Calendar Filled With Good Eats
Pencil in these food-related events for 2013
Every year at this time I like to haul out my state-of-the-art Fibre-Based Information Retrieval System (er, pencil-and-paper day calendar) to consider the wealth of significant food-related events we can expect in the year ahead.
For 2013 I can only marvel at so many excellent choices.
In some cases, below, exact dates and/or ticket prices may not yet be nailed down, but still you can safely assume that fun events like, say, the annual Feast of Fields will come along in September.
Forks and glasses ready? Here they are in chronological order.
Taste in the Glebe
Jan. 17, 5:30 to 8 p.m., Glebe Community Centre
Tickets: $50 (premiere tutored tasting $80)
Expect more than 40 local restaurants, caterers, wineries and beer merchants serving good food and drink at this popular neighbourhood event, now in its 15th year, which raises money for capital projects for the community at large and the Glebe Community Centre. Absolutely delicious, start to finish, no wonder this culinary extravaganza sells out each year with more than 400 guests. For tickets call 613-233-8713 or 613-564-1058
Gatineau Winter Beer Fest
Jan 24 to 26, Chateau Cartier, Aylmer Road, Gatineau
Tickets: $5, plus extra for food and drink
A smash hit in 2012, its first year, the festival has been expanded to three days this time around. (Last year organizers expected 3,000 guests, but more than 8,000 showed. This year they’re planning on 13,000 with double the space at Chateau Cartier, and even more activities.) Sample winter and other craft beers from Quebec microbreweries, enjoy beer seminars, taste beer-inspired winter food or some for a skate, dog sledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides and a bonfire at night.
Winterlude Stew Cook-Off
Feb 1, 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., ByWard Market Pavilion (George Street patio)
Price (2012): $10
This is a perennial favourite now in its 22nd year. More than 800 people are invited to this early Winterlude event where for $10 they may sample stews from about 20 participating businesses and soup kitchens and vote for their favourite. Last year $7,400 was raised for the Lowertown Community Resource Centre. Wondering if Tucker’s Marketplace will win again this year? (In 2012, its Tuscan-Style Stew was judged the favourite by a celebrity panel, while the People’s Choice went to Social Restaurant and Lounge for its Venison, Chipotle and Sweet Potato Stew.) Not to be missed, and reasonably priced.
A Taste of Hope
Feb. 7, 6 to 9 p.m., Jean Pigott Hall, Ottawa City Hall
A new culinary event to celebrate the Shepherds of Good Hope’s 30 years of service to those most vulnerable in our community. Sample dishes prepared by many of Ottawa’s talented chefs, as well as wines courtesy of Vintner’s Section. All proceeds to renovate the downtown soup kitchen, where last year 700,000 meals were served.
Feb. 16 and 17, Sparks Street Mall
Free admission; food and drink extra
WinterBrewed, Ottawa’s newest annual craft beer festival, celebrates 200 years of craft brewing in the National Capital Region with seasonal brews and artisan food, complete with winter games, a snowman-building competition and on-site sugar bush. No admission fee, but an official festival glass and wristband are required to purchase beer tokens. Food also available at extra cost.
May 7, Ernst & Young Centre, Uplands Drive
Tickets: $85 ($50 tax receipt given)
Now in its 17th year, this huge must-attend food and wine event involving almost 100 Ottawa-area restaurants, caterers, wineries and breweries each year sells out at about 1,000 tickets, raising more than $115,000 for some 20 local charities. What I like about it, aside from the splendid good eats, is the fact this cocktail party on steroids is registered for tax-receipt status, which means organizers must (and do) provide a full and transparent financial accounting each year of how much money came in, how much was spent, and how much actually wound up with the charities. This event ranks among my top recommendations for the year.
Smoked to the Bone BBQ competition
May 24 and 25, Gloucester Fairgrounds (Ottawa-Carleton Raceway)
Free for spectators with general admission to fairgrounds; various fees to enter either professional or amateur barbecue competitions
The Smoked to the Bone barbecue competition is officially recognized by the Canadian Southern BBQ Association with the largest professional prize purse in Canada — $20,000 in total. Come share barbecue tips; organizers say they may sell samples of barbecue whole hog for charity, although these and all other details are still being worked out.
6th annual Bytowne Oyster Festival
June 30, Kent Street and Arlington Avenue
Tickets (2012 price) $25 (includes four oysters, or burger of choice)
It’s amazing each year to see how many revellers can shoehorn themselves into a small fenced parking lot beside The Whalesbone Catering at 504-A Kent St. in Centretown. There they chase Sailor Jerry spiced rum with local craft brews to the beat of lively music. Of course, no oyster celebration would be complete without a shucking contest — and shuck, the folks certainly do, with amazing speed. Believe it or not, an estimated 800 party goers last summer wolfed down 6,000 P.E.I. molluscs, 600 juicy cod burgers, 500 pulled pork sandwiches, and 1,200 litres of beer.
