Morning Owl, Ottawa

Morning Owl, Ottawa

Funky. Fresh. Fun. Those are the words that come to mind when I think of Morning Owl.

This place has become one of my new favorite coffee joints in Ottawa, and it is undoubtedly a unique place with a very cool vibe. Complementary to the cool vibe are the friendly owners, Jordan and Sarah. I conducted a short Spotted Interview with them a couple of days ago, and you can read about it here.


Morning Owl is a coffee + sandwich shop located on Rochester Street, right in the heart of a government area. They mainly cater to the civil servants, and are open Mon-Fri. When I asked Jordan and Sarah whether they would consider opening on the weekends, they quickly explained that although they may not be open Saturdays and Sundays, it doesn't mean they aren't working. On the off hours, they are either busy planning for the shop, baking, or grocery shopping for Morning Owl.

Below is a picture of their only storage space. Because of the limited storage space they have, the food is guaranteed to be fresh.

Big Chill Fridge

Jordan and Sarah first saw a similar fridge on Rachel Ray's cooking show. They loved the retro look and feel of the Big Chill fridges, and decided to order one for themselves. While they did experience many challenges getting the fridge over the border, they finally managed, but with a hefty price tag attached. You gotta love the complications of cross border shipping.

The fridge was not the only challenge they faced. The current Morning Owl building was once a 100 year old house that needed to be re-built from scratch. The O'Leary's spent a long year and a half gutting the place, and renovating it into a trendy cafe.

They have certainly put a lot of hard work into the place, and their hard work radiates throughout it. What I love most are the little details.

They have fresh cut flowers displayed throughout the cafe, and the owl theme is seen throughout as well.

Look at the cute little porcelain owls behind Sarah.

Sarah from Morning Owl

Look at their personalized washroom that's detail!

Morning Owl Washroom Sign

What's also great about this place is that everyone who works here truly cares and loves what Morning Owl has to offer. All of their staff are either good friends or family members. Pictured beside Jordan is Sarah's best friend, a woman who loves her bread. Jordan's mom also works at the shop from time to time.

Morning Owl, Ottawa

You are probably wondering about the food and coffee, right? Well, I can say nothing but good things about it.

Jordan and Sarah both completed an intense barista course at Midwest Barista School, and have a great coffee menu to prove it. Morning Owl serves Intelligentsia direct trade coffee.
Direct trade coffee differs from fair trade in that the coffee is purchased directly from the growers instead of going through a middle man. You can read more about Intelligentsia coffee on their website.

Intelligentsia Coffee

With my Oz connection, I had to order their Australian flat white. While the Oz stuff does have a stronger coffee taste, Morning Owl's flat white did not disappoint. The coffee had an excellent after taste, and I really enjoyed my cup of java.


Beebs ordered one of their signature lattes, which is a latte with a flavor shot of choice. She went with Jordan's recommendation and ordered the Snicker's flavored latte. If you have a sweet tooth like Beebs, you'll really enjoy their signature lattes.

On my first visit to Morning Owl, I ordered a turkey wrap with sun dried tomato tortilla, Havarti cheese, marinated eggplant, and hot peppers. Only top notch ingredients are used.

Turkey Wrap

On my second visit, I ordered an Italian trio sandwich with Art-Is-In Bakery's awesome 12-grain fennel bread.

Italian Trio Sandwich

The sandwiches were unbelievably tasty and fresh. It tasted like something that would come from my kitchen, but better!

Besides coffee and sandwiches, Morning Owl also offers baked goods personally baked by Sarah and her wonderful family. I had a devil's food cake cupcake with cream cheese icing. I practically inhaled my cupcake, it was so good.

Devil's Food Cake Cupcake

Morning Owl also offers catering services, and do cater to large group functions when requested.

