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where to buy porcini powder, flavor pearls and need other unique ingredient suggestions

Hi all!

I just found out my brother got my mom the same xmas gift as I did, so I would really appreciate some help with last minute shopping. I'd like to get her some hard-to-find ingredients (a really good idea for last minute shopping, no?).

Two on my list are porcini powder and flavor pearls (I know the latter aren't great, but we'll have fun with them anyhow). I would love any advice on where to buy these in Toronto (ideally close to Yonge & Bloor or York Mills & Yonge), or on any other fun unique ingredients that would make a good gift.

thanks very much for any help!

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  1. This isn't a straight answer, per se, but I've bought dried porcini mushrooms at a grocery store and simply made the powder using my coffee grinder. Doing it from whole porcinis is a nice way to guarantee that whole mushrooms are used, rather than stems and gritty bits.

    8 Replies
    1. re: 1sweetpea

      Thanks! It's funny - I was just having a conversation with my mom yesterday about how so many recipes now require a coffee grinder that you can use on other items (we needed ground hazelnuts for some christmas cookies)! Neither of us has one yet, unfortunately, but thank you for the suggestion - maybe I'll try that as a backup if I can find a friend with one!

      1. re: yale1999

        How about getting her a coffee grinder? :)

        1. re: TorontoJo

          I was waiting for that! :)

          She unfortunately wouldn't get enough use out of it to make it worthwhile - she keeps her "kitchen gadgets" to a minimum ....

          1. re: yale1999

            If she has room for it somewhere, they are really cheap. For grinding spices/etc you don't need a fancy burr grinder. You can get one for around $10 - $15 at Real Canadian Superstore and other big box stores.

            Re: your ingredient search. Interesting idea... I can't think of anything super exciting that was be good as a raw ingredient though except for maybe birch syrup. You can get it at Culinarium and some other places. That alone would run you around $20. You can use it as a glaze/etc.

            1. re: ylsf

              Thank you! I've never heard of birch syrup (or Culinarium; I just moved to Toronto - that sounds like fun).

              I find dried mushrooms usually pretty gritty and wind up soaking them quite a bit to remove the grit/sand (I seem to find it more irritating than most, probably because I have sensitive teeth). Do you all do anything to keep from grinding the grit if you're self grinding mushrooms?

              1. re: yale1999

                Ah, if you are new to Toronto than you may not know/heard about Forbes Wild Foods...I was thinking about other ingredients on my drive home and thought about this as another suggestion:

                http://www.wildfoods.ca/

                Again some interesting items that they have.

                Culinarium is great for "local" food. Have you ever tried Ontario Peanuts? They have them there (sure in a bunch of other stores too) and are worth trying or gifting too!

                1. re: ylsf

                  thanks! this is all new to me. I really appreciate the suggestions. these sotore look like fun to visit as well! Maybe I should be asking what people's favorite canadian ingredients are? wildfoods has a number of things I haven't tried before (cattail hearts?)

      2. re: 1sweetpea

        You can find small bags of dried porcini at Metro or Lady York on Dufferin, south of Lawrence.

      3. I get my porcini powder from Misty Mountain (mushroom wholesaler) when I'm in Vancouver. They sell retail and it comes in a spice bottle. It's quite light, so you can likely just order it and have it shipped to you.

        http://www.mistymt.com

        1 Reply
        1. re: eco987

          That's great, thank you - and anything I don't have to go to a store for is a big bonus, especially this time of year!

        2. If it's not too late:
          BYOB on Queen West has several different pearls (used in cocktails) - I think caramel, passion-fruit and another I don't recall - maybe ginger - around $10.00 for a small jar (pearls in a syrup).
          Also Olive Pit/Spice Trader (also on Queen West) has some powders - 50gm tins for about $10 - but expensive looking.
          Includes tomato powder, lemon powder, orange powder etc.
          Both had stock yesterday.

          2 Replies
          1. re: estufarian

            Not too late at all! I am wrapping up my shopping tomorrow, and will definitely try both of those. Thanks very much for the suggestions! On the powders front, would you suggest any of those in particular (or for a particular use)? Thanks again!

            1. re: yale1999

              These are really spices - so depends on your (Mum's) taste.

              We've used orange dust several times (made our own) - to give a 'lift' to all sorts of dishes (e.g.carrots). Goes GREAT with chocolate (Hmmm....bacon dust!).

              Olive Pit also has Maldon salt in a tiny mint-type tin. If you haven't tried Maldon, it won a 'salt tasting' some friends had a couple of years ago. Perfect stocking stuffer - about $2.