Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Trip To The Great White North: Day 2

Teri still had one session to attend for her conference on Thursday, so after she left, I went to the hotel's fitness center and worked out. All I had to eat that morning before exercising was a fiber bar and a cup of coffee, so I was ravenous by the time I finished on the elliptical machine. I went down to La Presse, the hotel's cafe, and ordered a latte and a Montreal bagel...

Let's just stop there and savour that memory a little bit.

A Montreal bagel is very different than a New York style bagel - it is flatter, chewier - and in my opinion, much tastier. I find New York bagels to be fluffier - more bread like. They are okay for sandwiches, but I don't get much out of eating them on their own.

By the time I finished and got dressed, Teri and her co-worker, Anne, were back from the conference and ready to go out for lunch. Anne wanted to have Thai food (an aside here - remember Teri and Anne both live in Whitehorse and there aren't many ethnic restaurants there). It was much colder this morning - I believe Teri said it was -8'C / 18'F - and we had to keep a brisk pace to keep the blood flowing to our faces!  We went to the Thai Palace for lunch - it was okay - I think I wanted to like it more than I did.  I had the lunch combo that included hot and sour soup (much too salty and I only ate the shrimp out of it), a spring roll (tasty), and green curry with lemongrass and coconut milk on jasmine rice (very yummy!).

After lunch, Teri and I split up with Anne - Anne wanted to hit some museums and Teri and I wanted to do some shopping first.  Across the street from the restaurant was Ma Cuisine and Mon Cadeau, a kitchen store and gift store, so we had to go in and creat wishlists in our head.  One of these days I am going to have a big enough kitchen to accomodate all the cool gadgets I want to play with. I saw a little salt pig that I wanted, but I wasn't about to pay $30 for it.

We eventually made our way to The National Gallery of Canada on the Ottawa River. I had been to the National Gallery once before, when I was 16 years old.  I didn't know it at the time, but the National Gallery had only opened a few months before I was there.


See that big spider? It is called Maman and it is an installation by by Louise Bourgeois. Believe it or not, I have seen this statue before - but the last time I saw it, it was in Rockefeller Center in Manhattan, back in 2001, about three weeks before 9/11. Apparently the original of this statue belongs to the Tate Gallery in London and there are multiple bronze casts around the world. Teri pointed out something disconcerting I hadn't noticed before - there are silver eggs in her egg sack.

Teri and I spent a few hours at the National Gallery - so much so that Teri tried to take off her (poor choice of) shoes, but the guard made her put them back on!  I can't say I enjoyed the contemporary exhibit  or the Hoffos exhibit (although watching Teri try to avoid the hologram because she thought it was a real person was funny) because for the most part, I just don't get it. Once installation was actually called '254 pieces of felt' and it was a pile of felt on the floor. Teri wanted to know how on earth they could even attempt to replicate that at another museum. The Canadian Art and International Art exhibits were very enjoyable - I could have spent much more time there, but we were getting so tired from walking around (and the the ways the rooms lead one into another can get a bit claustrophobic after a bit - you can't seem to find your way out).

There was one First Nations artist there whose paintings Teri and I both really liked - his name was Alex Janvier. The funny thing is that his art is modern - something that neither of us really turn to, but there was something about it that appealed to both of us. I had hoped to find something in the gift shop - a print or even a postcard - to bring home, but couldn't find anything by him.

We met up with Anne back at the hotel, and we went in search of somewhere to eat. Our original plan was to head up to the Carleton Slots and Racetrack to play some games and eat. The handy-dandy tourist guide in our hotel room assured us it was only a few blocks from our hotel. Not so... after walking and walking, ending up near the Rideau Canal and having to turn off and end out near the the University of Ottawa (where a young Quebecois man explained that we were way far away from either the casino or the racetrack), we marched back toward Byward Market and ended up having dinner at Aulde Dubliner and Pour House. Now, they didn't have their own beer like the Highlander pub (I ended up with a Kilkenny ale this time) - but they had something else the Highlander didn't have - poutine!


That's my Kilkenny ale on the left with the head.

For those of you who don't know, poutine is a simple Quebecois dish of french fries topped with beef gravy and cheese curds. Sounds odd, but it is infinitely delicious. I didn't grow up eating poutine as such, but having gravy with fries is a very common thing on the West Coast. Teri, Anne, and I shared the poutine, and then I had Irish Shepherd's pie for my meal - something hot and filling after that fruitless walk on a frozen night.

Tomorrow: Day 3 with Bank Street, Parliament Buildings, and strange offerings from McDonalds...


Mel R said...

We never had a name for it but growing up in ND we had fries with gravy all the time, even fast food places served it as an option like at Big Boy. I thought that was pretty normal until I moved away from home and realized it was nowhere to be found in CA. LOL Glad you are having a great trip.

Karen said...

I used to eat fries with cheese (american/cheddar) and gravy at diners, and I grew up in NYC. It differs between the boroughs I understand....I grew up in Queens, and hubby in Bklyn, where he ate them with mozzarella and gravy, and they're called disco fries.

Also, I used to work at 30 Rock in 2001....I don't remember that spider statue! It's kinda hard to miss! :)

kingshearte said...

Stumbled across your blog from someone else's, and I just wanted to say welcome to Ottawa! I hope you're back home now, though, because if you find -8 cold, you really wouldn't enjoy today. -20, with a windchill of -30. (which apparently is -22F, if that means more to you.)

I look forward to reading about the rest of your visit - it's neat to see someone else's perspective on where you live.

Matt said...

Hey, I notice you visited the hotel gym. Would you mind writing a review at http://www.HotelGymReview.com?