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The Spaniard

For weeks now there has been whispers, rumblings and, dare I say, even some hubbub surrounding changes at the Justamere Cafe and Bistro. Weekly Friday night buffets featuring cuisine from around the world… a prime rib special every Saturday night… new desserts and menu items that I can’t even pronounce… what in the name of coconut cream pie and quesadilla’s is going on down there?!

Well, you can finally quit your head scratching and hubbubbing, because I’m here to answer your most burning questions and to introduce you to the new Chef in town, Daniel Ortiz. We’re beyond proud to call him ours.

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First, some back ground – Born in Malaga Spain, “the most beautiful place in the world“, Daniel always knew that he wanted to work in a kitchen one day. While most of us were dreaming of a day when we’d be allowed to wear blue eye shadow and walk downtown by ourselves, or wishing we were as cool as DJ from full house (or was that just me?), Daniel began working in his father’s restaurant. At 14 he started peeling potatoes and washing dishes, working his way up the ranks. Over the next 20 years he worked at numerous restaurants and in cities that I can’t pronounce. Solandalosi… Cerrado Del Abuila… Mijas…. Spanish words. He spent years and years at award winning restaurants, ranked as the best in the world, learning and working as head chef. By 34 he found himself in Alberta working in a sports restaurant in order to fulfill a work permit and eventually obtain Canadian citizenship. An opportunity last year brought him to Antigonish and we’re so thankful that it did, and although he’s only been working at the Justamere for six weeks, it’s clear that the wealth of knowledge he has brought with him will be a welcome addition to our little town.

Now, the fun stuff! Your most burning questions will be answered and you can learn a little bit more about the mysterious Chef Ortiz.

** For best results we recommend you read his answers with a passionate Spanish accent**

Favourite thing about working at the Justamere?
The potential. There is a lot of opportunity here with the kitchen, restaurant and banquet rooms.

Favourite thing about Antigonish?
The weather, I love when I get stuck in the snow… (at this moment, my mind forgot what sarcasm was and I thought he was insane… but pressed on) No, no.. the beautiful town – a nice community that is similar to where I was born. It’s a town that has everything you want – the beach or mountains. I grew up near the beach and it’s important for me to live near one. It alleviates my stress.

Is it Malaga or Antigonish? I can't even tell!

Is it Malaga or Antigonish? Who can even tell!

Favourite TV Show?
The Sopranos or Breaking Bad

Favourite Movie?
The Miserables

Favourite Song?
Dreams by the Cranberries

Mmm, cranberries.

Mmm, cranberries.

Favourite Meal?
Spanish Paella

Favourite Drink?
Coke, coffee, beer, whiskey and ginger ale (separately though, not all mixed together. Gross)

Least Favourite Food?
Cans of Tuna (he’s very passionate about this one. I on the other hand, used the opportunity to talk about an amazing tuna sandwich I recently had. Seriously, so good. His loss)

Tuna juice is the only currency my cats understand

Tuna juice is the only currency my cats understand

Who would play you in a movie?
Johnny Depp, because he can be crazy and funny.

Pet Peeves?
People coming to work late, or when people try to tell you about something that they know nothing about. I hate this kind of “expert”. 

What are your goals for the Justamere?
I want all of the banquet rooms full – with weddings and events. And I’d like to have a little shop in the restaurant where you can buy products we make here – like salad dressings and pastries. I want to use these opportunities to be the best restaurant in town.

A lot of these questions were silly, and we are aware that they will have no influence on where you decide to eat a meal… but interwoven with the silliness is the message we’re trying to convey – there is opportunity here for us and for you. There is the opportunity for the Justamere to grow, and get better… for us to introduce you to new flavours and improve old classics, there’s opportunities for weddings, shows and parties, and there are new ambitions that pour from our kitchen everyday. There is the opportunity to put ourselves out there, to try hard and create new traditions in this town. And while Daniel may be new to Antigonish and to our restaurant, his aspirations align with what ours have always been… fresh food, exciting flavours and quality products – and after ten years we are still thankful for the opportunity to bring that to you.

 

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Buffet, Sans Barb!

This isn’t the first time that the Justamere Café and Bistro has taken a stigmatized concept and turned it on it’s head (the stigma of the hotel restaurant), and you can bet your next roll up the rim that it won’t be the last time they do it either.

 I don’t know about you, but buffets bring to mind cold food, sneeze guards, and women with suspiciously large purses that conjure up images of buttery rolls tucked safely away for later. THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS, BARB.

rolls

However, like I said, once again the Jmere has taken a concept that some may consider tired and cooked new life into it.

This new weekly tradition kicked off three weeks ago, with an Indian buffet. There was immediate excitement from both sides as reservation requests rolled in and restaurant staff busily prepared food, music and drinks that fit the theme.

Indianbuffet

 The food was prepared and restocked fresh, and guests helped themselves to a spread of chickpea salad, garden salad & couscous salad, curry chicken, lamb skewers, fish Kerala, tandoori chicken, curry vegetables, rice, and house made naan bread.

 Our new Chef, Daniel Ortiz, was certainly flexing his culinary muscles that night and gave guests just a small taste of some of the excitement to come for the Justamere Café.

