If you’re reading this, it’s probably time to throw away those lofty ambitions of ordering those perfect custom gifts online. If you use your creativity and put in a little bit of effort, you’ll discover that Toronto has a wonderful selection of awesome gifts for almost anyone. My gifting philosophy in the last few years has been to focus on gifting things to be eaten, or to be paired with the eating process. I wish we all consumed less and were less capitalistic in general, but let’s face it–people still want a little something something, so you might as well make it something food-related. I asked my friend Zandra to help me out with the curation, and we’ve come up with 10 flagship Toronto gifts for all the food lovers on your list. Here’s our Toronto Gift Guide 2017 :
1. Toronto Eats
Amy Rosen‘s sophomore book highlights some of the best restaurants in the city and some of the great dishes they have to offer. Zandra gave me Amy’s first book Toronto Cooks for Christmas a few years ago, and it’s still getting a lot of coffee table reads and kitchen action. If anyone knows what’s up in this city, it’s Amy.
2. Walter Caesar Mix
If you want to talk about a quick rise to success, check out the business Walter Caesar. I can still remember the first time I saw them at Taste of Toronto in 2014, and now you can find their mixes used in restaurants across the country. Having a booth beside them at the Restaurants Canada Show was a lot of fun last year (let’s just say my law firm was a little less popular than these guys), and your friends will have a lot more fun drinking these.
Price: Usually around $8.95
Available from: Check out this list for where to find them
Buy it for: The Diehard (or Wannabe) Canadian
3. Urban Honey Tasting Box
It’s no secret that our bees are going extinct. Alvéole (a Quebec company that has more recently expanded to Toronto) is a fantastic new company I discovered at the One of a Kind Show this year. Their mission is to fuse bee education with fun products and gifts. They have lots of great stuff but my favourite is the Toronto Urban Honey Tasting Box, which features honeys made in, and made from bees’ honey around Cabbagetown, the Junction, Leslieville and Rosedale. Each honey has an individual flavour subject to the diversity of the ‘hood’s flora. How cool is that?
Available from: Alvéole, 165 Geary Avenue or online at www.alveole.buzz/en/
Buy it for: The Environmentalist/Localvore
4. Terroni/Sud Forno Holiday Gift Basket
There was no way I could make a holiday list without including some Italian items. The Terroni group of restaurants is one of the most successful restaurant businesses the city has ever seen. The Sud Forno on Temperance in particular, has been such a wonderful new feature on that end of Yonge St. They have several gift packages available, or you can be brave and put something together yourself. Grab an espresso and bombolone on the way out while you’re at it!
Available from: Any of the Terroni locations have some offerings, but the Sud Forno at 716 Queen St W has the greatest variety, and online at www.labottegaditerroni.com
Buy it for: The Italophile
5. HotDocs Membership
Annual memberships to the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema include free popcorn. Need I say more? These guys have been so good in keeping me up to date with the latest documentaries that involve food. The ramen ones have been some of my favourites lately, but I’ve also watched one on the rise and fall of the Jewish deli, the future of eating insects, and occasionally, a non-food ones too (the John Coltrane was an excellent one that we hit up a while back as well).
Price: Starting at $49 per year, or $38 per year for under-30’s and seniors
Available from: Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema at 506 Bloor West, or online at hotdocscinema.ca
Buy it for: The Documentary Buff
6. SOMA Box of Plenty
This is one of my favourite chocolate shops in Toronto, and the Distillery location in particular feels like (and smells like) heaven. I usually pop in for a nice affogato in the summer and a Mayan hot chocolate in the winter, but they also have gift chocolates of all sizes. They curated a “Box of Plenty” this year just in case you suffer from major indecisiveness.
Price: $100 for the box, chocolates starting at $4.50
Available from: SOMA at 32 Tank House Lane (Distillery District) or at 443 King Street West, or online at www.somachocolate.com
Buy it for: The Gourmet
7. Kozlick’s Mustard
This is some of the best mustard in town. One year, I purchased a jar to test out on sandwiches at my aunt’s breakfast shop in Taiwan, and they used it up within a day. I would recommend Amazing Maple, Bewitching Balsamic, and the Triple Crunch. Any of these would go over very well as part of a gift basket or as a duo or trio.
8. CXBO Chocolates
Price: From $9.50 per bar, $45 for 18-piece signature collection
Available from: CXBO storefront at 193 Baldwin Street, at The Drake General Store or Pusateri’s Fine Foods, or online at www.cxbo.ca
Buy it for: The Artist
9. A Virtual Cooking Class
So, this is not a Toronto gift per se, but you can definitely do it in Toronto, and it’s so great that I had to sneak this one in. My friend Jen came up with the brilliant idea for Skype-based chef-led classes two years ago and the business has been doing very very well. From Toronto to New Orleans to all my favourite food regions in Italy, you can learn from the best from the comfort of your own home.
Price: Classes for two cost around $350 CAD, but gift cards are available for as little as $50, and special offers are always on.
Available from: www.thechefandthedish.com
Buy it for: The Couple
10. Pilot Coffee Roasters Subscription
Some people like coffee, and then there are some people who like coffee. Pilot Coffee Roasters coffee can be found in many of your favourite cafes in Toronto (and also a necessary last-minute dash at the train station). If they like it enough, consider a subscription if you want your gift recipient to remember how awesome you are, every day of the year. (Also, they have some kind of a cool barista training program if you’re really hardcore).
Price: from $18.50 per month, minimum 3 month commitment.
Available from: www.pilotcoffeeroasters.com, or simply run into a store and buy a few bags of nice coffee if you’re really running out of time.
Buy it for: The Coffee Lover (obviously)
Please note: All photos are sourced from the original websites linked, or have been gently altered for aesthetic purposes. Header and ramen photo from Unsplash.com. Believe it or not, none of this content is sponsored.