On Capitals and Eating: A short trip report from Ottawa

There are great cities that happen to be national capitals. Cities like London and Paris are such places. Great food, great culture, great sites – a good time is had by all. Then there are national capitals that want to be great cities. Washington and Ottawa happen to fall into this category. Neither has the vibe/density/scene that London and Paris have, but they are trying. (And this is where my mother-in-law would add the phrase, “bless their hearts.”)

I happen to be in Ottawa a few weeks back and had some kick ass meals. First up, Murray Street – a charcuterie and wine bar. They bring much respect to meats – all of them. Anywhere that has an offal of the day as well as a whole pig head on the menu gets my vote any day of the week. It is a small place with a great feel. Highly recommend.

Next up – The Whalesbone Oyster House. Go. There. Now. Imagine a tiny restaurant embedded into an old bike shop. Forget open kitchen, the hot stations are actually in the seating area and the night we were there the a/c wasn’t working – forcing the staff into tank tops and shorts. Whalesbone is, as the name implies, an oyster and fish joint and it takes its ingredients seriously. If the amazing fish, oysters, and drinks doesn’t do it for you, then try this – when was the last time you went to a bar or restaurant where the music was provided by records? Two huge stacks of records behind the bar, from which Ray Charles, Abba, and Sam & Dave were pulled when we were there. The staff has been friends since high school and you can feel their love for the place in everything they do. Again – go there now!

Ottawa may be a somewhat sleepy capital but there are definitely some pockets of serious yum and fun to be had – I’ll be waiting until the spring to head back for oysters and offal.

Yet another reason why the internet is great: bacon cookies

I am on the road.  Seeing this receipe and blog post makes me want to try and whip up a batch of these in my hotel room’s kitchenette.  The following may be the best quote of the whole thing:

PLEASE OH PLEASE remember to cook your bacon before using it to make the cookie. No one wants a bit of uncooked pork in their cookie. That would be the opposite of delicious.


The One Pound Diet

Even with my high distrust of organized religion and my disgust at people who practice a religion but cannot explain to you what the religion is about, I still look forward to Yom Kippur. I like fasting. I need atoning, and lots of it. I think that publicly admitting your wrongs is a good thing. “We lie, we cheat, we steal…”

However, there are some concerns to Yom Kippur. Hunger and hunger management are primary. From sundown to sundown, you can’t eat or drink. (I believe the deep sniffing is allowed but that only works against you.) So what’s a person to do? 24 hours, no grub. Add to this that you have to eat before sunset of the first night and then get to services, where you stand and stand and stand. (That actually might be the biggest difference between Jews and Catholics. Jews stand; Catholics kneel.) You end up eating at 5 or so… when you are not hungry.

I have the solution. It needs a little tuning but the basic idea is sound. Simply, you eat one pound of something the first night. I ate about a pound of pasta. It also helps if you eat it really quickly to hoodwink your stomach. A stomach will realize if you try to force feed it. You have about a seven minute window in which you can eat as much as a whale and after that the stomach catches on to what you are doing and makes you stop eating. But in those precious seven minutes, you must eat a pound of something.

The next day… no food. No nothing. It’s best not to do anything other than dwell on the screwy things you did the year before and pledging to do better the next year. Face it, fasting goes hand in hand with atoning.

And then, after services on the second night… that’s right, you eat a pound of something else. I ate a pound of pepperoni, black olive, and mushroom pizza. (Nothing like starting out a whole new year in which to sin by breaking the Kosher rules and eating pork at home. But then again, I didn’t use a plate, which was the loophole my dad and I leveraged back home.) Then, after consuming a pound of pizza, I immediately, went to bed. That is the part of the diet that needs a bit of tuning.

Moral of the story: If you need to go without food for 24 hours, be sure to eat a pound of something before and after you fast.