The Soho Experience

It’s been quite a while since my last blog post, but I’m back with a great new recommendation for you. Life has certainly been busy with lots of changes and updates, I’ll post about those later but first it’s time for some relaxation.

I recently discovered Soho Residences. They offer luxurious fully furnished suites in central locations in both Ottawa and Toronto. Locations in Ottawa are Soho Lisgar and Soho Champagne. The Soho Hotel is located in Toronto. I had previously stayed at Soho Lisgar, which is a great downtown location just steps away from restaurants, grocery stories and many Ottawa tourist attractions. This past Victoria Day long weekend Sashien and I had the opportunity to check out Soho Champagne, located in the heart of Ottawa’s Little Italy and featuring beautiful water views of Dow’s Lake and the Tulip Festival.

The Suites

The suites at Soho Champagne are spacious and provide ample room for rest and relaxation. Soho residences have one and two bedroom suites which feature separate areas for living/work and sleeping. Having traveled extensively for work I really appreciated the larger suites and designated areas for work and relaxation. I found the Soho suites much larger and more homely than a traditional hotel suite. Our two bedroom suite had a fully equipped kitchen including plates, glasses and cutlery. With Soho you have the option of making a home cooked meal while away on business or a vacation, I really liked this feature. The suites are also great for business meetings and entertaining.

Our suite had one master bedroom and one smaller bedroom. The master bedroom had a large closet and an ensuite bathroom. I loved the marble finishes in the bathrooms. All Soho suites feature carefully curated interiors by Gluckstein design. The high end features and finishes in these suites really speak for themselves. The master bedroom also featured a second walk in closet which could double as a home office area, so useful with most of us working from home these days! The smaller bedroom was also spacious and featured a great water view of Dows Lake.

The living area was comfortable and the wall to ceiling windows and gorgeous views of Dow’s lake from the couch. The balcony in this suite was quite extensive with access from the living room and master bedroom. I thought the private balcony off the master bedroom was a really nice design feature. The kitchen in our suite was fully equipped and we were able to enjoy a few meals at the counter. I’ve always loved a white kitchen so I especially liked the design of this one. Having a fully stocked kitchen really helped us feel at home and not like we were at a hotel. I love the fact that Soho Residence offers guests a luxurious boutique hotel experience that’s still homely and comfortable.

The Amenities

No luxury experience is complete without amenities right? Soho Residences certainly doesn’t disappoint. Soho Champagne features a gym, private movie theatre, coffee lounge, executive meeting room and rooftop terrace. The rooftop has a BBQ and a hot tub, perfect for Summer relaxation. The Champagne location also features The Champagne Club which is a great event space featuring a lounge, library, catering and fireplace. I attended an event at the Soho Champagne Club and the space is great for entertaining.

Photos courtesy of Soho Residences

In addition to these amenities Soho properties feature a personalized concierge, housekeeping facilities and parking garages. Our check-in was really smooth and easy. We were provided with a lockbox number and code where we found our suite keys, parking pass, welcome letter and garage access fob.

The Experience

Soho Residences provide guests with a luxurious hospitality experience. From the glamorous interiors, to their spacious suites and enticing amenities Soho Residences is an experience to be enjoyed. I fully recommend checking out either their Lisgar or Champagne locations if you’re visiting Ottawa or if you just need a staycation. Both locations are great for business travel as well featuring complementary high speed internet and smart TVs with cable and PVR connections.

Looking to stay longer than just a few nights? No problem! Soho Residences features extended stay suites as well. Special pricing and savings can apply for longer stays. This is a great option for anyone who is relocating.

We really enjoyed our staycation at Soho Champagne, thank you to Anna and the Soho team for hosting us and making our stay such a memorable and relaxing experience.

A Day of Relaxation at Koena Spa

Have you been to the newest spa just 5 minutes from downtown Ottawa? Koena spa opened last Fall and Sashien and I were so excited to check out this new nordic spa.

Koena spa is located in Gatineau, Quebec on the grounds of the Double Tree by Hilton Hotel. Koena is the Hawaiian word for balance. The whole spa has a Hawaiian relaxation theme to it with pools and saunas spread across a 40 000 sq ft facility including indoor and outdoor space. The entire spa experience is inspired by the four elements: air, water, fire and earth.

