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Chowish Wedding Gift Ideas?

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So my girlfriends brother is getting married in Toronto over the summer and i would like to get him and his bride-to-be a chow-worthy wedding gift as they appreciate tastiness as much as anybody.

Some searching through this board has yielded a variety of information about cooking classes and instruction offered in the area, and many of these seem to be well reviewed and only slightly out of my budget (grad student life doesnt pay the big bucks like they promised). Does anyone have any recent experience or rec's w/ regard to classes that are both fun and affordable (and perhaps romantic or otherwise appropriate as a wedding gift?)

Any other non-cooking class ideas (probably not just a gift certificate to a nice restaurant as i feel thats a bit too impersonal) ? There aren't too many constraints, im open to any suggestion of a nice experience based gift (or material ones too) in the range of about 200 dollars. Is there a cool food-oriented romantic experience that can be had in tornoto for that kind of money? Ideally one i could arrange from afar (california) that comes highly recommended.

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  1. How about a romantic evening in for them? Hire a personal chef to come to their place and make a nice dinner for them. Since you aren't local, I'm sure you could ask the chef to buy a nice bottle of wine (within your budget) and bring it with him/her.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      Could i do that within my budget? Is there someone who would do this in gift-certificate form? Any recommendations on who to use or where to look?

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        check out dish cooking studio. They have some great classes.

        1. re: tex.s.toast

          Here are a few threads about personal chefs that should help:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/451731
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/443776
          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/483742

      2. I got my very chowish friend a sausage making class at the Healthy Butcher for Xmas, thanks to a chowhound rec. They are going Feb 13th so I'll report back how they liked it. $50 a head

        http://www.thehealthybutcher.com/Live...

        On the other end of the food spectrum is the chocolate making classes at JS Bonbons.
        http://www.jsbonbons.com/single.php

        -----
        The Healthy Butcher
        565 Queen St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA

        JS Bonbons
        163 Dupont St, Toronto, ON M5R, CA

        1. My boyfriend and I took Sasi Thai's cooking class for our anniversary. While I wouldn't say it was the most romantic experience forever and ever amen, it was a lot of fun. Plus, he makes Pad Thai all the time now, which is great for me!

          The owner Allan is this friendly, nutty, mile-a-minute guy, and his son Brandon who was our primary "teacher" was really nice and earnest. Went on a weekday night, so it was just the 2 of us, which was nice. You get to cook in their kitchen, and bring the food home. If you pay an extra ~$20/person, you get a lovely Thai meal afterwards. I think it came to about $180 (+tip) for the both of us? You can buy their house stirfry sauce to take home for apx $5 a jar, very tasty and great value.

          Another idea would be a wine- or food-of-the month type club. Sadly, we have no where near the variety that you Americans do. Very little choice, actually... I've only been able to find a couple:

          Wine & Cheese: http://www.winerytohome.com/files/sho...

          Village Cheese: http://www.villagecheese.com/index2.html

          List of food clubs that will ship to Canada: http://www.club-offers.com/guide/canada/

          Some American sites will ship to Canada, but at outrageous cost.

          -----
          Sasi Thai
          323 Jarvis St, Toronto, ON M5B2C2, CA

          1. Toronto Island Airport has sundown skyline of TO helicopter rides X20 min that include chocolates, drink and just you and your honey. Very special and we went 2 autumns ago for $150.00.

            1. If the couple likes to get their hands messy in the kitchen, there are some places that will ship live lobsters from Maine or the East Coast. Some of them come with accessories (shell crackers, etc.). I'm afraid I can't offer reviews (never tried), but they're priced so that you can probably also spring for a nice bottle of wine or bubbly along with the meal:

              http://www.lobsterdirect.com/products...

              http://www.sears.ca/gp/product/B000UM...

              http://www.atlanticlobster.ca/

              1. What about two tasting menus at Splendido or Susur? Should be ballpark that amount before wine. Alternately, you could shoot for a restaurant that's a little cheaper, so they've still got money for the wine...

