Go Forth and Gift: the OCTA 2013 Gift Guide is Here!

We had so much fun stocking our stuffings and trimming our tree skirts with locally procured presents last year that we’re doing it in again! A�Fast becoming a holiday tradition, this year’s OCTA Gift Guide is filled with a new group of great gifts that may prove difficult to give away. A�May we suggest two of everything?

Filled With the Holiday Spirit(s)

Dillons' Bitters

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

This holiday season, declare yourself captain of the Spirit Squad and pick up a bottle of one of Ontario’s awesome craft distilled options. A�They make a great host/hostess gift, ensure a cocktail comes your way and are pretty much guaranteed the all-important nod of approval from the in-laws. A�If you didn’t snag a bottle of Dillon’s Rose Gin, look for Batch #2 to hit the shelves – hopefully in time for last minute gift giving needs.

Here are some other ways to raise a glass to the ones you love:

66 Gilead DistilleryA�[Bloomfield]
Still Waters DistilleryA�[Concord]
Ontario Spring Water Sake Company [Toronto]
Forty Creek Whisky [Grimsby]
Toronto Distillery Company [Toronto, ON]
Rheault Distillery – a new Northern distillery we sampled at the Royal [Hearst]
Canadian ClubA� – a visit to the Canadian ClubA� Heritage Centre is a must for whisky lovers! [Windsor]

These Pretzels Are Making Me Thirsty…

Provisions CaramelsIn other beverage news, we’re loving the collaborations between some of our favourite breweries and wineries. A�At Silversmith Brewery, they don’t just serve pretzels…they serve them suspended in caramel. A�We think Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer would approve. A�Thanks to a partnership with Provisions Food Company, you can also find Black Lager caramels at the new NOTL brewery. A�Look for Provisions treats made with their Butler’s Bitter brew at the Niagara College Teaching Brewery too!

Do the math! Here are a few more perfect pairings to look for:

Closson Chase + Mercury Chocolates = Wine & Artisan ChocolateA�during Wassail [Hillier]
Stratus Winery + Soma Chocolatier = the Barrel-Aged Stratus Bar [Niagara-on-the-Lake]
Ramblin’ Road Brewery + Kettle Chips = Snacking Heaven [Norfolk County]

Give a Taste for Adventure

If we’re not at the OCTA headquarters, it’s a pretty safe bet that we’re off on an edible escapade. A�We think Ontario’s outfitting companies and tour operators are doing a great job of catering to the tastes of culinary tourists…and we’re not alone! A�This year, the Canadian Tourism Commission welcomed three more Ontario experiences into their celebrated Signature Experiences Collection: Culinary Adventure Co.’s Canoe Paddle and Beach Adventure, Johnston Cranberry Marsh’s Bog to Bottle: Muskoka’s Cranberry and Wine Discovery and the Ultimate Craft Brewery Experience.

Clockwise from the top: the Scandinave Spa on the Apple Pie Trail, the picnic feast on the Escape the City tour and the OCTA team on a Sandbanks Vacations wine tour. We miss the summer!!

Clockwise from the top: the Scandinave Spa on the Apple Pie Trail, the picnic feast on the Escape the City tour and the OCTA team on a Sandbanks Vacations wine tour. We miss the summer!!

Play tour guide and give your friends and family something to route for:

The Apple Pie Trail’s Adventures [the Blue Mountains]
Taste of Winterlude [Ottawa]
Sandbanks Vacations Wine Tours [Prince Edward County]
Passports for the Chocolate, the Maple, andA�the Bacon & AleA�TrailsA�[Stratford, ON]
Trails, Tales & Ales – Northern Edge Algonquin*[Algonquin Park]
Wilderness Mushroom Forage Adventure – Long Point Eco Adventures* [Turkey Point]
Early-bird Tickets to Savour Simcoe [Simcoe County]
An Autoshare Membership [Toronto & Mississauga]

* also CTC Signature Experiences

Meet You in the Clubhouse

Yes, this holiday season we suggest you go clubbing! A�Give the gift of a VIP booth without having to leave the house – several of Ontario’s most exciting businesses have put together some delicious delivery services. A�At Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, buying a friend or family member a share in their Greener Futures Project will net them 30 bourbon barrel aged beers over the next three years. A�Even better? The money raised through these memberships will be put towards installing a solar panels at the brewery! Alas, space is limited so you’ll want to get on this one.

beaus greener future project

West Side Beef Co.Other clubs that warrant friends and family member-ships:

West Side BeefA�- sourced from Bradford’s Dingo FarmsA�- they also do gift certificates! [Toronto]
Indie Ale House Growler Club [Toronto]
The Growler Club at TAPS on Queen [Niagara Falls]
Savvy Company’s Wine of the Month Club [Ontario]

Class Is In Session

Want to score high marks this holiday season?A�Gift certificates to cooking studios are one of our favourite ways to get an A+ in the Presents column. A�We love the wealth of edible offerings at Kitchener’s The Culinary Studio, which including Lunch n’ Learn series, skills classes and their popular Saturday Night Farmers’ Series, featuring area growers and producers.