Here’s a breakdown of the Koena experience:

Air

The spa houses two dry saunas called Mahana and Wela. These are great places to relax and the heat on a Fall or Winter day is just lovely. The spa also offers five relaxation rooms some of which are outdoor.

Fire

There are many fire elements in the form of fire places and fire pits located throughout the spa. Fireplaces can be found in the garden pavilion, the Ahi Room and at the KŌENA Bistro. The spa also contains outdoor lounging space with natural sunlight, you can sunbathe in the Ho’o.la room or lie down on a deckchair on the spa’s terrace.

Earth

A hidden treasure at the spa is the ‘A.pona room. Here you can grab a handful of salt and exfoliate your skin or head straight in to the Eucalyptus steam room. We decided to try the steam first to relax and finished off with the salt exfoliation. This room is located in the lower, basement area of the spa. The spa also has a Himalayan salt room called the Pa’akai room, which is located above ground.

Water

Koena offers 3 hot baths and one cold bath. We especially enjoyed the warm baths, I could literally spend a day in the water. My favourite part of the hot baths was the Pohina Bath Cave located in one of the  baths. It was so relaxing with the hydromassage jets.

In addition to the steam rooms, baths and saunas the spa also offer massage therapy and aestethic treatments. You can choose from massages such as the Swedish Massage, Hot Stone Massage, Lomi Lomi or Mom-to-be massage. For aesthetics Koena offers a wide range of facials, mani/pedis, body wraps and waxing services.

The Food

The Spa offers a selection of food, soft drinks, wine and cocktails at their restaurant Bistro Koena. The food choices are healthy and filling. We shared the Hoisin Barbecue Chicken Wrap and it was more than enough for us. We tried some Riesling and Chardonnay,  as well as some Prosecco, because no trip to the spa is complete without some bubbly!

The Experience

We really enjoyed our day at Koena. The staff were warm and welcoming, the facilities were brand new, clean and the experience was so relaxing. I highly recommend treating yourself or a loved one to a spa day. Koena is now open for massage therapy treatments and the thermal experience. Don’t feel up to a spa just yet? You can always purchase a gift certificate.

Thank you to the staff at Koena for hosting us.

Embrace Winter with Toboggan Canada

Can you believe we are already two weeks in to 2021! It’s been a while since my last post and this is my first blog post in the New Year! It’s January, and if you live in Ontario that means we are smack dab in the middle of winter!  At the moment we are once again in a lockdown and many indoor businesses such as restaurants, malls and gyms are closed, the only way to stay active is to go outside. I’ve been making it a point to exercise and stay active this Winter and was looking for a warm parka that was also long enough.

I generally wear a lot of skirts and dresses, even in the winter so I needed a jacket that was both functional, warm, long and stylish. I was so thrilled when I came across the Eva B Long II Parka from Toboggan Canada.

Toboggan Canada

Toboggan Canada is a winter apparel brand founded in 1977 by two brothers. The brand focuses on functionality, protection from extreme cold temperatures and style. Toboggan jackets are filled with responsibly sourced down from their exclusive down partner. Their responsible sourcing and proprietary cleaning processes allow them to offer customers comfort and peace of mind in knowing their product is filled with the best insulation on and for the planet.

Eva B Long II Parka

The Eva B Long II Parka is a knee length jacket that comes with a second vest-like enclosure for extra protection from the cold. I especially like the diagonal zipper which gives this piece more style and flare. The faux-fur sweetheart neckline gives the parka that added touch of elegance. Unlike most parkas this jacket is form fitting and includes a belt for a more figure flattering, stylish look. The faux-fur trim is also an excellent barrier against the cold and the wind. Another feature I like about this jacket is the polar fleece lined pockets and magnetic closure on the pockets, no more struggling with buttons or zippers!

Toboggan Canada offers a wide range of stylish and functional jackets to choose from, there’s something for everyone in their collections. I highly recommend checking out this Canadian brand. After all who understands winter better than a fellow Canadian?

The Year in Review: 2020

Can you believe this year is almost over? And what a year it has been! For me 2020 started off pretty slowly. I was very ill with a bout of food poisoning on January 1st, great way to start a new year right? It was a slow, cold and boring start to the year. I remember feeling de-motivated and like everyone else was going ahead with their plans but me. My mom encouraged me to set some goals and stay motivated.

