THE PERFECT WINE FOR ALL YOUR FAVOURITE OTTAWA TAKEOUT OPTIONS
You’ll want to watch this video with sound on, trust me.
I’m on a journey to learn more about wine and I’m bringing you along for the ride. While I never once cheated on a test in my school days (although I probably should have when it came to Grade 12 calculus), when it comes to wine I do keep a cheat sheet/tutor in my back pocket.
Who or what is this magical resource, you ask? It’s none other than Somm™ – a multifaceted lifestyle platform that takes the intimidation factor out of wine, offers enhanced hospitality experiences, and connects consumers to amazing wines from independent bottle shops, wineries, and agencies across Ontario and Alberta…and soon, across Canada.
The app is free to download and all users have access to its brilliant recommendations which take the guesswork out of selecting the perfect wine (you may have seen me demonstrate its seamless functionality in this earlier blog post).
Since then, the fine folks at Somm have continued to innovate and enhance the user experience. Now when you’re looking for the perfect wine pairing for food, you can select the new “Common Dishes and Cuisines” category to get ideas on what bottles will pair best with Mexican, Indian, Sushi, Thai, Middle Eastern, Pizza, or Southern BBQ.
Somm is fully integrated with the LCBO inventory and uses data science to suggest a carefully curated array of bottles suited to whatever you’re serving. It also lets you pick your ideal price point by organizing wines into cheaper, moderate, and pricier bottles. Plus, users in Ontario can now click the “Buy Now” button in the app and be taken directly to the LCBO product page to place an order for same-day pick-up, in-store or home delivery!
I am so excited about this new feature that I wanted to share some pairings suggested by Somm to pair with takeout from some of my favourite restaurants in Ottawa.
The pandemic has disproportionately affected the hospitality industry, combine that with the nearly month-long occupation of our downtown core, there has never been a more crucial moment to support local restaurants. Here are some ideas for your next takeout order and some wine ideas sourced from Somm for the perfect pairing. Download the Somm app today and find the perfect pairing for all your favourite takeout dishes!
This is by no means an exhaustive list, feel free to drop your favourite Ottawa takeout joints in the comments below!
Mexican Takeout + Rosé
Rosé isn’t just for patio season. Well-loved amongst the brunch set for its clean, fresh, and fruity qualities, these wines pair well with a wide range of foods – especially the chilies and baking spices often found in Mexican dishes like tacos al pastor. In case you were wondering where the range of blush tones come from in the rosé aisle, it is most commonly made with red grapes, letting the juice sit on the skins for a short amount of time to lend the wine its distinctive pink hue.
- Si Señor – for authentic Mexican street food, look no further than Si Señor. Owner Hugo Crespo quit his job in banking in 2019 to fulfill his passion and bring his fondest childhood memories from Mexico to life on a plate. You can choose to fill your corn tortilla with carnitas, pastor, asada, or lamb slow-roasted in banana leaves, to name just a few of the delicious options.
- Toro Taqueria – this downtown destination did a booming lunch business before the pandemic sent all the government workers off to work-from-home. You could find me there on a weekly basis picking up one of their delicious taco bowls – cilantro lime rice or lettuce topped with your choice of filling, frijoles, corn, pico de gallo, pickled onions, cilantro and their signature Toro sauce.
- El Camino – with locations on Elgin and in the ByWard Market, it can be hard to get a table at either location of this popular watering hole. Save yourself the wait and take it to go from their takeout window on Elgin – the Crispy Prawn Betel Leaves are NOT to be missed. These tempura-battered betel leaves stuffed with prawns may look like mold when you unbox them, but trust me when I say they are DELICIOUS. Be mindful of the juicy goodness that might run like lava down your chin when you take your first bite. You’ve been warned.
Indian Takeout + Syrah
Syrah is a red grape variety native to Southern France which is now grown all over the world. Loved for being smoky, earthy, and savoury, this style of wine pairs well with lamb and other well-seasoned dishes much-loved in Indian cuisine.
- Thali – Helmed by award-winning chef, Joe Thottungal, and his long-time chef de cuisine, Rajesh Gopi, Thali is my dangerously close to where I live and you can often find me enjoying their ever-changing Thali at lunch. You can also order takeout online. The idea behind a Thali is to offer all the 6 different flavours of sweet, salty, bitter, sour, astringent and spicy on one single plate. Thali is the Indian word for the round copper platter that the 6-7 dishes or “khatoris” are served on.
- Taj Indian Cuisine – A veritable fixture of the Ottawa food scene, Taj Indian Cuisine opened back in 1987 and since then has continued to serve North Indian Punjabi style cooking prepared from a selection of innovative recipes created by owner Indu Bakshi. Let me just say, it’s not called the “Taj Famous Butter Chicken” for nothin’.
- Vivaan – Indian street food gets a fine dining spin at Vivaan. Chef Teegavarapu Sarath serves up a variety of dishes you may not have sampled before all beautifully executed. It’s not often you’ll find burrata on an Indian menu but it’s a delightful surprise in Sarath’s cookery.
Sushi Takeout + Chablis
Chablis is unoaked Chardonnay. As such, it doesn’t share the same buttery, creamy notes as Chardonnay; Chablis is lean, clean, and sharp with a citrus-forward palate with plenty of minerality. It pairs beautifully with fresh seafood – making it ideal for sipping alongside your favourite sushi or sashimi takeout.
