Dinner Debriefings: PZA & Chianti in Calgary

It was too busy to write these up as I squeezed dinner into my WWC convention schedule, but here goes.

On Friday, we walked to PZA on the Macleod Trail and ate on the patio. The food was quite good, but I ordered the wrong thing. I’m pretty sensitive to salt, and the pepperoni and mushroom was too salty for me. The staff were very good about switching us over to a ham and pineapple, but our replacement order hit the kitchen at a peak period, and it took a long time. The manager was very apologetic, and both pizzas were free. I might go back; the replacement pizza was good, the service was fine, and the patio was very comfortable.

On Saturday, we did pasta at Chianti on the Macleod Trail. It was another lovely evening, so we ate on the patio there, too. The bread and salad were very nice, but the service rather spoiled the meal. Wine didn’t arrive with our salads, and when we were only halfway through our salads, the pasta came. At that moment, the waiter told us the wine we had ordered was out of stock, so we finished our salads while our spaghetti alla carbonara and fettuccine supremo sat. Then we sat while our waiter took another tables order. Then the wine came and we ate warm pasta that was starting to stick together. The food was tasty, and we both approved, but presentation was plain. It took a long time to get the bill; we thought our waiter had forgotten us. We probably wouldn’t go back. On a quieter night, with a more experienced waiter, you might have a much nicer experience.

On Sunday, we returned to Broken Plate and had another terrific dinner there.

Dinner Debriefing: the BUZZ

For the last full night of our vacation, and our last chance to dine in Ottawa, we didn’t want to sit in a crowded pub on Elgin Street, so we returned to Bank Street to eat at the BUZZ again.

They had a table, which was no sure thing on a Friday night. Although we were close to the entrance, and right next to the bar, it was amazingly quiet – very peaceful. We decided to share a calamari appetizer. Chipotle dusted, they say. This is the best non-traditional calamari we’ve ever had. From there, Caroline stuck to the menu, ordering the duck. Ginger-laced mandarin cranberry sauce. Mmm. I took advantage of one of the nightly specials: Scallops with a roasted red pepper sauce, on a triple bed of risotto, acorn squash and mashed potatoes. Beautifully done. Lots of nice wines by the glass here, so I had a glass of the Clos du Bois Chardonnay. Caroline started with the Hogue Pinot Grigio and switched to the Blackstone Merlot, another Californian, for her duck.

Caroline had room for a little dessert, so she ordered tonight’s cheesecake, a maple/bacon one. She liked it, but I wasn’t feeling the love for bacon tonight, and only had a tiny taste.

A very nice dinner. We’d be certain to visit the Buzz again if we come back to Ottawa.

Dinner Debriefing: Tango Nuevo

Tango Nuevo Tapas & Wine is on King Street in Kingston. It was busy and noisy tonight, so we’re glad we made a reservation. We ordered five small plates: the white fish ceviche, because I have a thing for this dish, and I wanted to see what it was like with pickerel. Light and fresh. The shrimp tacos, because Caroline does not share my fondness for ceviche. Spicy with radish and sriracha sauce. The calamari fritos. Tender and lightly fried. The chicken empanadas. Fried, but beautifully light and delicate. The duck confit on flatbread. With pear and brie. Duck and cheese – what’s not to love?

I thought all five dishes were very good. Caroline thought the empanadas wouldn’t be so deep-friedish.

Wine: we were warned that the Harmony white blend is quite sweet, so I fell back on the J. Lohr Chardonnay, an old favourite for it’s toasty richness. Caroline tried the Redstone Chardonnay to see how an Ontario wine compared. Interestingly prominent apple and a little flint. Then she switched to a red for the duck course, a Lotus Cabernet Sauvignon, She liked it, but didn’t offer me any tasting notes.

Contemplated dessert or a cheese tray (they had some fascinating cheeses) but decided not. A cab was waiting before we could clear the doors. A good dinner.

Genealogy in Bath, Napanee, and Cloyne, ON

Started our day with a very nice buffet breakfast, then made our way to the lakeshore to walk part of the Lake Ontario Trail. Saw an albino squirrel, and so many black and grey ones that we began to suspect that they were herding us into a trap. Escaped their evil design when it began to rain and we returned to the car early. We’ll give them another chance tomorrow.

Then on to the day’IMG_0848s work. Caroline wanted to find Hawley House in Bath. This is where her loyalist ancestors ended up after they fled Arlington, Virginia. The house is still there, although it’s an unassuming duplex nowadays. The museum in Bath might have been worth a look, but it doesn’t open much after Labour Day.

