What’s New This Week

May 22nd ~ Stella Luna Wins TripAdvisor Award!  Excellence-Badge_2013_en
Stella Luna has just been awarded TripAdvisor’s 2013 Certificate of Excellence. This prestigious award places us in the top-performing 10% of all businesses worldwide on TripAdvisor that consistently earn high ratings from TripAdvisor travellers. Here’s a cyber hug to all of you who write in with your comments, suggestions and feedback. You make those long, hard days worth while :)

March 26th ~ Gelato & Midwifery Skills?
Yesterday, one of our regular gelato lovers dropped by the shop with her family to show off her beautiful, new-born baby boy. The previous week, she had been in for a treat, looking like she was very, very, very ready to have that baby! I told her I had just the “recipe” for birthing and presented her with a cup of my newly made Rich Chocolate, Ancho Chili, Star Anise gelato. I instructed her to finish the entire cup of gelato, follow it with a long walk, and prepare to have her baby … HE WAS BORN THAT NIGHT! So Stella Luna would like to welcome the newest member of the “I Love Gelato Club” … Baby Luka!

March 25th ~ The Perfect Picture of Spring in Canada

I was pulling out of the bank parking lot the other day when I spotted the quintessential image of spring in Canada … three boys about 12 years old walking down the sidewalk, framed by 2 metre high snow-banks in nothing but their jeans and t-shirts, licking ice-cream cones. I rolled down my window and called out to them “how’s the ice-cream?” They smiled and replied “really good” … this is when my competitive nature kicked into to over-drive – I whipped out three Stella Luna complimentary gelato cards from my purse and extended my arm out the window … “try this … then come and tell me what you think” … I drove away with a smile on my face before they could respond … random acts of gelato!

March 10th ~ Ottawa Citizen’s Five Worth the Drive to Pretend Winter’s Over!
The warm, sunny weather, combined with a spot on the front page of the Ottawa Citizen’s Travel section: ”Five Worth the Drive to Pretend Winter’s Over” had us hopping like spring bunnies yesterday! We had our busiest day since last summer! We were making gelato well into the evening … I put out two fresh 6 litre pans of Ferrero and Pistachio and they were devoured in under an hour! Check out the Citizen article at

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/travel/Five+Worth+Drive+pretend+winter+over/8063542/story.html

December 20, 2012 ~ Loose Leave Tea and Gourmet Handcrafted Jam Pairing Workshop Coming this January!
As we teeter on the eve of the first day of winter, my thoughts are of warmth and comfort … a soothing cup of tea … handcrafted jam on a sliver of homemade bread.
Join us on  Saturday, January 12 from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm for  a pairing workshop featuring local artisan’s Kimi Uiru from Kimicha Loose Leaf Teas  alongside Michael Sunderland from Michaelsdolce Gourmet Jams.

http://www.kimicha.com

http://www.michaelsdolce.com

December 16th ~ Live Jazz Tonight!
Beat the blustery weather … warm up with LIVE JAZZ TONIGHT beginning at 7:30 pm! 40% off all gelato from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm!

November 4th ~ Stella Luna Wins Award   
Stella Luna has just been awarded URBAN SPOON’S “2012 Canada’s Most Popular Cheap Eats” spotlighting 100 restaurants across Canada where diners can get the tastiest bang for their buck. The list is based on Urbanspoon’s database of more than 60,000 restaurants for those eateries that received the most coverage and reviews from professional food critics, bloggers, the Urbanspoon community, and diners.

Read more about the Top 100 here:

http://www.urbanspoon.com/blog/110/Canadas-Most-Popular-Cheap-Eats.html

BABIES GALORE AT STELLA LUNA TODAY!!!

October 31st ~ Happy Halloween from the Stella Luna Staff!
Stella Luna staff came in today fully decked out in festive costumes ….  have you ever been served the best cappuccino this side of Rome by a handsome Roman Pirate? Or, had Thing One and Thing Two grill your panini? You’ve got til 4pm to try it!!!

Today’s specials include Pumpkin Yogurt Cake, Pumpkin Latte and as for gelato … we’ve got Pumpkin Hazelnut, Pumpkin Spice and Chai Latte infused with a special blend of Chai spices from local tea guru Kimi from Kimichi Tea!

October 28th ~ Playing with Pumpkins!
Pumpkins are everywhere this week and the menu at Stella Luna is no exception! Today our feature flavour is Pumpkin Hazelnut Gelato - all the spicy goodness of a pumpkin pie (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves) with the richness of Piemonte Hazelnuts.

October 20th ~ Gelato Cakes!
Our trip to Rome last week inspired me to get hopping on my Gelato Cakes. So, we’ve introduced “Bijoux Gelato Cakes” … little jewels that are almost too cute to eat. They come in many sizes … just enough for two … or four … or more. Drop by to take a peek. Pick up one of our creations tonight for dinner (today chocolately selection includes Rich Chocolate with Hazelnut, Rich Chocolate with Cinnamon or Rich Chocolate with Salty Peanut) or order your own special, custom blend.

October 13th ~ Day 5
“Murphy” showed up in Rome to enforce his “LAW” … you know, the one where you haven’t been sick for 15 months …  haven’t missed a day’s work in over a year and a half … then the minute you let down your guard and relax, he sends his viral army in to attack you with the flu! So, if you’re wondering what happened to Day 3 and Day 4, they were spent staring at the paint on the ceiling. Day 5 at 2pm however, I dared Murphy to follow me into the city, slipped behind the wheel of my rental car, and drove into Rome. With rain-drops cascading down the windshield and Prince blaring on the radio, I zigzagged my way through a sea of micro Fiats and Citroens to the hill at Gianicolo where I parked the car. I followed the path downwards and wandered into Trastevere, across the bridge and into the downtown core. I stumbled upon a great artisan gelato spot which has only been open since March 2012 – “PUNTO GELATO“, Via dei Pettinari, 43 (http://www.puntogelato.info/). It’s well worth the visit – tell him Stella Luna in Ottawa sent you!  

As far as Gelato is concerned, the spots I had thought were legendary, were not as great as I had remembered. Yet, I discovered spots I didn’t know existed! It was well worth the visit. Tomorrow we’ll head back home to Stella Luna refreshed, rejuvenated and recharged, grateful for having had the opportunity to explore.

“Carpe diem! rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think” Horace, Ancient Roman Poet

October 10th ~ Rome: Day 2
First stop – drown my newly acquired cold in a healthy dose of drugs at the pharmacy – “give me the best you’ve got” I pleaded “I have no time to waste being sick”. Then, I wrapped my swollen, red throat in a massive scarf and we jumped aboard our friend’s scooter (which he graciously lent us for the day) and proceed to spend the day buzzing around the old, historic part of Rome. It took Alessandro a few minutes to reacquaint himself to the quick and chaotic pace of the roads – scooters zipping in and out of traffic, sounding like a swarm of hornets (hence the name Vespa). But, in no time flat, he was back in his element, darting through traffic like the maniac I love. There is something so wonderfully dangerous about riding a scooter through Roman traffic … it’s not unlike swimming with sharks with just a hint of blood in the water.

  We made our first stop at the Caffe Tazza D’Oro for a morning cappuccino! The best!!! Next, we cruised past the Pantheon (sneaking a quick glance skywards at the architectural miracle of the Oculus), onwards towards Campo de’ Fiori where we drooled over all the delicious fresh fruit and vegetables. I couldn’t help taking a photo of a young couple straddling each other and smooching in the middle of the square at their breakfast table – Rome is all about extremes: LOVE (public demonstrations of affection) and HATE (screaming at the guy who just cut you off).