Personal and Professional Achievements

I decided to set some professional goals for myself to help create some structure. I still decided to enrol in the CITP (Certified International Trade Professional) program at the Forum for International Trade Training. In order to earn this certification I would need to take 6 courses and pass 6 exams, after which I would have to submit my resume along with my experience in international trade.  In January when I signed up for this, it seemed daunting and never ending. I also decided I wanted to complete my PMP – Project Management Professional designation this year.

I finished the first course in my CITP when the pandemic hit. All my classes at Algonquin were to be taught remotely and it took a lot of adjustment to get used to teaching fully on zoom. The pandemic hit us harder than we expected in Canada, and the initial lockdown was both disheartening and depressing. I decided to make the most of this time and complete the rest of the 5 courses. Within the month of April I started and completed 4 courses to finish off my CITP designation. This was exhausting and I frankly don’t recommend trying to do 4 courses which are supposed to be 6 months each within a span of 4 weeks, however I’m glad I did it. I earned my CITP in June and I was really pleased with this achievement. I was also surprised and humbled to be featured by FITT in their CITP spotlight.

I was on the fence about studying for my PMP but decided to take it seriously and started studying in September. If any potential PMP test takers are reading this, yes, I did read the entire PMBOK! I completed a prep course in November and did countless practice exams from mid November to early December. I wrote my exam at home on December 14 through PMI’s online proctoring service PearsonVue and passed it on the first attempt! I was and am so thrilled about this! I had been wanting to take this exam since 2018 and this year I finally did it! P.S. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about the PMP exam, feel free to comment or email me 🙂

Blogging Progress

On the blog front I really focused on growing my following and creating more engaging content. The pandemic prompted me to shift my focus to more local brands in Ottawa. I was happy to collaborate with businesses such as Skuish Cookies, Oh My Honey, The East India Company, MC Laser and Hair and Buyers + Cellars to name a few. I am so pleased with the growth I’ve experienced on my blog and Instagram channels, I was able to reach and surpass my goal of 10K followers this year, which was a milestone for me. Thank you to everyone who supported me in this journey.

I also focused on more hospitality and lifestyle content and was fortunate to collaborate with The Fairmont Chateau Laurier, The Frontenac Club and The Fairmont Chateau Montebello. I was also thrilled to secure more fashion collaborations with international and local clothing brands such as Shein and Chicwish. Sashien and I did some his and hers style collaborations as well.

I didn’t travel as much this year due to the travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic however Sashien and I were able to take a trip to Florida in February prior to the lockdown. We were thankful to have been able to experience a little bit of warm weather before the shutdown.

Overall 2020 was not the write off everyone keeps calling it. Plans may have changed and we all needed to adjust but in the end life is what you make it. I decided to make the most of a rather unfortunate year and I’m even more motivated for 2021!

Looking ahead

I’ve got a lot more goals and plans in place for next year. I’m currently working on a capsule collection with none other than the Capsule Creator herself, Rebecca Rowe. Stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks! I’ll be posting about this on my Instagram page.

Sashien and I also have something exciting that we’ve been working on and we can’t wait to share it with all of you! I’ll be posting and sharing more about this project soon!

Holiday Staycation at Fairmont Montebello

It’s the holiday season! My favourite time of the year. I love Christmas in Canada as we almost always get a white Christmas 🙂 This year I wanted to really get in to the holiday spirit so we went on a little pre-Christmas staycation. Sashien and I were so excited to be invited to check out Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello located in Montebello, Quebec. This hotel is breathtaking and a truly unique Fairmont property. I’m excited to share all the details about our stay!

The Hotel

Located in Montebello just 70km away from Ottawa, the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is the largest log cabin in the world. Built in 1930 the hotel is a year round resort celebrating 90 years this year!

Chateau Montebello is a great celebration of Canadiana and each of the hotel’s 210 guest rooms pay homage to the local culture and Quebecois life. The hotel ambiance is rustic chic and this is seen in both the room decor and the overall layout of the hotel. In 2019 the hotel underwent a $17.5 million renovation which included 102 newly renovated more modern rooms. We stayed in one of their newly updated rooms but if you’re looking for more rustic charm the hotel has many other room choices as well. More information about the rooms and suites can be found on their website.

Our room was spacious and we were still able to experience the rustic feel of the hotel. We loved the sitting area and the large windows. We enjoyed some champagne before dinner in our room and relaxed in the sitting area.

