Ottawa gave me my first ethnic cuisine passion- Middle Eastern food. I would study the shelves of grocery stores, trying to figure it all out and too shy to ask questions. I nearly swooned over my first piece of baklava and almost dove into a plate of silky smooth hummous. Even now, no visit is complete without shopping in a Middle Eastern grocery store

During all this time, I read cookbooks and food articles in magazines. From my mother's Family Circle, Joy of Cooking and her own handwritten recipes to Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child that my Uncle Leo had given me. This was another moment of awe and wonder. Puff pastry, Bernaise sauce, beef tongue and chocolate mousse. Would I ever get there?