Ottawa Wine and Food Show … Anniversary Edition

When the leaves turn to red in the nation’s capital, so, too, does my wine choice.

I was in Italy last year for the Ottawa Wine and Food Show, an annual tradition for the 2o-somethings of the city to get dressed up, cram themselves into a relatively tight space, consume some (or lots) of alcohol and let the mingling ensue. This year marked the 25th anniversary of the event, reportedly the longest running such food fest in Canada. Since I consider food and wine two of my biggest hobbies — well, at least they represent a substantial portion of my budget — I was excited.

Small space for goodies from the Ottawa Wine and Food Show.

After waiting more than an hour in line OUTSIDE of Lansdowne on a cold Saturday evening — this in spite of the fact I had pre-purchased my ticket two weeks earlier — I entered the event only to be accosted by sensory overload. With more than 1,400 types of wine, beer and spirits, plus 20-odd restaurants offering up their selection to a whopping 25,000 people, it really is an experience not to be missed for the average foodie. I sampled a decadent selection of artisan cheeses, hand-crafted chocolates, toffee-crunch cheesecake and the ever-famous lobster poutine, to pair with my wine choices. (Alas, no photos. My camera doesn’t fit in my clutch.)

Sixty dollars and four hours later, with two sore feet and a purse full of wine-suggesting business cards in tow, I left the event full and happy. While not the cheapest night on record, plus a slight disappointment at the lack of  obvious wines in rotation — pretty much everything there could be found on a standard LCBO shelf — it is a definite must for any Ottawa native or visitor.

Besides, where else would you meet Craig, The Bachelor, of Season Ali fame (I swear his hair was three feet tall); the quick-on-the-comebacks S’mo, a witty, self-proclaimed “relocation engineer” — or mover ; and some of the finest sugar sculptors this continent has to offer, courtesy of le Cordon Bleu? (Ottawa hosts the only North American chapter of the world-famous culinary school.)

But for the sake of my wallet and my waistline, I’m glad the Ottawa Wine and Food show only comes around once a year.

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