#FULCRUMFOODREVIEW

A variety of sausage-based meals are being served at participating restaurants. Photo: Remi Yuan.

Fall food festival debuts at participating restaurants until Oct. 16

Despite its name, the first-ever Ottawa Sausage Fest is far from the wurst. Throughout the ByWard Market, over 20 restaurants are serving up some of the finest sausages you’ve ever laid eyes on, in a lot of creative ways.

As part of Ottawa’s “Autumn in the City” initiative, the festival runs Oct. 316, after which the market will come together for a (surprisingly lady-friendly) Sausage Party.

In its inaugural year, Ottawa Sausage Fest aims to fill a void when it comes to the variety of food festivals in the nation’s capital.

“There’s a lot of sausage retailers in the ByWard Market,” said Deek Labelle, one of the two main organizers of the event, and a founder of the ByWard Market Business Owners.

“We figured it would be a really interesting way to link all the restaurants together, (and) allow them to have creativity and freedom in the dishes they create that compliments their cuisine and their style of restaurant.”

Just like the regular menus of each restaurant in the market vary wildly, so too do each of the participants’ sausage offerings.

Higher-end restaurants such as Blue Cactus put a classy spin on their offerings, like the slaw-heavy chorizo taco.

Lowertown has four sausage meals on the menu, including a sausage poutine and the filling sausage platter, which comes with a bratwurst, a cheddar-jalapeno sausage, and sauerkraut and potato salad.

For non-meat eaters, Market Organic offers a vegan sausage jambalaya. Even BeaverTails is getting in on the action, with a maple tail that boasts slices of kielbasa on top.

Most of the restaurants also have plenty of beers on tap, which complement these sausage-heavy meals perfectly.

The culmination of this meaty festival takes place on Oct. 15 with the Sausage Party, an outdoor event being held outside Tucker’s Marketplace. Outside of offering a generous smorgasbord of sausage samplers, this event will also feature a batting cage, free carriage rides, and a German polka band that will provide authentic musical entertainment.

What may end up being the highlight of the party is the wiener dog parade, where an army of costumed Dachshunds will march off from Cricket and Company pet store and trot through the market.

In the future, Labelle plans on expanding the festival, but is adamant about keeping it as a ByWard institution.

“Ideally I’d like to expand it to involve more restaurants in the ByWard market, and hopefully the Sausage Party itself, expand it to involve more retailers and make it a bigger event each time,” Labelle said.

Even though it’s only the first year, many restaurants are already participating in Ottawa Sausage Fest, filling up the market with enough classic sausage meals and new twists to please anyone’s palette.

To be quite frank, you’d be a brat if you didn’t head down to the ByWard Market before it’s too late.