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Posted on Feb 22, 2011 in Dear Diary, Food | 8 comments

O, Canada

Bonsoir, mes amis! Je suis retourné d’Ottawa et j’ai beaucoup à vous mettre à jour sur!


Yup, that’s right. I gots my Francais on as I have returned from Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, victorious and full of pictures that you are sure to OD on. Prepare thyself!

I spent the entire plane ride back to DC trying to think about the best way to post about my awesome trip without causing seizures, and I couldn’t really land on a way not to do that. Sooooo, you’re just going to have to bear with me through what is sure to be a gargantuan post. At least I warned you! 🙂

I flew in late Thursday night and met up with my amazing friend Holly. We stayed at the Lord Elgin hotel in downtown Ottawa for a few nights (free as a package deal with my flight). There was a bit of a mixup with the room at first and we ended up in a room where there wasn’t even a real bed, only a pull-out sofa! I didn’t think hotels even HAD rooms without beds, but they moved us to a normal room the next night and comp’d breakfast for us so I can’t really complain.


The hotel had oatmeal in their breakfast buffet! Rawr. My first and last healthy choice on this trip, hahahaha. After breakfast, Holly, our friend Colin, and I drove to the town of Kingston, Ontario to visit our friend Lucas as well as meet up with our friend Ai Rei.


IMG_5465.jpgOn the road again

We grabbed some awesome grub at the neat little coffeehouse co-op where he works, The Sleepless Goat and his parents, who were also visiting, were nice enough to treat me to sushi at a place down the street as well!



They have an incredible sweet potato and cheddar quesadilla at the Goat, as well as awesome coffee drinks and I also tried one of their lemon bars (their pastry selection is ridonkulous!) The lemon bar was only okay – too high of a dough-to-lemon ratio for me, but the sweet potato quesadilla was outta this world and something I’m definitely going to have to try to recreate!

We carted Ai Rei back to Ottawa with us that evening, and the next day we hit up Winterlude, Ottawa’s annual winter festival!


It was really fun — full of ice sculptures (that unfortunately had melted a tiny bit due to warmer than usual weather on Friday), performers, live music and DJs, food stands, and adorable children drowning in their snowsuits.

Le Petite Mermaid.Icy.
Snowsuit up!IMG_5544.jpg



We had some fun taking pictures and I got a beavertail!! For those of you that don’t know, a beavertail is a Canadian delicacy (heh) that consists of dough traditionally covered in cinnamon and sugar (though they make all sorts of crazy topping concoctions now, too.) It is true (horrible for you) deliciousness:


The next day (Saturday) I insisted that we go revisit some of my favorite restaurants in Ottawa – starting with lunch at The Works!!!


The Works makes the most incredible burgers EVER. They have a list of about a bajillion different topping combinations (including things like peanut butter and goat cheese in addition to the usual avocado, bacon, and caramelized onions).

The four of us (Holly, Colin, Ai Rei, and I) started with a tower of their famous o-rings:


And I also got a small orange coconut milkshake (they serve all their beverages in measuring cups – cute, right?) Their milkshakes are amaaazing!


As for my incredible, incredible burger, I got the “Johnny Be Goat” with added avocado on top. It had goat cheese, warm spinach, and roasted red peppers. Got it with sweet potato strings on the side, that I couldn’t finish but oh how I wish I could have, haha!

The Best Burger in the Land.

Needless to say, after all that food I was quite the wounded bear:


Totally worth it.

That night, Holly, Ai Rei, and I went out to Milestones, my favorite restaurant in Ottawa because of their AMAZING frozen bellinis. We were still pretty full from our Worksariffic lunch, so we didn’t end up eating until like 10 PM, haha. At least we got dolled up to go out though (wearing my new We Love Colors tights and Stella & Dot necklace!):


As for food, I had a bellini (of course!), a small California Spring salad (strawberries, red onion, goat cheese, and pecans) and their phyllo-crusted shrimp (not sure where the phyllo part came in, but they were crusted, at least!)



The shrimp came with an Asian-y ginger-plum sauce and were only okay. I ended up splitting them with Holly, and we also got their incredible spinach artichoke dip to share. The salad was amazing though — just like I remembered! 🙂

We had met up with our friend JF and went to a club after dinner, but it turned out to be kinda lame, so we ended up going to a KTV kareoke place instead and it was AMAZING. They had the ridiculous Korean music videos that made absolutely NO sense and everything (c’mon, my TAS peeps know what I’m talking about!) It was totally embarrassing, but really, really fun:


Sunday us three gals met up with JF again in Chinatown for sushi at a place that Holly recommended. It was an all-you-can-eat sushi place, and it was actually really good! They had so many options to order – including hot options like teriyaki and udon! We ate so much though that we seriously couldn’t eat afterward until like 11 PM (are you noticing a trend here?)