The Activities

The hotel is a year round luxury resort and offers a wide range of activities for any of our four seasons here in Canada.  The hotel does charge a resort fee to cover these activities which includes a long list of fun filled adventures for the whole family.

When we visited the resort we were especially excited to visit the aquatic centre. We spent an afternoon by the pool and enjoyed the hot tubs. The hotel also includes a gym and tennis courts. There’s many outdoor activities at the hotel as well such as volleyball, canoeing and basketball in the Summer and dogsledding, skiing and snow shoeing in the winter.  Walking and hiking trails nearby the hotel are open year round. Sahsien and I enjoyed taking a walk by the water and exploring the area surrounding the property. A full list of  summer, winter and year round activities can be found online. In the summer months the hotel also features a yacht club.

The hotel offers a range of dining options. Some restaurants are season while others such as Aux Chantignoles are open year round. We had all our meals at Aux Chantignoles and we especially enjoyed our breakfast and the views from the restaurant.

The Verdict

Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello is beautiful all year round but it is absolutely magical during the Holiday season. There’s no better way to get in to the holiday season than enjoying a glass of wine or hot chocolate by their six sided fireplace.Visiting Chateau Montebello really put me in the holiday spirit. The whole hotel is decorated for Christmas and it looks spectacular. Fairmont Montebello has a wide range of offers for the holiday season and beyond.  I highly recommend checking out their Early Christmas, Country Christmas or Holiday Getaway packages.

We had a lovely time and a truly relaxing experience at Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello. Thank you to the staff for hosting us and making our stay a memorable experience. We will definitely be back!

Holiday Style with Shein

Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? It’s been a while since my last blogpost but I’ve been very active on Instagram. Christmas is my favourite time of the year so I’m really excited to share some his and hers holiday style looks from Shein.

Look 1 – Festive Casual

Our first look is a casual yet festive look. I love this plaid print dress. It’s very stretchy so it fits quite snug and is very figure flattering. It also comes in two other colours. This dress is perfect for looking festive without being over the top. I styled it by adding a pair of over the knee boots and tights.

Sashien found a great layering piece in this grey turtleneck. This garment is form fitting, Sash usually wears a M in Shein sizing and this one was very fitted. I would recommend sizing up if you plan on wearing this piece as a stand alone top. For this look he paired it with a double breasted red blazer, pocket square and black coated jeans.

We wanted a really festive feel to this photoshoot so we decided to photograph these looks at Tinseltown Christmas Emporium. It’s a must visit location in Ottawa, especially during the holiday season.

Shop The Look

Look 2 – Christmas Glam

This second look is all about glamour and bling. Just because you’re staying in or socially distancing doesn’t mean you can’t dress up right?! I absolutely love this gown with sequin details. The sweetheart neckline is really flattering and the longer train at the back and fitted cut make this dress a real stunner. This is probably one of the most exquisite dresses I own.

We wanted to find a complementary piece for Sashien so we were thrilled to come across this embroidered high neck blazer. The open neckline gives this piece more of an eastern fashion feel to it. The embroidery on it matched well with the design on my dress and really added character to the piece. Sashien paired it with a black turtleneck but you can also wear this blazer with a black or white dress shirt.

Shop The Look

Look 3 – Christmas Colours

Our last look is perfect for a Christmas photoshoot! When I saw this red bow detail dress online I knew I had to have it! It also comes in black, navy, and white. Side note I also have it in black! The red is just perfect for the holidays and the bow at the back makes this dress truly unique, it kind of looks like a present 🙂  I love the halter neckline and pencil cut of the dress.

Sashien’s shawl collar blazer is a great contrast with my red dress. We didn’t want to be too festive for this look but the combination worked really well. The blazer has a jacquard design on it which makes it a really interesting piece. Sash paired this with a black turtleneck and coated jeans for a semi-formal look.

This look would be best suited for an in studio shoot, perhaps one with a Christmas backdrop!

Shop The Look

I hope you enjoyed our his and her holiday style looks. Shein is currently having their Black Friday Sale! Use our code Sh92L and save 15% on your purchase til December 6th.

Thank you to our photographer Ricardo Boreka for these lovely photos!

A special thanks to Shein for sponsoring this post.

My Favourite Neutrals for Fall

It’s Fall y’all! I feel like I haven’t done a fashion or styling post in a while so here it is! Fall is here in full force and I couldn’t be happier to show off my Fall fashion.