This place really is superb, and I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

Morning Owl
538 Rochester Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-680-8336

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Spotted - Morning Owl, Ottawa

Meet Jordan and Sarah. They are a charming couple who also happen to be the proud owners of Morning Owl coffee + sandwich shop.
Morning Owl is a vibrant little shop with a very inviting atmosphere. Jordan and Sarah have poured a lot of love into this place, and it shows. This month's spotted interview is at Morning Owl, Ottawa.
Jordan and Sarah O'Leary, Morning Owl

Sarah O'Leary
  • Where are you from: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Your signature dish: Oh! Nothing. I'm a horrible cook. Her best friend did chime in to say that she bakes a mean cupcake. That, I can attest to.
  • One word that describes you: Busy! That's how busy I am. I can't even think of a word that describes me.
  • Memorable Dining Experience: The Black Cat Bistro in Ottawa. It is thus far my favourite dining experience.
  • Your last meal would be: Jordan's mom's pasta, and Jordan's grandma's ribs.
Jordan O'Leary
  • Where are you from: Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Your signature dish: A traditional meat pasta sauce (he's an Italian boy).
  • Weirdest thing ever eaten: Atelier's Elvis truffle. A peanut butter, banana, and bacon chocolate truffle.
  • Favorite ice cream flavour: Chocolate...wait no, butterscotch for sure.
  • Your last meal would be: Baton Rouge ribs.

Pantheon Restaurant, Toronto

Pantheon, Toronto

I've been sitting on this post forever...mainly out of fear. When I was in Toronto back in January, my Greek friend, K, who used to live in Toronto, gave me a list of recommended restaurants to try out. Almost all of his recommendations were bang on, except one. It's not that I didn't like it, I just didn't love it like he did. He felt that Pantheon served the best Greek food in Toronto. I questioned that statement. He was absolutely insulted that I felt that way, and I've been afraid to post since then.

Well, I've had 7 months to get over my fear. Anddd, because K has not lived in Toronto for quite a while, it turns out that Pantheon had switched owners since. I like to think that we were both right in our opinions.

Pantheon has a very extensive menu and like all Greek food, it is best when you have a big group of people to maximize the number of share plates. Unfortunately, it was only CK and I. We had a good meal nonetheless.

We started with a hot pepper appetizer. I expected the hot peppers to be hot, but they were quite mild. The hot peppers were drizzled with oil, and topped with fresh capers.

Hot Peppers
Hot Peppers

Next came the spanakotiropita. These were humongous and delicious! The phyllo was crispy, and the filling was plentiful. Very very nice! Anyone by any chance know the difference between spanakotiropita and spanakopita? Is there even a difference?


My main was under the light piato section: charcoal octopus with Greek salad. I thought that this would be grilled octopus with a side of Greek salad, but it turned out that it was a salad mixed with pieces of octopus. The octopus was tender, but I was slightly disappointed because my meal wasn't what I expected. I guess that was partly my fault.

Octopus Salad
Grilled Octopus Salad

What CK ordered was what I really wanted. I had major food envy. He ordered the grilled calamari dinner. This was seasoned whole calamari served with veggies. The calamari was good but was tougher than what I normally like.

Grilled Calamari
Grilled Calamari

CK ordered a Greek salad on the side. The Greek salad here isn't quite the traditional 'no lettuce' Greek salad. Again, it wasn't what I expected, so I wasn't a fan of their Greek salad.

Greek Salad

After our dinner, we were handed a complimentary piece of honey cake topped with chocolate sauce. The cake was moist and had just the right amount of sweetness. Ironically, one of my favorite parts of the meal was free.

Honey Cake
Honey Cake

Pantheon Restaurant407 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 416-778-1929


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Date Cake

Date Cake Slice

Five things that have gone obsolete:

1.) Cassette tapes and Walkmans (my favorite was my Color Me Badd tape)
2.) Black and white televisions
3.) Typewriters
4.) Poodle skirts
5.) Ready-made date cake mix

Number 5 is the reason for my post today. My aunt Mims loves date cake. She used to buy the ready-made date cake mix, and make it on a weekly basis. Our grocery stores stopped carrying it about 10 years ago, but she still reminisces about it from time to time. She never learned how to make it, so I decided to make it and bring her back to the good 'ol days.

This recipe yields 1 loaf.

Date Cake
Adapted from Sunshine Recipes
- 1 1/2 cups of chopped dates to which 1 cup of boiling water has been poured over
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1 1/3 cups of 7 grain flour (or a mixture of all purpose flour and 7 grain flour)
- 3/4 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda

1. Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.

2. Cream together the sugar and oil. Add in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dates with water, egg, and milk. Mix well. Stir in the pecans.