We strolled through the Jewish Ghetto (checking out the Portico D’Ottavia), over the Tiber River by way of the Ponte Fabricio and onto Isola Tiberina. By this point my feet were bleeding inside my new boots – every time I am in Rome I always try to resist the temptation to buy new shoes. But, I inevitably succumb, putting fashion before common sense, then proceed to wear them while on a walking tour of the entire Eternal City. We hailed a taxi (which was worth every euro) to take us back to the Pantheon where we left our scooter, and stopped for a quick espresso at Caffe Sant’Eustacchio (the BEST!!!) before heading back to the lake for an afternoon power-nap. Awake and refreshed, we met up with our friends and zigzagged our way through the balmy Roman night, only to discover that Il Leonico (our favourite Pizza hangout) is closed on Wednesdays. We back-tracked over to Trastevere for a feast of Filetti di Baccala (salt cod dipped in flour and   fried), Fiori di Zucca Fritti (zucchini blossoms breaded and fried with mozzarella and anchovies), Buffalo Mozzarella on a bed of Arugula with Cherry Tomatoes and Pizza Capricciosa. Trastevere is a magical place to stroll through at night … bustling with street vendors and alive with young Italians in love. However, we opted to cruise over to, what used to be, one of our favourite gelato shops near Piazza Mazzini- I am embarrassed to say I don’t know the name of the shop as we have always referred to her as “La Signora”. There she was, “La Signora”, a woman in her fifties, scooping out cones and cups after midnight on a Wednesday, all by herself. I had pistachio and chocolate … good but different than mine. What I learnt however, was that I should always remember to be grateful that I have fantastic staff who allows me the luxury to go home to have dinner with my family and to be able to snuggle into bed while others are out scooping gelato until the wee hours of the night. A domani!

October 9th ~ Rome: Day 1   

I stuffed myself fuller than a piñata with gelato today… and am most definitely going to need to pace myself tomorrow!  We made it to 5 different spots … the most noteworthy was MONDI (via Flaminia 468, Rome), known to be one of Rome’s most famous and most delicious artisanal gelati. I had “Pinoli” (Roasted Pine Nuts) and “Ricotta with Pistachio” – very tasty. Traffic was brutal  and parking worse so we didn’t do as much as hoped for. Tomorrow we’re going to borrow our friend’s scooter so we can slip into the old, historic part of Rome (no cars allowed). In the morning, heading straight to Caffe’ Tazza D’Oro to start the day with a cappuccino … from then on, it’s wherever tasty food calls …

October 8th ~ Back to Rome!
Here I sit aboard a late night flight destined for Rome. The last time I found myself in the Eternal City, I had just completed my Master Gelato Chef training. I had jumped aboard a train from Bologna to Rome to visit with family before heading home, filled to the brim with ideas and exuberance, ready to begin the journey towards opening Stella Luna.  Now, some two years later, I am returning to the mother-land (mother of the best gelato that is) to see how Stella Luna Gelato compares to some of the most delicious and well known gelato in the world. I had been feeling somewhat short on inspiration lately and need a healthy injection … I needed to tantalize my senses … rekindle my passion for discovering the amazing amidst the simplicity of the everyday. My agenda … eat as much gelato as possible … exchange my Rich Chocolate & Pumpkin Rum with Caramel recipe for something new and exciting  … drink cappuccino in the chaotic, but oh-so-Roman Caff  Sant’Eustacchio … elbow my way through the crowds to eat delectable tartufo pastry at Caffe’ Faggiani … relish in the sound of vendors at Piazza Campo de’ Fiori,  vying for my attention, trying to seduce me with the promise of ripe and juicy fruit … sit and watch the Romans go about their daily lives with such flare and exuberance … go for dinner at Il Leoncino, where Alessandro proposed to me over a Pizza Margherita over 27 years ago. So, here I sit … only 3763 miles to destination!

Feb 19th ~ Growing Pains
We’ve got an acute case of growing pains. It was so busy on Saturday that we sold out of over 120 panini by 2pm … we couldn’t keep enough gelato in the pans … people were lined up out the door … cookies sold out, cake sold out, croissant sold out, soup sold out … the staff was frazzled … the Chef was bathed in a pool of sweat and worst of all, our lovely Andrea was reduced to tears over a dispute between customers over who was first at the cash. I would like to reassure everyone that we are reviewing our system and will be making changes to improve the flow of people …. my wish list includes a second cash to speed up the lines … some new chairs in the front – as my 11 year old would say”there have been too many bums sitting in those chairs” … they’re not feeling a comfy as they used to … better stools at the back bar.  Never in a million years could we ever have anticipated the volume of people who come through our door every day! It’s been a steep learning curve with little room for error. We always appreciate your feedback … your patience … and your continued support.

Feb 14th … La Festa di San Valentino ~ Leanne Cusack and CTV Live 
It was our great pleasure to share the Valentine Day’s stage with Mr. and Mrs. Henrick from Chelsea, Quebec … who’ve been married for a blessed 57 years! Leanne Cusack had us telling tales of love, romance and friendship … some from the hills of Rome … others from the hills of the Gatineau Valley … all over a cup of Passion Fruit & Mango Sorbet. I had a quite a chuckle when after I put out my modest, little sandwich board trying to draw attention to the fact that Leanne was going LIVE with CTV at NOON … an oversized CTV truck pulled up outside the front window and hoisted a monster-sized antennae in the air.

Feb 13th ~ We’ll be LIVE AT NOON on CTV NEWS OTTAWA with Leanne Cusack for Valentine’s Day!  A little romance, a little gelato … You’re invited to drop by the shop around noon to share your love story … whether it’s about that certain someone in your life who still gives you goosebumps after 25 years , your latest romance, your love of the Italian language, or simply your passion for “la dolce vita” Arrivaderci a domani!

Feb 10th ~ Eating, Praying and Loving with Luca Spaghetti
Luca Spaghetti
, whom we all got to know from Liz Gilbert’s International Best Seller, Eat, Pray, Love joined us for an entertaining night of gelato, cappuccino and laughs last night. The Roman born and raised “Accountant turned Writer” told stories of when he first met Liz Gilbert in Rome, the  making of the movie starring Julia Roberts and (yum) Javier Bardem…who, by the way can come and eat my gelato anytime!

Jim Sherman from “Perfect Books” was on hand with Luca’s recently released book “Un Amico Italiano…Eat, Pray, Love in Rome”. And, here in the middle of Ottawa, at a little Gelato Shop that was once only a dream, the world became a little smaller…it turns out that Luca lived about 3 km from Alessandro’s family home in the neighbourhood of Prati in downtown Rome. Luca’s uncle owns a restaurant not far from where the Giuliani Pub was located…AND my family ate at his restaurant when they were in Rome for our wedding over 25 years ago. Jim Sherman of Perfect Books took one look at Alessandro and realized that they knew each other from WAY back when we first arrived from Rome years ago. Alessandro had been invited to join the Jovial Fishing Club where Jim had been a member for years. He remembered Alessandro, green and fresh off the plane, up in the back-country, as they hauled lumber across the lake to rebuild an old cabin. Alessandro had been asked to wheel a wheelbarrow filled with heavy, wet sand down the dock….he made it about 3 feet, when he lost control and send it flying into the lake. To the jeers and teasing of the men around, Alessandro replied in his thick Italian accent “in Italy I work with my brain, not with my hands”. It’s just like I said…it’s more than just Gelato…it’s about friendships forged along the road!   To buy Luca’s book, contact Jim at Perfect Books, 258 B Elgin Street. You can check out Luca Spaghetti at http://www.lucaspaghetti.it/

February 4th ~ OMG….Eat, Pray, Love…Ottawa Style!
The Italy portion of Elizabeth Gilbert’s hugely successful international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, with its descriptions of delicious food, gorgeous scenery, passionate people, and wonderful hedonism was the crowd-pleaser for many of its millions of readers. It wasn’t just Liz’s mouthwatering descriptions of the food that readers fell in love with, but the stories of the warm and welcoming friends she made in Rome. The most memorable and captivating of these was undoubtedly the inimitable Luca Spaghetti, Gilbert’s close friend and guide to “la dolce vita” in Rome.
Thursday, February 9th from 7 to 9 pm Take a Roman Holiday at Stella Luna and meet Luca Spaghetti for an up-close and intimate evening “Gelato is Ice-Cream with Romance….The Culture of the Italian Gelateria”

January 27th ~ TSN’s Micheal Landsberg says  Stella Luna has the Best Grilled Cheese in Ottawa  
Little ole’ us appreared on TSN’s Off the Record for our non infamous grilled cheese panini. Go to the link: http://www.tsn.ca/shows/otr/ and search for the video player “OTR: Claude Giroux“….towards the end of the interview with Michael Langsberg you’ll see Claude munching away on our panini!

