You don’t need to look very far for the perfect present this holiday season. We’ve made a list (and checked it twice) filled with the bounty of Ontario – both nifty and nice!
If you’re stumped on a superb stocking stuffer, here are a few of our favourite finds to help spread the homegrown holiday cheer:
Ninutik [Maple Syrup] Products
Designed by Dianne Croteau and Richard Brault using maple syrup sourced locally from sugar bushes in Powassin, Maitland and Hilton Beach, these sweet stunners are as unique as they are beautiful. From mini maple lollipops to marbled sugar cubes to exquisite artisan chocolates, these maple masters have you covered. They’ll even cater made-to-order maple taffy for your next holiday party.
Sound sweet? Visit Ninutik [Maple Syrup] for more information.
Who wouldn’t want to take home a bushel of Chick a Biddy’s bounty?
Christmas in July is just a click away! Several of Ontario’s CSA farms and distributers have opened registration for the 2013 season, including:
Main St. Market
The Veggie Underground
Chick a Biddy Acres
Culinarium’s Food Box Program
See the full Ontario CSA Directory to find your nearest farm.
Gifts that Give Back
For heartfelt holiday shopping that makes a difference, consider pledging support to a local community food bank or co-operative on behalf of someone on your list. Trust us – playing Secret Santa never felt so good!
Look for the Mustard Seed Co-op – opening 2013!
With a $25 donation, The Stop Community Food Centre
will put together a food hamper and deliver it to a family in need. They’ll even send a card (no wrapping necessary!) to your loved one letting them know the Christmas miracle they’ve just helped to pull off. Or support one of FoodShare
‘s many awesome community initiatives by making a donation in honour of friends and family members.
See a full list of Ontario’s Association of Food Banks and Community Food Centres to help you make your good deed decision.
Another great way to show your community spirit this season is to sign individuals on your wish list up for a membership with a local co-operative like the West End Food Co-op
. At the Mustard Seed Co-op
, Hamilton’s future non-profit grocery store, your loved ones can even earn the boast-worthy title of “Founding Member” when you purchase a $100 household membership in their name.
Cooking Classes & Workshops
Your culinary adventure awaits at The Waring House Cookery School!
Class it up this Christmas with a gift certificate to one of Ontario’s choicest culinary centres and cooking schools. Or throw in your chef’s hat into the ring and sign both of you up for a kitchen klatch!
Here are a few of our favourite places to hit the cookbooks:
From the Farm Cooking School
[Prince Edward County]
The Good Earth
Evergreen Brick Works
The Waring House
[Prince Edward County]
Relaxation is just a few steps away at Claramount Inn & Spa.
Who wouldn’t want to unwind after the
hustle and bustle of the holiday season? In what has become a holiday tradition, my mother and I like to forgo the unceremonious Christmas tree takedown in favour of an afternoon at White Oaks Resort & Spa
. Fun fact: in early 2013, they’ll be relaunching their popular vineyard wrap which uses grape pulp from Niagara vineyards…proving yet again that wine works wonders!
Here a few more recourses for relaxation:
Ste. Anne’s Spa
King Bethune House & Spa
[Peterborough & The Kawarthas]
Claramount Inn & Spa
[Prince Edward County]
Elm Hurst Inn & Spa
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa
Wine Club Subscriptions
A great way to toast your loved ones…year-round! With exclusive discounts and winery events, along with a variety of member levels to choose from, Ontario’s wineries have something for every oenophile on your list. We like Club Huff
from Huff Estates and the Friends of Fielding Estates Winery Wine Club
. Bonus – your newly inducted club member might even share a glass or two with you!
Pour over Wine Country of Ontario‘s extensive list of wineries for vin-spiration.
Herriott Grace Kitchenwares
Cheese sold separately, unfortunately.
Simply put, these hand-carved housewares are show-stoppers. According to their website, this dynamic father-daughter duo seeks inspiration from “homesteads, farms, well-worn tables and the meals around them”. Hey, that sounds like us!
Take a look at the Herriot Grace online store and join me in swooning over those rustic rolling pins.
OCB Discovery Pack
A holiday tradition! Available at the LCBO, these seasonal samplers from Ontario Craft Brewers
feature six unique beers from the staggering, 150+ selection of Ontario brands. This year’s picks come from Black Oak Brewing, Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery, King Brewing, Lake of Bays Brewing Co., Old Credit Brewing Co., and Wellington Brewery.
For a barrel full of more great gift ideas, visit Ontario Craft Brewers.
Give a friend the gift of a wine country lunch from Windsor Eats.
These unique culinary tours let your loved ones have their cake and walk (or paddle or cycle) it off too:
Foodies on Foot
1000 Islands Kayaking
Bikes & Beers Cycling Tour
and Wine Trail Ride
Elora Culinary Walking Tour
Culinary Adventure Co.
