Jambalaya at the Vineyards Wine Bar and Bistro in Ottawa
I should say, first of all, that I really don’t usually go to Vineyards in Ottawa for the food, but rather because they have a great Wine and Beer selection, and because the ambience is pleasant, and the service generally excellent. I do occasionally have a bit to eat, however, and usually the dishes I have been served have been good. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for the rather dismal Jambalaya you see pictured above.
Jambalaya is a classic favorite of Louisiana Creole cuisine, and is essentially a melange of rice with meat and vegetables. There are many varieties, of course, and some include shellfish in addition to other meats like Chicken, or Pork, and a sausage (typically Andouille, or Chorizo) is usually included. The Jambalaya at the Vineyards certainly sounded good on the menu, and it looked pretty decent on arrival, but, sadly, the good qualities largely ended there.
First of all, the rice used here was Basmati, which I though a poor choice. Personally, I just use a plain converted long grain rice when I make this dish and the results are better in my opinion. I also suspect that, here, the rice was cooked separately, then mixed with sauce and other ingredients afterwards. This is strictly contrary to traditional practise where the rice is cooked dry with other ingredients before liquid is added.
The sauce here was tomato based and seasoned in a vaguely Cajun style that was a bit heavy-handed. There was also too much sauce, which rather spoiled things in my opinion. Other Jambalaya’s get served this way, but I personally prefer the dish when the rice grains are a little drier, and the tomato used is just a background taste rather than a dominating feature.
The Chorizo here was fine, if unremarkable, and the seafood was generous and included the promised Squid, Scallops and Mussels. There was also some chunks of white fish in the mix, which was not mentioned on the menu and which I didn’t care for. I didn’t bother to ask what the fish was, but it was very bland, soft-textured, and just seemed out of place in a Jambalaya.
The Scallops and Squid were okay, but the mussels were not. They were added too late in the cooking process and turned out to be underdone. I like them raw, I like them cooked, but I don’t like the unpleasant middle-ground at all. I might not have minded quite so much except that these mussels were not fresh tasting and I didn’t eat them all. It was unfortunate, but this Jambalaya was really not worthy of the name.