I am extremely late in writing about this, but I suppose that's what happens when you go way overboard at a "small plates" food event, and then immediately go on a holiday. It takes a while for things to digest.
This year's Bon Appetit Ottawa event took place on May 6th at Ottawa's Aberdeen Pavilion, otherwise known to the locals as the cattle castle at Lansdowne park. A $75 ticket gave visitors access to over 90 food, wine, beer and spirits vendors, including some of Ottawa's top eateries, like Social, the Urban Pear, Soupcon, Whalesbone, Kinki and more.
Having never attended a Bon Appetit event before, and being the sort to obsessively research things to death on the internet, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to expect - what kind of food could we expect? Was it veg-friendly? Were the crowds totally insane?
After reading about "horrendous lineups", "people stuffing truffles and smoked salmon into ziploc bags to take home with them" and "more waiting than eating" from previous years comments, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. I'm all for good food, but the ziploc hoarding crowd? Not my thing (see also: how rude!). And I'm not about to wait twenty minutes in line for a tiny nibble, even of the tastiest dish. But we were hearing positive things about how this event was different and way more sensible than those in years past. And it was!
The event itself ran from 5 - 9, and slowpokes that we are, we arrived around 6:30. The crowd was still hopping, and the pavilion FULL of vendors was great to see. The food covered all sorts of ground - Sam Jakes Inn was serving Frites with Duck Confit, while Thyme and Again catering served Elk Meatloaf. Leaning more towards the veggie side of things, I stuck to empanadas from Mambo, and Ginger Buttermilk Panna Cotta in chocolate cups from Thyme & Again. Epicuria (one of our favourite little gourmet shops in New Edinburgh) was serving *the* cutest mini burgers, and I couldn't resist trying out Bacon Chip Cookies with Lobster Ice Cream from The Courtyard Restaurant. Not my favourite cookie ever, but the process - wow!
We tried all manner of beer wine and spirits, too, including cassis diluted with sparkling wine, tasty stout, red and white wines.
All in all it was a great evening - though there were so many food and drink vendors it almost felt overwhelming at times. And those small plates add up - we were ready to roll ourselves home shortly after 8 pm, and I'm sure I didn't think about food again for days.
From what I understand, this event will be back next year - and it's also nice to note that the $75 admission also comes with a $45 charitable donation receipt, since a portion of the proceeds goes to these charities. If you're looking to see what sorts of eclectic food and drink Ottawa establishments have to offer, this is a way to do it with a wallet-friendly price tag.
(cross-posted to cheap eats ottawa, too)