Last Minute Gifts this Christmas

Last Minute Gifts for the Food Enthusiast Last Minute Gifts for the Food Enthusiast
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Alright, there are but eight days left before Christmas. It’s time to shift gears and really get moving on that naughty and nice list.

Gift Certificates
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with gift certificates. “Impersonal” be damned! If you’ve a giftee who enjoys shopping, be it for the latest kitchen gadget or otherwise, more power to them!

Only, we prefer gifting certificates to an entire mall. This way, giftees can shop at any store.

Kitchen Gear
If you would like a gift-giving guide for the foodie cook, the kind of foodie I aspire to be, check out something I put together for Candace Derickx (@Candace_Dx), parenting (and tourism) blogger and founder of Life in Pleasantville.

Cork Coasters and Place Mats

Cork Coasters and Place Mats

In my plea to forget the Food Network and step away from the gimmicky kitchen store, I advocate determining what kind of foodie you’re shopping for and choosing gifts accordingly. If you’ve cooks to shop for, look for something to help them cook. If you’ve bakers to shop for, look for something to help them bake.

A number of restaurant supply houses in Ottawa retail to the public. They’re your best bet!

Tickets to Food Events
Now, if your foodie likes to network with like-minded people in the community and meet honest-to-goodness chefs, the kind that don’t have restaurants in New York City’s Time Square district that get lambasted by critics, tickets to the following Ottawa events would make great gifts.

  • Harmony House’s Red and White Event:
    A fundraiser for Harmony House Women’s Shelter, Red and White features three culinary talents. Three chefs, Caroline Ishii of ZenKitchen (634 Somerset Street W.), Charlotte Langley of Toronto’s Hooked (formerly of the Whalesbone Oyster House), and Katie Brown of Beckta Dining and Wine (226 Nepean Street) will be on hand. Watch and learn as they demonstrate how to make the dishes that will be served at the event.

    Red and White Event

    Red and White Event

    There will be wine and beer from Eastern Ontario producers. Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co., Rosehall Run, Sandbanks, and the Grange return from last year’s event to showcase their libations.

    This year’s event will take place at Ashbury College on January 16, 2013 from 7:30 pm until 10:00 pm.

    Harmony House is Ottawa’s only second-stage shelter. It provides affordable transitional housing for women and children who are survivors of violence.

    Tickets are $60/person (not including and online transaction fee).

    Click here to purchase tickets.

  • Carefor’s 9th Annual Chocolate Competition:
    The Carefor Brunch and Chocolate competition is a fundraiser for Carefor Health & Community Services, a non-profit charitable health care organization. For over 110 years, Carefor has provided services for people of all ages and all stages of life. It offers a wide variety of accessible home-care and community support services.

    Each year, Carefor invites Ottawa’s chocolate artisans to come up with creations and compete against one another. This year, the confirmed competitors include Top of the Hill Bakery (defending champion), Brookstreet Hotel’s Perspectives Restaurant, Firestone Restaurant Group, Essence Catering, Chartwell Residences, Todrics Restaurant & Catering (a former winner), Hilton Airport Hotel, and The Joy of Gluten Free.

    The judging panel is spectacular this year:

    • Chef Tim Wasylko of 24 Sussex (the PM’s chef!)
    • Chef Jonny Korecki of Side Door Kitchen and Bar (Top Chef Canada finalist!)
    • Chef Michael Blackie of MBCuisine
    • Chef Hervé Chabert of Le Cordon Bleu (award-winning pastry chef and instructor)

    The competition will be held March 2, 2013 from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm at the Centurion Conference & Event Centre (170 Colonnade Road)

    Ticktes are $75/person (with $25 tax receipt), $40 for children aged 4-12), and children under 4 attend for free.

    Click here to purchase tickets.

And the reason for this blog post…

Gift Baskets
Yes…Yes…Along with fruit cake and eggnog, gift baskets are the scourge of the holidays.

