By Vanessa Chiasson
Tacos at an orchard? Yes!
What’s the most authentic Ottawa dish to eat at an apple orchard? It might just be tacos! Confused? A trip to Osgoode’s Log Cabin Orchard will clear up any doubt you might have.
The Log Cabin Orchard is located just 30 minutes south of central Ottawa in the community of Osgoode, where farming has a long and proud tradition. But embracing tradition shouldn’t be confused with being old fashioned. Family farms like this one are eagerly embracing new recipes, for both their food and business. And Log Cabin Orchard is a scrumptious example of that! Co-owner Yazmin has her roots in Mexico and whips up fresh, made to order vegetable or meat tacos on corn tortillas, with a side of farm-fresh salsa sauce (mild for us mere mortals, picante for those who like it hot!). Tacos may just be the ideal fuel for picking apples or choosing the perfect pumpkin.
Apples, produce and dairy, oh my!
From Paula Reds to Liberties, Ottawa’s orchards produce a huge range of crunchy, juicy apples, perfect for devouring just as they are for turning into earthy, autumn delights like apple crisp, apple butter, and even savoury apple glazes for pork and other main dishes. And Log Cabin Orchard’s neighbours are busy supplying the markets, farm stands and grocery stores with the perfect ingredients for an authentic local dinner. Nearby Carleton Mushrooms grow white, cremini, and portobello mushrooms year-round, harvesting every two weeks or so to keep up with demand for their product. At DonEvelyn dairy farm, three generations of farmers keep busy tending over 1,000 acres and producing milk on a daily basis. And at Butterfly Sky farms, healthy, wholesome sprouts, shoots, and microgreens are being served up, perfect for munching on their own or spicing up soups and sandwiches.
The land of plenty
These four unique farms represent just a fraction of what Osgoode and the rest of Ottawa have to offer. Ottawa is home to an incredible 1300 farms in all - a number that seems astonishing before you realize that the city is 90% rural. And covering much of that ground and championing all those farmers is the passion-project of Just Food. This diverse group of growers, producers, teachers, lawyers, environmentalists and all-around foodies are THE people to hang out with if you want to know where celebrity chefs are sourcing their ingredients - or if you’d just like some advice on where to get fresh raspberries or a darn good local beer.
Just Food’s projects include producing the Buy Local, Grow Local Ottawa food guide, championing Ottawa’s community garden network, initiating a seed saving, seed lending program with the Ottawa Public Library, and running their own farm which supports new and returning farmers. But none of their work is quite so mouth-watering as the Savour Ottawa program.
The Savour Ottawa program and its associated logo is the ultimate food lovers’ calling card in Canada’s Capital region, for locals and visitors alike. It identifies restaurants, caterers, hotels, producers, micro-producers, market participants, butchers, retail stores and more who support, sell, and utilize local agricultural products. Savour Ottawa even runs an online ordering program to connect eager eaters with fresh products. From the famed Fairmont Château Laurier hotel, to the ultra-trendy Absinthe Cafe, to beekeepers, to maple sugar bush proprietors, and even a cranberry bog (the only one in the world within city limits), Just Food and the Savour Ottawa program are revolutionizing how food is grown and consumed in Ottawa.
Discovering rural gems
Between the Savour Ottawa program and the Buy Local, Grow Local guide, Just Food has made it easier than ever for farmers and consumers to connect. But in 2017, they took it one step further by hosting Ottawa 2017’s Agri150 program of “Secret Eats” tours in some of Ottawa’s rural districts. The success and popularity of these mystery tours has Just Food executive director Moe Garahan eager for more - an excellent reason to keep an eye on their calendar of events.
Until then, it’s no mystery where to get some of Ottawa’s best tacos. But just in case you feel guilty about munching on rice and beans instead of Lobos and Cortlands, rest assured that Log Cabin Orchard has you covered. Their apple cider churros will give you all the sweet, crunchy apple inspiration you could dream of and they’re the perfect treat after a day of picking, playing and exploring around Osgoode.