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Sep 1, 2010 12:20 PM

Local specialities

Hi all,

I am getting married in November and I have a lot of guest coming in from the US (my parents moved here just before I was born so the rest of my entire family lives out there). I wanted to create "out of town" gift baskets to leave in their hotel rooms. I want to put in local treats or things we are known for in Toronto, to give them a taste of our city. The only thing is that I am not really sure of stuff we have and they don't or that we have that is better....I am looking for suggestions, any ideas?? Also, I cannot include things like peameal bacon because they wont have anywhere to cook


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  1. Nice idea! Some quick initial thoughts:

    - Portuguese custard tarts
    - fleur de sel caramels from Soma (and pretty much any other goodies from there)
    - smarties and maybe a only-in-Canada chocolate bar or two
    - Ruffles all-dressed chips (or other "strange" flavour that they don't have in the States)

    Hmm, need to think of some more savoury items, but most of the things I can think of require refrigeration or heating (like beef patties!).

    2 Replies
    1. re: TorontoJo

      re: Soma- I also recommend the feuilletine chocolate, the cherry bomb & english toffee w dark chocolate!

      I regularly transport packs of English toffee and boxes of custard tarts to family that live outside the Greater Toronto Area.

      If there's a bar fridge in their hotel rooms that's cold enough to refrigerate food (some aren't), you could include some small pieces of Monforte cheese or Niagara Gold cheese, too. Or maybe a very small cheese tray, small enough for a bar fridge, wrapped in cello, from Alex Farms.

      I'm also a fan of Rootham's jams, sauces & jellies, made in nearby Guelph!

      1. re: TorontoJo

        I agree with the only-in-Canada chocolate bar and other strange flavour chips. My cousins come up from Connecticut every summer and look for these type of goodies. For a long while they loved our Ketchup chips until they were finally available in the States.

      2. Here are a few ideas:

        Kozlik’s mustard

        Ice wine

        Greave’s jams or chutney

        Coffee Beans from Balzac’s in the Distillery District

        Cocktail Cheddar Shortbread biscuits from Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co.

        Chocolates from SOMA – Distillery District

        The AGO gift shop is also a great spot to pick up local items.

        Distillery District
        55 Mill St, Toronto, ON M5A, CA

        Coffee Bean Cafe
        15400 Hurontario St, Inglewood, ON L7C2C3, CA

        9 Replies
        1. re: Breadcrumbs

          Ooh, good choices -- I love the Kozlik's idea. Related to beans from Balzac's, throw a couple of bottles of beer from Mill St. Brewery, especially the coffee porter, which is made with coffee from Balzac's.

          1. re: TorontoJo

            Chocolates (?????)
            Coffee Beans (??????)

            Not sure how Canadian these are!

            Do love the Kozlik's idea.
            And instead of Icewine (ridiculously expensive for what you get) I'd substitute the Canadian Framboise from Southbrook. That was the big hit at my wedding.

            1. re: estufarian

              True, but the OP was asking for tastes of Toronto, not necessarily Canadian specialties. :)

              1. re: TorontoJo

                Athens Pastries!

                You can get some delicious Loukoumades dusted with Cinnamon or get some Tiropita/Spanakopita, all of which can be put in a box by the salesperson, it will look and taste amazing!

                not sure on the shelf-life tho, so you would probably get it the day your family arrives...

                Athens Pastries
                509 Danforth Ave, Toronto, ON M4K, CA

                1. re: jmarcroyal

                  Wouldn't this be a taste of Athens?

              2. re: estufarian

                estfufarian you'll have to check out SOMA, I'm sure they will be able to suggest some of their fabulous locally made chocolate that would pair beautifully with your Framboise.

                I hear you in terms of keeping costs at bay when it comes to gift baskets but its worth noting that Niagara wineries are producing some excellent, reasonably priced ice wines now. Of course there are also some wonderful Late Harvest Vidals that offer huge value.

                I love TorontoJo's idea of the Mill St beer! Reminds me that All the Best Fine Foods have some yummy house-made maple coated nuts that would be just dee-lish with that beer!!!

                1. re: estufarian

                  I totally second the Southbrook framboise. It is insanely delicious drizzled over quality vanilla or chocolate ice cream.

                  1. re: JamieK

                    I just drizzled some Southbrook Cassis over some vanilla ice cream last night and it was delicious!

                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                      oh my god, you should try their blueberry wine over a good vanilla ice cream. To die for!

            2. Not Toronto specifically, but Ontario, you could look for the small Noah Martin's summer sausage chubs. I know we have them out here in the boondocks, surely someone in Toronto carries them.

                1. Thanks for all the suggestions! My initial thought ( an one for sure I am going to use) was some local beers because they are pretty good and Canada really makes better beer then the States. I love the idea of some local chocolates and chip flavours they don't have. Also like the Kozlik'x mustard idea. Keep them coming!!! I love to make my American family jealous of the things they don't have! ;)

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: rhokav

                    lol...if you could wrap up universal health care and place it in a welcome basket...that might make them jealous!

                    Perhaps browsing some of the local farmer's markets might bring a small treasure trove of gift ideas...jams, jellies and the like.

                    Below is a list of those I tend to frequent...

                    Distillery Historic District Farmers’ Market
                    55 Mill Street (at Parliament)
                    Sundays, 10 am - 4 pm, May 2 to September 26, 2010

                    Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market
                    873 Dufferin St. (in Dufferin Grove Park
                    )Thursdays, 3 – 7 pm, Open all year

                    Liberty Village Farmers’ Market
                    (Liberty St – Atlantic Ave
                    )Sundays, 9 am - 2 pm, June 6 to October 31, 2010

                    Nathan Philips Square Farmers’ Market
                    Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. West
                    Wednesdays, 8 am – 2 pm, June 2 to October 13, 2010

                    St. Lawrence North Farmers’ Market
                    92 Front Street East (at Jarvis)
                    Saturdays, 5 am – 5 pm, Open all year

                    Sorauren Farmers’ Market
                    40 Wabash Ave. at Sorauren
                    Mondays, 3-7 pm, May 17 to Oct 25, 2010
                    Winter Markets the third Monday of every month

                    Dufferin Grove Park
                    900 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6H, CA

                    Dufferin Cafe
                    2917 Dufferin St, Toronto, ON M6B3S7, CA

                    1. re: ingloriouseater

                      Get a bottle of Indian Summer Reisling from Cave Springs cellars. It's a really great 'dessert' wine without being cloyingly sweet like ice wine.

                      Tasting note from their website: Ginger-spiced pear preserve, sultana raisins, lychee and apricot show on the nose; the palate is rich and medium-bodied with apricot/peach fruit, followed by a succulent, cinnamon-tinged mid-palate and a long finish of pear crumble and comb honey; from beginning to end, a core of brilliant acidity lifts and balances the palate (9/08)