A perfect landing by Cirque du Soleil as VOLTA enchants

thumb_IMG_4991_1024Cirque du Soleil’s latest show VOLTA continues their winning, if anticipated, format of narrative blended to dazzling physical performances. Cirque du Soleil’s 41st incarnation introduces Waz, portrayed by dancer Joey Arrigo, as a celebrated star of reality talent show Quid Pro Quo, draped in sparkling gold that disguises his latent individuality. Waz is disillusioned with manufactured corporate entertainment (cue unintentional irony) dished out to the “Greys” focused primarily on conformity and screens as he nostalgically harbors memories of a simpler time played out via video screen flashbacks. Unable to resist his “Volta” – dramatic shift in thought – Waz “outs” his eccentric blue-haired discarding fame to pursue individualism, connections and authenticity.

thumb_IMG_4949_1024The storyline, truly a narrative only a new-age aficionado could love, serves as the perfect springboard to the cornucopia of sights and sounds for which this Cirque is renown. Thrilling feats of sport and superhuman acrobatic exploits are bread and butter to this operation and they are magnificently and poignantly enhanced by the powerful soundtrack from French electronic music project M83 and the dramatically compelling vocal performances woven in to the on-stage action. As the show unfolds it shifts swiftly to a full-on sensory experience. Without pause, the gathered audience is soon enrapt by a spectacular series of dazzling performances, from trial bikes to ballet and gravity-defying prowess. A skipping competition takes double-dutch to new heights while amazing aerial displays and summersaulting BMX skate-park displays stun.

thumb_IMG_5019_1024Providing comic relief is Waz’s co-host Shood Kood Wood, the circus ringmaster and scene-stealing clown. He brings high-spirited skits that feature malfunctioning washing machines and hallucinogenic day-dreams transforming the short, stout performer in to a riotous crowd-pleasing pot-bellied demi-god.

The impressive circus highlights are many. Standouts include a beautiful, suspended lamp acrobatics routine by Waz’s younger self, portrayed by Pawel Walczewski, that marries impossible strength to effortless, elegance as he spins fluidly through a captivating aerial routine. Aptly, as Volta is also the term of a long ago Italian dance, the ballet-cum-contemporary dance performances are mesmerizing interludes to the vigorous Parkour, energetic shape-diving and rollerblading displays. Also, I’d never seen a hair hang suspended by nothing other than her top-knot, but Danila Bim levitated, twirled and gracefully twisted from the dizzying heights of the big top. The transformation of the circular rotating stage – used to great drama and effect – into a full-on BMX park was astounding, nothing beat the heart-stopping bungee and hoop-trapeze number that had us riveted to our seats in the pre-intermission performance.

thumb_IMG_4998_1024Cirque du Soleil takes nothing as a given: from musical and physical performances executed with exacting polish and infectious enthusiasm to sets that feature cutting-edge technology and exquisite post-modern stylings and costumes – apart from a featherless headdress that was a shade too close to an indigenous emblem – the exacting production standards of create an experience that is fully immersive and stirring. The adrenaline, execution, finesse and elegance will leave you breathless as Cirque du Soleil delivers a fast-paced evening under the big top that is nothing short of incredible.


You can watch Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA from August 3-27 under the Big Top on the Zibi Site in Gatineau (at the end of the Portage Bridge, facing 9 rue Laurier). Tickets are available online.

 

 

Easter 2017: Get Hopping

Easter promises to be a cracking good time! Who doesn’t love a long weekend, chocolate eggs and bunny motifs? Easter comes early this year so who knows what the weather has in store but we ‘ve got you covered in creamy chocolate options. Here is a ‘basket’ loads of events to have you gorging on treats & ‘hunting out’ springtime fun.

Easter at the Farm

This is the time of year when barns come alive with brand new critters. The Canadian Easter lambsAgriculture and Food Museum in Ottawa are hosting their annual festivities including an Easter egg hunt, chocolate decorating and visits to the newborns: lambs, chick, bunnies and more.  Check back to their website for details still to come.

