Ottawa Locavore Artisan Food Fair: Christmas Market 2012

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With the recent snowy weather in Ottawa, a certain Shakin Stevens’s Christmas tune seems apt, especially the first couple lyrics.

Snow is falling
all around me
children playing
having fun

from “Merry Christmas Everyone

That is, until you consider Mom and Dad, scrambling to figure out what to serve company that will be coming over for “dancing all night long.” You know? When the kids are put to bed, tuckered out from a day’s frolicking in the snow…

Need a quick dessert? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to reach into the freezer for a carton of premium ice cream; the fridge for a jar of artisan jam you could thin for a sauce; and the pantry for some really nice dark chocolate (with hints of raisin and citrus) to shave and sprinkle over top?

If you are familiar with the local food scene in Ottawa, a carton of Pascale’s All Natural Ice Cream, a jar of michaelsdolce Gourmet Confectionery jam, and a bar of Hummingbird Chocolate‘s Hispaniola fit the bill.

Need to serve drinks? Take some ice, cognac, and a jar of michaelsdolce’s kiwi and lime jam to your blender. Blitz. Chill some martini glasses and serve it up.

Need a sauce to accompany roast beast, be it pork, chicken, or beef? And, you’ve a guest who doesn’t like reduced pan sauces enriched with cream? Consider Major Craig’s Chutney or Mrs. McGarrigle’s mustard.

How about another common Christmas predicament?

Been invited to a potluck by that friend or neighbour who really knows how to cook and you were tasked with bringing dessert? Everyone loves pie! Consider a sweet pie from Life of Pie (1095 Bank Street) or, better yet, an ice cream stuffed yule log from Pascale’s.

Now, you could ask a local food blogger where to source these goodies. I’ve a list of usual suspect shops. The thing is, it is MUCH easier to take advantage of the Christmas markets coming up that feature local artisans.

With more than a hundred vendors, the vast majority selling edibles, the Ottawa Farmers’ Christmas Markets are your best bet. Now hosted out of the Ernst & Young Centre (formerly the CE Centre at 4899 Uplands Drive), two remain this season: December 9th, and 16th. They open at 9 am. The closing bell rings at 3 pm.

But, the market I think should not be missed this holiday season is the third annual Ottawa Locavore Artisan Food Fair (LAFF). Organized by food artisans for food artisans, twenty vendors, including those listed above, will be on-hand.

  • Art-Is-In Bakery
  • Aunti Loo’s Treats
  • Clarmell Farm Goat Cheese
  • Happy Goat Coffee Company
  • Kawalsa Salsa
  • Koko Chocolates
  • Relish the Flavour (food truck)
  • Richard’s Kithcen Flavours
  • The Salty Don
  • Scratch Kitchen
  • Siren Bakery
  • Stone Soup Foodworks (food truck)
  • SuzyQ Doughnuts
  • World of Tea

This year, the LAFF will be held Saturday, December 8, 2012 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at Memorial Hall (39 Dufferin Road) in New Edinburgh. It is open to the public. Admission is free.

According to the media release by Amy Karlin of Splendid Events, attendees can

browse and sample creations by michaelsdolce, Art-Is-In Bakery, Koko Chocolates, Happy Goat Coffee Company, and many more. In true Canadian fashion, local gourmet food truck Relish the Flavour will brave the chilly December air [to serve] up delicious eats all day long. So after you’ve crossed a few names off your shopping list, pick up some lunch and settle into the LAFF’s warm and cozy dining area to indulge.

Also a community event, the LAFF will once again partner with the School Breakfast Program, which feeds 11,000 children in Ottawa everyday. Many of the participating vendors and event sponsors have donated to a silent auction in support of this charitable cause.

Now, three years have passed since Michael Sunderland of michaelsdolce, Pierre Richard of Happy Goat Coffee, Jacqueline Jolliffe of Stone Soup Foodworks, and Loreli Lees of Siren Bakery conceived the event.

According, the LAFF’s Director, Fumie Watanabe,

many things have changed since then… Now you can find Siren Bakery’s granola and michaelsdolce jams all over Ontario. You can see Stone Soup Foodworks’ green truck “Sweet Pea” regularly [on] campus of the University of Ottawa. Happy Goat Coffee has his own micro-batch roastery, as well as coffee beans subscription & delivery system.

But, some things don’t change. Attendees at the LAFF will find high quality goods to tempt the foodie on your Christmas list.

Case in point, something I love to find in gift baskets is Siren Bakery granola. Lees’ low sugar, but high fiber granolas, often accompany my morning cereal or yogurt.

I finish dishes with these granolas as well, both savoury and sweet.

Here is a suggestion for a vegetable side for your holiday feast: roasted cabbage with a mustard vinaigrette.

A proponent of pickling and curing seasonal ingredients to extend their lifespans, I adore the idea of roasting aged savoy cabbage as described by local freelance journalist Laura Zahody in a post on her blog Zahlicious. Zahody’s method for letting a head of savoy “sit for a week or two” imparts a pleasant acidity, almost akin to mul (water) kimchi or very young kraut.

Aged savoy, sliced into thin wedges and roasted in a 350F oven for a half hour, breathes new life into the tired wedge salad dish steakhouses still serve. This past Thanksgiving season, I encountered several recipes for roasted cabbage in the blogosphere, starting with one from fellow Ottawa food blogger Kelly Brisson’s blog, The Gouda Life.

Here is my take.

Roasted Cabbage with Mustard Vinaigrette and Siren Bakery's Cranberry Almond Granola

Roasted Cabbage with Mustard Vinaigrette and Siren Bakery’s Cranberry Almond Granola

For the vinaigrette, mix together 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp maple syrup. While whisking, drizzle in 4 tbsp of olive oil (preferably extra virgin). Season to taste.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over roasted wedges and top with roasted nuts, toasted seeds, and dried fruit. I just reached for my morning granola.

Only, I prefer more vinaigrette on my wedges, which leads to a less photogentic plating.

Roasted Cabbage with Mustard Vinaigrette and Siren Bakery's Cranberry Almond Granola

Roasted Cabbage with Mustard Vinaigrette and Siren Bakery’s Cranberry Almond Granola

Think “some dis-assembly required” slaw…

Whatever the case, give the gift of great food this holiday season. Visit the LAFF to stock your fridge, freezer, or pantry to make entertaining easy. Many of the artisan products also look great tied with a bow under the Christmas tree!

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.