January 27th ~ Farewell Ron & Nancy
Just got back from the airport where I said goodbye to my parents, Ron and Nancy as they head back to warmer weather for the winter. It’s been such a treat to come home to the aroma of a home-cooked meal (that I didn’t have to make) … nothing feels better that walking in the house after a long day on your feet and catching a whiff of fresh baking!!! They took such good care of Alessandro and I and the kids while they were here. Thanks Ron and Nancy. Safe journey through the snow and ice!!

January 26th ~ NHL Hockey’s Players Give Thumbs Up to Stella Luna Panini 
The phone rang today … “hello” I heard … “it’s TSN Off the Record calling from Toronto” looking for the best Grilled Cheese in Ottawa…which I naturally told them they could find at Stella Luna. So TSN sent a guy in a taxi racing down along the canal from the Chateau Laurier to Stella Luna to pick up 5 custom made Grilled Cheese Panini…and I’m not talking about Cheez Whiz here.. no florescent orange processed cheese slice will pass this threshold….we made  a gourmet Panini that was NHL worthy … with Provolone, Friulano, thinly sliced Parmigiano Reggiano and a dab of grated Pecorino Romano! Chowing down on those panini were NHLers Claude Giroux, Anson Carter, Jamie McClennan as well as the Alyonka Larionov!
HE SHOOTS HE SCORES!!!

January 5th ~ Old Friends
Some very dear and old friends Nelofer and Dr. Pazira dropped by for a very unexpected visit yesterday. WHAT a TREAT! That’s one of the greatest job perks about Stella Luna – the opportunity to reconnect with friends. Since we’ve opened we’ve seen so many people with whom we had lost touch with over the busy years. Blessings on your family my dear Nelofer!

Nelofer Pazira is an award-winning Afghan-Canadian director, actress, journalist and author who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, where she lived through ten years of Soviet occupation before escaping with her family to Pakistan.  She starred in the film “Kandahar”, a film based loosely on her journey, and co-produced, co-directed and performed in “Return to Kandahar”.  She also wrote and directed the recently released “Act of Dishonour”.  Nelofer’s profoundly moving autobiograhy is entitled “A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan”.

December 31rst ~ Happy New Year to All!
Whew! It’s been a while my friends since my last post. The Christmas season kept us busy with the shop buzzing with excitement! Alessandro and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for your unwavering support … for all of those who take the time to peek into the kitchen to tell us how much you enjoyed your visit … for those who make time to chat when we pass by your table … for those of you who have been coming EVERY SINGLE DAY SINCE WE OPENED (you know who you are :) ) … for those who come back time after time, bringing with you friends and extended family … you are what makes each day such a pleasure!  And, to our staff who is the secret to our success ~ THANK YOU. Thank you for making our shop a warm and inviting place to come. Thank you for your kindness and patience, your sense of humour, your efficiency and your dedication to making our dream possible. I am truly overwhelmed with gratitude. May your New Year be safe, healthy, happy and filled with laughter and friendship.
Warmly,
Tammy and Alessandro

December 15th  ~ Sharing a Lovely Letter
Joel Haslam from Regional Contact shared a lovely letter from me. A viewer sent him the following note, which had been hand written. With permission from the Branson Family, I have included their note to Joel below:

On Tuesday December 6th, my husband and I decided to have lunch at Stella Luna in Ottawa South.  As we happily tucked into our delicious panini sandwiches, a lady at a neighbouring table said, “Good, isn’t it!”. We agreed, adding it was our first visit.  “Our first time here too”, she said. I explained that although we didn’t watch much TV, we did watch Regional Contact on Sundays and enjoyed the review of this place. “We saw the same show and that’s why we’re here”, she said.

After sharing comments about the fantastic gelato, we rose to leave at about the same time. “See you here tomorrow,” said our neighbouring diner.

 “I wish,” I said, “but we live south of Metcalfe—too far”. Conversation then led to the naming of curlers in Metcalfe well known to all five of us.

 We then asked whether they lived in Ottawa. It turned out they lived in North Gower, one on the same road as our son.  They had even been present on the day that he bid by auction on his property.

 The visit to Stella Luna was just as you said it would be—great food, friendly staff and friendly diners.  We want to return. There are many flavours of gelato yet to try.  And maybe Clara, Betty and Anima will be our cheerful companions at the next table.

 Thank you to the staff of Regional Contact for providing such an informative and entertaining show.

 Sincerely,
 Lynne Branson

  December 13th ~ Centenarian at Stella Luna!
We were honoured today to receive a visit from Mr. Williams, who turns 102 years old on February 18th. Imagine! When I asked him if the secret to his great looking skin was a life-long passion for gelato he only smiled and replied ‘no, just some really good genes’! I am hoping Mr. Williams will drop by on his birthday so we can treat him to lunch!

December 11th ~ Members of the Ottawa Children’s Choir Perform 
Thank you again to the members of the Ottawa Children’s Choir who performed for everyone on Sunday. Their angelic voices brought tears to our eyes and cheer to a gloomy night. We’ll have to lure them back again for a mid-winter concert with promises of free gelato.

November 29th ~ Regional Contact to Feature the Stella Luna Gelato Café Story THIS SUNDAY!!!
Tune into CTV Ottawa’s Regional Contact this Sunday, December 4th at 6:30 pm to watch the Stella Luna story. Then drop by the shop for a concert  with Russian violinist, Anna Baksheeva beginning at 7:30 pm … followed by the Sunday Night Special 40% off all gelato from 9:00 – 10:00 pm!

November 28th~ Open Mic with the Docs!  
Drop by this Wednesday, November 30th beginning at 7:00 pm for Open Mic with the Faculty of Family Medicine at Ottawa U – calm &  professional by day….wild, rockin’ folk singers by night.

November 24th ~ Live Music on Sunday Nights at Stella Luna!
I’ve been chatting with Alan and Adrian over at the Folklore Centre and the OFC Jazz Band is onboard for live concerts, beginning in January, on the second Sunday night of every month! EeeHaa! They’ll also offer a special pre-holiday concert on Sunday, December 18th from 8 to 10 pm (with 40% off gelato beginning at 9pm) … I’m lining up some of the performers from the Ottawa Children’s Chamber Choir to perform their holiday repertoire for us (which is like listening to the voices of angels and NOT TO BE MISSED) … Brenda’s Choir may perform … there’s talk of a banjo ensemble … a blues night … who knows what could transpire in that intimate front corner of Stella Luna! What’s a sure bet is that nothing can beat the lonely winter blues better than an intimate setting with live music, surrounding by friends and neighbours and, a Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Gelato drizzled with warm chocolate or hot espresso. Winter..here we come! Check out the LIVE CONCERTS PAGE for updates.

November 23th ~ ‘Tis the Season
I keep trying to hold back…I said I would refuse to put my Christams decorations up until December 1st … but I was seduced by all the twinkling lights and I caved. Then I vowed to hold out on Peppermint Gelato…and I caved again.  Let’s face it. I love Christmas and can’t wait to blare the Christmas music. But, I WILL NOT cave on Gingersnap Gelato … it’s coming out on December 1st!

November 17th ~ A Funny Story….
Every Thursday, I drive my youngest son to his piano lesson. It’s only a half hour lesson, leaving very little time to do anything but wait…so I do what anyone else who works 16 hour days would do…I recline my seat, wrap myself in a blanket and take nap. Two weeks ago, in my slumber, I heard a child’s voice cry out behind my windshield  ”look mom, it’s that lady from Stella Luna asleep in her car” … this week, a police cruiser pulled up behind me to check out a report of woman parked on the street, crouching down inside her car, not moving … it was me … asleep … the cop had a chuckle. I’ll have to made up a sign for the windshield … Harmless Tired Sleeping Woman Inside .. Do Not Disturb!

November 17th ~ The “Great One” Visits Stella Luna
So, a man walks into the shop (no, this is not the beginning of a bad joke), sits down at one of the tables and props his guitar up against the side of the old, wooden church pew. He proceeds to order the Student Special (which we offer to everyone…after all, aren’t we all “students of life”?). He finishes his lunch, walks up the cash to pay and says to me “this would be a great space to host live concerts”. I get all excited and start to tell  him about our Sunday Music Nights. Then, I ask him if he’s a musician….he extends his hand to me and says “Hello, I’m Ian Tamblyn”…and I get giddy..I must remember to keep a camera under the counter to start the Stella Luna Wall of Fame. The Great One was here and I didn’t even get a picture with him….come back Great One…the Student Special awaits you!

