The beauty of having a food-obsessed friend, family member, or lover on your gift list is the knowledge that you know where to start. Think food. And drink. Then get creative. City Bites has scanned through some of our favourite interviews of the past few years for inspiration, using them to kick-start our curated list of ideas.
Here, without further ado, is the City Bites Insider “top 10” list of tasty ideas to impress the foodie on your list. And, yes, we’ve linked to any interviews that were posted online — won’t your beloved be even more enthralled when you tell them the backstory of that amazing gift you came up with? No need to explain that you had a little help from City Bites!
- FOR THE HOME COOK
It’s the deluxe local cookbook that took the city by storm this past fall. Ottawa Cooks is a 200- page hardcover that profiles the city’s top chefs — and highlights some of their most popular recipes. It’s a decadent enterprise, with Ottawa Magazine restaurant critic Anne DesBrisay teaming up with photographer Christian Lalonde of Photolux Studio for a collection that includes 80 recipes from 40 chefs. We’re just happy to read the interviews — then make reservations and have these fab recipes cooked for us! See behind the scenes of the making of Ottawa Cooks.
- FOR THE RESTAURANT-LOVING OFFICEMATE
This 18-month calendar for the food-obsessed, raises money for a good cause and is a daily reminder to eat out and support local. The Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation lined up seven pro photographers to shoot the $25 calendar that runs July 2016 – December 2017. Some 20 local chefs participated. Bonus: The calendar, available through the Shepherds’ website, includes recipes from local food guru Margaret Dickenson. Read the backstory here.
- FOR THE HIPSTER FOODIE
We love Goods Shop on Dalhousie. It’s filled with designer stuff for those who love great craftsmanship and handmade goods. Their stock includes beautiful coffee and tea equipment; locally made tonics, cocktail syrups, and conserves; handcrafted mugs, coasters, and trays… you get the picture! After you load up on gifts there, cross the street to visit Cylie Artisans Chocolatiers for handcrafted chocolates in grownup flavours (think Gin and Orange Blossom and Organic Earl Grey Tea).
- FOR THE NEW VEGAN
Today there are vegan restaurants all over town, but back when Chef Caroline Ishii launched Chinatown’s ZenKitchen restaurant (2009-2014) she was a pioneer. ZenKitchen kickstarted Ottawa’s acceptance of vegan cuisine as a fine-dining option, opening the way for other veg-friendly businesses. Her book, The Accidental Chef, is part memoir, part cookbook and chronicles her life journey from rebellious Japanese-Canadian schoolgirl to celebrated vegan chef. Each chapter relates a pivotal moment in that voyage and ends with a recipe. Most, though not all, of the recipes are vegan.
- FOR THE ICE CREAM OBSESSED
Brilliant idea from Carp Custom Creamery, which is offering memberships to its Ice Cream Club. You choose the membership plan (Single, Double, or Triple Tub) and Carp Custom Creamery surprises you each month (beginning in January 2017) with creamy tubs of small-batch ice cream. If you live in Carp, there’s free delivery. For the rest of us, it’s a chance to head to the creamery once a month. The packages are themed according to taste, so you’ll have to decide if your friend is a “Classics,” “Chocolate Lover,” “Ice Cream Adventurer,” or “Dairy-Free” kind of ice cream eater.
- FOR THE STYLIN’ COOK
City Bites first profiled custom apron maker Matt Somers way back in 2015 when he launched his fashion-forward (and comfy) lines of aprons. Fast-forward 18 months and practically every top chef in the city is a convert to the Wove and Grain apron. Each one is made by hand, with custom fabric and adjustable leather cross-straps. We hear Somers is swamped with orders, but he may be able to sneak one in, in time for Christmas. If not, we’re sure the lucky recipient won’t mind anticipating for an extra week or two.
- FOR THE CHEF WANNABE
Buy them something tried and true, sturdy and beautiful. Kanata’s Grace in the Kitchen recently launched a gorgeous Zwilling store in the adjoining retail space (read more about it here), carrying J.A. Henckels, Germany’s famous manufacturer of high-end kitchen knives; Staub, a France-based maker of top-notch cast-iron cookware; and Italy’s Ballarini, maker of high-end non-stick cookware. This is cookware meant to be used — and eventually passed on to the next generation of cooks.
- FOR THE RESTAURANT LOVER
It’s still on newsstands now, so why not stuff your food lover’s stocking with a copy of Ottawa Magazines “10 Best New Restaurants” issue? Throw in gift certificates to one or two of the restaurants on the list (preferably ones you know they’d love — or would love to try). If things work out in your favour, you’ll get to go, too, when they use those gift cards.
- FOR THE DIY FAN
Give the DIY foodie on your list the gift of experience. From knife-sharpening to chocolate making to butchering, there are courses out there for every inclination. Call up your favourite food retailers and restaurants to check whether they’ve got any tours, classes, or talks lined up for the new year. We’ve heard great things about Supply & Demand’s periodic pasta-making courses (they advertise them through their Facebook) and Hummingbird Chocolate’s factory tours. Cauldron Kitchen, which recently opened in Vanier, is offering popular knife skills, canning, and pastry-making classes.
- FOR THE BEER LOVER
You’ve been gifting them with 6-packs and beer glasses for a few years now. And though both will always be welcome, the beer lover on your list will appreciate the extra thought when you add some beer-themed art to the gift mix. Ottawa’s Manmade Art has some super-cool art posters that showcase everything from vintage stubbies to classic beer taps.
Psst: An Ottawa Magazine subscription also makes a great Christmas gift for the foodie in your family, with trusted restaurant reviews from Anne DesBrisay, anonymous evaluations of the city’s “Cheap Eats,” plus all the latest news about the culinary community.