That night Holly and I went to the movies to see I Am Number Four:

It. Was. Awesome. And not just because Alex Pettyfer is a hottiehottiehottie (he is.) I had been wanting to see it, but I actually wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did! It’s definitely much less of a teen/tween movie than I was expecting, since the movie is based off of a young adult novel (slightly more severe language, and some fairly gruesome/violent stuff is implied, even if it isn’t explicitly shown.) The special effects were really cool (of course) and the pacing of the movie I thought was really good. I hope they make a sequel (it definitely ends with a set up for one.)

Saturday night was unfortunately our last night at the hotel, so we headed back to Holly’s apartment where I spent the night with her cat, Patters:


Okay! Homestretch! Today, Monday! The day started out with breakfast at Tim Horton’s (can’t come to Canada and not go to Timmy’s!!) and then we took a nice walk down the (frozen) Rideau Canal. No skating for me this time, but walking on the ice in my traction-less boots was pretty close to skating, I imagine!


We wandered down to the Byward Market, which is a great little area with tons of stands, shops, and restaurants (and also where the US Embassy — where my dad worked, and I spent a summer working as well) is located. I had to snag a pic!


There’s a restaurant in the market that got a visit from President Obama when he came to Ottawa during the summer of 2009, and they are clearly still very excited about that trip! His picture was plastered EVERYWHERE, and they’re still selling the apparently famous “Obama Cookie”. I thought it was absolutely hilarious, and kind of regret not snagging an Obama Cookie for myself:


Before escorting me back to the airport (sad!), we ended the day at Zak’s Diner where I ordered my last Canadian specialty food: Poutine! For those of you unaware, poutine is french fries slathered in gravy and cheese curds. Traditionally that’s all you put on it, but of course these days you can get everything but the kitchen sink topped on those little frites francais, hehe. And yes, it is exactly as horrifying and delicious as you’re thinking it must be right now:


I had mine with a grilled cheese sandwich (I know… I know…) but we waddled back the, I don’t know, 2 miles or so to Holly’s apartment so I feel like it wasn’t a total loss. I did end up walking a TON during my trip (kinda tends to happen when you don’t have a car at your disposal) and while I didn’t make the best food choices while on my culinary trip down memory lane, I remain hopeful for my weigh-in tomorrow. I’m planning on kicking off tomorrow strong and healthy though — more on that later. 🙂

Question o’ the Day: How do you get back on track after a vacation or trip where your eating/fitness habits might have been waylaid?

Whew! That’s a lot of Canada to have crammed into one weekend!! All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I had such a great time with my friends! Since I’ve obviously dumped a TON on you tonight, I’m going to cut loose now and say goodnight. ‘Til tomorrow!!


  1. You’re cheating on KOI KOI? The manager asked about you when Tay and I went!

    looks like you had a good time

  2. i went to milestones in Vancouver and had the Bellini as well, A-mazing. And any time I have the opportunity i must have poutine as well, soo bad but sooo good!

  3. Oh, Gretchen! This post made me so homesick for Ottawa, all my friends there, and Ottawa food. It also totally reminded me how easily I gained a good 15 pounds while posted there. The Works, Beavertails (Killaloe Sunrise is my fave), Milestones, Poutine, oh, oh, oh the goodness! It seems the only thing missing from your trip was a hockey game!

  4. Those gloves are totally dorky but really cute 🙂 Looks like you had a blast eating your way through memory lane. I miss The Works too!!

    • Oh, and (as I have recent experience of forgetting my exercise and eating habits while on vacay) I just try to get back into my normal routine of eating sensibly and exercising when I get back home. Maybe I try to overcompensate by being better than normal for a bit.

  5. I’m glad you’re back. I will inform Harry and Daxter that you cheated on them with a cat…

  6. Dang, I woulda put more into the latté art, had I known it would be blogged for the world to see.

  7. I was watching The Bachelor and it was the episode where the girls take the guy back to their hometowns. One of the girls is from Maine and she brought him to a restaurant to eat Poutine! IT LOOKED DELICIOUS! Any idea where else one can get Poutine other than in Maine and Canada?! Hahaha


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