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Ideas for food-related Holiday Gifts that support local businesses?

Breadcrumbs Dec 7, 2012 06:27 AM

I'm always looking for ways to support local stores, restaurants etc and hope to find some new ideas by starting this thread.

Do you have recommendations for:

Ontario food shops that sell online or deliver?
Kitchen shops?
Winery memberships/wine delivery?
Organic delivery?
Cooking classes?
Wine tasting classes?

Some places I'd recommend:

THE WINE ESTABLISHMENT (Toronto): for wine accessories, stemware etc. You can order online. Here's there weblink but it doesn't seem to be working properly at the moment for some reason:


A TASTE OF CHEESE: for online ordering of amazing cheese, baskets, tasting samplers etc,


ASHTON GREEN: A terrific online resource for kitchen items, cooking tools etc. They're based out of London Ontario


LEE VALLEY: for amazing kitchen tools and gardening supplies


LCBO SUMMERHILL (Tornoto): For their terrific cooking classes. The knife skills classes make a great gift and the attendee gets a set of Wüsthof-Trident knives....no kidding!!


I'm sure more will come to me but I'd love to hear your suggestions!!!

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  1. prima RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 7, 2012 07:38 AM

    Pusateri's also does custom baskets. There's info on their website.

    Mary McLeod's shortbread helps a local business.

    Spice Trader has spice sets that make nice gifts.

    I buy a lot of Xmas gifts at Junors and Soma.

    1. g
      gembellina RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 7, 2012 10:26 AM

      Have you (or anyone else) done any of the LCBO's cooking classes?

      2 Replies
      1. re: gembellina
        Breadcrumbs RE: gembellina Dec 7, 2012 10:39 AM

        I have gembellina and I'd highly recommend them. I've done both knife courses at Summerhill which were excellent. I've also gone to at least a dozen cooking classes and tend to select those because a certain chef is presenting (frequently they'll get a local restaurant chef for example) or, a particular subject that I'm interested in. A hands on baking class was a real standout though that was a few years back now. I really enjoyed a Tapas class I did there and an hors d'oeuvre class. Classes aren't so big that anyone gets neglected and the set up is good w a mirror so you can see the instruction. Often they have "helpers" as well that walk the room to assist folks w hands on activities. I always find that I learn something, even if it's just a new recipe. In my experience, many folks who attend are real food lovers so the conversation is always good. I've attended w friends, alone and w mr bc. I've been to other cooking schools in the city including Dish, Bonnie Stern, Calphalon and Upstairs at Loblaws and I'd count the LCBO classes at Summerhill among the best.

        1. re: Breadcrumbs
          gembellina RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 7, 2012 11:23 AM

          oh wow, a glowing recommendation! I'll have to check it out. A local chef certainly sounds interesting and valuable. Thanks!

      2. m
        magic RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 7, 2012 10:42 AM

        Culinarium on Mount Pleasant.
        Chocolate Tales on Eglinton for chocolate making workshops.

        4 Replies
        1. re: magic
          bytepusher RE: magic Dec 8, 2012 05:43 PM

          +1 for Culinarium

          Everything they sell is produced in Ontario

          They have a nice selection of gift baskets you can order online http://www.culinarium.ca/cart/

          1. re: bytepusher
            Breadcrumbs RE: bytepusher Dec 8, 2012 06:09 PM

            Thanks so much for that link bytepusher, I'll definitely order a basket or two...wonderful!!

            1. re: bytepusher
              magic RE: bytepusher Dec 8, 2012 06:46 PM


              All Ontario. Great store.

            2. re: magic
              TorontoJo RE: magic Dec 9, 2012 09:17 AM

              And if you go to Culinarium, make sure you stop a couple of doors over at The Flaky Tart and pick up some delicious baked goods. They always have packages of lovely cookies ready to go, or go for a box of tarts and brownies and mini cakes. All delicious.

              At Culinarium, make sure you pick up some jars of Diablo's Fuego hot sauce. Locally made and very addictive -- a jar would make a great hostess gift.

            3. Breadcrumbs RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 8, 2012 01:22 PM

              I thought of another couple of places:

              The Good Egg in Kensington Market. I wish they had online shopping

              The AGO Store - & they do have online shopping!!

              The Gardner Museum Shop - again, pity there's no online shopping though

              1 Reply
              1. re: Breadcrumbs
                rstuart RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 9, 2012 10:18 AM

                You beat me too it.. was just about to log on and enthusiastically recommend Good Egg.. fabulous store, and I have never left it empty handed!

              2. b
                bytepusher RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 8, 2012 05:41 PM

                I've heard a rumour that the Wine Establishment has closed, fairly recently, but I have not confirmed this myself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bytepusher
                  Breadcrumbs RE: bytepusher Dec 8, 2012 06:10 PM

                  If that's the case, I hope it's just a relocation. I did find their location to be a little off the beaten path. Such a great "one stop shop" for wine lovers though.

