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What product would you buy an Italian foodie from Italy?

This is my first time writing on chowhound.

Firstly, I would like to thank the board at large for having answered so many of my questions over the past year. I don't want to single anyone out in particular, but there are some real genuine foodies on here who are astoundingly generous with their knowledge and time. Any time I have a query about food in Montreal, I check chowhound, and I inevitably get my answer in seconds from reading earlier threads. So much terrain has been covered, it is quite remarkable really.

That being said, I have a question that I have not found a completely satisfactory answer to based on web research. I do not think there is a past chowhound thread that answers it either, as it is quite specific. If I've missed something please let me know.

Here is my question: What Mtl/Quebec/Canadian product would you buy an Italian foodie from Italy? Besides ice wine, smoked salmon, maple syrup, and gooseberry jam, is there anything else you would highly recommend? It has to make it overseas. It doesn't have to be a speciality item either, but maybe a versatile food item that is not readily found in Italy. It could be any number of things, big or small, as I will most likely create a basket. It will be given as a BIG thank you gift.

This foodie cooks, and is the type that will drive an hour to buy specific bread from a specific bakery.

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  1. In addition to maple syrup, how about Ice Cider and and wild blueberries if in season?

    2 Replies
    1. re: ScoobySnacks20

      Chocolate covered blueberries from the Trappist Monks (but I think it's a highly seasonal product).

      1. re: Maximilien

        I think the wild blueberry season is just around the corner (mid to end of July), so I just may get lucky with my timing. Thank you for the suggestion. And I think ice cider over ice wine. Scooby Snacks I just read a past thread that you participated in dealing with my food gift issue. Thanks!

        Another 2 items that came out of that discussion were: Perron aged port-aged cheddar and cuban cigars!

    2. Canadian Whisky, Tortiere from APDC or Maison du Roti, a brisket from Quebec Smoked Meat

      1 Reply
      1. re: EaterBob

        I will definitely be visiting Quebec Smoked Meat, I just read all about it. Great suggestion - thanks! I also happen work nearby, so i am very excited about the new discovery.

      2. I brought a Catalonian some Sortilege. While it's not the best whiskey, it does have a unique charm and imparts a strong maple flavour. As for bringing a can of maple syrup, many southern europeans wouldn't know what to do with the stuff.

        Some Labrador tea would also be nice as well as some smoked game meat. There is a Nunavut tea company that markets foraged teas. I've seen it at various health food stores, including the one across from snowdon metro.

        Another good idea would be an assortment of wild canadian mushrooms

        9 Replies
        1. re: catroast

          I think the Nunavet tea company (more tea project initiative) you may be referring to is called Northern Lights. Just checked it out. If so, their products are widely available in Montreal at the following retail outlets: http://www.deliceboreal.com/en/herbal...
          I am an avid tea drinker, and so I will check this out for sure. Thanks!

          As for my gift basket, I think the whiskey and mushrooms would really be nice additions.

              1. re: catroast

                I am not a beer drinker myself, and I am not sure about including an item I cannot vouch for personally. I suppose it wouldn't hurt to include a bottle though. I am certainly broadening my initial scope with the many suggestions here.

                1. re: neetzer

                  It's soda, not beer. And the spruce beer at Paul's Patates is much better.

                  1. re: neetzer

                    Spruce beer doesn't have alcohol (about the same level as root beer :)

              2. re: neetzer

                From that company, the cloudberry tea is my favourite but there is also a variety pack available. I have found it for sale at Gourmet Laurier.

                1. re: heliotrope

                  Thank you for the tip heliotrope!

              3. re: catroast

                Catroast, where would you suggest buying smoke game meat?

              4. I dont know if that can be of help, but once i got a request from a scandinavian foodie for Canadian wild rice. Its a very long grain, brown, and the one i found was from Alberta. I tought it was great to make a change from the usual maple syrup as a gift.

                5 Replies
                1. re: sophie.brunet

                  Yes, a good idea! Wild rice is a common thing I bring with me overseas for gifts, along with dried cranberries (also very Canadian). I have a recipe that uses the two together, so that they know what to do with it. Both easily available in grocery stores. For fancier more local cranberries, try these: http://en.nutra-fruit.com/

                  1. re: heliotrope

                    I looked into the wild rice and I hadn't realize how exclusively Canadian it is, with the exception of Minnesota (USA). This is a super idea! Any idea where I could pick up the authentic Candadian stuff, as opposed to the so-called wild rice that comes from China that is no where near the same thing.

