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.

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!

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!

Picnic in the Park Date Idea

Can you believe it’s August already? Well the good thing is Summer is not over yet! Every Summer Sashien and I plan to go on a picnic. I’ve always loved picnics, I went on my first picnic when I was four years old. My grandmother took me on one since I didn’t know what a picnic was and hadn’t been on one yet. Since then picnics have always held fond memories for me.

Picking a Venue

I’d been looking in to quarantine safe date ideas this year and a picnic seemed like a great fit since we would be outdoors but still away from others. For our picnic date we decided to do some research on parks in the city and came across Strathcona Park. I’d never been to it before and the pictures of the fountain online piqued my interest. Picnics are a great way to enjoy nature whether you’re out at a park or in your own backyard.

The Food

As you all know I’m quite active on Instagram so I had seen the page Ottawa Picnics and loved their charcuterie to go concept. I immediately decided to place an order for the earliest pickup date which was July 18. I was so pleased with our picnic box.

Here’s what was in the box: Pepper-encrusted Italian wine salami, hot Genoa salami, Manchego cheese, Double-smoked, aged cheddar, “apple” goat cheese, “everything bagel” goat cheese, baked crostini, beetroot crackers, chive pita crackers, garlic and Parmesan twists, pickled radishes, red onion and jalapeños, fire and ice wine jelly, Canadian honey, gherkins, Kalamata olives, dried figs, local green beans, garden rosemary, grapes. It truly was a treat and we had some leftovers as well.

We decided to spruce up our picnic and brought along a bottle of our favourite sparkling rose Bulles de Nuit. We picked this up in Gatineau for under $10. It’s sweet and light with a hint of strawberry. Perfect for a summer picnic.

The Ambiance

 

I wanted to have a formal picnic setting so in addition to a picnic blanket I brought along a pink striped outdoor tablecloth and some plastic plates and cutlery. I found the plates and table cloth at my local Dollarama and they were so affordable. As products at Dollarama vary I’ve linked some similar plates and table decor at the end of this post.

 

We really wanted to enjoy our time outdoors and what better way to add to the ambiance than with some music. I had forgotten to bring my bluetooth speaker with me so we used our phones to play some relaxing jazz music that really helped set the mood but you can choose whichever music you like. I’d also recommend bringing a portable fan if you’re going on a particularly hot day. I’ve link some options for speakers and fans below as well.

We really enjoyed our picnic in the park, special thanks to Ottawa Picnics for the scrumptious spread.

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Dine like a Maharaja at the East India Company

The East India Company (EIC) is my favourite Indian restaurant in Ottawa. I have been frequenting their Somerset location (they also have a location in Bells Corners) for over 10 years. I have dined at this restaurant multiple times but it wasn’t until I was invited to try out their new Thali menu that I truly gained an appreciation for everything it has to offer.

The History

The East India Company restaurants were founded by Kamal and Sudha Mehra. The Mehras migrated to Canada in the 1970’s and opened their first restaurant Mehra’s Delicatessen in Wippineg, Manitoba. They then went on to open India Gardens, Winnipeg’s first North Indian restaurant. The East India Company restaurants came about when the Mehras decided to expand their business in 1994 and opened another restaurant in Winnipeg. Today the East India Company has two locations in Ottawa and one location in Winnipeg. The restaurants are now run by Kamal and Sudha’s children; Sachit, Anish, Divya and Nitin.

The Ambiance

The Mehras pride themselves on filling their restaurants with carefully curated pieces of art and antiques from India.  As you walk in to Somerset location you can’t help but notice the large mandap at the front of the restaurant. A mandap is a covered four pillared structure typically used for Hindu and Jain weddings. This particular mandap is 350 years old and was originally placed at a temple in India. Following the mandap you come across a Palki or palanquin, which is the oldest piece in the restaurant. The palanquin was used to transport brides on their wedding day and is around 400 years old. As you move towards the back of the restaurant you will find marble pieces including a marble window frame which is around 200 years old. Carved marble blocks with designs composed of semi-precious stones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies also adorn the bar at the back of the restaurant. You really feel like you are in a museum as you dine at this location.

What restaurant isn’t complete without music right? Well you can listen to some of your favourite Bollywood tunes while you enjoy a meal at the East India Company.

The Food

Now the part that everyone’s been waiting for, the food! The food at EIC has always been fantastic, whether you’re at the buffet or dining a la carte you are guaranteed to leave this place feeling like a king. EIC is famous for their lunch and dinner buffets and a reservation is highly recommended. In order to keep up with the changing rules and restrictions on indoor dining during the COVID19 pandemic EIC now offers you the best of both worlds with their Thali menu.