- Kiko Sushi – This Little Italy gem is one of my personal favourites when I’m craving sushi. With a menu boasting more than 140 options, sushi, sashimi, rolls, teriyaki, you’ll probably end up placing an order with an impressive selection.
- Shinka Sushi – Located in Centretown, Shinka Sushi features specialities like Unagi Foie Gras (eel topped with pan seared foie gras), red tuna carpaccio, and salmon tempura sashimi.
- Sushi 88 – You can find this gem in Chinatown and you won’t want to miss the Aburi Battera – flame seared, pressed sushi.
Thai Takeout + Pinot Grigio
Simple, clean, and crisp, Pinot Grigio is likely the most recognizable white wine in the world and lends itself beautifully to Thai food. Historically grown in the foothills of The Alps, it is now widely planted all over the world. Thai food is all about harmony and a dry Pinot Grigio with subtle tropical or citrus fruit notes has perfect pitch as a wine pairing for this cuisine.
- Talay Thai – You used to have to pick-up the phone to place an order for takeout from Talay Thai but millennials with phone-phobia rejoice, you can now order from this Bank Street restaurant online. My go-to order is the Gaeng Kua Supparod – shrimp curry with pineapple, bell peppers, tomato, basil, and coconut milk. The sticky rice is a must-order for a glutenous base to sop up all that deliciousness.
- Sabai Thai Cuisine – The word “sabai” in Thai means comfortable and relaxed. Meaning you’ll get approachable, delectable food for whoever you’re feeding – a great choice for when you’re feeding vegetarians, vegans, or gluten-free folks.
Middle Eastern Takeout + Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is a red grape variety native to France but now produced by winemakers the world over, those who aren’t afraid of a challenge that is. It’s considered to be a very fickle varietal and hard to work with. Thin-skinned and light in colour, these wines tend to be lighter in body, low in tannins, and bright acidity. This style of wine can be quite fruity, a bit earthy and very food-friendly – a great complement to the cumin-forward dishes and other earthy spices typical of Middle Eastern cuisine.
- Fairouz – If you haven’t visited Fairouz since they relocated from Centretown to the ByWard Market, their Clarence Street location featuring a café and restaurant are well worth the visit. You can order takeout or delivery on Getit Local, Uber Eats or OpenTable. I *highly* recommend the Muhammara (cashew and roasted red pepper dip), stuffed grape leaves, cheese & za’atar manakeesh (Middle Eastern flatbread), and of course the seared halloumi.
- BiBi’s – This New Edinburgh neighbourhood spot offers Middle Eastern saj (wraps) or saj-less (bowls) starring perfectly balanced spice blends and your choice of filling – falafel, baharat-spiced chicken, spicy cauliflower, beef and tahini. Get a side order of fattoush salad or tabbouleh.
- Shawarma Palace – According to my Uber Eats account, I’m in the top 5% of customers who order from Shawarma Palace. What that means is that I’ve consumed so much toum (Lebanese garlic sauce) that vampires wouldn’t have me. My go-to is the classic chicken shawarma sandwich with ALL the toppings and a side of garlic potatoes.
Pizza + Chianti, Valpolicella, or Nebbiolo
Unsurprisingly, these three Italian reds are well-suited to pizza with tomato sauce. Chianti is one of the most classic styles of Italian wine, made from Sangiovese grapes in the iconic rolling hills of Tuscany. Bright and zippy with a slightly earthy undertone, the wines of Chianti have the right acidity to cut through grease and the moderately firm tannins work well with classic toppings like pepperoni.
- City Goose (Pizza Nerds) – This Centretown spot offers up tasty pies that you don’t need to share – and probably won’t want to. The Pam Pam with toppings of tomato sauce, basil, goat cheese, and spicy honey is my preferred choice – it’s the pie I’m munching on in the video at the top of this post.
- Anthony’s Wood Fired – With locations in the Glebe and Wellington West, this is some of the best Neapolitan style thin-crust pizza you’ll find in the capital. The Franco, offered at the Wellie West location exclusively, is my favourite ‘za in Ottawa – comprised of Italian sausage, caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, mozzarella, and goat cheese.
- Stay Gold – This Elgin Street joint dishes out Detroit-style pies that will leave you in a very full and happy food coma. When you order delivery or takeout, don’t be deceived by the small dimensions of the box, when you take in in your hands, the weight will speak for itself. If you’re unfamiliar with Detroit-style pizza, it’s a rectangular slab of pizza with a thick crust, tomato sauce, and a mountain of brick cheese – toppings of your choice.
Southern BBQ + Shiraz
Bold, high-tannin ones with spicy notes, like Shiraz, enhance the tobacco and pepper flavours found in grilled beef. Shiraz has notes of rich, dark fruit and can be quite spicy. Its big, fruity flavours stand up well to meaty dishes like grilled ribs, steak, and brisket.
- Lexington – This Westboro hot spot (second location in the ByWard Market coming soon) has some of the best Southern BBQ the city has to offer. Opt for a BBQ platter of two meats + two sides for a serious feast. If you’re going for a handheld, don’t miss out on the Brisket Stack served on a brioche bun with house made hickory sticks, and herb and caper aioli.
- Meatings – The folks at Meatings have cultivated a loyal catering business but also offer take-out from their Orleans HQ and neighbourhood-specific delivery Wednesday-Friday each week. Mow down on pulled pork fresh from the smoker and don’t sleep on the smoked beans.