November 17th ~ Sunday Music Nights All Winter Long
Alessandro and I have decided to dedicate Sunday nights as Music Night all winter long. For as many Sunday’s as we can find entertainment for (hint, hint…OFC), we’ll host various bands, choirs, and other performers on the “Stella Stage”…a.k.a. the cosy corner beside the bookshelves. We’ve booked Russian violinist, Anna Baksheeva for a seasonal concert on December 18 from 7:30 to 9:00 pm. As well, we’ll host an superb choir on the evening of December 11th. Some of the children from the Ottawa Children’s Chamber Choir…lured in with promises of free gelato…will also be part of our Christmas Celebration line-up. I’ll keep you posted.

November 16th ~ Sunday Night Jazz with the OFC
We were treated to an absolutely AMAZING night of Jazz last Sunday with the Ottawa Folklore Centre Jazz Band expertly led by Adrian Matte. The place was packed with neighbours and familiar faces gathered together for some great music, velvety cappuccino and gelato at 40% off the regular price. Could there have been a better way to finish the week?

November 10th ~ On the Eve of Eleven-Eleven-Eleven
I was sitting at my desk wrapping things up for the night when I just happened to glace down and noticed the timer I had stopped hours ago…it read 11:11….and it just happens to be the evening before November 11, 2011…which is 11:11:11. If anyone out there is an “11:11″ like me, drop by tomorrow and tell me your story:)

November 8th ~ Carleton University’s Tau Sigma Phi Sorority
The lovely young ladies from Carleton’s Tau Sigma Phi Sorority were in to visit in October bringing with them an air of exuberant energy. They joined me in the kitchen for a workshop on gelato and sorbet preparation, followed by a taste testing of various flavours….a true smorgasbord of gelato, served up in elegant glass dishes…a few of them even attempted extracting gelato from the batch freezer. Thanks to Loren for organizing the event! 

November 7th ~ Stella Luna is Ottawa Magazine’s Weekly Lunch Pick
Golly Gee…I’m blushing!  Read Shawna Wagman’s recent article “Take a Roman Holiday with Stella Luna’s Panini and Gelato”

http://www.ottawamagazine.com/restaurants/weekly-lunch-pick/2011/11/07/weekly-lunch-pick-take-a-roman-holiday-with-stella-luna%e2%80%99s-panini-and-gelato/

November 6th ~ A Warm Welcome to Eleanora
We are thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of the Stella Luna team…ELEANORA. Elle is a trained Barista from Northern Italy who is visiting Canada on a work visa. She previously spent almost two years in Australia working on her English. Elle will be serving up our signature velvety cappuccinos and lattes…Italian style. She’s on day shifts so drop by for a visit to say gidday mate!

November 2nd ~ The Ottawa Folklore Centre’s 35th Anniversary Concert
I’m excited to announce that Stella Luna will be hosting some of the musicians scheduled to perform at the Ottawa Folklore Centre’s 35th Anniversary Concert at the Mayfair Theatre on Sunday, November 13th.

At (about) 7 pm, the Bytowne Ukulele Group will be warming up around the community table. Beginning at 8pm Stella Luna will host the OFC Jazz Band….a Sunday evening dose of jazz with a vanilla espresso affogato on the side…sounds like a little piece of heaven!

Remember Sundays from 9 to 10 pm it’s 40% off gelato. For more info on the OFC 35th Anniversay Concert visit www.ottawafolklore.com. All aftercost proceeds from the OFC concert will go to the Hospice at the Maycourt.

October 28th ~ The Community Table
Take a peek at our most recent article “The Community Table” in the November edition of our community paper. It’s on PAGE 25    http://slgelato.com/links/

October 28th ~ Sponsored Events
Stella Luna is proud to announce its support and sponsorship for the following events:

Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health – Bumps in the Road  http://cfwh.org/

The Ottawa Choral Society – A Gala 70th Birthday Benefit   http://www.ottawachoralsociety.com/Gala-70th.htm

Unshaven Mavens – Rethink Breast Cancer  http://unshavenmavens.ca/sponsors/

The European Union Film Festival    http://www.euff.ca/

October 28th ~ Rick Hansen Man in Motion 25th Anniversary Tour
I was working away preparing gelato yesterday when I glanced up to see Rick Hansen’s Man in Motion 25th Anniversary Tour bus cruising up the street…the staff and I bolted for the sidewalk to watch as the torch was passed and the crew continued up Bank Street towards downtown. I rushed inside and fired off an email inviting them in for complimentary gelato…some of his crew dropped by tonight. Now if only we could cover up that little “yellow M” on their shirts and replace it with a luminous “moon face” :). The little “yellow M” might have the big sponsorship bucks but we’ve got velvety gelato and European coffee!

October 28th ~ Regional Contact Returns 
Joel and Peter were back again this week to finish filming for the episode of Regional Contact which will air late November/early December…I’ll keep you posted on the exact date. I would like to extend my gratitude to Joel for making it so much fun! He interviewed Alessandro and I as well as all three children….my favourite comment was from our eleven year old Matthew who noted “my parents spent a lot of time and all of our money to open this shop…they work pretty much 24/7″.

October 20th ~ Regional Contact Interview
We spent an exciting afternoon with Joel Haslam from Regional Contact. Joel with be at Stella Luna all day tomorrow putting together a piece for their show…I told them to forget Will and Kate…Ottawa has it’s very own “home grown” romantic love story. I’ll let you know when the piece is ready to air.

October 18th – I’m So Embarrassed!
I haven’t written a single things since October 4th and I’m so embarrassed! I feel like a kid standing in from of the teacher with some lame excuse for why I didn’t do my homework…I was too busy, I was inventing new flavours, the rainy days made me feel exhausted (I am DEFINATELY a solar person). After 3 months in business I am taking my first night off….my daughter Erica and I are heading see one of my favourite Italian artists perform – Zucchero Sugar Fornaciari on his “Chocobeck  Tour”. With a title like that, technically it could be considered a “work night”. Check out Zucchero at http://www.zucchero.it/. If you ever pass by the shop after hours, you might be able to hear the sound of Zucchero blaring through the window panes as we mop the floors to his rhythm and blues.

On the home-front, I made some yummy new flavours these past couple of weeks so drop by to check them out. I started making a lot of Custom Gelato Cakes. I did one for Thanksgiving at my sister’s house…Rich Chocolate on the bottom and Pumpkin Spice on top…..modesty aside it was freaking DELICIOUS!!! Chocolate and Pumpkin are decidedly a match made in heaven….Well, off to the concert we go….maybe I’ll get close enough to the stage to invite him back to the shop for some home-style gelato :). Wouldn’t that be a hoot!

11:00 PM – The concert was AMAZING. We were sitting five rows from the front (surrounded by Stella Luna Gelato patrons!!!). Thanks to CHIN Radio Ottawa for the tickets!!

October 4th ~ Pumpkin Cakes for Thanksgiving
I will be preparing Pumpkin Gelato Cakes for Thanksgiving…..imagine a layer of spicy pumpkin gelato pared with a layer of rich chocolate or madagascar vanilla!!!! Two words come to mind…YUM ME! I won’t be making many so order yours in advance.

October 4th ~ P.U. verses PEW
We’ve assembled a change table in the ladies bathroom (no sweat dads…you can use it too) so you no longer have to change your wee ones on the church pew in the back of the shop. Lauren and I broke into a round of giggles when we realized that we’d been telling people to change their babies on the PEW….is that PEW or P.U.????

October 4th ~Welcome Back Adrian
Our Front Line Woman and Queen of Efficiency, Adrian IS BACK (cheer, cheer). A certain American-franchise-who-shall-remain-nameless but who attempted to instruct Adrian that THEY brought the cappuccino to America….HA! She wouldn’t stand for it. She up and left the opportunity to speak more french for…well the opportunity to speak more Italian…that and she missed Stella Luna’s amazing customers and staff. Adrian has moved to the afternoon/evening so all of you regular morning folks will have to drop by for a visit after 3pm to say hello.