The thing is, personalized baskets can make great gifts.

But, there is a fine line between gift baskets and care packages.

Case in point, consider the following “gift basket.”

Sobey's "Gift Basket" for Food Lovers

Sobey’s “Gift Basket” for Food Lovers

This incredibly utilitarian basket was couriered to us by Sobey’s.

This year, Sobey’s has completely retooled its marketing strategy, encouraging influential tweeps (twitterers) and bloggers to participate in their campaigns. Many are parenting bloggers. Some are notable food bloggers, including Mardi Michaels (@eatlivtravwrite) of Eat Live Travel Write.

Recently, we followed Sobey’s “Brunch Smackdown“, which had participating bloggers prepare creative brunch dishes with its “gourmet all butter” croissants.

Entirely made up of products from Sobey’s “Compliments” line, our basket included a box of generic “Shreddies” cereal, artificial flavoured cheddar crackers, peanut-laced granola bars (I’m allergic), canned tuna, and cleaning supplies.

"Gift Basket" Contents

“Gift Basket” Contents

Paired with a $25 gift certificate, this care package actually makes an ideal donation to the Ottawa Food Bank. We re-packaged everything in an un-torn reusable shopping bag and placed it in a Christmas hamper a colleague is organizing, gift certificate included.

When it comes to gift baskets, my wife and I like to give the gift of thoughtfulness, so quality goods, crafted by local producers, are what we usually place in wicker baskets and secure with plastic wrap and ribbon.

Items we have gifted in the past include truffles from Koko Chocolates, coffee from Happy Goat, chutney from Major Craig’s, and pastries from Life of Pie.

Baskets can be supplemented with other goodies like cookies from Morsel, candy from The Candy Store, and wine from Blue Gypsy Wines.

Given we are closely approaching Christmas day, may I also suggest letting your fingers do the shopping? Besides, the artisan Christmas market season has come to a close.

Ever heard of givopoly?

  • Givopoly
    Givopoly is an e-commerce solution that partners with local producers to “gift-ify” artisan goods. Founder Susan Richards has partnered with the producers mentioned above and many more.

    You purchase to gift.

    Givopoly already has themed gift baskets organized to purchase and ship. Consider a “cranberry trio” that includes wine, chutney, and salsa!

    Best yet, Givopoly is presently donating a dollar from every order to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Happy shopping!

Got a last minute gift suggestion? Do share in the comments below!

Aside: A copy of the Christmas edition of Sobey’s in-store magazine “Inspired: For the Love of Good Food” was enclosed with our gift certificate. So, we dropped by a Sobey’s to determine if what was published could be made with grocery store buys.

We discovered Sobey’s knows what goes into passable gift baskets. They sell them.

Sobey's Gift Basket for RetailAnother Sobey's Gift Basket for Retail

Sobey’s has reworked its product offer since we last visited. With a little effort, the recipes and beautifully photographed food in the magazine can be made with groceries from the store.

Charcuterie Plate with CheeseDry Cured Salami

Smoked SalmonLive Lobster

We were even surprised by how well Sobey’s stocked its ethnic aisle.

Wonton NoodlesAjvar

Cane SugarBlack Mole

Sobey’s really does have something to interest the food lover.

Mild-mannered IT professional by day and food blogger by night, I founded foodiePrints with a single intention, to share my love of all things food. My first post shared a recipe. Many followed. Eventually, I learned Ottawa prepares and serves great food. Thereafter, I started meeting restaurateurs, chefs, cooks, farmers, and other local producers, all good people. Ideas for food-related content swirled in my head. foodiePrints grew into a place to put them. From exploring foreign and domestic cuisines to shopping for exotic ingredients and cobbling together my takes on dishes in my meager kitchen, there are stories to tell. Welcome to foodiePrints. Here, you will find stories about food and drink, cooking, and eating in Canada’s capital. Be it food-related or just food-for-thought, I hope you find something tasty here.