Teams do Ottawa proud in major U.S. contests; Rosie’s promises southern twist when it opens on Bank Street
NOV 17 13 – 2:30 PM — Today, we’ll wander through what I like to think of as a potpourri of food items to while away a lazy autumn, albeit drizzly afternoon in the nation’s capital …
On other fronts, this promises to be an extraordinarily busy week beginning with theregional Gold Medal Plates event at the National Arts Centre tomorrow evening, then moving on to other events and food-related news we’ll explore another day soon in this forum.
Rosie’s to open in fortnight on Bank,
near Lansdowne Park
Partners behind the newRosie’s Southern Kitchen and Raw Bar at 895 Bank St. near Lansdown Park, in what was the original Mexicali Rosa’s “California-style Mexican food” restaurant dating back to 1979, expect to have their latest operation up and running in about two weeks. Mexicali Rosa’s closed its original location there in July.
Principals behind the venture are restaurateur Ross Tyrell and Louis Charest, executive chef at Rideau Hall, who also own Big Easy’s Seafood & Steak House on Preston Street. (Recall the 110-seat Big Easy’s with its distinctive Louisiana cuisine was founded in 2008 by former Canadian Football League star Val Belcher, a native Texan who adopted Ottawa as his home. Belcher died in late 2010, and today the restaurant continues with Tyrell, an original partner, and Charest.)
Tyrell is doing a lot of the renovation himself, including tile work, grouting and carpentry, while Charest has been putting finishing touches to a menu he says will reflect flavours along the Gulf of Mexico coast.
Rosie’s will have about 82 seats, plus 40 on a heated patio (complete with gas fireplace) out front where there used to be parking. In summer, another 40 seats can be opened on the patio portion that isn’t heated, closest to the sidewalk.
Above L-R, Ross Tyrell and Louis Charest. A work in progress, the renovation end is near as owners expect a soft opening on Bank Street in about two weeks.
Wood panelling and oak flooring is made of reclaimed logs fished from the Ottawa River. The bartop will be clad in zinc, with gas-pipe foot rails. The name Rosie is actually the nickname of Tyrell’s late father.
Asked about the food, Charest says the “strongest influence that takes over along the Gulf coast is Mexican, but we really didn’t want to go that route.”
Expect five local craft beers on tap, plus one out-of-town brew (Steam Whistle).
“While the richest culinary influence along the Gulf Coast is Mexican,” Charest says, “I wanted something more diverse to get away from just the stereotypic Tex-Mex and its variations.
“So the menu will include items like Tex-Mex nachos, chili and burritos, but it will also offer baked oysters, mussels, clams, Cajun peel-and-eat shrimp, and a true raw bar with shrimp, oysters and clams.”
Highlights will include Rosie’s potato salad with blue and sweet potato aioli with a slaw of jicama and mango; blackened six-ounce tenderloin with bacon and sunny-side-up egg, glace de viande with red rice, beans and vegetables; brined and braised fried chicken drumsticks with blue cheese serrano dip; and the restaurant’s signature paella with shrimp, scallop, mussels, clams, calamari and chorizo sausage with accents of roast pepper, olive, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil citrus-note rice.
Oh, and don’t forget the burgers — including green chili cheeseburger, Hoodoo burger with a six-ounce patty and spicy fried okra and sangria tomato relish, for example.
Tyrell says he’s long been familiar with the Bank Street location as he and Belcher once scouted it together some five years ago as a possible location for a Louisiana crab shack. But the spot didn’t work out.
Rosie’s is expected to open without fanfare in about two weeks, with an official grand opening in late December or early 2014.
Congrats to Ottawa barbecue teams who fared well
in international events in Lynchburg and Las Vegas
Congratulations and a job well done for two Ottawa barbecue teams that recently competed in big, international invitation competitions in the United States.
Husband-and-wife team Pistol Packin’ Piggies a.k.a. Brad and Carolyne Rohrig, joined in competition by John Thomson of Eatepedia, were among only five Canadians invited to the prestigious 25th annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue competitionOct. 26 in Lynchburg, Tenn., one of 98 teams from around the world.
After Tennessee, they were back competing in Las Vegas on Nov. 7.
Both invites came as a result of their top showing at the accredited Smoked to the Bone barbecue competition in Ottawa held in May at the Gloucester Fair.
In all, the pistol packers placed 14th in chicken, 17th for pork, 50th in ribs and 78th for beef brisket at the Jack Daniel’s.
Then, at the Las Vegas World Food Championships, of 66 teams in competition they placed 16th overall, with an impressive second-place showing in pork, 12th for ribs and brisket, well, not so great in 53rd place. “Had we done just OK in brisket we would have placed in the Top 10 overall,” Brad says.
Still, mighty impressive.
Above top, representing Ottawa L-R is Pistol Packin’ Piggies pitmaster Brad Rohrig, Eatapedia’s John Thomson, and Pistol Packin’ Carolyne Rohrig, waving the flag in far-away places …
Also hats off to Corinna Horton (photo, left), author of the popular food blog Food Gypsy, placing 5th in burgers — one of seven categories I counted in the event, which attracted almost 300 competitors overall.
She qualified to enter as a result of placing first in the inaugural Taste of Home Canada competition burger contest (I counted almost 40 entries in that category alone in Las Vegas.) Complete details on her website here. Her winning burger recipe for Taste of Home is here.
Above, the burger competition is intense in Las Vegas with Team Food Gypsy.
Although Brad was a bit disappointed not to be called to the podium among the Top 10 in any category at the Jack Daniel’s, he says just getting to cook with the best in the world was pretty impressive.
“Because of the calibre of cooks, every single point mattered and we found that you did not have the affordability to have anything go wrong, because if something does happen you can guarantee there will be numerous other teams turning in perfect food and replacing you in the overall standings,” Brad says.
The organization of this event was just what the name states, it’s a world-class operation. To be given this opportunity to compete on the world stage at this event, it meant that we have achieved something that very few teams get to experience. We took in all the sights that we could, we partook in all the activities that were offered, including a dessert category, sauce category and a cooking from the homeland category. These additional categories were to be prepared and submitted in conjunction with the four main meat categories; ribs, chicken, brisket and pork.
Finishing in the top 20 in two categories, 14th in chicken and 17th in pork, meant as much to me as getting my name called. The standings were so close that a single point differentiated a 14th spot instead of an 8th spot overall.
As for the Pistol Packin’ experience in Vegas:
“We had flown into Las Vegas with nothing more than a carry-on bag full of spices and sauce, borrowing a cooker and searching out for quality wood to cook with, Brad says.
“Not being familiar with the cooker and using wood that was lesser in quality than I’m used to made for a challenge in itself. Two practice cooks prior to the competition allowed me to get somewhat familiar with the cooker and the wood.
Next year …?
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