And now…A Few Thoughts on Gift Baskets
Holiday hampers are a great way to spread the local love around. While the sun has set on the summer produce season, there are still plenty of Ontario edibles available for preserving. Throw in a copy of Sarah B. Hood’s canning compendium We Sure Can!
and see if you don’t just find yourself on the receiving end of some pickled presents next year.
The Pickles Eh family goes out on a limb.
Of course, if you are looking to outsource your jam session, there’s an increasingly endless selection of all Ontario options to choose from; green tomato garlic jam from Bumpercrop
; peanut brittle from Kernal Peanuts
; brandied pears from Pickles Eh!
; vidal ice syrup
from Niagara; cheddar crispies from Evelyn’s Crackers
; authentic German stollen with homemade quark cheese from Cake & Loaf Bakery
; organic apple butter from Filsinger’s
; Kerr Farms’ tomato sauce from Ontario’s Own
; and cheese, cheese and more cheese
Have a film fan on your list? Why not throw a bag of From Farm to Table Canada
‘s award-winning popcorn in with some of their favourite food-themed flicks?
And if all of the above fails, or the sound of crinkling cellophane is threatening to turn you into the Abominable Snowman
, there’s a wide range of local suppliers and markets (Dingo Farms
, Heatherlea Farm Market
…) throughout the province that can play Santa’s Helper.
Or, go window shopping for some great local gift ideas at one of the many holiday markets happening this month:
Ottawa Christmas Farmers’ Markets
– Dec. 2nd & 9th
[Kitchener] – Dec 6th – 9th
The Depanneur’s Pop Up Holiday Market
[Toronto] – Dec. 9th, 16th & 23rd
Christmas in Cambridge Market
– Dec. 7th & 8th
The Meaford Christmas Farmers’ Markets
– Dec. 7th & 14th
Busy Hands Christmas Gift & Craft Sale
[Prince Edward County] – Dec. 8th & 9th
Orillia Christmas Farmers’ Markets
– Dec. 8th, 15th & 22nd
The Junction Flea
[Toronto] – Dec. 16th
Toronto Christmas Market
– on now until Dec. 16th
Simcoe Christmas Farmers’ Market
– Dec. 20th
And around the OCTA tree, here’s what the rest of the team will be tying a bow on:
Monforte CSA Vouchers
There are many year-round benefits of joining Monforte Dairy’s CSA program but when the holidays roll around, my favourite perk has to be their CSA vouchers – perfect for playing dairy godmother with my friends and family.
Here’s how it works: for each level of CSA subscription, in addition to helping strengthen Monforte’s awesome business model, you’ll receive a corresponding stack of vouchers (in ready-to-gift $5 increments) that are good for the next five years. A $200 membership earns you $250 in vouchers, $500 will see you net $750 in vouchers and if you opt for the Wheel o’ Cheese ($1000), you’ll enjoy $1500 in vouchers. Who wouldn’t be happy to milk this system?
Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine 2007 Estate Blanc de Blanc
This year, I’m bubbling over with excitement to gift this elegant bottle of sparkling wine. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes harvested from the Short Hills Bench, this new release marks the first time Paul Speck and the Henry of Pelham family have done a vintage dated sparkling wine. Speaking of firsts, this would also be a great choice to ring in the New Year with!
Look for the 2007 Cuvée Catharine in the LCBO Vintages section starting Dec 8th or through the winery right now.
Cherries from Cherry Lane
My family goes a little nutty for sour cherries–specifically ones from Cherry Lane on the Beamsville Bench. For over 100 years, Cherry Lane has been providing tart cherries to the unabashedly cherry obsessed. The cold weather hasn’t culled our obsession either–this year I’ve stocked up on juice concentrates, plus dried and frozen fruit to make all manner of festive pies, tarts, preserves and cocktails for my caroling comrades
. Cherry Christmas!
The Ontario Table [Lynn Ogryzlo]
Earth to Table [Jeff Crump & Bettina Schormann]
Cookbooks contain more than just lists of ingredients and pretty pictures; they contain personal histories and are testaments to unique tastes of place. Cookbooks help you to explore a region in a way regular books can’t–by using all five of your senses! This holiday season, give the gift of the tastes of Ontario with these two great cookbooks which tell great stories and bring the flavours of Ontario’s seasons into your kitchen in unique and creative ways.
The variety of mustards, and their excellent horseradish, make for tasty complements for snacks, lunches and dinners. The Triple Crunch – three types of whole mustard seeds that explode when chewed – is a perfect match for some old Ontario cheddar.
…That’s a Wrap!
Have a great time gifting locally this holiday season and be sure to share your favourites with @OCTA_licious using #HoHoLocal!