Who doesn’t have a few hard-to-buy-for names on their holiday gift list? There are only so many homemade tree decorations you can make and so many pictures you can have printed from your iphoto. Herewith, seven spectacular gift ideas for your foodie friends and fam—from sassy stocking stuffer to splurgy indulgence to fodder for the brain.
Ultimate Cheese Plate
Want to bring more than a wedge of brie or block of herbed havarti to the party? Chabichou sells the most beautiful hand-crafted cheese boards ($30–$50) designed by Kjell Orrling and made from local Manitoba maple trees 200 kilometres from the GTA (Chabichou and Tati owner Lauren Brion found Kjell at a Niagara fair). Have one of Chabichou’s staff load one of the boards with the Ontario-local likes of Mouton Rouge Ewenity (sheep) for $7.90/100 grams or Thunder Oak Gouda (cow) for $4.34/100 grams and wrap the lot in cellophane. 196 Borden Street, 647-430-4942.
Are You Experienced?
Daddy, would you like some sausage? Actually, it turns out the sausage-making classes offered by The Healthy Butcher are popular with the stagette set and corporate groups, but Pop doesn’t have to know that. This hands-on class sells out every time, offering participants a chance to learn about casings and fillings and try their hand, with a partner, at stuffing. If sausages aren’t their thing, The Healthy Butcher also offers a host of other hands-on or instructional “live to eat” classes, including Intro to Butchering, the Art of the Roast, and Knife Skills (good even for an experienced cook but perhaps over the top for a chef school graduate). Visit http://www.thehealthybutcher.com/LiveToEatSeminars.html to learn more.
Roe Roe Roe Your Gloat
Pusateri’s does a brisk business with custom-order gift baskets this season (just 24 hour turnaround). Add a jar of Caspian Sea caviar to an assembly, or keep things simple with their largest offering of the roe delicacy for $2150.00 for 250 grams (Osetra). Due to the delicate nature of this rare product, orders of caviar are ordered through management to ensure that delivery and distance to not affect the quality of the caviar. www.pusateris.com
Joy in a Jar
Guarantee a second invitation from a hostess by bringing one of Petite Thuet’s jars of kitchen-made jams, pickled fruits and vegetables, and gelées to your first visit. Think Northern Quebec cloudberry gelée, popular whole strawberries rum sauce for soaking in holiday cake, Labrador tea syrup, and pickled Ontario heirloom carrots. Chef Marc Thuet imports a small selection of worthy victuals as well, as in aromatic, nutty vinaigre ce zin jaune du jura (yellow wine vinegar, $58). www.petitethuet.com
Hinterland is a small Prince Edward County winery that focuses mostly on premium sparkling wine, but which produced three commendable still wines in 2007 and 2008. Wow the oenophiles on your list with a bottle of Hinterland’s classic, aromatic riesling or delicately fruity chardonnay and feel good about supporting local. Available from the winery, or free delivery to the GTA. www.hinterlandwine.com.
Inexpensive non-perishable items make ideal stocking stuffers for kitchen keeners. Slider grillers from Honest Ed’s please burger-fan party hosts. Kitchen Stuff Plus stocks myriad of under-$12 finds, like a cherry and olive pitter, turkey spiral or poultry lacers for sealing in stuffing, steel avocado slicer, and marble mortar and pestle. www.honesteds.sites.toronto.com and www.kitchenstuffplus.com
Affect the politics of food in Ontario by purchasing a subscription for your foodie friend or family member to support Monforte Dairy, which is establishing a business model that should spearhead meaningful growth in micro-production. Like other community shared agriculture (CSA) plans, a subscription entails a prepayment in return for future delivery of product. Three Monforte Renaissance subscription plans on offer from $200 to $1,000, and recipients receive either cheese baskets delivered twice a year for five years or cheese vouchers for redeeming at markets. [See GFR0108 for more coverage of Monforte’s inovative offer – Ed.] www.monfortedairy.com
Kelly Jones is a freelance writer and editor. She teaches Food Writing at George Brown College.