This year I’ve noticed a shift away from the usual burgundies, greens and jewel tones we usually see in Fall fashion. An affinity for neutrals has definitely developed. I personally love neutrals as they’re so versatile and can be worn in any season. In this post I’ll be sharing some of my favourite neutral pieces for Fall.

Colour Block Coat

I picked up this colour block coat from Shein and it’s a great addition to my Fall wardrobe. I love the camel, black and white colours in this piece. It’s a great coat to wear with blue or black jeans. To put this neutral look together I paired it with a neutral taupe turtleneck from Dynamite along with some black jeans. To accessorize and elevate my outfit to a more polished look I added a belt from Gucci, some block heels (you can also wear booties with this) and one of my Tory Burch handbags

Shop The Look:

Camel Sweater with White Jeans

Camel is a colour I’ve recently come to love. I wasn’t a fan of it before but I have converted! I love this oversized camel turtleneck, it’s cozy and chic. I always love wearing white so I paired it with some white jeans. This is one of my favourite neutral looks. It’s dressed down yet classy. In keeping with the camel look I added some matching booties and accessorized with an off-white Tory Burch handbag. The booties and bag really help tie this look together. This is a perfect outfit for running some weekend errands or grabbing a quick coffee with a friend.

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Faux Leather Crocodile Skirt

Faux leather is back again this Fall and although this may seem more of an edgier trend you can sport it in neutral colours. I found this midi skirt online at Chicwish. I’m not normally a fan of faux leather or crocodile print but I did like the colour and shape of this skirt. The crocodile detailing is subtle and the taupe colour really helps  soften the look of the faux leather. I styled this skirt by pairing it with an off-white turtleneck and some brown pumps. I added an off-white handbag. I wore this look to work as the skirt definitely lends itself to workwear.

Shop The Look:

Dusty Pink Coat

Pink isn’t typically a colour we see in Fall coats but this one sure makes an impression. If you haven’t guessed already, pink IS my favourite colour. I love the gold button details on this coat and the removable faux fur collar. Throwing this on top of any outfit would definitely elevate your look. This would also work as a Spring coat.

Shop The Look:

What colours do you prefer wearing in the Fall?

Staycation at the Frontenac Club

Have you joined the Club? I recently discovered a hidden gem just an hour and a half away from Ottawa. The Frontenac Club located in Kingston, Ontario is a beautifully restored and renovated boutique hotel. Once home to the Bank of Montreal in the 1840s the building itself boasts a rich history and stately architecture.

Since its origins as a Bank the Frontenac Club evolved to become a well known B & B in Kingston and although it was built in the 1800s the building has only had four owners in its 175 year history. The Club went through a massive two year renovation beginning in 2018. This Summer the next chapter of the Frontenac Club began as it  reopened to the public, presented as a chic and sophisticated boutique hotel.

Sashien and I were invited to stay at the Club and we were so thrilled to visit this Kingston stalwart.

The Hotel – First Impressions

We arrived at the hotel on Friday evening and as soon as we turned on to King Street we couldn’t help but notice the majestic building that is the Frontenac Club. The grey limestone facade which is updated with modern and vintage elements coupled with accents of greenery around the edges make this building stand out from the B&Bs and period houses down the street.

We loved how convenient the parking lot and back entrance to the hotel were. Located at the rear of the hotel is a beautiful courtyard with outdoor seating and a water feature. This would be a great place to have a coffee in the morning.

When we entered the hotel we were impressed by the modern touches such as the lighting, decor and overall ambiance of the place. The Frontenac Club makes quite the first impression.

The Rooms

The Club boasts 20 guest rooms all of which have their own character and unique features. We stayed in the 1000 islands suite which was in the Cartwright Wing of the hotel. This was on the upper level of the building. This room has views of the 1000 islands  and lake Ontario from the windows along with exposed limestone walls. The room was very spacious and had a large sitting area complete with a gas fireplace. One touch I found particularly special was the fact that the room came with a full bar complete with bar tools and glasses. You could definitely make yourself at home, mix yourself a drink  and enjoy it by the fireplace in this room.

