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Day Two in Ottawa was yet another culinary success. After dropping Greg off at the conference, I browsed through the shops and stalls at Byward Market and procured the following for a gourmet picnic:

1 loaf olive bread, The French Baker
1 wheel triple creme Brie, House of Cheese
$1 of wild boar and fig pate, House of Cheese
$5 of apricots, peaches, and blueberries, market stall
1 fig, Byward Fruit Market

We set up a small picnic outside the main conference site, complete with real plates and silverware procured from the hotel restaurant and a makeshift tablecloth, surely drawing the envy of many an economist. There aren’t too many places to eat right by campus, and we suspected that the majority of the other participants refueled at a nearby nondescript bar and grill type place with surely mediocre fare.
I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Ottawa while Greg was off hearing Daron Acemoglu (of instrumental variable fame) present on political regimes and institutions. Highlights from my afternoon included the following: touring the Peace Tower at Parliament (the castle-like structure above); happening upon a Syrian protest; obtaining an invitation to an invitation-only Iranian event at the National Arts Center; sitting by the Rideau Canal spectating a family of ducks learn how to swim. Highlights from Greg’s afternoon included a lecture on binary choice models with endogenous regressors.
When we reconvened for the evening, we went off in an ultimately failed street meat tour, Ottawa edition — a quest to try a variety of shawarma vendors in Ottawa. Spoiled by our initial journey to Shawarma Palace, 45 minutes later and half a dozen shawarma locales visited, we decided to trek back to Shawarma Palace, a 20 minute walk away. And our appetites were surely rewarded! The amount of food offered was constrained only by the size of the plate with some allowed amount of spillover onto the tray — tabouleh, hummus, shawarma chicken, cardamom brown rice, pickled vegetables and fresh vegetables piled HIGH on our plate, and a bag of pita bread tossed on the side. In a nutshell, it was awesome. And our recommendation is the following — even if you’re starving and accompanied by a big appetite-ed companion, a split order of a shawarma plate will leave you satisfied.
And this mostly concludes our trip to Ottawa. Greg is presenting this morning on Labor Allocation and Productivity: Consequences of the 2010 Health Insurance Reform, and then we’re off to New Haven!
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Here we are, safely arrived in Ottawa! An eight hour drive yielded the following: 1) a cloyingly cute diner called the Soda Fountain in middle-of-nowhere Remsen, New York; 2) legions of spotted dairy cows; 3)a horse and carriage trotting along the same highway we were on; and 4) serious border patrol issues.

The last time I went to Canada (granted, about 15 years ago), I recall nonchalantly handing over a passport, having it nonchalantly glanced at and returned, and zipping along our way without any trouble. This time, however, we were questioned about our intents, whether we were carrying firearms, and whether we have letters of introduction. “No sir, no letters of introduction; no sir, certainly no firearms; no sir, all we’ve packed are clothes, and shoes, and some economics papers…” We were asked to pull over into the immigration office, undergo a bit more questioning, before we were finally released under the guise of “standard procedure.”

Upon arriving in Ottawa, we made a beeline for Metropolitain Brasserie, a very Washington-DC meets Parliament Hill type French place that serves Ottawa’s version of happy hour, dubbed “Hill-Hour” which runs from4-7. (Needless to say, the time spent at the border significantly encroached on our ability to make it to Hill Hour.) We were seated within a few minutes of Hill Hour’s closing, and we ordered a big bowl of PEI mussels with a chili-ginger sauce and sweet potato fries. Now these were all extremely delicious, but the real treat was the baguette.

Now, as you may know from the our many blog posts on baking, we’re not really a white-bread/all-purpose flour consuming couple. Coconut flour, whole wheat flour, homemade oat flour and spelt flour are way more up our alley than all-purpose flour. As such, the pasty baguette sitting cut up in our bread basket at Metropolitan Brasserie offered no source of temptation… until, of course, we tried it. Oh man, one of the best loaves of bread we’ve ever head. It had a delicate crispy crust on the outside, and a deliciously chewy crumb, well-salted and very warm. I will die a happy lady if I can ever replicate a bread like this — well, perhaps with a whole wheat twist.

We did a bit more exploring to finish off the evening, and I’m convinced that Ottawa will be remembered by us as the city of great bread. More to come!

Readers, have you been to Ottawa? If so, please comment and let us know what your must-gos or must-avoids are! We’ll be here through Sunday and are actively seeking recommendations!

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