When CBC Ottawa food reviewer Kent Van Dyk was tasked to find a few foodie hotspots in Barrhaven, he thought he'd be wandering a gastronomic desert.
But that worry was put to rest by the number of new shops in south Ottawa suburb selling unique ingredients, fresh pastries and more.
"I [thought I would] have to stretch the boundaries of Barrhaven. And it turns out I didn't have to because I [found] several nice places to go and met some passionate people," Van Dyk told CBC Radio's In Town and Out on Saturday.
"All of these independent business owners are really trying to make Barrhaven a vibrant food community."
Van Dyk discovered several under-the-radar spots offering international ingredients, takeout dishes, cupcakes and pastries — many of them within walking distance of one another.
He shared some of those finds in the second of his three-part series on the best places to find unique ingredients and specialty food items in Ottawa's suburbs.
In the first part of the series, Van Dyk explored Kanata.
The third part will see will him venture into Orléans.
Pastries and breads
One of Van Dyk's big finds in Barrhaven was Cobs Bakery, an Australian bread shop.
Located at 3161 Strandherd Dr., it's the bakery's only Ottawa location — meaning you'll have to head to the suburb to taste their creations.
The small franchise sells fresh scones, giant danishes, croissants, savoury pies and a plethora of breads.
"The really neat thing... is that, at the end of the day, none of their bread gets sold the next day," Van Dyk said. "Everything is donated to charities."
Less than a 20-minute walk away, meanwhile, is Anabia Cupcakery — which sells handmade candy, cupcakes and a variety of drinks.
"They're trying to do something in the suburbs that's sort of urban," Van Dyk said. "I look at this place and I see it in one of those walking neighbourhoods downtown."
South Asian groceries
Nasa Food Centre, an off-the-beaten-path South Asian grocery store, is home to a large variety of spices and rice, as well as takeout items like butter chicken and chickpea curry.
The store moved to 3050 Woodroffe Ave. more than a decade ago, Van Dyk said.
"[The owners] used to have a place downtown for almost for 20 years," he said. "Then [they] moved out to Barrhaven because they saw there was a market there they wanted to explore."
The store offers up both prepared foods and a wide range of spices and flours that are ideal for creating "amazing Indian dishes," Van Dyk said.
Middle Eastern, Afghan options
For a wide variety of Middle Eastern ingredients — as well as rare Afghan bread and other specialty items — Van Dyk suggests people head to Barrhaven Market.
Located at 2910 Woodroffe Ave., the market also sells takeout items like Kabuli palaw rice flavoured with raisins and carrots, as well as a number of different Afghan kabobs.
"Not only is there a full service halal butcher shop in the store, but [they sell] spices, rice — anything that you would want," Van Dyk said.
The other store on Van Dyk's list is Cedarz Pies, which sells meat and cheese pies baked in a wood-fired oven.
The cozy lunch spot can be found at 3570 Strandherd Dr., a short walk from Anabia Cupcakery and another small Middle Eastern grocery shop called Tia Mart.