September 25th ~ Sundays “Beat the Monday Blues” 40% Off Madness from 9:00 to 10:00 pm
Remember that every Sunday from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm we offer 40% off all gelato while quanities last. Come dressed in your jammies and we’ll give you an additional 5% off :)

September 24th ~ Farewell Adrian
Adrian, whom you’ve come to know as one of our front line women has moved on to pursue her goal of learning French while in Ottawa from Vancouver Island. Adrian has been a treasured member of the Stella Luna staff – keeping us on track, keeping everything stocked, keeping the kitchen clean and organized, and  most importantly keeping our customers happy and well served. Adrian has always given me the feeling like someone has my back…that I might just let my guard down a minute because I know she won’t miss a beat. She will be dearly missed. Next time you’re flying out of the Ottawa Airport…go through security and you’ll find her working at……gasp, I can’t even say the word….you’ll just have to look for her. See you on the other side of the counter my friend.

September 23st ~ Happy First Day of Fall!
Pumpkin puree, cinnamon, freshly grated ginger, a pinch of ground cloves, a sprinkle of nutmeg….sounds like Pumpkin Pie Gelato! Just out and in the display while quantities last – or until I make a new batch tomorrow :)

Catch our CBC All in a Day – D is for Dinner interview – http://www.cbc.ca/allinaday/columnists/dinner/

September 20th ~ CBC All in a Day – D is for Dinner
Stella Luna will be featured on CBC’s All in a Day, D is for Dinner on Wednesday, September 21 at 3:40 pm (EST)….91.5 FM. I’ll post the link once it airs tomorrow. Off to make Lemon Poppy Seed Gelato and Raspberry Red Currant Sorbet!! 


September 15th ~ Approval From the Pros
 From the looks of these photos our Dulce de Leche seems to have passed the taste taste! 

September 15th ~ Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!   
I’m inspired by our lovely friends Jill, Lori and Tara who cycled down to the shop all the way from Chelsea for lunch and gelato….I didn’ t have the heart to remind them that it’s up-hill all the way back!!


September 14th ~ Farewell Sofia!
She’s gone! I only had a day to prepare myself to say goodbye….to try to decide what would be our last flavour together? Something traditional….spicy?….original?…..innovative? The end came with very little warning…one minute we were cranking out chocolate ginger together…Sofia rocking back and forth to the rhythm of Bridget’s Latin music and the next, they were hovering over the doorway of the kitchen….”stay where you are” I told them…”she’s not clean yet”! I took a quiet moment alone with her, gently rinsing the chocolate from her belly..getting her ready to face the long road ahead….and then they took her through one final journey through the front of the shop where we first met, down the stairs, past the Folklore Centre and  rolled her along Bank Street and out of sight. The first day we met….when she rolled off the back of the delivery truck and hit the sidewalk like a pigeon against a patio door, I knew she had spunk. Even with her compressor lying on her side, Sofia got us through our first six weeks in business, cranking out flavour after flavour….and now her replacement has come and Sofia is gone. Goodbye my old friend. I’ll miss you. Grazie.

September 14th ~ Gelato Tornado….
I am living in a Gelato Tornado…whirling through the kitchen, pans after pan held high over my head on my way to the display….mostly with a smile on my face…sometimes wide eyed wondering how I will ever manage to make enough gelato for all the people lined up through the door, spilling onto the sidewalk. Never in my wildest dreams could I ever have imagined so many people. Yet, even amongst the choas of keeping up with the demand, your feedback inspires us to find time to sneek new, scrumptious ideas into the lineup….Chocolate Cardamon Gelato, Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet and today’s newest additiona….Lychee Sorbet. As always, we are appreciative of your support…and keep those suggestions coming our way!

September 7th ~ Rich Hot Chocolate & Apple Cider with  Creme Anglaise….yum!
We unpacked our CHOCOLADY (no I’m not kidding…that’s really her name). She is a sleek, elegant, Italian, hot chocolate warmer with a Bain Marie system so as not to burn the delicate, rich chocolate. Heated to just the right temperature, the aroma of chocolate in the kitchen…and I’m talking good quality Chocolate Noir…was irresistible….top it with freshly whipped cream and you’ve a match made in heaven. Then there’s Bridget’s creation….a Hot Apple Cider infused with Creme Anglaise (and I must use capital letters because it’s THAT good!). And if that weren’t enough…Lauren sliced and chopped all morning to prepare an apple compote which we tossed into our base to make an absolutely scrumptious Apple Pie Gelato…it was like taking a bite of pie and ice-cream at the same time…but without the pie. Fall is bringing out our spicy side :)

September 6 ~ Back to School
Welcome back Hopewell Students, Staff and Parents. Welcome back Carleton U….Ottawa U….St. Paul’s! Moms and Dads with tots heading to school for the very first time….I’ll but the kettle on to soothe your worries.

“Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.” William Shakespeare

September 2nd ~ Love Is in the Air at Stella Luna
An afternoon smooch over a raspberry filled Berle de Berlin. Good luck in Kingston Kayla!!

September 1st ~ Meet the Stella Luna Family Part I – The Morning Ladies
A business is only as good as the people who provide the service. Here is a part of the team who makes Stella Luna such a special place….


LAUREN – JUNIOR GELATO MAESTRO IN TRAINING!
With the precision of a surgical nurse, Lauren measures out all the gelato and sorbet recipes every morning, keeps me focused and on track and handles Sofia like a true friend.  I wouldn’t be messing with Lauren anytime soon – she’s developed some pretty wicked biceps from wielding the MONSTER IMMERSION BLENDER….which must weigh at least 20 pounds without exaggeration! Lauren is responsible for coming up with the popular Black Forest Cake Gelato idea. Lauren assistance has brought some much needed sanity back into my life….leaving me more time to write silly blogs.

  ADRIAN – ENERGY AND EXSUBERANCE IN ONE SMALL PACKAGE
Adrian has the energy and drive of three people compacted into one small package. She sees everything, knows exactly what goes where, what’s missing and gets the job done. She disappeared down “into the dungeon” (aka: the stock room) one day to do an inventory and came back hours later looking like she’d run a marathon….we had to rehydrate her and lay her down on my nap mattress to recover before sending her back out onto the front line. Got a job needs doing…Adrian is your woMAN!

 

 BRENDA – THE QUEEN OF COOL AND CALM
No matter how crazy busy or hectic the day, Brenda maintains an air of calm which centres the entire team. She has a smile that lights the room. One day Brenda smashed her finger on the espresso machine….and much like in a Bugs Bunny cartoon where the finger starts pulsing to 50 times its normal size and a horn blasts a ‘WHONK, WHONK” sound, I could tell it hurt a lot….but the smile never once left Brenda’s face.

BRIDGET  – CORDON BLEU GRADUATE/RESIDENT SANDWICH ARTIST/LATIN MUSIC AFFECTIONATO
Here is the face behind those AMAZING GOURMET sandwiches you find every day….smoked salmon and aspargus frittata with a lemon and caper aioli…oven roasted chicken (yes..an actual chicken roasted in the oven) with lime, cilantro and avocado….roated cherry tomatoes with carmelized onion and spicy arugula…need I say more!!! Bridget is usually up to her wrist in parsly aioli! Every day she has new, ecletic ideas that make our mouths water…and the early morning aroma of roasted fennel or fresh cilantro is heavenly.

 

September 1st ~ Fall Inspiration
The early morning air has turned in the direction of Fall and I leave home needing a sweater to warm my bones that haven’t had quite enough sleep. The appoach of Fall inspires flavours we are testing out today – this afternoon:  Pineapple and Sambuca Sorbet….and tonight: Decadent Dark Chocolate with Whisky topped with Italian Sour Cherries. And in the photo is our Raspberry Mango Puree ready to transform into tasty Sorbet…colours worthy of an artist’s palette!

