Hello, I am planning to cook a delicious Christmas dinner for my family. I have a list of "rare" items that are not found in the everyday grocery stores. I was wondering if I could enlist the collective knowledge of the hounds to most efficiently secure the following items!
Wild mushrooms (Trompette de la mort, pied de mouton, chanterelle), Apricots, Sage leaves, Pistachio nuts (not salted good ones), pancetta, caster sugar.
IIRC I've seen Black Trompette and Chanterelle mushrooms, sage, pistachio nuts and pancetta at the flagship Loblaws store at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Not sure if Apricots are in season and available any longer, unless of course you meant dried, which should also be at Loblaws.
If you have anymore missing items, you could also make a trip to St. Lawrence Market, which isn't too far away from the Loblaws I mentioned.
caster sugar gets used in a lot of British recipes where it is not really necessary. There's nothing special about it, it's just regular sugar ground to slightly finer grain that granulated sugar.
Here you can get the Redpath "special fine" sugar in resealable plastic bags at most grocery stores that is basically the same as caster sugar (make sure you don't get the "super fine" that's a different thing.
Or you can just whiz regular granulated sugar in a food processor for a few secs to make slightly finer grains.
But usually you can just use our regular granulated sugar for most recipes that use caster sugar.
For unsalted pistachios for cooking and baking, I've been happy with the California-grown, PC Blue Label unsalted pistachios at Loblaws, usually found in the produce section.
Most grocery stores have sage leaves, dried or fresh.
I might be mistaken, but I think I remember you initially asking for stores near Hamilton. If you're in Hamilton, I'd think Fortino's will have pancetta in the deli section, near the cured sausages and packaged prosciutto.
For pancetta any Italian market will work, or you can hit up the Brickworks Market tomorrow and Niagara Prosciutto will be there and they make and sell a nice pancetta.
Pistachio nuts can be had at the Big Carrot for sure but also any middle eastern store.
I was just at the Maple leaf gardens, and they have a good selection of wild mushrooms, they had sage, I bought pistachios, they definitely have pancetta, I saw apricots (I also saw them at the loblaws on leslie and lakeshore), and they probably have caster sugar. If not, you can find super fine sugar at the bulk barn
The Persian stores usually have really good selections of nuts, pistachios included. I like Tavazo (7345 Yonge St, Thornhill).
For castor sugar, I also use the food processor method mentioned above by bytepusher.