National Capital Craft Beer Week
National Capital Craft Beer Festival
Craft beer week Aug. 9 to 17, various locations, events
Craft beer festival Aug. 16 and 17, Marion Dewar Plaza, Ottawa City Hall
The first event last year attracted 6,500, and organizers expect more than 10,000 this year celebrating two centuries of craft brewing in the capital region. Programming and participating breweries still being arranged, as well as prices. Online advance ticket sales when available through the website.
Chef Kurt Waldele Memorial Tribute for Ottawa Humane Society
Aug. 25, Humane Society headquarters, 245 West Hunt Club Rd.
Tickets (2012 price): $125
Friends and well-wishers of the Ottawa Humane Society are expected again this year to continue the long-standing, late-summer garden party tradition hosted for years by the late Kurt Waldele, former executive chef at the National Arts Centre, with his wife Dr. Suzanne Beauchemin. Waldele died from cancer in 2007. Last year organizers at the 11th annual event raised $35,000 for our furry and feathered friends, with an estimated 200 people paying $125 a ticket to enjoy good eats from some 20 of Ottawa’s most respected chefs, as well as wine and beer. Details including ticket prices and auction items are still in the formative stage, but it’s a great afternoon. Check the Humane Society website in the spring, when more details should be known.
Sept. 11, Brookstreet hotel, 525 Legget Dr.
Tickets (2012 price): $150
Launched in June 2003 to mark the opening of Brookstreet hotel, Lumière has become one of Ottawa’s best summer garden parties raising money for local charities. Last September more than 530 people at $150 each raised $74,000 (including auction items) as they enjoyed superlative food served at various stations prepared by Brookstreet executive chef Clifford Lyness and his chefs. The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show. Beneficiaries for the 11th editionare Wesley Clover Foundation and the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Tickets go on sale in July; details expected later online at the Brookstreet website.
Feast of Fields
September, Canadian Agriculture Museum
Tickets (2012 price): $60 advance; $70 at door
No details yet available for this year’s 13th edition of Feast of Fields, an annual harvest celebration to raise money for Canadian Organic Growers. Last year almost 200 people converged at the Canadian Agriculture Museum to enjoy food prepared by 21 chef teams, each paired with an organic grower.
Oct. 4 and 5, Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds
Tickets: $18 general admission (2012 price, may increase this year); admission and bus from Ottawa $33; kids $5
Go to beaus.ca/oktoberfest (tickets available August)
Likely the most popular Oktoberfest celebration in the National Capital Region, it’s being pared down to two days this year but still promises terrific live oompah music, lederhosen, funny green hats, mandatory craft beer in stunning — and I mean, stunning — quantity, and some of the best finger-friendly good eats ever. Small wonder everyone has a smashing good time! Last year this event attracted 10,000 people over three days, raising $67,000 for Just Food, Operation Come Home and the Vankleek Hill Agricultural Society. Check for tickets on the website in August.
Le Rendez-Vous des Saveurs
October, Casino du Lac-Leamy, Gatineau
Tickets (2012 prices): $15 for a three-day pass; $10 daily admission. Food and wine samples extra.
Catch up on cutting-edge cuisine and drink in the Outaouais at the 17th annual Rendez-Vous showcasing 50 restaurants and wine/beer purveyors with workshops — even a hands-on “culinary academy” for the kids while mom and dad are at the show. Details for 2013 not finalized, however three-day pass last year was $15, or $10 for daily admission. Food and wine tastings are extra. With tons of free parking, it’s a memorable gastronomic festival within easy driving distance of Ottawa — the perfect opportunity to acquaint residents of the National Capital Region with all that’s tasty on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River.
Ottawa Wine & Food Festival
Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, Ottawa Convention Centre
The grand-daddy of gastronomic events in the nation’s capital, this annual show — which expanded in the last two years to five fun-filled festive days — has been entertaining wine and food lovers for more than a quarter-century with more than 40 different events including tutored wine tastings, seminars, food demonstrations and guest appearances by some of Canada’s brightest culinary stars. And, don’t miss the city’s most spectacular meet market on Saturday night! Day pass in 2012 was $21 in advance, or $28 at the door. Food and wine tastings extra. Special events and guest appearances command a special price. Stay tuned to the website beginning about late summer for developments as star attractions are booked.
Gold Medal Plates
November, National Arts Centre
Tickets (2012 price) $350
The ninth annual regional culinary competition where eight or so selected chefs are invited to compete in a night of food and wine pairing, showcasing culinary excellence to qualify for the national grand championship contest later in Kelowna, British Columbia. A fundraiser for Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes, this is a glittering must-attend gastronomic treat, last year won in Ottawa by chef Jamie Stunt of Oz Kafé. Details, including names of competing chefs this fall, are not yet announced.