August 31st ~ The Family is Back!  
I check the blog today and realized that the last two comments I wrote aren’t here! And of course, they were brilliant :). Trouble is, I don’t know if I actually wrote them, or if I dreamt I wrote them, or if I wrote them, then Sofia started beeping and I forgot to save them and they disappeared never to be found again. Ah well. I had written about Matthew (youngest Giuliani) who had arrived back from the summer on Vancouver Island and worked his first shift bussing tables…in his mini Stella Luna uniform looking OH SO ADORABLE!!! The little charmer made $9 in tips! And, if anyone from Revenue Canada is reading this..please let him bask in his 11 year old glory of making his first few under-the-table shiny loonies without raining on his parade with the black cloud of taxation. He was so proud to be back in town and working at the family business. It was the first time since we opened that all three kids were back in town and working together. I had my camera out all night waiting for the perfect shot to post but somehow we were so busy that I never had a chance. On the gelato front, I made a Strawberry Lime Sorbet that was amazing (I say that not with a lack of modesty but simply with appreciation for some truly fine fruit…the lime balanced the sweetness of the fresh strawberries and the texture was divine!!). Sofia (read ahead to August 20th if  you haven’t yet been introduced) continues to act like an Italian Prima Donna! She was beeping, insisting that her Chocolate Banana be extracted and I was busy…so I made her wait until the second beep…then the third…enjoying the thrill of treading in dangerous water…feeling like I was living on the edge…wanting to show her who’s boss…so Sofia did what Sofia always does when I make her wait. She had a fit. She started to vibrate, shooting all 10 gelato pans off her top where they crashed to the floor…scaring the wits out of Lauren (who’s usually very composed). So who’s boss now? Sofia of course.

August 24th ~ Matthew Comes Home Tomorrow!!!
Matthew, our youngest son, comes home from a summer on Vancouver Island tomorrow night and will be in the shop on Friday for lunch. He’s given me his order….raspberry and lemon sorbet and dark chocolate. Pretty refined tastes for an 11 year old! I’ll wait until he gets here on Friday and we’ll make it together. I’m off to pick up some Bailey’s Irish Cream in the morning….thinking about mixing it into the creamy chocolate. Will be ready Thursday late afternoon. Tried a Chocolate Chip with Mint today…lasted 4 hours…very creamy!

August 23rd ~ The Way We Were
I was chatting with some friends tonight about our “long and arduous journey” to open Stella Luna and it prompted me to look back on some photos. Was it worth it? RIGHT DOWN TO THE LAST DELICIOUS, CREAMY DROP OF SICILIAN PISTACHIO! Here’s looking back at “the way we were”…


August 23rd ~ Visions of Fall
Lauren started helping with the gelato production last week and it’s made a world of difference to my days! It’s allowing me more time to spend out front…more time to plan for the cooler fall days. The panini have taken off like wild fire…and I’m so sorry if you’ve come by and we’ve sold out. Please know that I am increasing our bread order every week to accommodate the increasing demand for our fresh, wholesome, homemade panini. I’ve started contemplating what life will be like on those crisp autumn days…had a chat with the Folklore Centre about getting some live music in on Sunday afternoons…starting imagining crème anglaise on freshly made waffles, warmed chocolate sauce over Madagascar Bean Vanilla and steaming blueberry coulis on Fior di Latte Gelato. Mmmmmmm!!
P.S. Matthew (the youngest Giuliani) flies back late Thursday night from Papa Ron and Nan’s on Vancouver Island where he spent an amazing summer. He’ll be in the shop on Friday for lunch wearing his minature version of the Stella Luna uniform (which is SO ADORABLE!!!). Finally, the entire Giuliani Family will be together once again. Drop by for lunch and I’ll introduce you to him.

August 22nd~ NEW Sunday Night Specials – 9PM – 10PM ALL CUPS AND CONES AT 40% OFF
Last night’s Sunday Night Special went extremely well! Every Sunday night, between 9PM and 10PM we offer all cups and cones at 40% off. Our decision to close Mondays means that no gelato or sorbet can be left hanging around in the freezer until Tuesday waiting to be loved….it’s all got to go “the way of the tonsils”. So next Sunday night, get a head start on beating the Monday Blues with a freshly made gelato or sorbet at 40% off the regular price…while quantities last. It’s a win/win…YOU get a treat AND have some extra change jingling around in your pocket on the way home and WE get to watch the smile on your face as you eat our delicious gelato, and we get to put some clean gelato pans to rest for our day of repose.

August 20th~
Meet SOFIA
The newest addition to the team, Bridget, unrolled her professional knife kit this morning and proceeded to chop up the fennel for today’s delicious pork, fennel and arugula panini….she’s got something up her sleeve for Tuesday when she unveils the lunch salads…I’ve seen the shopping list….radicchio, baby beets, spicy arugula, bocconcini mozzarella…HELLO BRIDGET…GOODBYE HAM AND CHEESE!

On the Gelato front, my trusted, somewhat dented Gelato Machine has been working overtime….pan after pan after pan…dark chocolate almond, chai latte gelato, blackberry sorbet…with no relief in sight for Her. It seemed so disrespectful to call Her “the gelato machine” so I gave her a distinguished name…..SOFIA. You see, when Sofia has finished making gelato, and signals you in her high pitched, repeated, relentless beeping, she will wait for no one. She will simply blow her top and begin to extract gelato out her sides….I hear Her voice in my head…in a lilting, thick, Italian accent…I tolllld you I was redddy and you deedn’t coome…now yu must leeve with thee consequences. Sofia, swaying back and forth trying to madly extract that last bit of Sicilian Pistachio from your blades…I love you my friend!
 
August 18th ~ NEWS FLASH…..LE CORDON BLEU GRADUATE JOINS THE STELLA LUNA TEAM
We are thrilled to announce the newest member of the Stella Luna team – Bridget Prendergast!  Bridget is a recent graduate of the Pastry Program at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa where she specialized in French pastry.  Bridget`s come onboard to oversee the lunch menu…introducing some delicious, eclectic panini and fabulous salads and will start working towards introducing the Crepe & Waffle menu in the Fall (I have she makes a wicked Creme Anglaise!!!). Here`s a note from Bridget:

Hello Everyone,
My passion is food…whether it’s artisan gelato, pastry, grilling, sandwiches….ALL FOOD!  In school I studied French pastry, with the basis being Viennese Pastry.  During Basic Pastry the focus was perfecting our technique – everything is done by hand (whipping eggs for meringue, whipping cream, making Génoise…).  From there, we moved onto Intermediate Pastry and focused on mousse cakes…lots and lots of mousse cake!  Thankfully we were able to use our mixers, otherwise I’d look like Popeye right now!  Superior Pastry was the most challenging, yet also the most fun – we were encouraged to create from the heart and use all of our senses – follow a recipe, but mix it up and change the flavours.  The chefs want you to take risks!  We rolled up our sleeves, and worked with sugar, chocolate, and fat, to make sculptures.  I look back on my time at Le Cordon Bleu with only the fondest memories.
Following my course, I also worked at Benny’s Bistro on Murray Street in the Byward Market (where the people are amazing!!).  I was part of a team, plating dishes, organizing the specials, cooking for lunch, brunch, and breakfast.
In addition to cooking, my interests include music, spending time with friends and family, and travelling.  I’ve been cooking and baking for as long as I can remember.  My first memory of being in the kitchen was at my Nonna’s house making cinnamon rolls.  I’ve lived in Ottawa my entire life…in the same house, in Little Italy and love it!  I am looking forward to being a part of the Stella Luna team, and lending my creativity, and passion for well prepared food to this awesome shop!  I look forward to meeting you!
Bridget

August 13th ~ Special Announcement Coming Next Week
As we approach our 2 week anniversary, I can finally say we’ve settled into a more comfortable routine. I’m starting to get ahead instead of chasing to keep up which allows a little time to experiment with flavours. I made a tasty Rich Chocolate Ginger this week which seemed to be a hit. I started using some of our “Two Leaves and a Bud” tea infusions which the cream flavours…Chai Latte Gelato being the most popular. I was finally able to clear my head and think about something other than gelato…panini – I picked up some lovely little cherry tomatoes, roasted them in the oven, dressed them with extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil and pared them with some fresh arugula and Fontina cheese on Kalamata olive bread for a tasty vegetarian panini….they sold out before I could even taste one! More tomorrow. I also have a surprise to announce next week…someone special will be joining our staff….stay tuned! BTW…Zachary and Erica come home on Monday :) :) :) :). We sent them to Nonna’s in Rome before we opened so they’ll be seeing the place “all dressed up” for the first time AND if you can believe it, they’ll have their FIRST taste of my gelato….the machines arrived after they had already left. Fresh from Rome, they’ll be able to give me an honest opinion of how mom’s gelato compares to the pros in Italy. Little Matthew will be home toward the end of August…he’s still hanging out on Vancouver Island with Papa Ron and Nan – and loving every minute, in spite of being deprived of lemon sorbet.

