Food that Moves You – updated

Busy as Bees Busy as Bees
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Loyal readers will notice there has been more than a week’s content outage on foodiePrints. Like many people, during the weeks leading up to “back to school” and “back to work”, we were busy.

Every member of the blogging team, both in Ottawa and Toronto, moved into new homes this summer. Jenn and I started moving the day after our ceremony and reception, “#honeymove.” Yes, the two founding members are finally married. We have witnesses! And, the wedding was live-tweeted thanks to our wine blogger, Claire (#fpWedding).

For us, the jam-packed fortnight, preceding Labour Day, included much rushing: rushing to set up a ceremony venue (The Orange Art Gallery); rushing to drop off materials for the reception venue (National Arts Centre); rushing to pick up a moving van because low-carbon-footprint moving with dollies and shopping carts took too much time; rushing to make our new townhouse livable so Jenn can prep for her new classes of students this year (she is a mild-mannered teacher by day); and rushing to fight with Bell Canada because there is neither rhyme nor reason when it comes to how this telecom services its long time customers, especially when it comes to simple requests.

CeremonyWedding Band

Dip in the River

[Photos courtesy of our wedding photographer Vanessa Dewson. Click here for more preview wedding photos on her blog.]

Presently, we are still in the “moving-in” stage with my adding ghetto furniture repair to the resume (think bionic desks and dressers) and discovering why geometry is taught in grade school. Box springs of a certain dimension will not fit narrow stairwells, no matter how you orient them. Kids, if you think shop class is pointless, I beg you to reconsider. Being handy is important when you become a home owner! Boys, learning to wield a frying pan and hammer with equal proficiency is sexy!

That said, I have fond memories of moving when I was a child. I remember navigating a living room of boxes taller than me to sit down on a plastic drop sheet in the kitchen. With everything boxed, my parents picked up a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner. It was a very rare occurrence.

Jenn and I ate out a bit during our move. Here are some highlights. We call them “food that moves you.”

Trailer Pork Boys
One Saturday, we got our “oink” on at Trailer Pork Boys (corner of Carling and Merivale, in front of the Best Western Hotel)

Months have passed since Jenn and I wandered by the newest addition to Ottawa’s fledgling food truck scene. We sampled pulled pork sliders during its soft opening. The succulent strands of sweet smokey pork were topped with a creamy coleslaw and served in Ace Bakery multi-grain rolls. Impressed by the fact the pork was neither harsh nor dry, we took note of the blue truck.

The truck is quite the sight. Emblazoned with three porkers to the right of its two service windows, it is equipped with a complete commercial kitchen (refrigeration, fryolaters, ovens and flat top).

Adam FataPulled Pork Slider
Service Windows and Three Porkers

The venture is the result of a partnership between Gerry Macies and Jennifer Demers (husband and wife) and Rob and Adam Fata (uncle and nephew). It is a decidedly family affair. Adam Fata manages the truck with Chef Peter Simpson, both Caffe Mio alumni. Rob owns Caffe Mio, a popular North American Italian eatery located in the West Wellington Village. Macies was the owner of the closed and boarded up Lucky Key restaurant, which the truck parks beside. Lucky Key was a North American Chinese eatery. Macies and his wife Demers own the Best Western Hotel behind the truck and the corresponding parking lot the truck parks on.

With a borrowed car, we stopped in for a bite. We split a “Cuban” sandwich, which for a measly $7 easily fed two hungry newlyweds. It was an enormous sandwich packed with pulled pork (in lieu of the traditional roast pork), sliced ham, sliced dills, and Swiss cheese (in lieu of provolone). It dripped with a Southwest-style sauce. Carefully pressed, this sandwich made us forget our morning spent, running belongings between two houses and picking up necessities from Canadian Tire.

Trailer Pork Boys' CubanGenerous Goodness Inside

That Cuban so moved us that it inspired us to make something similar during the week that followed, a pressed sandwich with slow cooked and pulled turkey, dressed in a tomato barbecue sauce. It was paired with aged cheddar cheese and sliced dills.

Slow Braised Pulled Turkey Cuban

Slow Braised Pulled Turkey Cuban w/aged cheddar and dill pickles

To make the slow cooked and pulled turkey, throw turkey drumsticks into a slow cooker with enough “flavourful liquid” (stock, broth, diluted apple juice, or some other braising liquid) to come an inch or two above the bottom of the crock. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove the drumsticks from the crock and pull the meat, discarding the hard sinews. If you would like to keep things lean, remove the skin from the drumsticks before braising.

If you haven’t a panini press, do as we did. Heat two cast iron pans that fit into each other on medium-high for 7-10 minutes. Place the assembled sandwich in the larger one. Place the other on top and wait 3-5 minutes. Serve hot!

Tacolot: Chef’s Playground
There were tacos. Were it not for Rideau Bakery rye, a jar of cashew butter, my wife’s stash of Michaelsdolce jam, and tacos, we would not have had the calories to get through the move.

The most notable taco we had was a celebratory one at Tacolot in Hintonburg (999 Wellington Street W.), a converted “shack” located what used to be a used car lot.

Owner John Reilly-Roe dedicated Sunday afternoons this past summer to inviting local chefs to compete against one another and make their takes on the “best” taco. Popularity determines the winner, which is measured by how many tacos shift at $8.50 to $10/each. All proceeds go to charities of the respective chefs’ choosing.

The Sunday we visited, newlywedded Chef René Rodriguez of celebrated Navarra Restaurant in Ottawa’s “Gastro-Alley” (93 Murray Street) was on hand. So were his friends Chef Ces Santaguida of Vittoria Trattoria and Craig Buckley of Kettleman’s Bagels.

Chef Rodriguez and Craig Buckley at TacolotTacolot Chefs' Playground

Rodriguez, a talented and award-winning chef, spent some time living in Mexico. He has strong opinions about Mexican street food, particularly tacos.

Lately, he started adding higher-end takes on authentic Mexican dishes to his menu at Navarra, including “Ancho ‘Chiles Rellenos'” and “Rabbit Confit ‘Chilaquiles.'” He even prepares his generations-old family mole recipe for his braised lamb shanks dish. Authentic Mexican moles are lovingly prepared, but labour intensive, sometimes employing over a hundred ingredients. Recipes are treasured.

For his stint at Chef’s Playground at Tacolot, Rodriguez prepared a very tasty conchinita pibil taco. Buckley originally hinted he may serve tripe. Either way, Jenn and I refused to miss it.

Conchinita Pibil Taco

Conchinita pibil taco with burnt onion, tomatillo salsa, cilantro, pickled radish

Food writers, particularly published restaurant critics, tend to employ descriptors like “punchy flavours.” Rodriguez’ tacos made our mouths dance. Oh the flavours were intense, barely sweet, slightly bitter, peppery, burnt caramel, heavily savoury, and HOT. Jenn would later tell me Buckley laced my taco with extra hot sauce.

Jenn and I loved our tacos. We left Tacolot much better educated about what conchinita pibil is supposed to taste like!

Well done, Chef!

While we sort out our connection to the Internet and post process the photos we took during the last weeks of August, more “food that moves you” posts will appear.

In the meantime, to our dear dear readers, thank-you for your continued patience. To everyone moving this month, you are in our thoughts!

Aside: First meals made in our new home included a bowl of noodle soup with lamb pho broth (made in a slow cooker while moving furniture), lamb stew meat, and baby bok choy; and haggis hash with tomatoes and onions (pantry raid) on toast, topped with slow scrambled eggs.

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.