                    1. re: heliotrope

                      Heliotrope, I am thinking of including cranberries and pecans in the basket as well. Here is a nice salad from a very trusty blog that includes all 3 items: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/...

                      1. re: neetzer

                        Yeah, I didn't know about wild rice being a real Canadian thing until I started going overseas and wanting to bring Canadian foody things as gifts. It's also great, along with the dried cranberries, because it packs well - won't break.

                        You asked about where to pick up authentic Canadian wild rice. I actually have never seen anything BUT, so I don't think you should have any difficulty. The brands I usually find are called "Canoe" or "Oh Canada" (which can come in a cute bag). I haven't grabbed some in a while, so I don't want to lead you astray as to any particular store in Montreal. I usually just get it at a grocery store, but probably you'll find it at Marché des saveurs if you're going there for the other things, or somewhere else at the market there. If I'm around any stores and spot it, I'll report back to tell you. But usually I have no problem getting it at a regular grocery store.

                        Marché des saveurs also has sold the Maple sugar mentioned by Plateaumaman below. I like the one packaged in a handy shaker bottle so that you can sprinkle it on buttered toast. It's also plastic - easy to pack.

                        Thanks for the recipe link, will have to try! Seems like this recipe is lighter, so it would work well for this hot summer weather. My usual recipe uses only wild rice (not a mix of varieties), so it packs a punch. And it's not a salad, but served hot so it would probably be heavier, and it goes really well with stronger meats.

                        Actually, it is a super simple recipe I started making when I was a young teenager. I just tried to find out if it might be available online - it got passed onto a computer from a cookbook ages ago. I am in luck! Here is a link: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/c...

                        1. re: heliotrope

                          Everytime I bought what seemed or was called wild rice, it did not come out looking or tasting like the stuff I had tried in restaurants - very long, aldente spikes that keep their form (they don't split and become mushy). I was perplexed about this and always assumed I didn't cook them properly. I just learned that I had never bought the authentic Canadian stuff, which is supposed to be quite pricey. You may be right about it being available in most grocery stores, and I just never bothered to pay attention to where it was made. But there are defintely 2 versions around - one great-tasting and the other gruelish.

                  2. Granulated maple sugar (I like the one that comes in a grinder, check that it is made from 100% pure maple sugar)
                    Maple butter (my parents finished a jar of this in less than a week - again, check that it is 100% pure maple syrup)
                    Cans of feves au lard (could buy a couple of different versions in the small cans)
                    Spices mixes that are specific to Montreal/Quebec eg Montreal steak spice mix, poutine gravy mix, spices mix for tourtiere etc
                    Homestyle fruit ketchup
                    +1 on the Sortilege! There is also a blueberry liquer from the same producer I think, that might be nice.

                    With some of these things, it might be nice to print out or pre-source some recipes to accompany the basket (eg for sugar pie, tourtiere etc)

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: unlaced

                      Do you know where I could pick up an authentic Tourtiere mix? I have never seen one. That could be interesting along with a recipe and a fruit ketchup.

                      1. re: neetzer

                        I have seen them in supermarkets here, but I have never purchased one. Maybe someone else can comment if they have a favourite version?

                          1. re: neetzer

                            I'm from "tourtière land" (Lac-Saint-Jean) and never heard of a tourtière mix. So I'm guessing this is a Montreal creation. Very odd. Would need to try it and see.

                            Sortilège is a great idea =)

                            1. re: Werzoth

                              I decided not to get the mix as I wanted something more versatile. I went with mixes for game meat instead. Tourtiere mix is nothing more than a blend of spices that commonly go into a Tourtiere aimed at curious tourists or unadventurous home cooks I'm sure - it's not very exciting or inventive, it is just meant to capture the essence of tradition. They even have a pizza mix for heaven's sake - now that says it all!

                              1. re: Werzoth

                                I cooked a simple beef stew on Friday (Marcella Hazan recipe) and I tested the Kamouraska spice from Epices de Cru, which is supposed to be a traditional Quebec blend, and it was very tasty - a very interesting and legit-tasting blend!

                                I purchased a Farmed Game Spice Blend to give as a gift, and it has a much more complex ingredient profile, including Labrador tea leaves. Should be very nice.

                                I regret not taking a closer look at the Tourtiere mix, I kind of passed it off as gimmicky.
                                If you ever try it, please let us know what you think. And if ever I attempt to make Tourtiere, I will certainly try it and report back.