                2. Otonabee RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 8, 2012 06:20 PM

                  Chocosol is doing Holiday gift packs. Very local and their stuff is wonderful! They also offer workshops. - http://chocosol.posterous.com/

                  1. prima RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 9, 2012 07:41 AM

                    A subscription for Monforte Cheese (Might want to confirm they're still offering subscriptions, since they are in the process of reworking the website) http://www.monfortedairy.com/monforte...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: prima
                      bytepusher RE: prima Dec 9, 2012 03:21 PM

                      I was speaking to Ruth recently and I do not think at the moment they are taking new subscriptions although it couldn't hurt to ask (she was soliciting feedback on what kind of thing current subscribers might be willing to sign up for again). Their subscription system was a multi-year commitment so may not be ideal for all circumstances.

                      1. re: bytepusher
                        prima RE: bytepusher Dec 12, 2012 09:05 AM

                        Good to know. Guess it would be possible to gift someone a selection of Monforte cheeses. Would think the Monforte shop also offers gift certificates.

                        For another cheesy gift idea, Alex Farms and other cheese shops around TO also sell gift certificates, as well as baskets and cheese platters.

                    2. d
                      dubchild RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 9, 2012 08:29 AM

                      Hacher and Krain specializes in knives from everywhere and cutting boards.

                      1. c
                        crawfish RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 9, 2012 01:00 PM

                        We picked up 2 small bottles of fresh sake for a gift last night - and a flight of tasters for us. It's really special stuff. They have gift sets with sake carafe and cups or brewery tours, gift certificates, miso paste. Very nice people, a pleasure to give them business.


                        Oh, and I just remembered - Coach House shortbreads. I got some for Chritmas last year and they are the best thing I have every tasted. I had a cheese flavour could have been asiago chipotle although I remember the cheese but not the heat. Really really good, like I might schlepp all the way over there by TTC just to get myself some for Christmas. They have a store front on Carlaw.


                        2 Replies
                        1. re: crawfish
                          Food Tourist RE: crawfish Dec 9, 2012 02:58 PM

                          Coach House shortbread is also sold at Cheese Boutique on Ripley. Majesteas also sells Mary McLeod's shortbread (limited choice).

                          1. re: crawfish
                            bytepusher RE: crawfish Dec 9, 2012 03:22 PM

                            Culinarium also sells the Coach House shortbread if that's any closer.

                          2. c
                            chevrelove RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 12, 2012 06:53 AM

                            Can anyone recommend a cooking class that is designed for couples? Bonus points for classes in or near Barrie.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: chevrelove
                              millygirl RE: chevrelove Dec 12, 2012 07:24 AM

                              Mary McLeod shortbread cookies are available in many stores this year, including Summerhill Market. But honestly, it's such a treat to shop at Mary McLeods, if youve never been it's worth a trip.

                              The store just speaks of christmas to me. The smells are wonderful, the staff are lovely AND you are usually offered a treat to go.

                              It's worth a trip to Mary McLeod's. I look forward to it every year.

                              1. re: chevrelove
                                prima RE: chevrelove Dec 12, 2012 09:07 AM

                                Aphrodite Cooks has classes for couples, as well as classes for singles. https://www.aphroditecooks.com/Defaul...
                                Would not recommend buying a single a cooking class for singles as a Xmas present, unless it's on that single's list to Santa.

                                Dish and Calphalon also have cooking clases for couples.

                                1. re: prima
                                  chevrelove RE: prima Dec 12, 2012 12:29 PM

                                  Thanks, prima. Great ideas. The Calphalon classes seem a bit steep for a one-time class. Have you taken any there, and can you speak to the value?

                                  1. re: chevrelove
                                    prima RE: chevrelove Dec 12, 2012 02:10 PM

                                    I haven't tried the Calphalon classes. I agree $300/couple is a little steep. Most of my single cooking classes have cost around $70-$100/class lately.

                                    If you don't mind giving the couple classes that are not couple-themed, there are quite a few less expensive classes offered around town. This list is from last December http://www.torontostandard.com/cultur...

                                    If anyone is looking to splurge on cooking classes for a loved one as well as a weekend getaway, a weekend of cooking classes with Chef Baxter in Stratford might be another gift idea. : http://www.rundlesrestaurant.com/NBcl...

                              2. PoppiYYZ RE: Breadcrumbs Dec 12, 2012 01:36 PM

                                A couple of suggestions I can recommend :

                                1) Local honey and pure beeswax candle baskets. A local beekeeper near me does baskets with three types of honey and a couple of candles for under $20. Check local markets and if you travel outside the city there are many more options.
                                2) Classes offered at The Healthy Butcher.

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