It's class all the way at the Wine Country Cooking School (l) and Midland's Ciboulette et Cie (r).

It’s class all the way at the Wine Country Cooking School (L) and Midland’s Ciboulette et Cie (R).

Other options that are sure to cause a stir, saute and/or simmer:

Relish Cooking Studio [Waterloo]
Collingwood Cooking AcademyA�[Collingwood]
Ciboulette et Cie [Midland]
Wine Country Cooking School [Niagara-on-the-Lake]
La Cucina Di Natalina Italian Cooking School [Guelph]
The Little Inn of Bayfield [Bayfield]
Thatcher Farms Whole Barn Butchery Classes [Guelph]

Join the Night’s Watch

Another sure-fire selection? Give the gift of an overnight stay at one of Ontario’s superb boutique hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts. This one has “parents” written all over it – trust us. A�Not sure where your lucky recipient wants to lay their head? Try a Resorts of Ontario gift certificate.

You're in good hands (and paws) with Oscar, the basset hound at Away in the County B&B.

You’re in good hands (and paws) with Oscar the basset hound, at Away in the County B&B.

Eckhart House [Prince Edward County]
The Eaton Chelsea [Toronto]
Away in the County B&B [Prince Edward County]
Mad Maple Country Inn [Creemore]
Mill Valley Estate [Baltimore]
Elmhirst Resort [the Kawarthas]

Visions of Sugar-Plums

Show your loved ones just how sweet they really are by putting some locally crafted treats under the tree this year. A�We can’t wait to snag some of Hamilton bakery Cake + Loaf’s holiday truffles, created with Dillon’s beautiful line of bitters.

Look for Tim Simpson and Aura Hertzog's hand-crafted creations at K-W retailers and restaurants...or order online!

Look for Tim Simpson and Aura Hertzog’s hand-crafted creations at K-W retailers and restaurants…or order online!

More sugar and spice and everything nice:

Bean to Bar Chocolate and Marshmallows from Ambrosia Pastry Co. [Waterloo]
Minties from Barr’s Chocolates [Stratford]
North of 49 Birch Syrup Caramels [Cochrane]
Boreal Berry Farm Haskap Wine Syrup [Warren]
Wicked Shortbread [Orangeville]
Jakeman’s Maple Popcorn [Beachville]
Chocolate Sampler Boxes from Rheo Thompson Candies [Stratford]
Maple Wine from Moon Shadow Estates Winery [Haliburton]

Twas the Night Before Christmas…

Gift-giving aside, you’ll want to make sure you have all the essentials to keep you going as you wait for Rudolph. A�For us, this means keeping plenty of Sheldon Creek Dairy‘s exceptional Eggnog on hand.

For Christmas brunch, celebrate with aA�bevyA�of Ontario breakfast items:A�thick cut strips of bacon, sausages, smoked fish, a stunning sourdough loaf, farm fresh eggs and locally roasted coffee or tea (we like Pluck Teas!). A�We highly recommend having some hot sauce on the table – if you haven’t already, buy a bottle of Dawson’s Hot Sauce at the Hamilton Store – this new business is already heating things up! And if you happen to be in Huron County and snag Culbert’s crazy-delicious cream puffs, you have our sincerest jealousy.

This Christmas, sit down for a feast of local favourites!

This year, sit down for a feast of local favourites!

Over breakfast, why not toast your gift giving success with a VQA sparkling wine or channel a Victorian Christmas and raise a glass of cider – Ontario’s cider producers are at the top of their game!

That’s (Almost) a Wrap!

This guide is intended to be just that – meant to inspire our OCTA readers to put more local under the tree this year. A�See a great gift idea that didn’t make our wish list? Let us know by tweeting at @OCTA_licious with the hashtag #HoHoLocal.

Feeling Scrooged? Need more options? Revisit our 2012 Gift Guide, follow our Wines of Local series and look for our OCTA Staff Picks next week!

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