The 2014 OCTA Gift Guide | Ontario Culinary
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The 2014 OCTA Gift Guide

It’s the most…wonderful…time of the year! Our annual gift guide is back with all new, all Ontario all-stars that will knock the locally knitted socks off of everyone on your list. We’re always on the look out for perfect, provincially procured products, and we’ve found some serious standouts for this season.

From breakfast to dessert, there's a Feast ON chef waiting to spoil your lucky recipient.
From breakfast to dessert, there’s a Feast ON chef waiting to spoil your lucky recipient.

Let’s start the bidding with…a gift certificate to one our awesome Feast ON restaurants! By now, you’ve probably heard (and seen) all about our certified local food and drink champions.  Because, well, they’re everywhere. Find a Feast ON designee in your area and treat someone special to brunch, lunch, appetizers, a three-course dinner, etc.  Bonus – studies have shown that a reservation at a Feast ON restaurant in a neighbouring town makes an excellent incentive for a road trip.  Science! A separate study also revealed that many host(ess) gifts can do double duty as road trip sustenance. More science!

Another one of our go-to gifts will forever be an edible adventure.  Lucky for us (and your recipients), the number of amazing culinary tours, classes, festivals and experiences at our disposal has only increased from year to year.  Just take a look at the inaugural graduating class of Ontario Signature Experiences – former Ontario Culinary Tourism Award winners The Apple Pie Trail and WindsorEats head up the list.  Or scan our Events Calendar and snag tickets to an upcoming food focused celebration.  May we suggest the next installment of the Call to Farms dinner series (TBA)?

And after it all, guests were gifted beautiful handmade honey pots
The best edible events come with a care package to take home. Case in point – the handmade honey pots at this fall’s Call to Farms in Stratford. 

Extra Extra! Want to go the extra mile for someone on your list? Turn that adventure into an OCTA approved Perfect Weekend.  Just don’t forget to suggest yourself as the tour guide (ed. note – this gift has something for everyone!).

The more the merrier! We’ve crowd-sourced the OCTA headquarters for a few more picks. Here goes…

drake devonshire

Rebecca’s Pick:

“This year, I’m recommending a night in the newly opened Drake Devonshire‘s Owner’s Suite.  The  “Drake by the Lake” offers an awesome County experience and they’ve pulled out all the stops for this room.  Complete with a waterfront balcony (looking forward to hearing the waves lap against the shore in the summer!), fireplace and lakefront views, you’ll definitely consider cancelling Monday’s meetings. Over in the kitchen, Chef Matty DeMille and his team have put together a menu that showcases great tastes of Ontario. Life should always be this Suite!”

haute goat

Danielle’s Pick:

“I kid you not – over in Campbellford, Shain and Debbie are making some of the most delicious, stylish goat milk treats I’ve ever had.  The couple sources milk for their Haute Goat collection from their family of adorably opinionated Nigerian dwarf goats.  I’m partial to their salted caramels, but their entire line-up is pretty tempting: goat butter caramel corn, goat cheese chocolates, chocolate dipped goat butter crunch, cajeta (caramel) sauce…the list goes on.  And you don’t need to go far to indulge, Haute Goat has been making appearances at farmers’ markets in the GTA and a number of other retailers.”

Agatha’s Pick:

“I don’t know about you, but when the mercury drops, I need more then Christmas cheer to keep my toes warm at night. This year, I’m asking for a beautiful reclaimed vintage wool blanket I fell in love with at Feast ON certified Creemore Kitchen.  Diners are provided blankies to keep them warm while they eat, and are invited to purchase them in the bakeshop after dessert. Bonus: the gift-getting trip means we get to indulge in Chef Caesar’s amazing fried chicken — and pie!” 

serenity stumps

Trevor’s Pick:

“This year, for our family’s secret Santa exchange, I’ve landed a brother of mine who is really into smoking food on his Big Green Egg.  I thought this year I’d take his BBQ tablescape to the next level. Enter Serenity Stumps. Hailing from my hometown of Ottawa, this family run business is making amazing wood stump side tables with sustainable wood from an FSC Certified Forest in Perth (just down the road from a Feast ON favourite, The Masonry!).  The logs are dried out, debarked and sanded with care, before being sealed with an all natural beeswax finish.

 One of these stumps will sit perfectly alongside by brother’s Egg and serve as a table to rest that ever-important barbecue essential, craft beer. Bonus – Serenity also makes great local walnut, cherry and maple cutting and cheese boards.”

kitten and the bear

Julia’s Pick:

“It’s hard to imagine what I did for gifts before Kitten and the Bear opened.  Their scone packages, complete with the best jams you will ever have, clotted cream, beautifully packaged Sloane Teas and a charming bouquet from nearby florist Coriander Girl, are the gift-giving equivalent of a mic drop.  They’re pretty hard to top.  The good news is owners Sophie and Bobby are always dreaming up new flavour combinations for their jams (we loved their Ontario rhubarb and vanilla bean), meaning no two baskets are the same. Long live #gameofscones!” 

bonnie gordon

Jessika’s Pick:

“Being a recent transplant to Ontario, I’ve really been enjoying using the bounty of local produce that this province has to offer.  The only way to make things sweeter for me would be to learn how to make a locally sourced pie.  Fortunately, Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts has me covered.  Their Pies: Savoury & Sweet class will teach me to make – and take home – four different pies, including homestyle apple and savoury quiche.” 

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Ying’s Pick:

 “This is a great season to get on the ice and try your hand at ice fishing.  Ice fishing is like meditation – focused patience coupled with the solitude of a frozen lake. The added bonus is the lake’s crown jewel of catches.  To add more incentive, the Culinary Adventure Co. is offering a full day ice fishing excursion on Lake Simcoe (Canada’s ice fishing capital!). While you attempt to hook some local Lake Ontario fish, Chef Scott will be cooking up a traditional Canadian shore lunch. Think fried potatoes, baked beans, fresh fish and homemade bread using his grandma’s recipe.  Best fishes for this holiday season!”

Here’s wishing you and yours a delicious holiday season from everyone at OCTA!