- the buzz of the cafes, shops, pubs and restaurants of the Byward Market
- skating with friends on the largest rink in the world - the Rideau Canal - and rewarding our efforts with hot chocolate and BeaverTails sold in the ice shacks along the route
- the beautiful architecture of the historical buildings - from the embassies to Parliament
- sailing on the Ottawa River
- the ability to walk or bike almost anywhere we needed to go (we lived downtown)
- strolling around Little Italy and Chinatown (and being able to find obscure recipe ingredients due to the variety of ethnic grocery stores)
La Bottega Nicastro was one of my favourite shops in Ottawa. It's an Italian grocer that carries pretty much any pasta shape you'd ever need. They have a great deli, amazing fresh breads, and they make a to-die-for canoli. When I moved to Saskatoon, I went in search of its equivalent but came up empty handed.
Then last month, the very day I was reminiscing about La Bottega to a friend, Josh's cousin Mike told him about a new wine store/fine food shop that would be opening soon. There wasn't much information online, other than the fact that this new store would be selling the leftover wine inventory from the infamous Cava Secreta.
After patiently waiting for a month, Josh and I finally got to check it out last Saturday. The store is called Ingredients Artisan Market and it's attached to Earl's on 2nd Avenue North (it has the same owner as Earl's, hence the location).
I'll let the photos do the talking...
They've got loads of oils - from olive to camelina.
The shop is beautifully designed. I loved this vintage poster.
My favourite design feature is the glass pendant lighting you can see in the background below.
They have non-alcoholic bevvies too...
...and a great selection of spreads, chutneys and tapenades.
As soon as we arrived we were greeted and offered a beer tasting. I tried a beer with "hints of grapefruit" and Josh tried a chocolate beer. I'm not a beer lover so I can't comment on my tasting - I just know not to turn down free booze when it's on offer. The free food samples were more my cuppa tea. They had a nice sharp cheddar and a rich tapenade being sampled when we visited.
In addition to the wine, beer and cheese, they also sell fresh breads from Christie's Bakery, deli meats, chocolate and even a bit of produce.
In an interesting turn of events, Josh told an employee we had ordered a case of Satellite Sauvignon Blanc from Cava Secreta before they were shut down. He wondered if Ingredients received our case when they bought the leftover inventory. Our case had arrived in fact, as had many other special orders. However, not having the details of these orders, our case had simply been put on the shelf (we hadn't paid for it in advance). We picked up a bottle of it, excited to have easy access to it again.
I'm happy to have a fabulous fine food shop at my disposal again - with the added benefit of a great wine selection too. The only way it could get any better is if they could open one within walking distance from my house.