covid year one: eat and drink locally

Guess what everyone, we did it! We’ve made it through year one of the pandemic. One full year since life as we knew it completely changed in a matter of a few days. A year ago, today, we cancelled our Disney trip 10 hours prior to take-off. Wow, like now, thinking back about March 2020, how naïve was I thinking we would probably have to wait a few weeks before we’d be able to go back to our daily routine. Looking back, maybe I was wayyyy too optimistic, or maybe I simply had no clue how lucky we were back then. What I know is that we were taking our daily life for granted and hopefully we’ll never get back there once the pandemic is over.

So I have been quiet here lately, and to be honest, the last 6 months have been really hard on me. I haven’t been myself at times, feeling down, and lonely, and tired of all this, not knowing when things would be better. With weekdays and weekends blending into one, and weeks becoming months. I know I am not the only one going through a rough time, and I feel for all of you going through something similar. So to everyone else who feels like every day is the same with school, work, cooking, cleaning, housework and then going to bed, well hang tight. I’m usually big on celebrating everything but there wasn’t much to celebrate in the last year. Yet, I feel like we’re about to turn a corner here. Finally! The pandemic isn’t over, and there’s probably still a long way ahead before I can go to Disney with my family and go buy some avocados and chips at the grocery store without wearing my mask, but the days are starting to get longer and I’m feeling more and more like myself, I can feel spring is coming, baby lemons are growing in my lemon tree, we will be opening our summer cottage in less than 2 months, and all this is making me so very much happy!

I’m proud of us and how we’ve handled the pandemic so far, you know, trying our best to do our part to limit the spread, staying home, staying safe, and being conscious of the regulations and public health measures, while also supporting our local businesses, restaurants and breweries!

I mean we’ve always enjoyed eating out and encouraging local restaurants before, but since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been trying to do take-out once a week, ordering from different places, and I thought I’d let you know all about it. Of course the boys would prefer to have Domino’s every week, but I now prefer my pizza in a long rectangular box, and once you’ll try this pizza, so will you! So here’s some of our favorite spots we’ve been ordering from in the last year:

1- Farinella: As I just said, my favorite pizza now comes in a long Farinella box. I’ve been obsessed with this place since I’ve heard about it 2 years ago. It’s a bit of a drive for us, but oooh so worth it! Our favorite ones are the Frank Pinello and the Salamino! So we like to try different ones when we eat there, but when we order out, we’re boring and go with what we know we’ll like. And those two are such a great combo. But I am not done… guess what else they do? Freakin gelato!!! Yeah, their gelato is to die for! So if you go, don’t make the mistake of simply buying a pint or two like I did on my first time, nope, buy as much as there’s room in your freezer, and you won’t regret it! Pistachio, Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut are my favorite ones. So this place has been our go-to take-out restaurant on Saturday night over the last year, and I will continue to order out but can’t wait to go there on a sunny Saturday afternoon and try all of their pizzas and gelatos!

2- Vert Fourchette: So not everyone here will know about Vert Fourchette as this is located in Vankleek Hill, about 50 minutes away from Ottawa, but we just love everything about that place and you will to after a single visit. It’s fresh, inspired and always delicious. They’ve created an awesome pick-up menu during the lockdown, and now even if the dining room has reopened, you can still order to go or get some of their delicious frozen meals. They also have special charcuterie boxes for special events. For Valentine’s Day, we ordered the 4 course meal and it was so much fun to prepare and even more fun to eat. The best thing we’ve tried is the chèvre chaud with bacon and fig… I can’t describe it, but oh boy was it good. Brian had the salmon while I had the Beef Wellington for diner, which was delicious, but I would have been okay simply eating more and more chèvre chaud as my main meal. It was that good. Can’t wait to go for tacos on the terrace.

3- Beau’s Brewery: Talking about Vankleek Hill, well of course I had to have Beau’s on this list! At first we were getting Beau’s delivered at home, but after a while we started to go to the Brewery to get out of the house. And now that their Tap room is OPEN, guess where we’ll be on Saturday! If you can’t get to Vankleek Hill, you should order some of their beers online. But if you can visit the brewery, you should! What I’m most excited about is their outside setup, as a few benches and fire pits have been installed outside the brewery where you can enjoy a beer by the fire and catch up with friends. Beau’s will always make the list, pandemic or not! Now, let’s hope this thing goes away fast so they can bring back Oktoberfest in 2021!

4- Black Walnut Bakery: We are so lucky to live about 7 minutes away from this perfect picture family owned bakery. If you live too far to visit the bakery, simply follow them on Instagram to see all the amazing items they make! Their French croissants, lattes and loaves of bread are sooooo good. During the pandemic, we’ve been ordering online in advance and picking it up at our scheduled time. If you simply want to walk-in you still can, but the place is usually packed! People are lining up on the side of the road every weekend to get their hands on one of their freshly baked goods. On my to-do list will be to reserve a spot for the Sourdough Pîzza Evenings they are hosting in the summer. Wasn’t lucky enough last summer, so keeping my fingers crossed that I can get my name on the list this summer!

5- Orleans Brewing Co.: So Brian discovered this local brewery at the beginning of the pandemic when it got easier and safer to order directly from the breweries rather than going to LCBO, and let’s just say that he’s been quite happy about it! OBC have some great beers and they also offer local delivery, sometime even on the same day. Talk about awesome customer service! We haven’t been out to the brewery for food yet but our friend Phil did, many times, and every time he’s there he posts whatever he’s having on Instagram and it always look so delicious. So this is also on my to-do list for the next few months. Now if we could only have a babysitter for a night out at the brewery!

6- Cucina Da Vito: This has been our other go-to place this winter. Fresh and amazingly delicious Italian pasta. Brian has tried different dishes, his favorite one being the Penne alla Speck, while I’ve kept ordering the same thing over and over. Their gnocchi dish has ruined any other pasta dish for me, it’s like eating a cloud! Like literally, and I couldn’t get tired of it. We haven’t had dinner on-site in a while now, but their restaurant is beautiful and classic, and I can’t wait to go back. The take-out menu is great so if you don’t feel like cooking tonight or tomorrow and you’re hungry for a delicious meal, give them a call and you will be amazed.

7- La Ha Tacos: If you know me then you know I could easily eat tacos every day and I would be happy, like realllllly happy. La Ha Tacos is a local food truck that happens to be 3 minutes away from my workplace and they have the best tacos in Ottawa. The warm tortilla chips and fresh salsa, and the Hibiscus Tea are just the best way to lead to my favorite dish, the Chicken Taco. La Ha Tacos’ food truck is usually closed for the winter and it breaks my heart every year, but this year they found a location not too far away where they kept on serving their amazing food during the winter. Visit their website to place your order in advance and then simply pick it up and enjoy!

There’s a few other places that I want to try in the upcoming weeks, Gongfu Bao on Bank Street in Ottawa, Cantina Gia for Italian food, Brauwerk Hoffman, a new brewery in Rockland only a few minutes away from home, and Sundae School, for some awesome ice cream!

I’m ALWAYS up to try new food or restaurants, so if you have any recommendations for me, please send them my way! And I will be sending a 50$ gift card to the place of your choice from the list above to one lucky follower who shares my post and leaves a recommendation in the comment section. What better way to start year 2 of the pandemic than with free food or free beers. Cheers everyone, stay safe and enjoy spring time, I know I will!

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  1. Always great to read your blog Andreanne …. it’s always inspirational and uplifting.

    As you noted, it’s been a difficult year for most, but I too feel there is hope in the not so distant future.

    Miss you all!

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