Baden’s Excellent Ottawa Mini-Adventure – Part 1

Day 1

So here I am sitting at the Tim Horton’s in the Ottawa airport having a coffee and a donut. I’ve just arrived off the plane from Vancouver and I’m cooling my heels in the airport as my hotel room probably won’t be ready for a few hours. My flight arrived at 7:05AM and I left Vancouver just before midnight last night. I was originally supposed to arrive in Ottawa this afternoon on the defunct JetsGo airline (which went bankrupt about 10 days ago) and at the last minute was able to book a flight on Air Canada with a red-eye flight leaving on late Saturday night.

The flight to Ottawa was somewhat uneventful and other than my wallet and passport getting stolen, I have nothing to report.

Well, maybe *stolen* is a harsh term but consider the situation: I got on the plane in Vancouver and put my luggage and coat in the luggage bins above my seat. I was sitting in the middle of three seats so when the plane came to a stop in the gate in Ottawa, I had to wait a while to get into the isle to get my stuff down. The only problem was that the two pieces of luggage were still there but no sign of my coat. My first thought was that it’s -5 degrees outside and I’m going to freeze. My next thought was that my freezing was a distant second on the list compared to the fact that inside my stolen coat pocket was my wallet and passport.

I did my best not to panic despite being well within my rights to do so.

I calmly stated to the flight attendant that my green jacket was missing and that I was basically screwed royally without it. All of this was made the worse by the steady stream of passengers wanting to get off the plane and me wanting to go against the flow back to my seat to continue searching for my coat.

Since all of the overhead bins were empty by this point, it was easy enough to see that there was nothing there. My only hope was that someone accidentally picked up my jacket and noticed that they had it before they left the airport. As it turned out, this is exactly what happened as one of the flight crew on the jetway came aboard holding my jacket stating that someone had accidentally taken it. Panic officially ends.

Now that I have time to reflect on my situation ahead, the first task on my list (after getting to the hotel and checking in), will be to find a store and buy more warm clothing – gloves at the very minimum. From what the guys on the plane told me, it’s been averaging between -5 and +8 for the past few days. Since neither of these guys were the ones who stole my jacket, they have some credibility.

I made it to the hotel from the airport without much problem. I happened to get a great deal on a cheap hotel room through Expedia.ca which is funny because I always tell people that there are never any deals on Expedia. My major criteria for choosing this hotel was it’s closeness to the Cordon Bleu school.

A little while after checking into my room, I decided to take a walk and see how far the Cordon Bleu place was from the hotel. As it turned out, it only took 15 minutes to walk there. From there I walked through downtown over to the parliament buildings along with the rest of the other tourists. I had been to the parliament buildings a few times before but it’s been about 25 years since the last visit.

I ended up walking around for about three hours and got back to my hotel completely exhausted. Dinner for the first night was a pizza that I ordered from a local pizza place as I was in no mood to walk some more to even a local restaurant.

One of the things that I’ve noticed while walking all around the streets in Ottawa is all the gravel. On the side of every street, there is still tons of snow piled up high and I guess that during the winter the city lays down tons of gravel on the streets to prevent people from sliding out of control. While this works while there is snow on the ground, when the snow begins to melt it is just rocks on the streets and sidewalk invariably getting inside on of your shoes as you walk.

Day 2

This morning I got up and had breakfast in the hotel as the room came with continental breakfast. As a general tip, whenever a hotel says ‘continental breakfast’, this is really code for ‘food you would never pay to eat’. True enough, the breakfast selection consisted of a roundish pastry that looked like croissants but tasted more like round white bread. Speaking of which, there was white bread to choose from as well. I couldn’t help but notice the irony that I was here for a bread making course but had the worst food products ever manufactured (I dare not use the word ‘baked’ as this would be a complete lie).

The Ottawa Cordon Bleu location is based in an old mansion that has been converted to handle the cooking and administrative functions of the school. There are about 4 floors in the building and the Cordon Bleu ‘blue’ colour scheme can be seen as part of the decor in many locations. As it was in the Paris Cordon Bleu location that I last attended, there are separate lecture rooms and state of the art kitchens which can hold about 12 students each.

There were about 18 students in this class and a handful of them were full-time cooking students in their white chef’s uniform. The rest of us were only required to have a white paper chef’s hat, apron and a small assortment of baking equipment – most of which I already had.

The lecture section of the class lasted for the first 2 hours of the morning and I easily learned more in those two hours about baking that I had read about in the previous 3 years.

After lunch, we were thrown into the bread making deep end and started making our dough and by three in the afternoon we were taking real bread out of the oven! We made baguettes, whole wheat bread and scissor buns (interestingly, scissor buns are made with scissors).

I learned a lot in the first day and the biggest disappointment is that I had 3 loaves of bread to take back to the hotel – most of which will probably end up in the garbage as there’s only so much bread I can eat and I’ll probably be bringing home an equal amount after each class.

On the agenda for the rest of the week are things like rye bread, braided bread and an assortment of other kinds of fancy breads suitable to put on your table as a centrepiece.

Stay tuned …

Baden

Go to Baden’s Excellent Ottawa Mini-Adventure – Part 2