The Bathroom was spacious and modern with almost a European feel to it, complete with luxury bath products by Gilchrist & Soames of London

Some other notable spaces in the hotel are the Ondaatje room, named after Sri Lankan born author Michael Ondaatje which features a separate writing room with a bar. The Locomotive Suite which is the largest suite in the hotel is home to the largest bathroom in the hotel along with a generous sitting area and views of downtown Kingston. Another interesting space is the Backstage room that features a turn table and records from The Tragically Hip. All rooms at the hotel are modern, luxurious and give you major big city vibes.

The Frontenac Club is a pet friendly hotel with all pet rooms located on the first floor of the building. The staff love animals and your pet will be treated like royalty; with a special welcome, treats, a door sign that says Dog on Vacation and a bed reserved specially for The Dog. I would definitely bring my Yorkie Chloe on a visit to the Club I’m sure she’d love all the attention.

The hotel also has all COVID-19 precautions in place. Masks are required in all common areas such as hallways and stairwells. Amenities such as towels and glasses, and food orders are delivered to your door. Staff do not enter the room for room service however you can request any replenishments you need. We felt really safe and well taken care of at the Frontenac Club and had no concerns regarding safety measures.

The Food

The Bank Gastrobar is the newest space to open at the Club. This chic lounge makes you feel like you’re in New York City! The decor and ambiance at The Bank are the epitome of modern elegance combined with old world grandeur.

The hotel also serves its breakfast at The Bank daily from 8 am-10 am. Our first morning at the hotel we were served Eggs Frontenac probably the fanciest hotel breakfast I’ve had in Canada. The Club always offers a great starter with their breakfasts as well; on our second morning we were treated to poached pairs in syrup topped with greek yoghurt, what a delicious start to a meal.

In the evenings The Bank offers a great selection of cocktails and a host of  fine dining dinner options. The cocktail menu is quite sophisticated and divided in to two parts; Club Classics, a selection of signature cocktails and The Vault Series, a cocktails curated to The Club’s ever-evolving list of unique whiskeys & gins to build their twist on the classics.

Our first evening at the hotel both Sashien and I ordered from the Club Classics menu, I was feeling quite adventurous so I ordered a drink called Something Sexy, the ingredients weren’t listed on the menu so I let the bartender surprise me. I certainly wasn’t disappointed as this drink was lovely and came topped with dried rose petals. Sashien ordered The Boulevard Split which was a heavier drink, definitely something I’d call a gentleman’s drink.

The Bank also features a private dining space called The Vault which actually was one of the vaults used when the building was home to the Bank of Montreal. This intimate dining space is perfect for a smaller group event such as a wine tasting or even a private date night. We got to dine in the vault for our Saturday night dinner and the Chef certainly delivered. The food was in a word amazing! I ordered the Confit Pork Ribs and Sashien had the Pan Seared Beef  Tenderloin. Both dishes were cooked to perfection! We also ordered some drinks with dinner. The bartender listened to our preferences and created some great cocktails for us. My favourite cocktail is the Kir Royale so he created a drink for me with pomegranate liquor dubbed the Pom Royale. Sashien’s drink of choice is an Old Fashioned and he got to customize his drink with his choice of whiskey, the bartender also added in some Charcoal bitters for an added touch to the drink. Speaking of whiskey the Vault also boasts a grand whiskey cabinet which is both a design feature and a restaurant element.

The Verdict

The Frontenac Club features contemporary style mixed with old world elegance. One of the newer features of the hotel is a rooftop patio featuring water views and a great city scape. We loved sitting outside and enjoying some fresh air. You can also bring a glass of wine upstairs and enjoy the sunset as guests are encouraged to relax in this great outdoor space.

We absolutely loved our stay at this boutique hotel and can’t wait to visit again. I would highly recommend The Frontenac Club to anyone who enjoys the finer things in life in a warm and welcoming setting. Besides the beautiful architecture, modern style and renovations, what makes the Frontenac Club a true gem is the staff and the service they provide. The attention to detail and the care they extend to all guests is unparalleled; arguably the best service I’ve received at a hotel in Canada. I cannot say enough good things about the Frontenac Club but don’t just take my word for it, check it out for yourself! Room reservations can be made through their website and if you’re in Kingston just for the day you can also book a tour of the hotel and stop in for a quick drink at The Bank.

A big thank you to Sean and the team at the Frontenac Club for this unforgettable gifted experience.

 

 

All In Good Taste: Buyers+Cellars Tasting Room

Have you been to the newest wine spot in town? I’m talking about Buyers+Cellars tasting room in Ottawa. If you’re looking for a luxurious wine tasting experience without the pretentious attitude that usually accompanies such places, then this is the spot for you!