Easter in the Market

The Byward Market is open for business throughout the Easter weekend. Things are always popping the Market and the stalls should be busy with crafts and early flowers.  Alongside the restaurants and shops the BIA will be hosting hay rides, tastings and other activities.

Easter at the Diefenbunker

EasterDiefThe Easter Bunny is back for another Easter egg hunt at the Diefenbunker. Now in its sixth year the event in the 100,000 square foot facility gets rave reviews from all.  Interesting for the older kids and adults and huge chocolatey fun for the wee ones. This year’s hunt is April 15th from 11-4PM.

Easter at Billings Bridge Estate

The Billings Bridge National Historic Estate is hosting their annual Easter event on April 15th with crafts, indoor and outdoor Easter egg hunts and more.

Easter at the Mall

Malls around Ottawa are rolling out the eggs and getting in to the spirit of fun with face painting, Easter bunnies, crafts and more.  Those listing activities include the Billings Bridge, Hazeldean and Carlingwood malls.

Easter at the Sugarbush

An early Easter means a visit to the sugarbush is on the cards and many are listing Easter events this year including Fulton’s Pancake House and Sugar bush, Proulx Maple and Berry Farm who are hosting a pancake buffet and keep an eye on the Vanier MuseoParc who haven’t listed yet but as Ottawa’s only urban sugar shack they usually have a lovely event with only a small commute needed!

Finally, the Ottawa Info Guide has curated a great list as well so check their website regularly for any updates.

So get hopping and have a delicious Easter!

Juno Awards: All about the Eats

IMG_2929An edited version of this post also appeared in APT613. Music and food are universal unifiers. Whether or not individual palates synchronise we agree that both bring us together. So it is no surprise that the organizers of the JUNO Awards Gala dinner held this Saturday April 1st at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa pulled out all the stops to ensure the luminaries of Canada’s music scene have a memorable and pleasurable evening.

Shaw Centre’s Executive Sous-Chef Jennifer Sands and team bring all the flavourful IMG_2873goodness blending haute contemporary cuisine to an exquisitely comforting menu. Chef Sands, JUNO Awards CEO and President Allan Reid, and Sam Roberts did a fantastic and entertaining job showcasing the food, drink and the JUNO experience at last week’s media tasting.

IMG_2910Starting us off was a duck and chutney crostini; cured and smoked duck breast hugging a nest of caramelized Macintosh apples. The salty and sweet paired beautifully to the Steam Whistle Pilsner that cut through any potentially heavy duck aftertaste.

A lightly breaded goat cheese croquette – gluten free, as was the whole menu – served with a beet root and spinach salad on a savoury pumpkin seed pesto will delight diners with its fragrantly healthy and rich flavours. Jackson-Triggs complemented the salad winningly to a crisp and zingy Sauvignon-Blanc.

The piece de resistance is undoubtedly the 48 hour marinated low cooked Wellington IMG_2916County short rib beef nestled with a creamy polenta and butternut puree alongside only just-cooked heirloom carrots and beans. As Chef Sands aptly stated, “Slow and low makes the perfect decadence.” This meal is the foodie equivalent to a heartfelt cuddle. Del Rollo of Jackson-Triggs selected a fruity and warm Merlot 2015 that ignited the savoury depth of the entrée nicely.

IMG_2882It remains to be seen if following that feast JUNO guests will be able to tackle dessert. If they do however they are in for a creamy chocolaty treat as the final course of hot chocolate cheesecake with hidden chocolate ganache hits the table. Let me tell you it is worth it even if all you can manage is a bites of the richness with the beautifully light and refreshing raspberries sat on top. For those that can’t get enough of a good sweet Chef Sands has you covered tucking in a delicious marshmallow meringue shard.

A taste of the menu and a taste of the JUNO experience was beautifully served up by six times JUNO award winner and all around stand-up guy Sam Roberts who spoke to the camaraderie and quality of the evening where musicians come together for a rare evening amongst their own. APT613 was thrilled to get a taste of the menu and the JUNO experience.