August 9th ~ La Notte di San Lorenzo
Tonight is “La Notte di San Lorenzo”…the best night to view shooting stars. Although the forecast calls for clouds and rain FEAR NOT…we have a couple of shooting stars right here at Stella Luna. Today’s Gelato Specialities are MASCARPONE CHEESE WITH DARK RUM and YOGURT GELATO WITH CARAMELIZED FIGS. So drop by, take a lick and wish upon a Stella!  BTW…the SICILIAN PISTACHIO arrived!!!

August 8th ~ Home Before Sunset
Alessandro and I spent the day tidying up loose ends yesterday. It was a tough decision to close Mondays…..I was in the front of the cafe reprogramming the cash system and could see people coming to the door, gloomy looks appearing on their faces as they tugged at the locked door…I felt SOOOO guilty!!! But it really was necessary to take a day to plan the menu for the week, catch up with the payroll and admin, clean the fridges, run errands and buy a few groceries….we even got home before the sun set for the first time in over 2 weeks! We had VEGETABLES for dinner. That might not seem like such a big deal to you but over the past 10 crazy-busy days we had been surviving on gelato and panini. It was bliss! Today, the Sicilian Pistachio arrived and our gelato display is featuring GOLDEN GREEN once again. Drop by for a taste.

August 5th ~ New Hours…Difficult Decisions
It’s been so busy…which is amazing. I ran out of base last night (PANIC ATTACK!!!)…so we were here until past midnight getting them ready for today. The secret is out and people know we’re here. I have been spending so much time in the kitchen cranking out pan after pan of gelato that I don’t get as much time as I would like to spend upfront…with YOU! That’s the best part – chatting with neighbours, listening to your feedback. I get so absorbed in the recipes that I’ve been told I constantly mutter to myself and make silly faces while I’m working….I’ll have to work on that. Alessandro and I made the very difficult decision last night to close on Monday. I feel terrible about it but we just can’t keep up the pace…I actually stretched out on the kitchen floor yesterday and took a power nap. We continue to be filled with passion and love for what we do…but those middle-aged bones just won’t keep up. A day a week will allow us to catch up with our home-life and the admin side of the business and have at least 1 family dinner a week…and sleep in to the ridiculously leisurely hour of 7:00 AM!! Imagine!!! I can’t tell you enough how appreciative we are of your continued support. Grazie!!! A presto.

August 4th ~ Flying By the Seat of Our Pants
Up at 5:30 am…out the door by 6:00…doze with Alessandro at the wheel…arrive…make a list of sandwiches to prepare…worry that I forgot to order stock…take a moment to breathe, inhaling the aroma of an amazing cappuccino made with velvety milk…reflect on a moment of gratitude for our incredible team of staff and a neighbourhood who has welcomed us so warmly….dream about the gelato flavours I am going to make today….worry that I won’t get them done in time….wonder at how for a “slow food” establishment the pace seems awfully fast (?). Reap the rewards of a year-long adventure – laughing children, amber lighting reflecting the faces of happy, satisfied people chatting and connecting with friends. Feeling a lot like we’re a village within the city. Sigh.

July 31 ~ Build it and They Will Come!
What an overwhelming first day with over 750 people through the door. We had anticipated a “soft opening”…we’d just quietly open our doors and let people discover we’re open. We figured most people would be out of the city on holidays….NOPE! Most people in the city were at Stella Luna!! In the early morning I gently nestled each flavour into its space in the display cabinet…by noon, I was wearing out the floor between the kitchen to the front, cranking out gelato faster than is humanly possible…wasn’t this supposed to be “slow food”. The feedback was wonderful…THANK YOU to all of you who popped their heads in the kitchen to offer words of encouragement and tell us how much you loved it. KUDOS to the Stella Luna team as well – brand new staff, brand new products, new cash, new debit machine, new everything…and they were amazing! They hustled and bustled, keeping a smile on their faces and keeping up with the pace. Thank you to everyone who made our first day such an incredible experience. Now, back to the kitchen!

July 30th ~ AT LAST!!!
I’ve been wanting to post all the amazing photos I took of the finished product…both of the transformation inside and the display case filled to the brim with fresh, creamy gelato…but I can’t find the cable for my camera…it might be a case of sugar overload…I’ve been tasting every flavour before it goes in the display cabinet. We had a lovely celebration yesterday with family, friends and those who have helped shape us into what we are today. I prepared gelato, we had music, everything went very smoothly and the staff was amazing. We took Saturday off to hang pictures, finish putting the glassware away, start the preparation for a brand new display filled with gelato for you tomorrow – opening day. I can’t believe it’s really here! I wish I had just a few more days to put everything in its place, make sure it’s absolutely perfect for when you come.  I’m so nervous…and quite sad that the children won’t be here to share the big day with us. They all called yesterday to see how the celebration went…I could hear a tinge of sadness in their voices. Not that it’s such a hardship to “have to” spend the summer with Nonna in Rome! Ho hum, what should I do today, swim in the mediterranean or visit the Spanish Steps?  If I find that camera cable, I’ll post those photos for you to see. It’s almost time. We’ll see you on the other side…ATTRAVERSIAMO!!!!!! 

July 27th ~ OPENING SUNDAY, JULY 31!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am taking a HUGE leap of faith to tell you that we’ll finally be opening our doors on SUNDAY, JULY 31. We passed our Building Inspection yesterday (remember that we started with a shell – the building had been stripped from the roof deck to the foundation). We had to install all the plumbing, electrical and heating and ventilation systems. The flooring is almost finished, we brought the furniture in, the painting will be completed today and I sterilized the kitchen last night so I can start experimenting with my recipes. Today we’ll start unpacking boxes and boxes of dishes and the team will start begin training on the espresso machine. There has been a steady stream of people popping by to see if we’re open and I feel SO BAD to have to turn you away. We’ve all been waiting ALL LONG, LONG, TIME! BTW…how did you like the sign???? Kevin from Classic Graphics in Kemptville did a beautiful job building it from a design that Mike Leahy put together.

July 24th ~ We Make Our First Batch of Gelato Today
We scrubbed the kitchen, dusted off my recipe book and made our first batch of gelato this morning to test out the machines….choosing to start with a rich, creamy PISTACHIO. We’ve opted to use pure pistachios imported from Bronte, Sicily. Bronte is a town near Mount Etna -the tallest, active volcano in Europe, made famous for what is referred to as ”the green gold of Bronte”.  It was delicious! Creamy, with the rich taste of pistachios….impossible to believe it was made with milk and not cream. There was a steady stream of friends dropping by to check on our progress so I ended up making a refreshing blood orange sorbet followed by a tangy apricot sorbet! Tomorrow, Rome Flooring is onsite to install the hardwood, so before heading home, I stopped to pick up some juicy, ripe mangos - a little mango sorbet should keep them cool. I’m also going to whip up mascarpone and rum gelato. I was so worried about forgetting everything I learned in Bologna but, just like riding a bicycle, it all came back to me as soon as I put on my apron.


July 22nd ~ We’re Missing 2 out of 3 Children
The phone rang at 4:30 am this morning…it was Alessandro’s sister in Rome. It would seem that our children are lost somewhere around Piazza Navona. We had the brilliant idea to send the kids to their grandparents for the summer so we could focus on “the newborn” – knowing full well that a new business would require early mornings and late nights….and as a result, a sometimes very grouchy disposition. But now we’re in a predicament – not only do we have to locate our children somewhere in the eternal city, but because we’ve encountered so many delays, the kids will miss the Stella Luna opening – our little family business is about to open WITHOUT OUR FAMILY!!!!! So, we’ve decided that the day we’re ready to open (which will be the END OF JULY) we’ll do it quietly, without a big hoopla…no helium balloons, no dancing clown on the sidewalk (just kidding – I’d never do that anyway). When the kids return we’ll have a BIG GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION. And in the meantime, we’ll get to know each other over a cup of  gelato.

July 21st ~ Reality TV in Old Ottawa South
Since I took the paper off one of the front windows, there has been a steady stream of people who pass by to cup their hands against the glass, sneaking a peek at the latest progress. Last night, after my fourth straight 16 hour day, I took a minute to stretch out along the old church pew (which just happens to be parked smack-darn in front of the window) to rest my throbbing feet. I had only planned to close my eyes for “just a second” but ended up dozing off. Now you can imagine what that must have looked like to anyone who happened to be passing by – Old Ottawa South gets its own reality TV show!