                1. Hi everyone,

                  First, thank you for all the helpful ideas and recommendations. I did take a look at the personal chef ideas but they seem mostly targeted at people who want in-home dinner parties catered or to busy families who need a weeks worth of meals cooked and frozen on a regular basis.

                  I had looked at Dish studio's website and their site and classes sounded/looked good so i will certainly check more into that.
                  The thai classes also sound pretty great - ill definitely be looking into that also.

                  Somehow stuffing sausages or cracking open lobsters doesn't really strike me as terribly romantic (not that i needed the most romantic idea, but the basic goal was to find a food-inspired experience for the two of them to share as a couple).

                  Along the lines of getting them a fancy tasting menu, i would certainly consider this option (and it looks like i could find something good within my ideal price range) but is there somethign more than just a good meal out there? an experience they wouldnt be likely to find on their own? perhaps a place that does a chef's table (rare to find for just two, but maybe?) or something else beyond the regular (even the well executed "regular")
                  Thanks for everyone who wrote back with ideas, perhaps having clarified a bit some of you have additional thoughts?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tex.s.toast

                    Colborne Lane has something called a "kitchen table tasting". I am assuming this means that there's a table in the kitchen where one can watch how things are done, which would be interesting considering Chef Claudio Aprile is known for using "molecular gastronomy". (You might want to call them and verify this, though.) The price is listed at $149.00 per person. If you're willing to splurge, this might be the memorable dinner you're looking for.

                    http://colbornelane.com/
                    http://colbornelane.com/kitchen_table...

                  2. As an old bride who spends an enormous amount of time in the kitchen, may I offer this thought. I know this isn't quite what you had in mind, but I have to tell you that during certain times of the year, big family holidays religious and otherwise, I have certain dishes that are my piece de resistance, i.e. when I bring out the beautiful dish I've created, it is presented on something that I received for our wedding. Whenever I bring that dish out, whether it is the fine porcelain platter, the crystal decanter, silver chafing dishes, or the gorgeous silver serving utensil I use to serve the (x), I ALWAYS stop for a moment, and remember the people who gave it to me. I kid you not. Some of those people are no longer alive (tells you how long since I was a bride, sniff), but when I touch those pieces, it reminds me of them, and for me, that makes what I'm doing just that little more special, because they are "with us" at the table. So my recommendation is something that's NOT on their wedding list, but is a kind of "heirloom" piece they'll always love; simple, but useable for many reasons, like a beautiful platter, or a gorgeous tray, or an elegant decanter or water jug.

                    For true chows, the presentation of the food is equally as important as the taste. Just ask the Japanese! Ashley's China on Bloor St has sooooo much to choose from, you could easily find something in your student budget that will still wow them; you don't have to spend $500 (altho that ain't hard to do...).

                    -----
                    Ashley China
                    55 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M4W, CA

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: The Goddess

                      I like your ideas!!!

                      How about sterling silver salt & pepper shakers?

                      Also, if you want to stretch your dollar further, I would suggest Cayne's Housewares which is just north of Steeles on Yonge. I think that another great heirloom idea is cookware that lasts. In particular Cayne's carries The Italian Kitchen line from Mario Batali. They have a 6qt. enameled dutch oven (similar to Le Creuset) and a very cool extra deep Lasagna dish. You could buy them both for about $180 total. (Very good when you consider that a 6qt. Creuset is almost $300).

                      Don't forget to include a great cookbook. My wife and I have gifted Mark Bittman's "How To Cook Everything" to several appreciative couples.

                      1. re: bogie

                        I think ill have to consult my girlfriend on these ideas. I like them and most certainly want to express my appreciation for everyones replies, i am just not sure how well i know their tastes to get s piece like that. I do think the cookwear idea is a good one, but there may be some lingering mobility issues surrounding the gifting of cast/enameled gear - which is why i was looking for more of a special experience than a thing. (that said its certainly nice to have plenty of options to ponder.

                        1. re: tex.s.toast

                          I think the Goddess has a great point. After six years of marriage, I finally bought a really good roasting pan from Paderno. It is stainless steel and absolutely beautiful to look at. It will hold the largest turkey I'll ever need to cook and has a great handled rack that let's me take the hot bird out with ease. It's regularly $300, but I got it on sale for $150. I've long coveted my mothers well worn turkey pan, but she's not going anywhere for awhile - fortunately.

