Anyone who knows me well knows there are 3 things in life that I love the most (aside from my fiancé and pizza): food, travel, and music. So, when Metro offered to take me on an adventure this past weekend to Ottawa for The JUNO Awards—giving me an opportunity to get a HUGE dose of music, food, and travel all at the same time—I was like, “Hellllllll, yessss!”
How Metro is Celebrating Canada’s Sesquicentennial
In celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial (which is just a fancy way of saying 150th anniversary), Metro is putting together a series of 7 local events, called the Homegrown Food and Music Tour, showcasing Ontario’s local food and talent. Since Metro was the official volunteer sponsor of the awards, the launch of the Homegrown Food and Music Tour was at The JUNOs, and the next 6 events will be pop-up dinners in different cities in Ontario between May and August. I’ve heard one of the dinners will be al-fresco on a bridge, and one will be as far as Thunder Bay! I can’t wait to eat my way across Ontario and see all that Metro has in store for #Canada150!
Going to The JUNO Awards in Ottawa
The trip kicked off on Via Rail’s #JunoExpress, which was basically one big party all the way from Toronto to Ottawa with JUNO nominees and industry peeps. My fellow Metro blogger and partner in crime for the weekend was Alice of Meet & Eats. Come 11 o’clock, the drinks were flowing, there were live performances, and Kardinal Offishall even got on the mic to emcee the train ride! But the best part about it was, of course, the FOOD!
Chef Nick Liu of Toronto’s DaiLo catered boxes of his signature Big Mac baos. But even better than that, if you used the DINR app to reserve your spot in advance, you could get a VIP dim sum experience by Nick Liu in the Glenfraser car! I seriously can’t rave enough about this meal! It was 5 courses of the most delicious dim sum I’ve ever had, prepared with ingredients from Metro. Check out this menu: smoked trout on a Betel Leaf, Hakka brown wontons stuffed with pork and shrimp in a house-made XO sauce, pumpkin dumplings in a soy brown butter sauce with black truffles, truffle fried brown rice, and whole fried trout….mmmm!
Every single dish was so flavourful, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would have to be the Hakka brown wontons with pork and shrimp. I could have easily polished off two of those, and if I wasn’t in public, I would have licked the plate clean of that XO sauce! I had enough trouble trying to snap pictures of the food on a moving train, so I’m still in awe of how it all could be executed under those conditions. The meal pretty much set the tone for the rest of the trip, which involved A LOT of eating and drinking!
There’s honestly so much to say about my weekend in Ottawa that I could go on and on. So instead, I’ll share some of my highlights.
What We Did
We stayed at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which had a central location and the perfect view of the Parliament Hill.
Alice and I also sat down with Metro for our first ever LIVE video to discuss the hottest food trends and foods appropriate for awards season. Here’s the full video:
We also got a backstage tour inside the Canadian Tire Centre and saw the set up of the stage and the red carpet. At the Awards, we got to walk the red carpet and then hang out pre-JUNOs inside the Jackson-Triggs lounge. We saw live performances by Alessia Cara, Shawn Mendes, an appearance from our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and an amazing performance at the end of Bryan Adam’s “Summer of ’69” by the winners and nominees! And to top off the night, Alice and I checked out the Kaytranada after-party at Junxion Public House!
Where We Ate
Food is always a major focus on my trips and there are a few stand-out places we went to over the weekend. I must say, Ottawa’s food scene really did impress me. We barely even scratched the surface, and so, this trip has made me want to return to experience more! Fairouz tops my list of restaurants in Ottawa. We chanced upon this Middle Eastern place and later learned it’s on Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants. The food and service were outstanding and the décor was beautiful! Riviera (another Canada’s 100 Best restaurant) was fantastic for dinner, but sadly it was too dark for me to snap any photos of our meal. Savoy Brasserie gets points for aesthetics, but the brunch was just mediocre. And the cutest place for donuts in Ottawa has to be SuzyQ.
Overall, the trip was a great mix of food, music, and travel, and I couldn’t have planned it better, myself. A huge THANK YOU goes out to the Veritas Communications and Metro PR teams who made it all possible and planned everything to perfection!