We apologise for sending an afternoon version of the ottawan today. Poor Internet access has delayed everything. We kept asking ourselves, ‘Should we stay and wait it out, should we leave and go to a Timmy's parking lot and do it there?’ Next thing you know, it's after 1pm.
Interview with Apothecary Kitchen's Janet Roberge – by Martha Gall
It’s long been a culinary custom to boil up animal bones to make stock and soup. In decades past mothers dispensed cups of beef or chicken broth to warm little tummies, soothe sore throats, and mend broken teenaged hearts. These days the humble liquid has attained the higher status of morning beverage, not only because of its soothing properties but because of its purported health benefits. Devotees say its collagen and other nutrients benefit their hair, skin, and nails. Ottawa’s Janet Roberge had been enjoying the bone broth morning ritual at home for several years when she took the plunge in September 2020, opening her online business Apothecary Kitchen.
Although it hadn’t yet caught on in Ottawa, Roberge had become passionate about bone broth after experiencing it when visiting Toronto, where the trend had been going strong for a few years. When the COVID put an end to casual travel within the province, she found herself making broth at home week after week. Eventually she decided to turn that passion into a business.
Roberge isn’t new to hospitality, having owned a cafe for 10 years and worked at restaurants since her youth, so she set about finding a production kitchen. She ended up using the kitchen at a bakery that’s closed on two days a week, where, she says, Sunday is production day and Monday is for packaging. Beef broth can simmer on the stove for up to 20 hours. “The flavours need that long to develop,” Roberge says. She sells fresh broth on Mondays; otherwise it’s frozen.
In addition to beef, she makes chicken and mushroom broths, as well as tonics using ginger, turmeric, tamarind, apple cider vinegar, lemons, and herbs. She sources her animal bones, tallow, shiitake mushrooms, honey, and spices locally, and buys organic, grain fed, and free range wherever possible. “This is a business,” she says, “But some things can’t be compromised.” She lists Arc Acres, Mariposa Farms, and Bergeron Farms as suppliers.
“Broth is good hug for you and warming,” Roberge says. “So many people feed back [to] say it’s a hug in a cup, warm and comforting.” In addition to the comfort, she says broth is easy to digest. As for the price, "It’s not cheap,” she says, “but a smoothie full of sugar or coffee isn’t cheap [either]." Although the jury is out about the health benefits of broth, the long simmering produces a pleasant flavour that can be enjoyed in a cup as well as used as the basis for soup. Roberge herself cooks wild rice in her mushroom broth.
She uses Instagram for marketing, telling me that 95% of her business comes from the social media tool. Word of mouth is also important for her business. Customers order through her website, where in addition to her own products they can also shop for sauces by Toronto’s Ripe Nutrition, mushroom tinctures by Rainbo, and Chi dumplings. Customers tend to pick up their purchases directly from her porch, but her broths and tonics are also stocked at Art is In bakery and Parlour Place. They can also be delivered via orders from Culture Kombucha’s Beverage Market.
It hasn’t even been a year, but I ask Roberge how she sees Apothecary Kitchen developing in the next 12 months. She has considered a bricks and mortar broth bar as well as a weekend pop up, and even moving into a natural foods outlet. Whatever the future holds, she wants to see people drinking bone broth over the long term.
“[I] don’t have all the answers but if I can impart a little health and wellness in someone’s life, happy to do it.”
We'll see you tomorrow – Martha and Darren
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Weather: ☀️ Mainly sunny. High of 22°, low of 8°
Number: 420. The number of passengers that the new trains on the Trillium line will be able to carry, twice as many as previously. [CTV]
Ottawans of the Day: Parks Canada staff at the Rideau Canal locks by the Chateau Laurier, who rescued eight goslings from drowning after scooping them out with a fishing net [CTV]
Quote: ‘I could just take the battery out and it would be legal’ – Felicity Borgal who has given up a second car for a cargo bike to transport her kids and groceries. A new law being considered by Ontario would ban all bikes like hers that are assisted with electric motors. [CBC]
Sport: Ottawa Senators 5 – Toronto Maple Leafs 3, last night. And that's it for the season, out of the playoffs and placing the Sens fifth out of seven teams in the North League, and in 22nd place out of 31 for the league. For the Sens Sickos out there, ‘Yes ... ha ha ha yes.’
💉 6,491,666 doses have been administered in Ontario
At this rate, it will take 9.2 weeks to give each Ontarian one dose each
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📋 Public Health Reports:
⭕ Ontario’s COVID-19 lockdown has been extended an extra fortnight, to June 2. [CP24]
⭕ 50 per cent of Ontarians have now been vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. [Nation Valley News]
⭕ The AstraZeneca vaccine will no longer be given out as a first dose in Quebec due to concerns of a rare blood clot. This is exactly the same story as yesterday, with Quebec swapped for Ontario. [CBC]
⭕ OC Transpo staffers are now eligible for vaccination – but they need to personally arrange their jabs just like everyone else. The Union suggests a vaccinate-at-work session would be smarter. [CBC]
⭕ The Federal Government has previously announced compensation for people who get blood clots from vaccines but still has not worked out a plan. [CBC]
⭕ A made-in-Canada COVID-19 vaccine has made it to the final stage, with promising results [CityNews]
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#WHAT OTTAWA IS TALKING ABOUT
▪️ Why does the builder of the Confederation Line think it is owed $230 million for the Rideau Street sinkhole? The City won't say. It came out yesterday that the City is suing an insurance company for denying the claim over the costs of the 2019 sinkhole. But it also came out that RTG wants $230 million from taxpayers. [Ottawa Citizen]
▪️ Ottawa schools could reopen in May, says Dr Vera Etches. At least by the end of May. And only if the case counts continue to decline. [Ottawa Citizen]
▪️ The Gatineau transit authority says a tunnel under Sparks Street is the best location for a tram. The STO is planning a tram that would connect their system to downtown Ottawa. Running a tram on the surface of Wellington Street is also under consideration. [CityNews]
▪️ The RedBlacks do not yet have the okay to play. The CFL has proposed a plan to return to play to the six provinces in which it has teams. A television report had said that all six provinces had verbally approved the plan but British Columbia and Ontario have both said that they have not yet approved anything. [CityNews]
▪️ Greyhound has closed its bus service in Canada permanently. Greyhound’s bus service had been be put on hold due to the pandemic, and in the meantime had sold their Ottawa depot. Greyhound will still provide service from Toronto and Montréal to the US. [CBC]
▪️ Ottawa Songwriters Uplifting the Mayfair fundraiser on Saturday and Sunday. Twenty Ottawa musicians will play live on streaming over two days in a fundraiser for the Mayfair Theatre. Shows are at 2pm on Zoom (pay what you can) or YouTube (option to donate). Featured musicians include Catriona Sturton, Tony Turner, Karen Oxorn, John Carroll, Danielle Allard, John Allaire, Diane Nalini, Ray Harris, Jack Pine, Arthur McGregor, Christine Graves, Don Bray, Chris MacLean, Pat Moore, Shawn Tavenier and Greg Kelly… with more to come. [Mayfair Theatre]