When we decided to incorporate a new local specialty food section in The Cuckoo's Nest, we went tasting, talking and learning to find the best that Ottawa and Eastern Ontario has to offer! We now have a group of local food producers that care about quality, flavour and community.
Meow! That's Hot hot sauces are made in Ottawa almost exclusively from produce grown locally by family farms. These hot sauces range in heat from mild (Scaredy Cat) to high heat (Ghost Cat and Bengal Burn - my favorite!). The variety and combinations of ingredients are amazingly creative, culinary brilliance! They are definitely not your usual hot sauces!!!
Simon & Beth from The Lowertown Canning Company are doing their part to build a sustainable local economy. They understand the economic and social importance of buying locally grown foods. They want to meet the farmers that keep our families fed. And we want you to be able to enjoy the fruits of their labour year-round. They use 100% natural ingredients - no artificial thickening, crisping or preserving agents. They source locally as much as possible, supporting small businesses like themselves. They are preserving local. My personal favorites are the pickled carrots for my charcuterie boards and the amazing Chipotle Cranberry Sauce was the hit of my Easter dinner! As a chef at The Courtyard Restaurant in Ottawa, Simon is constantly playing with ideas for his new creations.
Sandy from Cook's Gourmet in Kingston Ontario creates amazing Tapas and Tapenades from Kingston farmer's fresh produce. There are so many outstanding options, it is hard to pick a favorite, but I have to say her Balsamic Fig Tapas on a sharp cheddar cheese is one of the great pleasures of life! Sandy is busy perfecting a new line of flavour infused cold pressed olive oils and balsamic vinegars which we have already made space on our shelves for! Hurry Sandy! My salad greens can't wait much longer!!
We ventured down to Prince Edward County to find winemakers Amy Mumby, Adam Delorme and their custom built smokehouse at Cured Smokehouse Seasonings. Every ingredient in every seasoning and rub blend is blended and milled by hand and then smoked for a minimum of eight hours using apple and maple wood sourced from neighbouring orchards & forests in Waupoos. The combination of woods produces a light smoke with a hint of sweetness adding rich, deep flavours to any dish. The smoked cracked black pepper is my go to but I have to say that the smoked olive oil can transport you to culinary heaven!
Down in Warkworth Ontario, we found Mark Pollard (The Big Cheese) at Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Company. Mark loves to create a variety of small batch, high quality all natural shortbread cookies. The sweet line is fantastic, with the star being the Lemon Zest cookies! But Mark didn't stop there - he has created a line of savory “cocktail cheddar cheese shortbread cookies”! That’s right! A savory shortbread cookie, sugar free and made with 4-year old Canadian cheddar cheese. They taste cheesy and homemade, with a little zing at the end. There are several different varieties, all which are a fantastic accompaniment with wine, but my personal favorite is the Spicy Thai with a lovely Pinot Noir! Heaven!! You will also seen them served at wine tastings in many vineyards in Niagara On The Lake.
Although we focus mainly on local products, there are 2 that I simply had to have! Amola Salts are from beautiful British Columbia and are blended and infused finishing salts. The bacon salt (yes bacon salt!) is made with Sea Salt, Smoked Sea Salt and Heritage Pork! Although it is fantastic on eggs, roast vegetables, etc., you simply have not lived until you have experienced it on chocolate and my go to snack - popcorn!!! There are several other spectacularly infused salts and a variety pack so you can try all the most popular types....and bacon!
From the other coast we found the most amazing Canadian maple syrups - bar none! Pure Infused Maple Syrups from Nova Scotia create unique and spectacular flavour combinations with limitless possibilities. The more classic blend of Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Cloves and the Vanilla, Cinnamon & Star Anise can be used in the classic ways, waffles, pancakes, lattes, cheesecakes, etc. The Chipotle & Lemongrass is fantastic on asian food - we served it drizzled over spring rolls and chinese dumplings at a recent fundraiser to rave reviews! I love the Gastrique Blend (maple syrup, ginger & apple cider vinegar) over roasted root vegetables and the Lavender Chai, although fantastic in desserts and teas and lattes, it is spectacular drizzled over cubes of a nice old sharp cheddar!
I continue searching for more of the best local food producers to add to our every growing specialty food selection so stay tuned and check our web site often to see what new foodies we have found for you!