quite awkward and uncomfortable and the lighting somewhat dim.

The service at Union 613 was very friendly and attentive. I never had an empty water glass! They had some great selection of beer on tap, such as St. Ambroise Pumpkin - which became one of my new favorites. 

Complimentary boiled peanuts were served while we waited for our food to arrive. Although I appreciate the gesture, most of us at the table weren't big fans of the peanuts. 
Boiled peanuts
Although the restaurant was packed, the food arrived pretty quickly. My first impression was that the portions were small, but as we all dug into the delicious meals, we soon realized why. The rich menu offerings tantalized our taste buds and filled us up quickly.

Fried Yardbird dish

Although our meals were filling - we didn't want to leave without sampling their in house desserts. The dessert menu had an interesting combination of flavors, all well received by Dining Club members

Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Pie
Pretzel Beignet

Overall we were happy with our experience at Union 613.  My only advice would be - arrive hungry and expecting a rich calorie heavy meal! 

Ottawa Organics 

Just over a year ago, following a seminar at the Ottawa Writer's festival featuring one of my favorite Chefs, Micheal Smith, my boyfriend Matt and I decided to subscribe to a local produce delivery service, Ottawa Organics. Chef Michael Smith is a firm believer in knowing where your food is coming from and being able to recognize (and pronounce) the ingredients in your food. I agree with Chef Michael and we try to make an effort to eat whole, unprocessed food a.ka. real food - and also want to move towards eating healthier, so this was an opportunity for us to do both!

After researching various services providers of this type in the Ottawa area, we settled on Ottawa Organics, mainly due to the delivery structure (weekly) and price point ($35.00 for a medium sized basket)

Since subscribing to these baskets, I have to say, not only are we consuming more fruits and vegetables, I've actually discovered a few that I had never tried before - kohlrabi for example, which is a vegetable similar to turnip. Who knew? I've also been forced to try lots of new recipes to "hide" the veggies that I don't like. My slow cooker has been working overtime with squash filled soups.

The only caveat is the fact that not ALL the produce is locally grown - often some of the fruits are from Mexico and California - due to the fact that it's cold in Canada so we can't grow a lot of those fruit here!!!

Overall - I am very happy with this service and will continue to enjoy the local in season produce delivered to my door - now if you'll excuse me - I have some fresh beets to roast!

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