It’s one of the perks of the job. Lots of time spent out and about seeing what’s new and neat at the city’s shops. Ottawa Magazine’s editors bring you their gift picks for family and friends, hoping the suggestions will jump-start your holiday shopping list. Last week, editor Sarah Brown highlighted her picks and senior editor Dayanti Karunaratne showed off her picks. Today, food editor Shawna Wagman weighs in with her holiday wishlist.
Photo credits: Editor’s photo and product photography by Marc Fowler.
It’s one of the
hazards of my job — food is the default lens through which I see the world. So when it comes time to buy gifts, it’s not surprising that I tend to revert to food-related loot. My parents are often the recipients of my
latest pantry obsessions: my favourite new olive oil, salt, or vanilla extract.
I can gauge the success of my choices
by how much they’ve consumed
For my foodie friend Anie
Anie is a passionate home cook, and I think she’d get a kick out of experimenting with Taste #5 Umami Paste, the latest “it” ingredient designed to boost umami, the so-called fifth taste after sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Made with pulped anchovy, porcini mushrooms, and other umami-rich foods, the squeezable purée is supposed to boost the yum factor of many dishes. Not that she needs the help. $4.99. Cedars & Co. Food Market, 1255 Bank St., 613-288-2797.
My husband is all about the slow, studied ritual of coffee making at home, but he will love this sleek, speedy little machine for the office. The fun colour and eye-catching design of the Nespresso Pixie make it a conversation piece. I’m sure his academic colleagues and grad students will find more excuses to pop by to discuss the fine points of coffee culture over a shot of espresso. $269.95. C.A. Paradis, 1314 Bank St., 613-731-2866.
Chefs are the new rock stars, right? That’s what my daughter will grow up believing. How else to explain why Mommy is always writing about them? I love the idea behind The Recipe Project, a quirky CD-book combo that explores the relationship between music and food. I look forward to popping the CD in while my daughter and I whip up Mario Batali’s spaghetti with sweet 100 tomatoes recipe as sung by the “lit rock” band One Ring Zero. I’ll tell her it’s the sequel to the Barenaked Ladies CD Snacktime. $29. Available at Chapters, 47 Rideau St., and four other locations.
For Ottawa Magazine staff
Judging by the sugar-buzzed frenzy I’ve witnessed at the magazine’s last few launch parties, I’m convinced a “subscription” to the Cupcake of the Month Club would be a hit with staffers. A dozen cupcakes, baked from scratch, will be delivered on the second Monday of each month (three-, six-, or 12-month subscriptions are available), always a different theme. Think: maple syrup and bacon, eggnog rum, and Guinness cupcakes. Starting from $30. Ottawa’s Cupcake Fairy.
After falling in love at first sight with the fun but sophisticated retro-modern design of Guzzini tableware at the company’s flagship store in Milan, I settled on a set of lime green steak knives to bring home. I was thrilled when I spotted them again at Ma Cuisine, along with the rest of the collection in red, white, yellow, orange, and grey, and I vowed to piece together the rest of the set. $7.95 per piece. Ma Cuisine, 269 Dalhousie St., 613-789-9225.
It’s always tricky to think of something to get the gourmet cook who has everything. That’s why I made a mental note when I saw this molecular gastronomy kit. It comes with a syringe, silicone tubes, pipettes, sachets of food additives, and a 50-recipe DVD. Everyone can blame me when future family gatherings feature edible foams and caviar beads. $59.95. C.A. Paradis, 1314 Bank St., 613-731-2866.
My mom loves stinky cheeses. Whenever she visits, funky wedges from France and Quebec fill my refrigerator, which takes on a dangerous odour. Instead of the usual jar of fig preserves, I think she’ll adore a selection of Michaelsdolce gourmet jams ($6/190mL or $3.50/60mL) in flavours such as spiced cherry, blueberry and lavender, and orange and ginger. She can even find cheese and jam pairing suggestions on the website. Available at fine food stores around town, including Red Apron (564 Gladstone Ave., 613-695-0417), which stocks both sizes and will be creating gift baskets for the holidays.