IKEA , originally uploaded by photomuppet.

Fans of cheap furniture will be pleased to learn that according to the Canwest News Service, IKEA has filed plans to the City of Ottawa to expand their Ottawa location, making it the largest in the country. The plan has apparently been in the works for five years. Perhaps they were just looking for the right little allen key to get started?

basiaIn her much anticipated return to the Black Sheep Inn last night, Basia Bulat lived up to my somewhat over-inflated expectations for the show and overshadowed my unending love of her first music video.

Bulat’s unique vocal is perfectly accompanied by a precise (and talented) violist, a creative piano/ accordion section and the guarded (yet fun) percussion of her brother. The newer songs she played (including touch the hem of his garment, which she released on a 7 inch vinyl) were just as haunting and catchy as her full length album. To the delight of the ex-vice president of the King’s University College Ucayali association, she finished with a solo on the ukulele.

I can’t say that the thought of driving to Montreal to see her again tonight didn’t cross my mind. Hope to see her back soon.

Photo courtesy of LexnGer (click image for for more)

Photo courtesy of LexnGer (click image for for more)

For better or worse I count myself among the army of Ottawans that toil daily for the government within several blocks of Sparks Street downtown. We have our peculiar habits.  You may have noticed the ID tags clipped to our belts:  A hideous fashion choice that we gladly make in order to avoid the inconvenience of reaching into a pocket or purse when entering the workplace. Such is the efficiency and commitment of the federal civil servant. You may also have noticed that we congregate at bus stops between 3:30 and 4:30pm (or used to, before the interminable strike) because we believe it’s worth getting to work at 7:30am if you get to leave the office while the sun’s still out. And our employer is fine with that.

Anyways, another thing we share in common is lunch. Between 12 and 1, you’ll find swarms of us in the basements of our grey office towers lining up at equally grey food counters serving up meals of a similar hue. Surely you, like me, believe in your heart that there is a better way.

This post, the first in an occasional series, will point the way to the culinary adventures that await only minutes away from your ergonomic keyboard.

Today’s discovery:  Tokyo Sushi on Kent between Nepean and Lisgar.  The place is small — maybe 6  tables.  It wasn’t busy though, even during peak mid-week lunching hours.  The decor is clean, fresh, and minimalist.  It makes for a nice break from the taupe an beige tones of your typical Government of Canada workplace.

The reason you come, though, is the sushi and good prices.  This is seriously tasty sushi. Much better than the nearby (and better-known) Festival Japan.  It’s also reasonably priced, a near miracle in Ottawa. The maki sushi combos start at $6.95 and top out at about $11 for enough sushi to make a good-sized lunch. The spicy salmon roll is delicious.  The veggie gyoza are crispy and light.  And the edamame were nicely cooked and salted. The best part of all: Pots of pungent japanese green tea are free and plentiful.

So ditch the basement sandwich shop, don your parka, and check it out.

Preparing for the Budget

My current budget priority is to save for a pony. Ottawa Center MP Paul Dewar hopes that next week’s federal budget, which will include a 34 million dollar deficit, will involve less horse manure. From 10am to 2pm this Saturday, January 24th, Dewar is organizing a Community Dialogue on Economic Priorities at the Bronson Center (211 Bronson Ave), that will touch on a number of topics, including infrastructure and transit, housing, income security, environment and energy, supporting individuals and families, and ponies…  OK, maybe not ponies, but a girl can dream.

New Kid on the Block

January 22, 2009

Play

Play Stephen Beckta’s new wine and cheese shop on Sussex Drive is now scheduled to open on January 30th. (One month behind schedule but who’s counting?).

Survival of the warmest

January 20, 2009

So it was cold last week – damn cold. -37 windchills ain’t going to make any trip outside pleasant, especially if you’re still part of the walking masses who are bitterly cursing the continued lack of transit.

The question then becomes: where to get the gear that will protect you from the elements?

Get bundled up, find a comfy snowbank, and have yourself a tasty snowy treat!

Get bundled up, find a comfy snowbank, and have yourself a tasty snowy treat!

1. MEC – yes, it’s quickly becoming standard-issue Canadian clothing. But they’ve got good quality, reasonably priced winter wear that will last you for the next few bitter winters to come. Plus, you’ll match at least half of the people in Ottawa!

2. Bushtukah – a little more upscale, Bushtukah has a good range of brands – but don’t be afraid to ask one of the knowledgeable staff for help. You might need it to understand the outdoorsy lingo that permeates the conversations in this store.

3. Tommy and Lefebvre – with six stores across Ottawa, this chain will have what you need (or one of the other locations will). They can also have pretty good sales – keep an eye out for these so you can stock up on the essentials!

4. Mark’s Work Wearhouse – sure, we’re not all lumberjacks. But we all still could use a trip to Mark’s for a good pair of wool socks and half-mitten/half-gloves. Plus, they’ve got boots that will keep your feet nice and toasty.

5. The Expedition Shoppe – with a good selection of travel gear (heading down to somewhere warm? get your travel backpack here!), they’ve also got a fair showing of parkas, boots and other warm wear.

Remember: layer up! This is the only time of year when wearing longjohns can be considered fashionable (and even then, it may be a stretch for some), so take advantage of it!