Ottawa is often a city that many tourists overlook just as much as the Canadian locals do, but most certainly not with good reason. It’s the perfect stop between Toronto and Montreal, providing a relaxing few days that breaks up the two bustling cities. It’s a city filled with history, beautiful sites, nature close by, and many festivals.
Ottawa is not a sleepy government town just because it’s where the Parliament buildings and our Prime Minister are located, but a city filled with activities like a big city but with a small town feel. It’s because of this atmosphere and the city’s multiculturalism that make it so unique and special.
To add to the list of what makes Ottawa so special is food. This may sound a little surprising to some but in recent years Ottawa’s food scene has begun to really take off, making it a destination for food lovers of all sorts. The multi-cultural city provides an open plate for some amazing chefs to fill with food influenced from all over the world.
And the best way to try some of the tasty treats, discover local cuisine, and the city’s top hot spots for food is with C’est Bon Gourmet Food Tours.
As a local I had no idea what Ottawa had to offer when it came to food and was pleasantly surprised to learn of some of the talented chefs in the city. At every stop the chefs really showed how passionate they were about their food and drinks, making the experience all the better.
C’est Bon Cooking offers multiple gourmet food tours that stretch across the city from China Town to Little Italy, the Glebe and Wellington Street (both trendy districts in Ottawa), and of course downtown through the Byward Market. Did I mention that they also have a tour just for chocolate?
I went on the Lowertown Byward Market tour in hopes of discovering new places hidden in the streets that I rarely venture to. To my surprise most of the hot spots were in plain site and I had yet to explore their tastes. From chocolate and gelato to plantains and beer, to pizza and tea, the tour covered a wide variety of tastes that is bound to have you drooling just from the heavenly smells.
Myself and a couple were guided through the market by our knowledgeable and chatty guide who introduced each stop for us and mentioned interesting facts and history throughout the tour, a nice touch that I wasn’t expecting.
The tour started off with hand-painted chocolate whose owners used their Chinese and French backgrounds to influence their flavours. Next up was a French bakery that had a hidden entrance to a tiny brunch spot. From there we tried some interesting flavours of gelato (passionfruit, amaretto, and maple crystal were my choices).
We learned of gastronomy alley before walking through the pretty courtyards that provide some shade and even more history of the city. We tasted ice tea, and were taught about the fine grain and tomatoes imported from Italy for pizza, and sipped on beer infused with cucumber at a place that only serves craft beers and changes their beer menu constantly.
Not knowing that cold hot chocolate existed I had to pace myself while drinking a glass because it was that good. Not too sweet, it was rich, topped with whipped cream and tiny balls of dark, milk and white chocolate. This was at the oldest family owned and operated business in Ottawa, the owner being an extremely passionate German man who loves chocolate more than I do (and I’d say I’m pretty in love with chocolate).
Now getting full we had a stop at a market that made fresh food daily for any dietary restrictions, and then it was off to try whiskey maple syrup and some African-style cooked chicken. The man at this spot treated every one of his customers like family.
Completely satisfied from the three-hour long tour I had a full belly, a knowledge of tidbits of history from around the city, and a new list of places I needed to go back to.
C’est Bon Gourmet Tours did a spectacular job of picking out great spots not only because their food is tasty, but they found locals that use local ingredients, care about their customers, and have a real passion for what they do. It was as much a pleasure meeting the faces and characters behind some of Ottawa’s best food spots as it was tasting their scrumptious food.
Ottawa really has more to offer than I gave it credit for, especially when it comes to food. It’s the perfect weekend getaway for those in the province, or a quick flight away, and is a beautiful destination for those from abroad as well. No matter how long your stay in Ottawa is for, a gourmet food tour with C’est Bon Cooking is a must do as a perfect finger-licking good afternoon.
You can find more information about all of C’est Bon Cooking tours here as well as their cooking classes. I’m not giving away any of the spots that we visited because you need to hear it from the pros who know them all too well!
*I received a complimentary food tour from C’est Bon Cooking in exchange for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.