 Last week’s theme was Mexican, and while sombrero’s were briefly considered as essential wait staff wear, the idea was scrapped for efficiency sake – there were margarita’s and sangria to whisk off to laughing tables, and no time to keep our hats at a festive angle.

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The spread was incredible – fresh guacamole, home made corn chips, meat chill, veggie Chili, Mexican vegetable soup, corn salad, jalapeño salad, garden salad, chicken tacos, beef tacos, beef burritos, and chicken burritos … But I’ve just got five words for you. All. You. Can. Eat. Quesadillas. How many times have you come to the Justamere and ordered a quesadilla and thought, “I could eat these things for hours”… well last Friday evening was your chance. How many quesadilla triangles are too many quesadilla triangles, you ask? Impossible to say – that’s a personal choice that you will not be judged for. You do you.

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Tonight we continue our culinary tour around the globe, stopping in Italy! Come join us for all you can eat pasta salad, capresse salad, garden salad, pizza, pasta carbonara, lasagna, chicken Parmesan, risotto, assorted breads, and more!

 ItalianBuffet

And remember, just because it’s a buffet doesn’t mean our quality suffers – the Justamere believes in producing real and fresh food, and that’s not going to change! We’ve got our amazing kitchen staff behind those double doors keeping the food coming hot all evening long.

So call us at 902-735-3353 to reserve your table tonight. The buffet runs from 5 to 9pm. Bring your friends, bring your appetite, just don’t bring Barb.

My 2nd Annual Mid-January Resolutions

After my recovery from a long and exhausting cold, which extended my vacation past the point of necessity to a dark place of guilt and Quality Street chocolates, I’ve come out the other side! Hurrah! Sunlight, unblocked nasal passages, good night sleeps, and the job and people I love to spend my days with!

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As has become my tradition, sometime around New Years Eve (going on 4 years now), I get sick…. And then I stay sick… for weeks…. and weeks. Then Eileen, being so patient, gives me MORE time off than the week and a half the Justamere Closes… and I stay home and sleep… and wallow in illness. During those dark days, Netflix and all the leftover Christmas treats and I have a show down. It gets weird… if you’ve got the time to dig deep enough you can find some strange stuff on Netflix… and the same goes for left over Christmas candy… once the good ones are gone, there are some crazy things that they can make sugar into….

 

Now I’m back though, rested rarin’ to go and ready to fill this Blog Dry Spell! So here it is, that time of year again, that time where I blatantly lie about how I’ll behave this year…

My 2nd annual Mid-January Resolutions!

 

1.  I won’t be jealous of Instagram

Social media is a tricky thing… it connects us, it invites us to things, it tells us who is pregnant, it always knows when my friends birthdays are… it sounds like a good thing, but sometimes it’s not. At the Justamere we use it to connect to customers, to show them what we can offer. We show you yummy food and hope that it sparks your interest and appetite enough for you to come visit us… which I think is fair. We show pictures of something you might want and then we can get it for you… we’re happy, you’re happy! BUT, social media gets bad when people start focusing on the things they want, but can’t have. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on Facebook and Instagram looking at what other people have – vacations, relationships, children, houses, cars, pets, etc. and feel a little bit worse about my life because I don’t have something that Suzy “Bikini Wearing-Hawaiian Vacation having- Cute Dog Owning – Nice boots” MacDonald has… Well not this year Suzy. This year I will realize that not all that shimmers is gold, and I will be happy for what I have and stop being ungrateful.

 

Another pic from Suzy... Typical.

Another pic from Suzy… Typical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I will drink less coffee!

I don’t even like it that much… it just makes me feel like a grown up…

 

3. I will stop playing Candy Crush and Two Dots

If drinking Coffee makes me feel like a grownup then being addicted to these games makes me feel like i’m taking 6 steps in the wrong direction. I feel like a baby watching Teletubbies…  I can’t look away and all the colours make me happy. So enough is enough. I’ll delete them, put my head up and stop staring at my phone… but for educational purposes I will keep playing Trivia Crack.

winning

 

4. I will seriously cut down on my TarTar sauce consumption

Okay, I’m going to get serious for a second… like “come sit beside me, I have something to tell you” serious. I have a tartar sauce problem. I know it and the staff knows it. I hope you’re not laughing because this is serious. I sneak it. I will carry my lunch plate over top of my BOWL of tartar sauce so no one can see how much I’ve taken… then I will close the office door and eat my shame. The Justamere just makes the best sauce I’ve EVER tasted… so I cannot be held completely responsible for my actions, but this year I will work on my problem – after all, it may be green, but essentially I’m just eating a bowl of mayo every few days.

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5. Realize that “everything can’t be perfect all the time”

I’m not perfect, and it’s too exhausting to try to be… I can’t beat level 430 in Candy Crush, I eat too much tartar sauce, not all my blogs are great, and my cats have a little too much control over my life… but the sooner I realize that that’s okay, the happier I’ll be.

The inspiration behind this last resolution came from Steven James Garvie… who dined with us in the summer, and realized that the Justamere isn’t perfect all the time either! He had an incident with a loose syrup top [watch the video below!]. While he could’ve yelled and cursed us he instead laughed it off and responded to our apologies with the wise words that “everything can’t be perfect all the time”! Certainly words to live by in 2015! Kudos to you Garvie!