Founded in 2018, Buyers+Cellars is Ontario’s newest boutique wine company. Their business IS wine,  from curation, sales, tasting and education. Buyers + Cellars opened their Tasting Room in August and it’s just what Ottawa needed. The Tasting Room located at 327 Somerset St. West offers a curated 90 minute tasting experience to explore the uncorked potential of the wine world. The Tasting Room is also a local bottle shop for customers to come and purchase a few bottles to take home. Sash and I had the pleasure of being invited to experience a curated wine tasting experience and we absolutely loved it.

The Ambiance

As you walk in to the Tasting Room the first thing you notice is the decor. The entire space is newly renovated and gives off some major big city vibes. We felt like we were in New York City thanks to the lighting and decor. The space was designed by West of Main Design who did a phenomenal job with every aspect of the decor. The showstopper in the Tasting Room has got to be their wine wall. It’s absolutely exquisite and a great showpiece for their extensive collection of bottles from around the world. Another interesting feature is the Enomatic machine which staff use to serve you a perfectly measured sample of wine. The machine sits at the back of the bar and is just as much a design element as it is a piece of equipment. They also have all the Covid-19 safety protocols in place with hand sanitizer on hand and social distancing measures in place.

Now that we’ve talked about how fabulous the space looks, let’s get in to the wines! Our tasting experience was  guided by expert Sommelier and Tasting Room manager Curtis who was there to provide us with all the details about what we were drinking. We started off with white wines and then progressed to the heavier red wines in a beautifully curated journey.

The Whites

Our first white wine was Rosehall Run Ceremony Blanc de Blanc Brut NV(Non Vintage). This estate grown Chardonnay is a delicate and toasty sparkling wine from Prince Edward County, Ontario. It has a distinctive minerally finish which bares a dry yet fruity undertone of citrus.  This wine is perfect for a celebration.

We then moved away from Ontario and on to Europe with RAR Vin Singulars Bianco, Garnacha Blanc from the sought after Priorat region in Spain. This wine was full bodied with hints of apricot and floral notes.

Next we moved over to Germany with Weingut Huls Alte Reben Riesling Feinherb from Mosel. The grapes used for this wine are planted on steep slopes on the Mosel River which is rich in mineral clay soil. I love Riesling and this wine didn’t disappoint with intense aromatics of grapefruit, passion fruit and yellow plum.

After this we switched continents again and were off to Argentina with Alandes Paradoux White NV (Sauvingon Blanc and Semillon), a rare Non Vintage still wine from the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina. This wine was by winemaker Karim Mussi who immigrated from Lebanon to make bordeaux style wines in Argentina. This was the last of our white wines.

I should also mention that we also got to see photos of the vineyards for each wine, which were projected on two tv screens behind the bar. It really felt like we were right there in each vineyard.

The Reds

We started off our red wine journey with Salcheto Rosso 2019 (Sangiovese) from  Tuscany, Italy. This wine is an Italian table wine so it’s a perfect everyday wine. It was light with a refreshing acidity which makes it a versatile wine to pair with food or drink by itself.  Curtis informed us that Salcheto  values biodiversity and has a zero carbon foot print, being off the grid in Tuscany.

We stayed in Salcheto for our next wine Salcheto Nobile 2016 (Sangiovese). This is the exact same wine as the Rosso but it was aged in oak for two years. Our Sommelier wanted us to see the differences between the wines and the flavours that resulted from the aging process. This wine had more tannins and a much bolder flavour. Between the two I preferred the Nobile and so did Sash.

Next we moved on to the Middle East with Jordan Classic Barbera 2018. This was truly a treat since this is the first time we have wines from Jordan in Canada. Prior to this I wasn’t aware that Jordan was a winemaking country. The winery Marfaq Plateau is located next to a volcano and we even got to hold one of the volcanic rocks from the region. This wine had a fruity flavour and I really enjoyed it as did Sash.

We came closer to home with the next wine Barnard Griffin Syrah from Washington State. This was a really enjoyable wine with flavours of dark cherry (I love wines with flavours of red fruit). The wine also had some bite to it with some acidity and spice.

