Andrea’s holiday gift guide part 2: Food & Drink edition

Note: Some of the images didn’t make the transition when I changed my blog hosts. I’m in the process of replacing them.

Still struggling to find that chanukah, Christmas, Festivus or just regular old “I like you” gift? Here’s my three part series. Keep this in mind for birthdays and anniversaries too (my birthday is coming up in a little over two months, ahem)! Part 1 is here, part 3 is here. I’ve added some suggestions since this guide was originally posted.

Community Supported Agriculture & Organic home delivery

CSA membership

Buy someone a farm share for the spring/summer (and in some cases, fall and/or winter) season. Pay the farm at the start of the season, receive produce from them. For more information on Ontario CSAs check this site. My own summer & fall CSA is Everdale Farm. In Toronto there’s The Cutting Veg, Culinarium, Kawartha Ecological Growers (winter shares available); and Leslieville Market Winter Food Mix through the winter. Feel free to share your favourite year-round CSAs in the comments.

Farms such as Stoddart Family Farm have meat CSAs for pasture-raised meat.

Monforte Dairy offers a cheese CSA.

Organic home delivery

Companies such as Front Door Organics, Mama Earth Organics, and Green Earth Organics. I’m not endorsing any of them specifically because I have no experience nor connections (I’m guessing they’re all good). You can google “organic home delivery” to find one that’s right for you.

Self sufficiency, preserves year round.

canning starter kit

When I started this series of posts I tweeted for suggestions for health-conscious or eco-conscious gifts. Only two people responded, one with the idea of home-made chutney, the other said, “Your own preserves – jams sauces chutneys”

Of course! Canning!

Home canning starter kit

Product description of Home Canning Starter Kit:

This kit contains the essential tools needed for beginning canners or for those looking to upgrade their equipment. It includes a starter set of home canning recipes and a home canning “how to” DVD (English/French).
Set of 12: waterbath canner, canning rack, jar lifter, funnel, lid lifter, bubble remover/headspace gauge, 4 mason jars with lids, pectin, and canning DVD
Capacity: 21 quarts/20 litres
Materials: Enamel canner

You can get one from Amazon, Canadian Tire or at hardware stores. Because they’re an occasional use item, they’re good for sharing with friends. I’ve had two friends offer to loan me theirs but I didn’t get around to taking the first friend up on his offer in the summer and the second friend offered just recently.

Fermentation / Pickling Ceramic Crock Pot

Fermentation / Pickling Ceramic Crock Pot

Partial description:

Make natural nutrition-packed sauerkraut and pickled vegetables with this ceramic crock pot from Germany! Sauerkraut has been recognized as one of the healthiest foods, and was even used on sailing ships to protect sailors from scurvy.

You can make delicious home-made fermented vegetables in 4-6 weeks.

See the range of ceramic fermentation crock pots and full product descriptions here and buy it online from Upaya Naturals.

Books on preserving

You need a canning book, like this one by Sarah B. Hood.

(An upcoming part of this gift guide is exclusively books.)

Want to make your own preserves pretty? Read Well Preserved’s series, Pimp That Preserve.

Also from Well Preserved:

Educational art work

Educational art work from Well Preserved!

Buy it here.
They’ll be adding more to the store.

The gift of tea

Two of my favourites, both Canadian, are David’s Tea and NourishTea. These are really the only two brands that I drink these days.

Montreal-based David’s Tea has outlets across Canada. They sell hundreds of teas and tea accessories. I own two of their “perfect tea mugs” (one at home, one at the office), which has a strainer for loose tea built in and a lid that flips over to hold the used strainer. I’ve also had many of their tea collections and own a variety of flavours in different containers & tins. They sell custom tins that you can personalize. Read their holiday gift guide and the products that they’re promoting as their favourite holiday gifts. Buy in store or online.

NourishTea is a brand of loose-tea that you’ll find in retail stores (store finder). The company offers authentic loose tea mostly made from certified Organic tea leaves. This is  straightforward tea. Just the leaves. Though David’s Tea is one of my favourites, the inclusion of “natural flavouring” on their ingredient list is bothersome. NourishTea doesn’t need an ingredient list. They make good quality tea that should please everyone. The company also has a strong charitable component. 1% of nourishtea’s net proceeds in 2011/2012 will be donated to charities including Action Against Hunger.