The Thali

A thali is a meal that consists of multiple dishes in small portions, it is typically served on a round platter called a Thali. EIC offers two choices of Thali. The New Delhi Thali which offers you the choice four entrees and the Mumbai Thali which offers you a choice of 3 entrees. Both thalis come with basmati rice, papadum, salad, a samosa, and gulab jamun for dessert.

I chose the Mumbai Thali with Shrimp Curry, Chili Chicken and Navratan for my entrees. You can view the full Thali menu below which features some of the buffet favourites as entree choices:

In addition to their food the East India Company also offers a selection of wine, beer and their signature cocktails. I tried Mehra’s Special which is a tropical, fruity rum based cocktail. It was really refreshing and not overly strong. Sashien had the Kala Ice which is a stronger drink incorporating Irish whiskey, Black label and Kahlua. The cocktail menu also features liquor from local suppliers such as Dillon’s Gin and Top Shelf Vodka.

The Verdict

Both Sashien and I really enjoyed our dinner at the East India Company. I highly recommend checking out the new Thali menu. Don’t be fooled by the small portions of curries the thalis are very filling, in fact we ended up taking some food home with us. I’ve always enjoyed the food at the East India Company and this menu is no exception. If indoor dining isn’t your thing just yet you can always sit out on their patio where tables are placed a generous distance apart. It should also be noted that all COVID-19 safety measures are strictly followed at the restaurants. All staff wear masks and hand sanitizer is placed on each table. Physical distancing is also in place. You can also order a la carte at the restaurants or place a takeout order.  If you live in Ottawa and haven’t dined at the East India Company I suggest adding it to your list of must do’s in the city.

 

 

 

Oh My Honey Buns

Who doesn’t love something sweet? Well Ottawa friends, if you’re ready to try a sweet treat this Summer check out Oh My Honey Sweet Honeycomb Buns. This Ottawa based business launched just a month ago and has already become a favourite among locals.

Oh My Honey Co bakes and delivers sweet honeycomb buns to residents in the Ottawa/Aylmer area. The buns are so fresh and come in a variety of fillings. You can choose from Nutella, Cream Cheese, half/half or no filling based on your personal preference. I wanted to try the best of both worlds so I opted for half/half. My box came with 6 buns, 3 Nutella and 3 cream cheese.I loved both the cream cheese and Nutella fillings but if I had to choose a favourite it would definitely be the Nutella. Each box of buns also comes with  home made honey syrup which is perfect for dipping.

Honeycomb buns are a traditional East African and Middle Eastern sweet dish typically seen at events or special occasions. They are also eaten as a sweet treat at Breakfast. I had mine for breakfast and the buns pair beautifully with tea or coffee. I would even recommend including them as part of a high tea service.

If you’d like to try these sweet buns for yourself order via DM on their instagram page @ohmyhoneyco The buns cost $20 for a dozen and payment can be done via paypal or e-transfer. The owner Zein is as sweet as the buns she bakes so corresponding with them is a delight 🙂 You can also check the instagram page for order and delivery dates.

 

Custom Phone Cases from Caseapp

I don’t know about you but I use my phone for almost everything. With smartphones being so , well “smart” these days it’s easy to work, connect with friends, email and even invest using just your phone. I’m pretty harsh with my phone as it usually ends up thrown in to the bottom of my Neverfull tote bag everyday.

I’d been looking for durable yet stylish phone cases for a while now so I was thrilled to come across Caseapp. Their website allows you to customize your own phone case and design them to your liking or select from pre-made designs and adapt them to your phone. The site is super easy to navigate and use.

Choose your pre-made phone case in three easy steps:

Step 1 – Select what type of phone – iphone, samsung etc

Step 2 – Select your phone model

Step 3– Filter designs based on colour or theme

Feeling creative? Why not design your own phone case. Simply click the customize button at the top of the site menu and follow the prompts. You can add your own photos or designs to your case as well.

Another interesting feature is that Caseapp also allows you to customize some pre-made designs. I chose two pre-made designs for my cases. My first case is of course you guessed it, something tropical. I loved this palm print design so it was a no brainer for me in choosing this one.

For my second case I took a pre-made design and customized it by adding the name of my blog and website. This is great if you want to create promotional or marketing materials.

You can also choose between a hard or soft shell case. In addition to phone cases Caseapp also lets you design laptop and tablet covers and has a wide range of brands and models to choose from.

If you’d like to design your own phone or laptop/tablet case use my code WKNDFASHIONISTA20  and save 20% off your order.

Thank you Caseapp for sponsoring this post. I love my new phone cases 🙂