 

 

 

 

Citizen: Centertown Restaurant Elevating “date” night

This article also appeared in Apt613.
New restaurant Citizen opened its doors around the corner from established big sister town. last month offering a respectable addition to Ottawa’s culinary centertown strip. Whether accompanied or not, I’ve penciled this joint in as a regular date night in my schedule.

Exterior ShotThe stylish pane glass store-front of wood and neon adds understated modern elegance to the oft overlooked side street off the pedestrian thoroughfare – a hopeful sign that the Elgin strip may expand to a boutique neighbourhood with off-Elgin options.

The façade opens on to long bar hugging the right-wall facing dark leather banquette seating that makes the most of a narrow but airy space while an adjoining “back-room” features an ingenious moveable wall allowing overflow dinners to be part of the bustling atmosphere on busy nights or provided private dining.

With a no reservations policy, we arrived at half-six to score a table for four on a busy Thursday evening.  Cocktails range around the 10$ mark and I’ve already been back for the Lato Nord that offers a warm twist of gin with Cynar while whisky buffs would do well to opt for the Horse with No Name.

The wines list also comes in at a healthy price point ranging from $7-12 a glass and a selection of bottles under 50$ to $100. The server was friendly, helpful and astute in guiding our selection.

Dates. Did I mention the dates? Okay, here is the thing; I could eat the dates and only theCitizen Interior dates with my Lato Nord and be fully sated.  The rich, gooey fruit wrapped in bacon drizzled in sauce and topped with crisp sliced almonds are luscious:  blending sweet to savoury, viscous to crisp to great effect.  It is a shame that there are only 3 per $9 serving and I hope the kitchen reconsiders a more respectable 4 or 5 which would only encourage me to order more to my table.

The menu features a dozen offerings that work well as shared dishes ranging from $8-16.  Among the most successful were the generous and well-seasoned steak tartar, the charred broccoli, the crisp potatoes, and the sweet, fruity melt in your mouth scallops crudo (ceviche). The star however was the yams and chorizo a creative selection proving the sum of combined ingredients – crunchy tortilla chips, cream and coriander – will always elevate.  Less successful though respectable were the falafel, lasagna and most unfortunately, the borscht and brisket where the absolutely beautiful meat was offset by a soup more bitter than sour.

Citizen delivers a casual, creative and quality dining experience. The staff on both visits enhanced the soirée with comfortable yet professional service.  See you again soon for date night!

Citizen
207 Gilmour St.
 

 

Winter Carnival & Showstoppers in Sandy Hill this Weekend

Sandy Hill is spoiled for fun this weekend with Showstoppers‘ return to All Saints
on Saturday and Sunday  while our very own Winterlshowstoppersude is back at the Sandy Hill Community Centre on Sunday!

Christmas didn’t signal the end of those delightful pop-up markets.  Showstoppers is back in the impeccably renovated All Saint’s Church. Organized by Ladies Who Lunch, if the pre-holiday market was anything to go by, this event will be a blast.  Great products, food offerings and a bar were set up last time.  Jan 28 & 29 Showstoppers Winter Shopping Extravaganza at All Saints (317 Chapel St in Sandy Hill) Saturday noon-7 and Sunday noon-5.carni2017

The annual Winter Carnival kicks off at 2pm on Sunday. Get set for merriment, conviviality, skating, maple syrup, sleigh rides, ice sculptures, rides, a community dinner, crafts and more. See details on the posters about town.

It all takes place at the Sandy Hill Community Centre 250 Somerset St E from 2PM with plenty of indoor and outdoor activities.

Organizer’s are accepting donations of new or lightly used winter wear.  A wonderful opportunity to come together as a community and share with our more vulnerable neighbours.

The Ghomeshi Effect: Bracing look at sexual violence in Canada

The Ghomeshi Effect has nothing do to with the eponymous trial yet everything to do withghomeshi-effect-poster the discussions that event catapulted in to the mainstream. It’s a simple, pared-down production that hits its mark through verbatim content and steadfast delivery.