3. Grease a loaf pan (9x5x3 inches). Pour the batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove the date cake from the pan, and let it cool on a cooling rack.

Date Cake

Grandma's Steamed Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms

Steamed Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms

This dish is hot diggity good! It's gotta be, it is my grandmother's recipe. She makes this every time she comes to Ottawa to visit, and this time, I took advantage of her time here, and asked her to teach me how to make it.

This is a light and healthy dish, and I never feel guilty eating it. The last time I had this, I ate until my stomach screamed for me to stop. I prefer this dish on the milder side. If you wish, you can add more flavor by increasing the amount of oyster sauce.

This recipe yields 4 servings.

Steamed Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms
- 3 chicken thighs (approx 1.4 lbs, 0.65 kg)
- 8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 1/2 tsp of corn starch
- 4 tsp of oyster sauce
- 1 tsp of soy sauce
- 3-4 Tbsp ginger, cut into matchsticks
- 2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp + 1/8 tsp of sesame oil

1. Break the stems off the dried shiitake mushrooms, and discard the stems. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in lukewarm water for at least 2 hours. Wring the water out of the mushrooms, and slice them thinly (approx 1/8 inch thick).

2. Remove the excess fat from the chicken, and cut them into small pieces (approx the size of a small matchbox).

3. In a bowl, combine the chicken pieces, corn starch, soy sauce, and oyster sauce, and mix well. Add in 2 tsp of olive oil and 1 tsp of sesame oil, and continue mixing until the oil is evenly distributed. Finally, add in the shiitake mushrooms and ginger, and mix gently. Adding the mushrooms and ginger at the end will ensure that the two will not absorb too much oil.

4. Place the chicken mixture in a round dish that is approximately 9 inches in diameter and 1 inch high. Place the plate in a Chinese steaming basket, and steam for 20 minutes. Right before serving, add 1/8 tsp of sesame oil to the chicken, mix well, and serve.

The chicken releases a wonderful broth that tastes excellent when mixed with white sticky rice.

Steamed Chicken and Shiitake Mushrooms

Home Made Veggie Pizza

Home Made Pizza

Here is a little glimpse into the way we make home made pizza. It is guaranteed to be a family affair, and the veggie pizza is the clear winner with us.

First we make the whole wheat dough. Hardly any work involved here. We let the bread maker do the dirty work.

Once that's done, knead the dough into a pizza pie shape, and create a base of tomato sauce and some cheese.

Home Made Pizza

Now, go crazy and layer the pizza with veggies.

Home Made Veggie Pizza

Don't stop there, keep going....

Home Made Veggie Pizza

I didn't say stop yet...

Home Made Veggie Pizza

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings (in our case, 'til the spinach is loaded)

Home Made Veggie Pizza

To finish, top the pizza with more cheese.

Home Made Veggie Pizza

Bake it in the oven until the cheese starts to brown, and voila! This beats any store bought pizza hands down.

Home Made Pizza

Mango and Bean Salad

Mango and Bean Salad

This salad is beautiful, isn't it? It was made with love...lots of love. This is a great refreshing salad that is perfect for that potluck party or picnic lunch this summer.

One thing I started doing was adding chayote to my salads. It is a very neutral ingredient with little taste and lotsa crunch. I thought it would perfectly balance the soft squishy beans, and I was right.

My little grandma, who refuses to eat anything but Chinese food, even wrote down the recipe. That says a lot! Now go and try it for yourself.

This recipe yields 6-8 servings.

Mango and Bean Salad- 1 can (540 mL, 19 fl oz.) of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (540 mL, 19 fl oz.) of small Mexican red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can (341 mL, 12 fl. oz.) of whole corn kernels, drained
- 1 chayote, cut in small cubes
- 1 red pepper, cut into small pieces
- 1 large semi-ripe green mango, cut into small pieces
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of cilantro, finely chopped

- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 limes, juice
- 1/2 tsp of dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of honey

Method1. In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, chayote, red pepper, mango, scallion, cilantro, and jalapeno.

2. In a separate bowl, make the dressing. Combine all of the dressing ingredients, and mix well. Pour the dressing into the larger bowl and mix all of the ingredients together. Refrigerate and serve.