Onwards to Napanee to visit the Lennox and Addington Museum and Archives. A nice little county museum with exhibits about the Great War and some of the industries of the area, but the highlight for me was a display explaining how women’s fashion changed during and after WWI. Fashion, of course, was only the tip of a cultural iceberg; everything changed for women during and after the war. Clothing went from ornamental and impractical to work-oriented and comfortable as women entered the workforce to replace men gone to war and lost to combat or influenza. Women took to breeches and coveralls as they took to the workforce and the war effort. Afterwards – short version – Coco Chanel invented the little black dress and women got the vote.

While we were there, Caroline popped into the Archive Library to take a look at the Hawley file to see if there were any essential documents she had not seen before. No, but a copy of her great-grandfather’s death certificate was on file. Very helpful staff at both the museum and archive desks.

Went downtown for lunch at Ellena’s Cafe. You order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. Then you pay at the counter on the way out. Both the soup of the day, pea, and the quiche of the day, ham, tomato and cheese, were wonderful. Caroline took a chance on the roasted red pepper sandwich, but the grilled bread went soggy fast, so she wouldn’t order it again.


Back on the road to run an hour north to Cloyne, where Caroline’s dad’s mother was born. The tiny museum there was done for the season, but people at the post office directed us to the Pioneer Cemetery. Most of the markers are lost – they were probably wooden – but a plaque records the names of those settlers most certain to have been buried there. The graveyard is no longer used, but it is still maintained.

Back to Kingston. Fall colours spectacular, but weather very gloomy, so no opportunities for pretty pictures. Tonight, dinner downtown, probably at Tango Nuevo Tapas and Wine.


Dinner Debriefing: Atomica Pizza & Wine Bar

The Bistro in our hotel is really more of a steakhouse, so we headed downtown for dinner. I didn’t feel like tackling a strange city in the dark, so we took a cab, which was quick and easy, and under twelve bucks. Sure enough, there were no parking spaces near Atomica Pizza & Wine Bar. We had scoped out their menu online, so we quickly settled on a small Caesar salad for Tim, then a pizza each: Diavolo Hawaiiano for her, Funghi for him. Wood-fired style crust, hand tossed in the open kitchen. I liked their variation on the Caesar salad. It had pancetta and hard-crispy focaccia. My mushroom pizza had a pesto based cream sauce, not tomato, and the basil was matched in subtlety to the crimini and shiitake mushrooms, not at all overpowering. I’d happily have it again. Caroline’s hot Hawaiian had enough hot peppers to earn the Diavolo moniker without going overboard. She thought we should have an Ontario red since we’re so close to wine country, so we went with a 13th Street Merlot. It was smooth, deep and leathery.

All in all, a very nice pizza dinner in one unrushed hour, and the taxi back to the hotel arrived within two minutes of our asking.

Dinner Debriefing: Downhill Grill

The Downhill Grill was very busy tonight. We waited at the bar for a few minutes to get a table. Caroline had a glass of Mondavi Chardonnay, and I had a Lake Placid Ubu, a pleasantly malty dark beer.

In the restaurant, the wait staff were run off their feet, and most of our table service actually came from the young hostess. We could see that it was going to take a long time to get fed, so we simplified and ordered just one thing each. A burger for Caroline, and a burrito for me. The food was quite good, but from start to finish it took an hour and a half. The restaurant was still filling every table when we left.

Dinner Debriefing: Publyk House

We chose this place mainly because it’s less than a mile from our hotel. The Publyk House was once a barn, but it’s been a restaurant for a long time. The parking lot was very full, so we were happy to hear that the wait for a table would only be in the range of ten minutes. We had the whole foyer to ourselves, so we sat and read the menu.

Caroline decided to honour Canadian Thanksgiving by eating turkey, and they had a very traditional turkey dinner with mashed potatoes on the regular menu. I ordered one of the daily specials, grilled salmon with pesto and wild rice. Both dinners came with salad bar and a small loaf of brown bread with maple butter.

We give them good marks for the salad bar. Although it was compactly laid out, the staff were hard at work keeping the small serving dishes freshly filled. We appreciated that the ladles for the salad dressings were labeled, so you need not mistake the blue cheese for the ranch. Caroline’s favourite was the broccoli salad.

The turkey dinner was just that – nothing extraordinary. I hinted that I wanted my salmon moist, and they delivered.

There were two Oregon Pinot Noirs that we thought would go nicely. We did not know either of them and the waitress recommended the Underwood. It is a very pale and light Pinot of the strawberry persuasion, like the Amity. A fairly good match for the turkey, but it barely stood up to the salmon.

Highlight of the meal was the pumpkin cheesecake. Soft, creamy and spicy, it was a delight.