Creator/Director Jessica Ruano made a call for witnesses of the sexual violence experience via social media. From this call interviews with subjects having experienced, worked in, reflected on, and survived sexual violence were documented. The dialogue of the production uses, in its entirety, edited interviews to inform and share a conversation that is both personal and raw. The six cast members deliver these personal accounts while executing choreographed dance moves on a stage shared only with moveable low-tech grey desks.

The sparseness of the stage creates the space for the interviews, allowing experiences to fill the theatre.  Shattering and infuriating tales of why women, men and children don’t come forward and a challenging condemnation of the capricious nature of our justice system reverberated. Given the unrelenting emotions the production could be well served by a brief intermission to provide breathing space.

The cast work separately but in harmony providing individual powerhouse channels. Delivery, anghomeshi-effect-castd believability were on-point and each shone in their own right. The choreography had highs and lows working most effective when subtlety executed while becoming artificial when overtly athletic.  The bilingual contributions by Marc-André Charette and Gabrielle Lalonde were particularly successful in heightening the reality behind the script. A unique piece of theatre, Ruano has created a thought-provoking effective and entertaining production capturing and adding innovatively to a difficult conversation.

The best art is that which ignites and intensifies feelings. If the conversation amplified by the titular trial and, more recently, by events such as the Women’s March feels relevant than see this recommended and woke production.

The Ghomeshi Effect
Until January 28th, 2017
At The Gladstone – 910 Gladstone Ave.

February 2nd 2017
At The Shenkman Art Centre 245 Centrum Blvd.

Happy Goat jump starts Sandy Hill Coffee Scene

An edited of this review was published by Apt613.
Happy 2017 indeed as Happy Goat Coffee opens its doors today in Sandy Hill.

img_2272The coffee shop at the corner of Wilbrod and Friel has rung in the New Year with an on-trend make over and brand new lease on life thanks to the arrival Happy Goat. A local Ottawa business committed to fair trade practices they source from small-crop farmers in Africa, Asia, Central and South America. The focus on small scale farmers supports ecological diversity in the crops as well as providing a truly varied selection for the artisan roaster – I’m particularly excited by their Ethiopian beans as it was this east-African country where I had my best cup. Their website includes the Legend of the Goat or how Ethiopian Kaldi discovered coffee is a nice touch.

This location is jump-starting its opening while the finishing renovations and installations are in progress.

On opening day seating had yet to arrive (note: the latter is expected today). And, for the moment coffee, tea and beans are the only items on offer. However, as per the Laurel St location, here too the menu will include fresh baked goods, food, a sandwich bar and varied treats once the kitchen equipment is connected.

Alongside international coffee expertise Happy Goat brings commitment to community as illustrated by their integration in the fabric of the Wellington West community.  We are overjoyed not only to have a local, local, coffeeshop but also to add a new vibrant member to our urban landscape.

Support Local and drink coffee –  Welcome Happy Goat!

Happy Goat Coffee – Sandy Hill
317 Wilbrod St. (corner Friel)
7:30am – 8pm

Sandy Hill Book Fair: Tomorrow 9-3

Head over to All Saints Church at the corner of Laurier Avenue & Chapel Street for the annual book fair tomorrow Sunday Nov 13th from 9am-3pm. See your neighbours, browse the books and have a great Sunday in the hood.

pmr-book-fair
click here for legible poster

Common Eatery: Offers uncommonly good fare

Town and Oz were followed by El Camino, Datsun then Pure and Whalesbone opened branches; Elgin street is experiencing a full-on foodie renaissance and it’s latest contender comes in the arrival of new-to-Ottawa gem Common Eatery.

Common EnMasse

enMasse adorns a wall of Common Eatery

The restaurant, which opened several weeks ago, is part of wider collective aptly named Common that includes the Common Concept Shop next door, Le Petit Salon and the Eatery itself only opens in the evening to operate as Morning Owl coffee during the day. The thinking here is an inclusive destination experience and what a pleasure to amble over to browse fashions between courses.

