In 2003, author, scholar, and culinary activist, Anita Stewart suggested the first Saturday of August should be spent celebrating Canada’s culinary heritage and agricultural bounty. What started as the “World’s Longest Barbecue” transformed into an annual event drawing in farmers, food producers, and chefs. Now, almost a decade later, the intention behind Food Day Canada has not changed: share Canadian food stories and promote purchasing Canadian products.
Food Day Canada is a rather popular food holiday, celebrated by many Canadians be they cooks or patrons. Approximately 250 restaurants across the country signed on to participate. In Ottawa, those restaurants included Atelier (540 Rochester Street), Absinthe Cafe (1208 Wellington Street W.), and Play Food and Wine (1 York Street), some of the independently-owned establishments we at foodiePrints celebrate.
On our end, Jenn and I have celebrated Food Day Canada annually since 2009. We started with burgers, every ingredient sourced from neighbourhood shops. We are lucky that many of Ottawa’s local producers resell their wares through the shops that line the “main street” of the pseudo-village we call home. We even have our own farmers’ market that opens all week long.
For last year’s project dish, we sourced the majority of our ingredients from the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, then located at Lansdowne Park.
When asked what is characteristic about the Ottawa food scene, I tend to echo the sentiments of the good people who own and operate Murray Street Kitchen Wine and Charcuterie (110 Murray Street), a restaurant with a very strict food philosophy. Chef Steve Mitton’s restaurant kitchen works with ingredients from local producers as much as possible be they vegetables or proteins. Murray Street leverages local bakeries for its bread. Its fish is sourced from The Whalesbone, Ottawa’s supplier of sustainable fin-fish and shell-fish.
Said one of Murray Street’s servers the last time we were in for lunch, “Ottawa has a lot of farms. When in season, you can get just about anything you want within the city limits.”
There are almost 1300 farms in the city limits.
This year, we prepared our project dishes a week early, again sourcing ingredients from local farmers’ markets, both nearby Parkdale Market and the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, now located at Brewer Park.
Cecapcici (Cevapi) Tacos
For the cevapcici, essentially caseless sausages, we followed an older foodiePrints recipe. We processed a 1 lb of medium ground chuck in a food processor with a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 1 tsp baking soda, and 4 tbsp of flour. This, we immediately formed into cigar shapes and grilled for 2 minutes/side (3 turns) on medium-high heat.
The baking soda reacts with the meat, creating the characteristic cevapcici texture. The flour works with the egg to help bind everything together. Any finely ground flour from wheat to corn and even coconut can be used.
The pesto was made in a Thai-style mortar and pestle, by taste. We processed 2 cloves of fresh garlic (purchased from a vendor at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market), a pinch of salt, a dozen or so roasted but unsalted pistachio nuts, and a handful of arugula chiffonade (purchased from Rainbow Heritage Farm at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market).
The roasted red pepper ketchup was made by roasting three peppers (purchased from Rochon Farms at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market) and processing the resultant pulp in a blender. The standard method for roasting red pepper involves charring the skin on a grill at high heat, evacuating the peppers to a lidded container, and peeling off the charred skin after letting the peppers steam several minutes. To the processed pulp, we added a tbsp of raw sugar and red wine vinegar to taste.
The yellow zucchini (purchased from Cleroux Farm at the Parkdale Farmers’ Market) was mandolined and then grilled for 2 minutes/side. After grilling, the slices were placed in an aluminium foil tent to let the residual heat cook them through.
To assemble our tacos, we topped our oat cake tortillas with folded pieces of zucchini, the cevapcici, pesto, and red pepper ketchup. Everything was then garnished with chives we grow on our balcony.
The resultant tacos were a nice change to burgers from the grill and a little more fun to eat. Embodying similar textures and flavours, the nutty tortillas went well with the savoury and slightly smokey cevapcici, which were complemented by the bright red pepper ketchup and slightly bitter pesto.
For dessert, we made grilled peach ice cream sundaes.
Grown-up Grilled Peach Ice Cream Sundae
Peaches, that were seeded and halved, were grilled for 3 minutes on medium-high flame on each side. These were then allowed to cool. The peach halves were placed at the bottom of a chilled glass. We topped the peaches with a scoop of vanilla frozen custard (purchased freshly-made from Ottawa’s The Merry Dairy ice cream truck) and gingered whipped cream (made by whipping 250 mL of 35% cream with 3 tsp of ground ginger). To garnish, we sprinkled everything with Siren Bakery granola, the flavour confectioner Loreli Lees created for talented CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi (Jian’s Mix).
[Jian's Mix features pistachios, dried cherries, pumpkin seeds, and thick-cut rolled oats. $1 from the sale of every bag of Ghomeshi's hand-made granola is donated to the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture (CCVT).]
The peaches were Ontario-grown. The cream came from Tiverton, Ontario’s Harmony Organic Dairy. Marlene Haley of The Merry Dairy and Loreli Lees are very local Ottawa producers to us. Lees lives in the Hintonburg neighbourhood. Haley lives in the neighbouring West Wellington Village. You will find her Merry Dairy ice cream truck, with its growing following, making the rounds in Ottawa.
We hope you had a good Food Day Canada. We’re already thinking about next year’s dishes.
Brewed in the ‘Vienna’ lager style (copper colouring, slightly sweet), Brooklyn Lager has a floral hop aroma and tastes of caramel and bitter citrus. By steeping the beer with fresh hops as it matures (dry-hopping) the hop aromas and flavours are intensified and give the beer a refreshing crisp taste. However, it’s the balance between hops and malt that work with the savoury beef and pesto as well as the sweet red pepper ketchup.
Tags: cevapcici, farmers' market, featured, Food Day Canada, frozen custard, granola, Ottawa Farmers' Market, Parkdale Market, Siren Bakery, taco, TacoThursday, The Merry Dairy