Sunday, June 28, 2009

Local Festivities

I interrupt my Wedding Story blogging to update you on my growing collection of summer photos/experiences.

Aside from some overly humid weather that is fairly common in these parts, I love what summer has to offer. Markets are in full swing, the streets are alive, festival galore -- what's not to like?

Some of these pictures date back over month or so now, which is terrible...But wedding activities trumped everything.

Tulip Festival is always a big draw. This festival began as a result of the Dutch royal family sending 100,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa in gratitude for Canadians having sheltered Princess Juliana and her daughters for three years during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, in the Second World War. At the beginning of May, the parks are filled with thousands of beautiful tulips, with lots of family activities.

It used to be that the Tulip Festival held daily concerts in Major's Hill Park. But, with the unpredictability of weather at the beginning of May, attendance was low and the festival was closed to bankruptcy. In 2007, the festival was reorganised under new leadership. The festival was redesigned to focus on promoting international friendship, the original symbolic role of the gift of tulips.

Along this theme, the International Pavillion features "stations" where about 20 countries are represented. There you can buy (mainly) overpriced goods and food.

I chose a Turkish dish (forgot the name) -- it was a pita-type dough with a spinach and cheese interior.

My attitude about the pavilion is that it's a nice thing to do, but the quality of food is poor and the prices are high.

But, now that the pavilion is housed at Lansdowne Park, you can combine a day at the Tulip Festival with a day at the Farmer's Market (if you go on a Sunday). That's exactly what I did.

The Farmer's Market guarantees that any products sold there are locally made/grown. In early May, there wasn't a lot of produce to buy, but they did have a little petting zoo and canned food.

There's something I love about taking pictures of goats. They have so much personality, I always want to personify them and imagine what they're thinking (aside from "does this hand have food for me to eat?")

This guy is thinking, "Clearly, I should not be in this pen with the rest of these heathens" (said in the Queen's English).

For a while now, I've been meaning to highlight a local baker/food blogger who has a stand at the market.

Plum Cake brings a mix of seasonal, local products to the market. She offers a variety of tarts, cakes, pastries, and macarons.

Here's a pictures from my trip in May.

I went again today hoping to get some macarons. But learned that they're big sellers. So, I'll have to show up earlier next time. Instead I picked up a Strawberry Tartlette with pink peppercorn meringue (the meringue wasn't photo-worthy after carting it home - definitely stomach-worthy though) and a Rhubarb flan with graham streusel (the white parts are from the other tartlette's meringue)

I really liked the graham streusel. But, my mission for macarons continues.

Over the past five days, one of the big local events has been Ribfest. Ribfest is the closest we have to a Southern USA-style cookoff. Although it doesn't come near to the bbq culture depicted in the south, it's a hugely popular event in Ottawa. For 5 days, Sparks Street is inundated with 11 bbq rib stands.

Here's the signage for some of them:

I find some of the behind the scenes details fascinating...Like this post, written by one of the judges of the competition.

The rib are primarily cooked in a smoker and then moved to the grill for a slathering of bbq sauce just before being sold.

Any guesses for what these guys make in a day? According to the link, above, a smoker holds 162 racks of ribs (this will vary from vendor to vendor) and a vendor fills it up 6 times/day. If all they sold were full racks of ribs, they would make around $20 000 each a day. But, they sell a variety of other items, chicken, pulled pork, half slabs, etc. Quite the money maker.

The first day we went, each person ordered a half slab and we shared each other's to find the best one (of the four). For the most part, they tasted fairly similarly with some variation in the sauce and juiciness.

We also returned yesterday because R wanted to get a pulled pork salad. Not my cup of tea...But, great for meatlovers.



lis said...

thanks for the mention of plum cake. sorry you missed the macarons. hopefully there will be some for you next time. based on what you bought, i think i remember who you are, but do say hi next time.

That Girl said...

Neat festival - but what a cool farmer's market!!!

theUngourmet said...

Wow! There is just so much great stuff here! It looks like a blast!

Those carved veggies are amazing!

Lori said...

A petting zoo? My kids would love that. Sometimes I ahve to drag them to the market. Bribe them with honey sticks that we buy there.

You had a lot of photos to catch us up on!

Steph said...

I really enjoyed that post! It was so much fun to see all the pictures from the tulip festival and farmer's market. I've been to Ottawa a few times for the grade 8 trip and Canada Day, but I've always wanted to go during the winter and skate on the Rideau Canal

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thanks for sharing your foodie experiences with us Psychgrad. U think the Turkish dish is gozleme. I tried making them once, but have never seen the turkish ladies prepare them:D

kat said...

Wow, lots going on

What's Cookin Chicago said...

What a great day of festivities!

♥Rosie♥ said...

WOW just so much stuff - great post!

Hopie said...

I love all those pictures of tulips. I took a bunch this spring as well. They're so cheerful. Those vegetable flowers are pretty impressive!

Anonymous said...

I'm WAY jealous of your trip! It all looks AMAAAAAZING!

Joanne said...

The flowers are so beautiful and all of the food looks delicious! Looks like you've been having a spring/summer so far.

Deborah said...

Wow - everything looks like so much fun! I went to the tulip festival here for the first time this year and loved it!