The Eatery fronted by a glass wall overlooking the pedestrian-favorite strip is casual urban-chic with impressively simple design details.  Polished teak chairs flank long shared tables, a bar runs down one side of the restaurant with brushed gold stools from which you can watch mixologists and chefs work their craft. White walls are minimally adorned by internationally renown graffiti artists enMasse (wow!) while oversized wheel-lights hang heavily overhead creating an relaxed loft cum resto effect. Even the well appointed toilets get some clever art that carries the ambiance gracefully throughout.

To the fare: skillfully constructed drinks, paired with a delicate yet ferociously flavoursome menu served at a price point reflective of Montreal and Toronto rather than Ottawa’s frequently overvalued offerings.

Common Some Ting Lemonade

Some Ting Lemonade & elegant teak seating

The cocktails ($9-13) are creative, colourful and complex.  With quality ingredients and skilled staff a well mixed, artistically presented concoction is assured.  There is a range of beers and ciders from $5-$8, a limited yet reasonable wine list and a flute of Veuve Cliquot (hurrah) is an absolute snip at $8.

The menu’s shared dishes are handsomely presented as much a treat to the eyes as to the palate. The varied flavours include seafood offerings, Asian bites, a Caribbean salad, southern vs Korean ribs and a fantastically artistic tenderloin.

Common Wontons

Flashed Wontons

Firm favourites around our table include the vegan Flashed Wontons ($6) –large stuffed wontons with a rich even meaty texture – a lovely and generous shared starter. The Toke salad ($8) offers a burst of fresh flavours with jicama fragrantly sweetened by mango and peppered nappa enhanced with a chilli-ginger vinaigrette and topped with crisp wontons and nuts – conclusion: we could eat a salad bowl full of this outstanding dish, we’ll be back for more and

Common Toke

Toke Salad

surely trying to recreate a version at home.

Squid Ink Ravioli ($12) gets full marks for presentation but was one of the less overwhelming plates with the lobster filling needing greater seasoning however the Crab Cakes ($11) were a resounding win making this late 90’s dish a new star for 2016 in Ottawa. Each delicately fried bite was rich with luxurious crab meat and the accompanying aromatically flavoured mayo a perfect complement. The Scotch-Egg ($6) light, gooey and topped with chorizo was one of the best I have had in the capital. A meaty challenge, the 2-Way Ribs ($12) pitted Louisiana vs Korea in double-header that will delight any carnivore.

Common Ravioli

Squid Ink Ravioli

If this first visit is anything to go by –  and we will be back to ensure the extraordinary quality and price point remain – then rest assured that Common Eatery is uncommonly brilliant and an outstanding choice for a quality evening.

 

 

 

Common Eatery
380 Elgin Street
Monday – Sunday 5PM-Late

 

Fringe 2016: AborAmor

Join Ottawa Stilt Union (OSU) on the Tabaret Hall lawn at Ottawa University for a wordless play cum acrobatic-dance performance that features comedy, love, stilt walking, an accordion player and a towering tree.

ArborAmor1

You’ve likely seen OSU at countless Ottawa events including Canada Day Celebrations as they stride athletically around events engaging with the crowds and delighting kids but they a troupe with many talents; most notably producing quality plays – bilingual and unspoken – hosting the monthly “Youppi Club” at varying central venues across the capital, and delivering acrobatic and stilt walking classes.

AborAmor as the name suggests plays on the themes of romance and nature as two tango dancers struggle to expand their duet to a threesome. Will jealousy rule the day or can love win out? Get yourself down to the lawn of University of Ottawa’s Tabaret Hall for this Ottawa Fringe outdoor performance suitable to all ages, engage with the performers and be enchanted by the whimsy of OSU and AborAmour.

Note as well as a 6PM performance on Friday there are two matinee performances on the weekend perfect for children of all ages.

Ottawa Fringe Festival 2016
ArborAmor
Tabaret Lawn, 550 Cumberland at Laurier/Wilbrod
30 minutes |Comedy | Play/Dance |Family
Friday June 24, 6PM
Saturday June 25, 2PM
Sunday June 26, 3:30PM