As Toronto quickly becomes cemented as a Foodie town, we’ve got no doubts that you’ve got a budding chef or food connoisseur on your list of people to buy for this year. We’re big fans of food ourselves and have put together this guide with our own loves in mind!
1) Perfect for stocking stuffers, small gifts, or thank-yous to holiday hosts, fancy salts, vinegars and oils are a gift that will always be appreciated and never be wasted. There are gourmet shops around the city selling these items, some at a premium, some at a discount. For salts and great spice blends in pretty packaging, check out The Spice Trader on Queen St. W. or order online. Crescendo just opened in the Distillery Market and is known for its incredibly flavored oils and vinegars. For bargain prices, check out HomeSense!
2) We’ve both been to the wine and cheese classes offered by the Leslieville Cheese Market, and they are fun, informative and delicious. Even better, they’re $20! For your beer-loving foodie, beer and cheese classes are also offered. ($20)
3) A wine saver pump is a great gift for your favorite wine-o’s. The wine vacuum takes out the extra air from an open bottle of wine, helping slow down the oxidation process so the wine keeps longer. I know we all love to polish off bottles, but sometimes a nice wine is great to savour! (from $10)
4) There are cookbooks for every taste, whether your foodie is focused on being healthy, trying to master the perfect chilli in the slow cooker or hell bent on learning to make macarons. Chapters is a one stop shop, but there are some great smaller stores staffed with people who can really speak to the books to help you pick out the perfect one. Try The Good Egg in Kensington Market, you’ll want to browse for hours!
5) Seemingly every time we head up to a cottage with a food loving gang in tow we manage to fill the trunk with excessive food and supplies. Heaven forbid we go two days without our precious sea salts! Pick up this Mobile Food Survival Kit and help simplify the travels of your foodie friends. ($25)
1) A gorgeous wood cutting board can be used for chopping as well as a presentation platter for cheese and charcuterie. An artisan made board will be appreciated and last your foodie a lifetime. If you can manage to get your hands on one, sugar maple wood is naturally anti-bacterial.
2) There are countless kitchen appliances and no foodie owns them all. You may want to gift a high-end coffee grinder and coffee maker, something basic like a food processor or blender, or something fun like a popcorn machine or ice cream maker. While these can quite easily cost more than $100, they don’t have to. Keep your eye out for sales at The Bay (which seem to happen every other day!), or check out my favorite houseware store, Cayne’s Housewares. If you can’t get to Markham, order online!
3) We are a great time of the year for many foodies: truffle season. To be precise, we are nearing the end of white truffle season and black truffle season is just around the corner. Rather than a lesson on why this mushroom is so special and so darn expensive, I’ll let this article do the talking. High-end grocers like Pusateri’s and the Cheese Boutique sell the truffles themselves and truffle products, like salt and oil, can be readily found at decent markets or specialty shops. McEwan (famed Chef Mark McEwan’s grocery store) has a great variety to choose from.
4) An often neglected ingredient that can make a big difference in the taste of food is freshly ground pepper. Not only is this a functional gift, pepper mills can be pretty beautiful too. You can find a wide array of them just about anywhere, and if you’re looking to make a real statement, consider gifting two of them: one for pepper and one for rock salt!
5) An indoor herb garden will always be appreciated and used by your foodie. Go as far as you’d like with this gift: you can wrap up the pots, your can pick the seeds, or get the plants started and give the gift in full bloom! These ones pictured from West Elm are really unique and save counter space, too.
6) A mortar and pestle is another kitchen tool that can be as beautiful as it can be useful. Help inspire homemade pestos and curries!
7) Possibly one of the most fun food centered gifts ever: A Molecular Gastronomy Kit. Help your foodie turn their kitchen into a food laboratory with this how-to kit that teaches you how to transform liquids, like honey, into jelly-like cubes, spherify chopped produce into flavor-packed beads, or even morph melted chocolate into a delicate powder or spaghetti-like strands. Awesome. ($60)
1) While I’m sure your resident foodie derives much satisfaction from cooking for everyone around them all of the time, why not give them a break from being in charge? Many catering companies will come and cook in-house and serve a lovely meal to your liking. Some chefs will even turn the home visit into a private cooking class in your own kitchen!
2) Especially great for learning about a specific type of cuisine, give the gift of a cooking class. Whether through a restaurant, a local culinary school or specific company, cooking classes are available for everything from learning to make the perfect stocks to mastering French cuisine to chocolate desserts. The healthy Indian cooking class taught by mother and daughter, Arvinda and Preena is particularly wonderful. ($85)
3) A high quality knife is invaluable to a budding chef and should last a lifetime. Chopping and slicing will never be more enjoyable! Does your foodie already have a knife but not know what to do with it? Consider the knife skills class Robyn blogged about earlier this year as a gift.
4) Surely your foodie has a list of restaurants a mile long that they are dying to try since there is no shortage of fancy restaurants in Toronto, many of which are too fancy for a spontaneous and casual Saturday night dinner. Craft a cute “IOU” coupon and take your foodie out for dinner or find out if the restaurant sells gift certificates. Some ideas for those once in a lifetime meals? The prix fixe menu (featuring truffles when in season!) at Splendido, a family style dinner at Momofuku’s Daisho, a molecular gastronomy experience at Colborne Lane or a ticket to the next Group of 7 dining adventure.
5) The king of all blenders is the Vitamix (and therefore deserving to be distinct from the “food appliance” suggestion above), and if your foodie loves to make their own food, this is likely on their dream wish list. Not just a blender, this machine is powerful enough to make nuts into butter, grains into flour, and herbs into creamy pesto. Apparently it’ll crush ice into a smoothie in less than 30 seconds. To knock $100 off the price, consider buying a reconditioned unit that still comes with a 5+ year warranty. (from $479)