Give the gift of good taste and support local businesses this spring
You’ve done the flowers, the bottle of wine, the scarf, the Popsicle stick and macaroni portrait (at age 8 and 28 – hey, times are tough). But if your mom or dad (or aunt, uncle, grandma or grandpa) is forever going on about their new favourite restaurant, or plonking a casserole in the middle of the table and announcing, “I saw Giada make this – tell me what you think,” consider a gift that plays to their love of good eating. These are our favourite locally available Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gifts for amateur chefs and avid diners.
Gift certificates are an easy, one-size-fits-all present, with one downside: they can feel a bit impersonal. Consider a ticket to a chef’s tasting menu at a top-shelf eatery instead of a swipe-able cash card you’ll look super-discerning and in-the-know, and they’ll get a culinary experience they’ll never forget.
Canoe and Auberge du Pommier tasting menu ticket, $140 ($214 with wine pairings).
Let’s be real: Your folks probably have enough froofy gifted bath products to last a lifetime. Forgo the bath salts (no, not that kind) for flavoured (edible) varieties from Vancouver-based Amola. Surefire hits include smoky espresso (just picture that on a steak), mole and mountain mushroom.
Amola salts, $10.50, Lavish and Squalor, 253 Queen West.
Skip the Secord or the Pot of Gold in favour of mind-bending chocolate treats like Pollock-painted truffles or easily giftable bars in flavours like matchasesame, rum and Coke, or lavender cassis.
David H. Chow chocolates, $3.50-$32.
If your folks go through Clamato like water, get ’em something you know they’ll love: a DIY fancy Caesar kit. Grab some artisanal fixings, plus a bottle of their fave vodka (or gin or tequila if you’re trying to shake them out of their comfort zone) and presto!
Walter Caesar mix, $6.99. Manning Canning spicy pickled green beans, $8.
Step up your folks’ dinner party game with an elegant tablecloth. Linen feels luxurious yet unfussy, simple embroidery adds a little visual interest, and the serene sea-green hue is sophisticated and striking.
Cause a fermentation sensation with the avid gardener, canning freak or health nut on your shopping list. This handy DIY kit lets you brew up your own kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles and more in a standard mason jar.
Maybe you can’t afford to fly your family to Sardinia – but the prepared eats at Alimentari, a new Italian pasta shop by a former Buca chef, are pretty much the next best thing anyway. No food lover could resist their apple mostarda, preserved lemons or ready-to-go puttanesca sauce.
Pantry items, $5.95 and up, Alimentari, 325 Roncesvalles.
Here’s your chance to expand your favourite grill master’s flavour horizons: Pick up a couple cans of Barque’s gourmet spice rub mixes. Or go the personalized route and create your own custom blend from the Butcher Bar’s array of two dozen spices.
Spice blends, $6 and up, Barque Butcher Bar, 287 Roncesvalles.
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