The grand finale of our wine tasting experience was another Karim Mussi creation from Argentina, the Alandes Malbec. This was introduced to us as a big finish wine and is an example of an extreme elevation wine with grapes frown over 1000 meters above sea level. This was a big bold wine with a lot of character and we really enjoyed it. If you’re looking to impress someone special then this is the one I’d recommend 😉

The Food

Just to be clear we did have lots of food with all the wine 🙂 We were treated to a beautifully created charcuterie board by the resident chef at the Tasting Room. Our board had a great selection of locally sourced meats and cheeses finished off with some edible flowers. We also have a lovely selection of spreads and jellies to go along with our board and the bread.

The Verdict

Well what can I say if you haven’t been to The Tasting room yet then you’re surely missing out on a truly unique wine tasting experience. This is a hidden gem in Ottawa and I highly recommend trying it out. You can book a curated tasting through their website or Instagram page. We loved the decor, the design and the entire experience; this was something we will always remember. The Tasting Room is a great spot for a Fall date or a get together with a few close friends. I would highly recommend adding it to your list of place to visit in Ottawa. Keep in mind you can always stop by the Tasting Room to purchase wine as well. If you’re looking for a unique selection of wines from around the world that you won’t typically find at the LCBO then this is the spot for you.

Thank you to Buyers+Cellars and Curtis for this amazing wine tasting experience.

 

 

 

Italian Inspired Cuisine at Kara Mia

I love Italian cuisine so when I was thrilled to check out Kara Mia Restaurant which opened its Ottawa location earlier this year. This restaurant is definitely a hidden treasure located in Ottawa’s east end.

First Impressions

I was surprised I hadn’t noticed this place before. As you walk in the ambiance is amazing. Sashien and I were so pleased with the decor and set up of the restaurant. I actually forgot I was even in Ottawa, Kara Mia definitely gave me major Toronto vibes; which is not surprising since they also have a location in Markham. You could even feel like you’re in New York City when you step in to Kara Mia. The lighting, photos on the wall and set up definitely give the place an upscale big city feel.

The staff were also so warm and welcoming and in full compliance of City guidelines concerning COVID-19 protocols.

The Drinks

Kara Mia is open for lunch and dinner and has a large selection of dishes on their menu. We started off with some cocktails, keep in mind this is a Halal restaurant so none of the cocktails actually contain alcohol.  They were delicious none the less and I really didn’t miss having a glass of wine with my dinner. Sashien and I both tried the Kara Mia Cocktail which contained mango juice, guava juice and Sprite. I’d definitely try making this at home! Kara Mia also offers a Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri and Peach Bellini as part of their non-alcoholic cocktail offering. You can also choose from some exotic juices on their beverages menu.

The Food

Saffron Poutine

Breaded Shrimp

We started off with some appetizers and our server Ayaan recommended we try the Saffron Poutine which consists of fries covered in Kara Mia’s signature Saffron sauce and baked with mozzarella. It was a great twist on a regular poutine. We also tried the Breaded Shrimp which was amazing!

Penne Picante Rosé

Penne Salciccia

For our mains we had to go with pasta because Kara Mia is after all an Italian inspired restaurant. My favourite pasta is Penne so I went with the Penne Picante Rosé. This dish contains diced chicken breast, onions, bell peppers and penne pasta in a spicy rosé sauce. The flavours in this dish were delicious and I loved rosé sauce. Sashien ordered the Penne Salciccia which consists of spicy Italian sausage sautéed with bell peppers, onions, cayenne peppers, finished in a spicy rosé sauce. The flavours in this dish were also amazing and the sausage was well seasoned and cured. We really enjoyed our pasta.

In addition to Pasta, Kara Mia also offers a selection of Burgers, Chicken and Steak dishes. There’s also a Kids Menu which adds to the family friendly feel of this restaurant.

The pasta dishes were so filling and the portions were generous so we ended up taking some home as well. We were so full we didn’t try dessert but I’m sure it would have been delicious.

The Verdict

Kara Mia is a family restaurant with an upscale feel, serving  flavourful food and offering great value for money. The ambiance is amazing and the prices are very reasonable. There is also ample parking in the plaza nearby. I would recommend adding Kara Mia to your list of Ottawa dining go-to’s. The restaurant also offers takeout via Uber Eats and Door Dash. Another service they offer is Catering for events, for details visit their website.

Thank you Kara Mia for this gifted dinner experience we really enjoyed it!

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