Mango and Bean Salad

Heilig-Geist-Spital, Nuremburg

Heilig-Geist-Spital, Nuremburg

I've been doing some Spring cleaning...late Spring cleaning.
I must tell you that cleaning is a slow process for me. It is slow because I always get distracted by the forgotten things I dig up. Instead of cleaning, I end up spending my day relishing in the memories that these lost-and-then-found treasures bring me.

My latest find was a pile of wonderful German restaurant menus I had taken home with me from my trip to Nuremburg. Yes, I always ask before taking.

Nuremburg may be a small city by North American standards, but it is Franconia's largest city. It is also a city with a lot of history, dating back to the middle ages. It was the location where the Nazi German leaders tribunals took place, and it was also home for Albreicht Dürer, famous German artist and theorist.

One of the places I visited was Heilig-Geist-Spital. Translated as 'old hospital', this restaurant was once a hospital in the Middle Ages. It is situated over the Pegnitz River, and it has become a restaurant where tourists flock to because of its history.

As you can guess, I had a true Bavarian meal full of meat, dumplings, and lard.

To start, I had 4 grilled sausages with horseradish (4 Nurnberger Rostbratwurstchen mit Sahnemeerrettich). I grew to love the Nurberger sausages. They are tiny, which means you can eat, I don't know...say eight of them without feeling too guilty. These suckers may be small, but they are packed with a lot of flavor.

Nurnberger Sausages with Sauerkraut
Four Nurnberger Sausages with Horseradish

Next was the Franconian wedding soup (Frankische Hochzeitssuppe). This was a liver dumpling and a semolina dumpling immersed in beef broth. The soup was garnished with pancake pieces. Normally, liver dumplings are served separate from semolina dumplings. When you marry the two together, you get wedding soup.

Frankconian Wedding Soup
Franconian Wedding Soup

My main was the roasted pork shoulder with potato dumpling and sauerkraut (Ofenfrisches Krustenschaufele mit rohem Klosz und Sauerkraut). The pork shoulder was super tender, and the gravy was very nice.

Pork Shoulder with Potato Dumpling
Roasted Pork Shoulder with Potato Dumpling and Sauerkraut

Most of my mates had the sliced veal knuckle with potato dumpling (Kalbshaxenfleisch mit rohem Klosz). This was also very good.

Veal Knuckle with Potato Dumpling
Sliced Veal Knuckle with Potato Dumpling

One thing I never really cared for were the potato dumplings. They were the size of a softball, and it was nothing but starch with bread crumbs in the middle. Here is what the inside of a dumpling looks like:

Potato Dumpling
Inside of a Potato Dumpling

My friend K had the Käsespätzle. Spatzles are little dumpling noodles that are found in German, Austrian, and Swiss dishes. Kasespatzle, specifically, is noodles with cheese and fried onions.


For dessert, I had the home made apple strudel with ice cream and whipped cream (Hausgemachter Apfelstrudel mit Eis und Sahne). This was a little too starchy for me.

Apple Strudel
Apple Strudel

My mates all had the home made apple fritters with ice cream and whipped cream (Hausgemachter Apfelkuchle mit Eis und Sahne). I ended up eating this instead of my strudel.

Apple Fritters
Apple Fritters

Spitalgasse 16
Nuremburg, Germany
Telephone: 0911 / 221761

Celery Stew (Khoresh Karafs)

Celery Stew

I've realized that most Persian food is not photogenic. It is unfortunate because it is one of my favorite cuisines. I wish it were easier to translate the spectacular tastes found in Persian cuisine into a visually appealing photograph.

I never really understood slow cooking until I learned how to make Persian food...patience is key, my friends. Persian cuisine comprises of a lot of khoresh's, or stews. Their stews are different from what you would normally see because most are herb or fruit based.

This celery stew is an example of an herb based khoresh. Because the herbs are cooked for a really long time, they don't have an overwhelming taste. The strongest flavors in this particular stew are the celery and the lime. This stew is best eaten with basmati rice.

The following recipe yields 4 servings.

Celery Stew (Khoresh Karafs)
- 4 cups of parsley, finely chopped and tightly packed
- 3/4 lbs of stewing beef, cut in pieces
- 1 medium onion , finely chopped
- 8-10 celery stalks, cut in 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup of water
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp dried mint
- 1/2 of a lime, juice
- extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste

1. In a lightly oiled pot, sautee the onions until translucent. Add in the beef, turmeric and some salt, and sautee until the beef is 3/4 of the way cooked.

2. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add in the water, parsley, and dried mint and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally. Add in the celery and simmer for another 45 minutes with the lid on. Stir occasionally.

3. Turn the heat off. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add in the lime juice. Stir well and serve.
Persians love their food sour. If you want, you can add rhubarb in addition to the celery for a more sour taste. I've never tried cooking it like that myself, but a friend did and it was awesome.

Luxe Bistro, Ottawa

Luxe Bistro, Ottawa

It was my friend P’s bday last week, and we celebrated with a dinner at Luxe Bistro. P is one of my oldest friends. We’ve known each other since we were 7 years old, and I remember our childhood together clearly. We used to steal our mom's clothes and play fashion show in the summer time. During the winter months, we built snow forts together. I even remember spending an entire day playing secretary where we just answered make-belief phone calls and scheduled appointments in a book. How we kept ourselves busy taking pretend phone calls for a full day is beyond me.

Those childhood days may be over, but one thing we always enjoy together, no matter what our age is, is good food. That is exactly what we did at Luxe Bistro

To start, I had 4 Colville Bay oysters on ice. P had always been afraid to try raw oysters so I made her have one. She didn’t find it all that bad but she still couldn’t get over the psychological barrier and refused to stomach another. The oysters were delicious.

Colville Bay Oysters
Colville Bay Oysters

The oysters came with a mini platter of condiments that included horseradish, shallot mignonette, wasabi mayo, worchestire sauce, hot chili sauce, and lemon juice.

Oyster Condiments
Oyster Condiments

I absolutely love beets, so when I saw the roasted beet carpaccio salad on the menu, I ordered it. The salad had heaps of yellow and red beets. Also in the salad were greens, candied pecans, grapes, and a dollop of goat cheese. The entire salad was mixed with a generous slather of tangy sherry vinaigrette. I really enjoyed the vinaigrette, but next time, I would ask for a little less dressing.

Beet Carpaccio Salad
Beet Carpaccio Salad

A ordered the soup du jour which was a garlic and Yukon gold potato with chives soup. She really enjoyed it.

Yukon Potato and Garlic Soup
Garlic and Yukon Potato Soup with Chives

My main was the roast duck breast served with braised nappa cabbage and roasted root vegetables. This was topped with a mango hollandaise. The presentation was lovely, and the portion again was quite generous. I asked for my duck medium rare.

Roasted Duck
Roast Duck Breast

P ordered the roasted shrimp and seared scallops plate. This was served with tempura asparagus, and caper & red onion sautéed fingerling potatoes. The shrimp and scallops were cooked well, and luckily for me, she didn’t mind me picking off her plate.

Shrimp and Scallops
Roasted Shrimp and Seared Scallops

A ordered the deluxe bistro burger which had aged cheddar, double smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, and the Chef’s 1000 Island dressing.

Bistro Burger
Deluxe Bistro Burger

M ordered the olive oil poached salmon. The salmon had a flavorful dried kalamata crumble, and it was served with sweet corn puree, asparagus, and brussel leaves. The fish was cooked very nicely.

Kalamata Crusted Salmon
Olive Oil Poached Salmon

For dessert, Exec Chef Duane Keats made us a to-die-for flourless chocolate sponge cake topped with a thick dark chocolate ganache. He was nice enough to personalize the cake for P, and she was very appreciative of that. He also came out to greet us in time for the less than stellar happy birthday singing.

Birthday Cake
Flourless Chocolate Birthday Cake

After the singing, the staff brought the cake back into the kitchen where they cut it into nice pieces and plated it with fresh berries and vanilla gelato.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Gelato and Berries

Duane also made us some super awesome lychee & raspberry granitas, which I happily slurped down.

Lychee and Raspberry Granita
Lychee and Raspberry Granitas

The service at Luxe was excellent and you definitely won’t leave this restaurant hungry. The restaurant has a nice casual yet upscale feel to it. It was a great place to host a birthday dinner.

Luxe Bistro
47 York Street
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Telephone: 613-241-8805
Dinner Menu

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