July 19th ~ The Day My Gelato Equipment Fell of the Back of the Delivery Truck!!
The sun was shining, the radio was cranking out the tunes, the team was happily working towards the opening date and my nose was pressed against the front glass window like a kid in a candy store, waiting for the delivery truck to arrive with my gelato equipment…the same equipment that travelled all the way across the dark, stormy Atlantic Ocean. And then IT happened. As I stood in the doorway, grinning like an idiot at the prospect of whipping up some cool, creamy mango sorbet, my $25,000 specialty gelato batch freezer….the Ferrari of gelato machines, catapulted from the back of the truck onto the sidewalk. Now that’s quite a predicament. Stay tuned.

July 15th ~ On Target for the End of the Month…..Really!!! 
Whew! Where do I even begin to tell you what’s happened this week? Our team has just completed its third week on the job site and things are just buzzing…the tiles are down, the walls are up, the painting has started, the mill work’s installed, the hot water tank is in, the old church pews have been cut to size, the sign’s ready to install (you’ll have to wait until the last second until I reveal that masterpiece though:), the plumbing is finished, the lights are almost all attached, the equipment starts to arrive Monday, and the staff is excited and ready to serve! My team has made the impossible possible! The time has come to quickly shift my mindset from “endless renovations” to “creating and preparing gourmet treats”. I have to leap out of the familiar comfort zone of “year-long-thought-I-would-never-make-it-through” reno project and open the doors for you to taste my dreams. Whew!

  
July 18th
Explore Dream Discover After months and months of “slow as molasses” progress, my team has taken over the show and things are happening faster than I can keep up. It’s been a whirl-wind of activity at the shop….the sub floor is down, golden tiles are being laid, painting is transforming the once bare walls, ducts have been installed, Wayne turned the water on yesterday and we heard the sweet swoosh of fluid flow through the pipes for the first time, the electrician is working through the weekend, Mario is installing the cabinets on Tuesday, the equipment is arriving on the 18th….whew! It’s time for me to shift my mind set and start thinking about making gelato again…it’s been a while…and I’d be lying it I told you I wasn’t incredibly nervous!

June 30th ~ Happy Last Day of School Hopewell!
Arrrr…the school year ended without even one tasty gelato or creamy smoothie! That’s sucks and I’m sorry kids. I’ll make it up to you in September with a  little something special to soothe your back-to-school-blues. In the meantime,  have an amazing vacation – drop by over the summer for a visit!
On the home-front, I arrived this morning to find a masked man sanding the walls getting it ready to apply the first coat of paint…and if you can believe it, I still can’t decide on my colours. Where’s Debbie Travis when you need her?? My shipment of dark and milk chocolate covered yummies arrived yesterday (almonds, hazelnuts, coffee beans, blueberries…you get the picture). My family was “taxed” with the job of taste testing to make sure it’s all delicious enough for you….let’s just say it was no hardship. Half the box of Gianduja and Milk Chocolate Hazelnuts has  already gone “missing”. Happy Canada Day Folks!

June 23rd – Opening Soon, Really!
It was a strange sight to see the kitchen walls go up today, creating a shape inside that has lived in my imagination over the past year. It was exciting to finally experience it “in real life”. Simon is installing a giant window between the café and the kitchen so you’ll be able to watch me prepare gelato. Wayne “Super Plumber” Beaven starts tomorrow fixing up my tubes and, tonight when you tuck yourself into bed, a giant stack of gourmet cones will set sail across the Atlantic Ocean from Northern Italy.
P.S. I took the paper off the front door so you could come by and take a peek inside :)

June 21st - Happy Summer Solstice! 
How perfectly appropriate that our crew started painting the exterior today, on the first day of summer. What a change!! The building looks so much like a rich creamy mango gelato made with ripe juicy fruit that I was tempted to take a lick! It’s fresh, vibrant, inviting, and cheerful…everything we aspire to be.

“Whatever is dreamed on this night shall come to pass”….sweet dreams gelato lovers! 

 June 15th - Faith is the Bird…
Tagore wrote “Faith is the birth that sings when the dawn is still dark”. It’s become my mantra. Yesterday, they began ripping out the ancient ceiling. Peaking between the layers are clues to a time that dates back over a century…a few charred beams – the result of an old fire who knows when. So far we haven’t uncovered any buried treasure that could fund  a portion of my gelato equipment:)  It may look like chaos now but, like the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark, there are great things to come! 

“Humour is emotional chaos remembered in tranquillity” ~ James Thurber

June 2nd – Who’s Stella Luna?
For those of you who haven’t heard the “how I designed my logo” story a thouuuuuusand times already……. when I was in Italy for my Master Artisan Gelato Chef training, I took a Saturday off and boarded the train for the Floating City. Venice has some of the most incredible Carnival masks in the world. And, being February, it was Carnival time. Within seconds of walking inside the door of this quirky little shop I spotted her hanging on the wall, right in front of me, in all her ceramic beauty….LUNA.  The expression on her face communicated something which I hadn’t been able to find words for. It’s the expression you make when you take that first lick of a really, really delicious, freshly made, artisan gelato. I smacked my euros down on the table, wrapped her up and lovingly carried her home. My LUNA, paired with the face of STELLA - a picture of tranquility and simplicity, depict everything we dream to become. We dreamt for the Stars and the Moon!

June 2nd - The Bare Bones
Amazing but true – when we scrape life down to the bare bones we can be grateful for such simple things. Today my gratitude is for my newly drywalled bathroom walls and my shiny new electrical panel!  I am also grateful for chocolate. This morning I met with Leeorah from Chelsea Truffles about offering her artisan chocolate bars at Stella Luna. Leeorah is a Cordon Bleu Chef, trained Belgian Chocolatier who handcrafts all the bars herself, in Chelsea, using only the finest ingredients – which is a perfect marriage to Stella Luna Artisan Gealto!! www.chelseatruffles.com coming soon to Old Ottawa South.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~ Epictetus

June 1st – Porch Party

I didn’t intend to spend the entire day scraping the old Phase 2 sticker off the front door. But, with the sun shining and that warm summer breeze blowing, true to the spirit of Old Ottawa South, it became a bit of a porch party. Neighbours stopped to chat, wondering about our opening date, sneaking a peek behind the glass to see how the interior is being transformed, sharing a memory of “their first gelato”. Once all the tradesmen had left for the day, I climbed on top of a stack of dywall which tomorrow, will become the bathroom walls, to dream about opening day.

MAY 27th – A Feast for Your Eyes!

I’ve spent the past week trying to decide what colour to paint the exterior to give it a fresh, revitalized look..something reminicint of Italy. When my good friend Heidi, who’s been travelling through Italy these past few weeks – feasting on gelato in my favourite hang-outs, visiting our old apartment, drinking the best espresso -  sent me these photos, I stopped to wonder why we don’t use vibrant colours to decorate our building in Ottawa….colours which are so different, yet always harmonious - like our communities should be. Through the doom and gloom of endless rainy days, loud hammering, clouds of dust, and finding “surprises” in the walls you’d rather not find (yes, sometimes surprises are NOT good!), I wanted to share some of Heidi’s images of Italy with you to feast your eyes on …Buon Appetito!

 

MAY 26th –

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “sometimes things have to get worse before they get better”. Well, I hope they’re right…here’s the view from inside today….the wall is up, the ceiling is down and there’s a whole lotta mess in between. Once they crash through the back wall and make me my very own back door, I’m sure there’ll be a light at the end of the tunnel again.

MAY 23 rd –

Progress is as slow as molasses as these old buildings aren’t partial to change. And, with the sun shining and the mercury rising, my craving for a cool, rich and creamy gelato is becoming almost unbearable. I’m hoping  to see some real change inside this week!

It looks like I’ll have to learn to live with those awful, horribly ugly t-bar ceiling panels – the cost to replace them just won’t squeak past my already tight-as-a-drum budget. Bummer! Ah well, when you take that first lick of gelato and gaze to the heavens in pleasure, just close your eyes first :)

….today, I noticed a tiny yin-yang sign had appeared in the cream of my espresso – I’ll take it as a good omen!

QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears” ~ Barbara Johnson