Interested in giving a NourishTea gift basket? Click here.

I have a number of varieties of NourishTea, and also own their paper tea filters. Why not combine products from both companies? Try NourishTea teas in a “perfect mug” from David’s Tea.

SupiCucu’s Diablo’s Fuego

You’ve read about it in Edible Toronto and Toronto Life. I’ve been eating it for over a year. From Toronto Life: “[Rossy] Earle hand-picks a proprietary blend of peppers and combines them with aromatic garlic, scallions, cilantro, parsley and other spices. Tart lemon and cider vinegar give the sauce a mild sharpness, which is mellowed out by fruity olive oil.” Yeah, what they said.

In Toronto you can find it at Pimenton (681 Mount Pleasant Rd.) or Culinarium (705 Mount Pleasant Rd.). I know this lacks convenience for a lot of people, so you can email Rossy to see if she can make something work for you.

Update: Rossy’s hot sauce was also mentioned in a BlogTO gift guide, as recommended by Beast chef/owner Scott Vivian.


Culinary food tour of Toronto

Offering food tours (groups and private), cooking classes, corporate team building activities and more, a Culinary Adventure Company gift certificate makes a great gift. Until January 6th, 10% of every gift certificate purchased will be donated to Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue program. Purchase a gift certificate & you could win a pop up dinner for 12 ($1200 Value)

Dining at a discount

Two new discount websites have recently launched.

Dining Date Night

DiningDateNight gives you access to exclusive offers at top restaurants, where you get 30% off your entire bill. Here’s how it works:

  • Restaurants partner with DiningDateNight to fill their tables
  • Members reserve these tables through DiningDateNight for $10
  • The exclusive offer (30% off) is automatically & discreetly applied to your bill

Tuesday Foodie

21 restaurant. 1 year. 1 card. 21 restaurants are participating in Tuesday Foodie which offers a 30% discount on food, every Tuesday in 2012. 1200 available. Learn more.

Restaurant gift certificates

For the vegan on your list (or person who likes vegan food because some of us appreciate it all), Hogtown Vegan is offering gift certificates. Find them on Facebook and Twitter (I learned of the gift certificates via Twitter). Read reviews at Toronto Life and BlogTO.

Samba Days gift experiences

Instead of a gift certificate to a store or restaurant, try a gift card for an experience. Choose from categories that include body and Soul, Getaway, Gourmet, Wine & more. See the Samba Days website for more.

The gift of local, wild foods

This one is a late addition to this list because until I saw it on their Facebook page, I forgot that they sell gift baskets.

Give a gift that is truly unique while introducing your family, friends and colleagues to amazing Canadian foods. Check out this year’s basket selection to learn more. Free delivery to anywhere in Canada.

A gift basket from Forbes will appeal to locavores but also your relatives and friends in the U.S. and abroad who want something “exotic” from your home land. BlogTO recently asked some local authorities on food and drink for their wish lists of locally produced or locally available gifts and Forbes was mentioned in the resulting piece.

I have a few of their products and don’t buy maple syrup from anyone else. It’s #3 dark or nothing. I buy my brother-in-law a gallon every 2-3 months. He cooks with it and also decants it into a smaller bottle, keeping the gallon in the freezer. I’ve recently bought pickled spruce tips for one friend (birthday gift), mushroom mustard for another (hostess gift) and have tasted pretty much every product they sell. A recent taste of the wild strawberry jelly took me to a special place. I think I saw unicorns there.

Holiday Feast Basket, Forbes Wild Foods If this inspires you and yours to forage on your own, part 3 of this gift guide has some books you should read. In fact, my copy of Stalking the Wild Asparagus is currently in the possession of a Forbes employee (*wave*), and the book was recommended to me by Mr. Forbes himself.



  1. Give the gift of memories | Andrea the Gastronaut - March 13, 2012

    […] I gave them a brief mention in my holiday gift guide in December, months went by in which the time wasn’t right for me to do any out of town […]

  2. Andrea's holiday gift guide part 3: Book edition - Andrea the Gastronaut - December 19, 2013

    […] Still struggling to find that chanukah, Christmas, Festivus or just regular old “I like you” gift? Here’s my three part series. Keep this in mind for birthdays and anniversaries too (my birthday is coming up in a little over two months, ahem). Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. […]

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