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Culinary Christmas in the West

A very close group of six friends started a tradition of sending Christmas boxes when we were very young, and this tradition has lived on for 20 years. We all met on army bases when we were children, and since we all tended to be in different cities from year to year (and that has continued into adulthood) in order to share our experiences our boxes celebrate the place or region we are currently living in.

As we have gotten older, the boxes have obviously become much more detailed, but the sentiment is the same. This is my first Christmas in Western Canada, and I am looking for advice on inclusions for my box. We typically spend about $500 a box (giving to one person) and make it a grand affair that we all wait with baited breath for.

Since I've only been here a few short months, I was wondering if any of you had any suggestions for foods/dry goods/treats that are notedly Western. Nothing is off limits- I will Internet shop, take a drive etc. for some great goodies. The only restriction obviously is that the products should be imperishable. My box is travelling to Portugal this year.

So my box is 30x30x30 (inches) and is empty except for a white cowboy hat. Tell me:

What culinary delicacies define the West? (Quirky items and weird stories that accompany them are welcome!)

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  1. You could include some chocolate for Choklat in the Inglewood area. They make the chocolate from scratch.

    I'm not sure if it's ok to send fruit preserves to Portugal. But there's some saskatoon berry jellies/jams (some are even sugar-free, all-natural) by Parenteau's. You can buy them at the food section at The Bay or they show up at the craft shows around town. In Nov there is usually the Art Market at the Telus Convention Centre. And then late Nov/early Dec there is the Festival of Crafts at the Round Up Centre/BMO Centre at Stampede grounds.

    You can also find other neat foods/candies at these craft shows.

    Smoked salmon also defines the West. I'm not sure if you're allowed to send that to Portugal though. You can get the smoked salmon that is vacuum sealed and don't require refrigeration.

    1. depends on how you define "the west" - because if you are in vancouver area, that is a very different region than alberta. but if you want prairie items, you need a saskatoon berry jam or jelly (go to a farmers market and buy from a grower). Sylan Star gouda is also a great cheese. Beef jerky, or better yet bison jerky, would also travel well.

      1. That is a very cool story and a very cool tradition. If "the West" extends to BC then have a look at Edible BC's website for some inspiration http://store.edible-britishcolumbia.c...

        1 Reply
        1. re: fmed

          thanks for the link fmed! Yes, Western Canada includes BC for me...my friend in has never been this far west, and I think she would get a kick out of anything Western. Of course, I am trying to go for some Calgary producers as well, but I am open to all suggestions...these boxes are a big deal for us (and kind of a competition, lol..but in the nicest way!)

        2. 1. Beef jerky - no explanation need
          2. Perogies - Alberta has a lot of Ukrainian settlers
          3. Ginger Beef -invented in Calgary
          4. Ceasar mix - Cearars were nvented in Calgary

          1. I would definitely buy some of the beef jerky from Longview. Can't remember the name but it is labeled from Longview. Why not a Caesar cocktail recipe and ingredients (minus the booze, of course, for shipping purposes). Caesars were invented in Calgary. There is a nice vacuum packed hot smoked salmon. That is definitely 'western'. Why not pick up a locally written cookbook. Take a drive to Banff and check out the sweet shop. It might provide something interesting. I agree with the saskatoon berry products, also. That is totally prairie/western. But none of this is 'awe'some, in my mind. Interesting, but not 'awe'some. Why don't you get a brand made with their last name initial (as in cattle brand). They can use it for branding steaks, breads, etc. That would be fun. Mussels and More Pottery on Vancouver Island makes beautiful functional shell shaped pottery.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sarah galvin

              You can get those steak branding things at Valta Bison at the Calgary Farmer's market. The Longview beef jerky is called Longview Beef Jerky :o) You can get that at Co-op or Superstore. Bernard Callebaut Chocolate (head office is in Calgary) makes it definitely western; a jar of Brassica Mustard (made in Alberta and avail at Sunterra Market). A package of Rainforest Crisps (crackers made in BC and avail at Sunterra)

              I would troll the aisles of Sunterra and Calgary Farmer's Market; both places carry many local or "western" items.

            2. These cakes are world famous and made in Winnipeg...check them out!


              2 Replies
              1. re: cdn

                Good call. How could I forget them. They made the cakes for Obama's inauguration dinner.

                1. re: cdn

                  omg! these are so beautiful!! Going in the box for sure! Thanks!

                2. What a wonderful I gift exchange idea!

                  One thing I really love from Saskatchewan are chocolate covered cherries called "Prairie Cherrys". The cherries are grown by the U of S. I don't know if they are available online or not or even are able to ship. But they are delicious. They don't have any of that white/pinkish gooey stuff in them and contain none of the dyes that marachino cherries have.

                  Website is overthehillorchards.ca

                  1. I was out and about this afternoon and I totally forgot to mention Denman Island Chocolate bars which are made right on Denman Island, BC. You can get them at Planet Organic and Amaranth. The chili chocolate one might be a fun thing to include. We buy them occaisionally and they are very good.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sweeterpea

                      Speaking of chocolate....Richmond-based DCDuby has some renowned products which include their own house-made chocolate. They are also purveyors of molecular gastronomy kits for budding home Ferran Adria's.



                    2. - The 25 cent flavoured honey sticks you find at the CFM would do great in your package.

                      - Clover Honey from the cypress hills can be found at the Jam store at CFM as well. These bees exclusively harvest from Clovers and give the Honey a wonderful flower aroma.

                      - As mentioned above, grainy prairie mustard is a must imo.

                      - Pacific Smoked Salmon - Calgary Cookbook Co has some gourmet ones I'm sure.

                      - Local Western Canadian Beer - Wildrose microbrewery, Western Canadian Brewery or even a big rock beer.

                      - Saskatoon berry anything: Jam, Syrup, tea, cider, etc. Found all over CFM.

                      - Organic Canola Oil/Flax seed Oil/prarie Cereals - from Highwood Crossing Farm's south of Calgary...http://www.highwoodcrossing.com/ A lot of their products are at Blush Lane and Community Natural Foods.