                          I may only use it 2 x per year (thanksgiving and Xmas), but after borrowing Mom's enough times, I wish I'd put it on my wedding gift list. I can't wait for next Thanksgiving to bring it out.

                          I hope mine has as many memories and dings at the end of my life as my Mother's does now.

                          1. re: tex.s.toast

                            What about doing something like a subscription to a good cooking magazine or a collection of great cook books and then giving them gift cards for someplace like Pusateri's or Whole Food (their gift baskets are amazing BTW). After a wedding, sometimes just being able to go for groceries is pretty exciting.

                            Another idea.. This Christmas I decided to get a gift for one of our neighbours. What I did was go to Atelier Thuet and got a wonderful collection of things for a simple pasta dinner (their homemade sauce, pasta, olive oil and few other specialty items) a nice bottle of wine and then wrapped it in a large white bowl with napkins. The basic idea was to put together a dinner that that would be really tasty and easy to prepare. I gather they loved it and it was easily under $200. There is ton of really interesting in-house made preserves available there...

                            Good luck!

                      2. There are Tasting Club Events at Coupe Space on Queen East. The winter schedule is out right now, so you'll have to find out about summer events, but it sounds like a night of sophisticated fun.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: merlot143

                          hmm yes, thought of that as possibility myself, not sure of its romantic factor though. Here's their latest flyer -
                          http://www.coupe-mag.com/TASTINGCLUBW...

                        2. Now that I read your post again...if I had $200 and two people to splurge it on, I'd contact a funky caterer and see what kind of meal I could surprise them with. There some caterers who would be flexible -- I think Jayne Dunsmore of Jayne's Catering might find it an interesting challenge and works well with price points. Carole Ferrari of the Local Café, which is local and organic food, might be interested too. It doesn't have to be a dinner -- it could be a surprise brunch or gourmet lunch on the go. Lots of possiblities.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: merlot143

                            I would go with Dish for sure. You get a nice meal, some wines to go with, and the best part is the instruction and recipes that come with it. A really enjoyable evening. Also check out the celebrity chef nights. They have chefs from high end restaurants come in and share their techniques and recipes. Really lots of fun and eductional to boot!!! We've been to a few and never regretted it. The food is always great and then you can go home and DIY.

                          2. book them into eigensinn's in the near future (tho they'd need to pay for the dinner, which may be awkward to finesse), and offer your services as the chauffeur....or even purchase the wine pairings to surprise them with, bring a good book and hang out somewhere nearby. now THAT would be wicked!!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: alisonb

                              Eigensinn would be an unbelievable gift, but I think it would run about $500 for the couple, so may not be an option for tex.s.toast.

                              1. re: alisonb

                                And the OP lives in Texas, which would prove even more problematical than the cost. :)

                              2. I read about a place on Queen St E that offers completely private dining, for a maximum of 12 guests (and therefore I assume in your case, a minimum of 2). You work with them to develop the menu, and choose the chef. I emailed them to get sample menus, and they were well within your price range.
                                Here is the web address, though it is not as informative as I thought it should be:
                                www.chefgallery.ca
                                Email them for more info, and it could just be that really unique experience you were trying to find for them. This is in the Leslieville area, if you are trying to figure out what part of the city it is in...

                                1. You've got lots of great ideas here but I'll add my two cents. As a married woman who loves to cook I get a thrill every time I pull out the large Le Creuset pot I got as a wedding gift and braising some lamb shanks, or the beautiful hand carved wooden salad bowel. Also, cookbooks that I couldn't live without: The New Joy of Cooking, The Gourmet Cookbook, Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and anything by Patricia Wells. These cookbooks have seen me through newlywed dinners for two, holidays, children and now dinner parties with friends!

                                  One final thought, as a wedding guest I have occasionally given the couple a case of wine, usually something interesting from the Niagara region. Add to that the Inn on the Twenty cookbook which recommends wines to go with many of the recipes, or a set of Reidel "O" glasses.