We treated ourselves on Friday. Junkii, just back from a 3-day conference in North bay, took the day off work and convinced me to do the same. We headed off to the spa for an afternoon in the baths. You've seen our reports about Le Spa Nordik before, so no need to repeat it. It's still as wonderful as ever – even if it was busy that day.

But we added to the routine this time.

About a year ago, Junkii won a $100 gift certificate for an haute cuisine French restaurant called L'Orée du Bois (Edge of the Woods) – a restaurant located on the edge of Gatineau park, very near the spa. Ever since he won it, we've been trying to find a day when we could spend the afternoon at the spa and then go for a dinner alone together. Friday was just such a day! And yes, we waited a long time for the meal, but it was worth the wait.

We both had the table d'hôte, thinking that would be the best way to try the largest number of different dishes. Here's what we had:

Soup

  • Lentil soup with swiss chard (Rocker)
  • Coconut and Lemongrass fish soup (Junkii)

While the fish soup was nice – and it was exactly what Junkii wanted – it was a little too fishy for my taste. I was happy I chose the lentil soup, which had a lovely nuttiness about it.

Appetizers

  • Rabbit Terrine (Junkii)
  • Fois Gras with honey liqueur (Rocker)

Both of these were served with crunchy croutons – to spread our food on – and both of these dishes were simply divine. But the Fois Gras in particular… oy! It was one of the best things I've ever put in my mouth. It just blew me away. It was literally like butter – so rich and smooth.

Entrées

  • Confit of Duck (Junkii)
  • Calf Sweetbreads (Rocker)

The confit of duck was going to be my main course – and it would have been well worth it – but when I heard the chef's special was sweetbreads, I knew I had to try it. I had never tasted sweetbreads before, but I had seen them served on episode after episode of "Top Chef" and knew damn well I would need to taste them some day, so why not? I finally found out exactly what they are (the cow's thyroid gland) and made up my mind to give it a go. Boy, I've been missing out. They have such an interesting texture – pan fired, so they're seared on the outside, but the inside is so tender and moist. It's not like other offal meats I've tried. It's not dense like a piece of liver, but it's not spongey like tripe either. A piece of beef cooker rare has a tenderness to it, but  this is even less solid – even more tender. And the taste is so mild, but it worked really well with the sauce they served it with. So yummy. I know I will likely never cook it on my own, but I also know that Le Saint-O, one of my favorite Ottawa restaurants, serves sweetbreads on their menu, and I'm definitely getting that next time I visit.

Desserts

  • Dark Chocolate Mousse (Rocker)
  • Gelee with maple and pecan – I think, I forget exactly what this was called (Junkii)

Junkii's dessert didn't do it for me. It was good, but why have maple nut when you could have chocolate? Still, he liked it, and I loved my mousse. perfect end to a great meal.

Lessons Learned
Aside form the fact that sweetbreads are amazing, we did learn one other thing: it's best not to plan an appointment following the baths. Part of going to the baths is just relaxing and not worrying about anything. Having an appointment makes it hard to forget about the time – so you're constantly coming back to the clock to make sure you still have time to relax. Consequently, we didn't find the spa as relaxing this time.

We also learned that – despite the hefty price tag (it was $170 after tip and before the gift certificate) – we're not gonna wait too long before going back to L'Orée du Bois. It was some of the best food we've ever had.

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