Holiday

10 Canadian-made gifts that will excite even the savviest of food lovers

‘Oh, you’ve never heard of Flourist?’

‘Oh, you’ve never heard of Flourist?’

(Source, left: flourist; right: smakdab.ca)

There are plenty of gifts to choose from every holiday season but why not give the gift of smiles, joyful bellies and happy taste buds? These tantalizing and tasty edible gifts are all made in Canada and won't just please the average giftee — they'll also impress, and maybe even surprise, the in-the-know food lovers on your list. 

There's a lot to love about a certain well-known chocolate and hazelnut spread but a Montreal company has taken the concept to new heights. Allo Simonne puts the nuts first in their decadent hazelnut and almond-based spreads, like the popular Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Buckwheat flavour made with local Quebec buckwheat groats and 50 per cent hazelnuts. With other flavour combinations like Almond, Cardamom & Cacao Nibs or Dark Chocolate & Coffee, it's no surprise they've won multiple times at the World Chocolate Awards. Can't decide which flavour to try? Mix and match three of their popular flavours in a mini sample box.

Hazelnut, Dark Chocolate & Buckwheat Spread $14, Allo Simonne

Sesame Za'atar, Tea & Toast, Turmeric & Cinnamon, and Strawberry Crepes are all unique chocolate flavours created in small batches by Centre & Main Chocolate. This chocolate company out of Warkworth, Ontario is known for its creative balance of unconventional and classic flavours.Their products are brimming with beautiful and bold spices, fruits, herbs and flowers. The beautifully speckled Tea & Toast is a silver medal winner at the 2019 International Chocolate Awards and is perfect just about any time of day.

Tea & Toast Bar, $10, Centre & Main Chocolate

Capturing the flavours of the Canadian Maritimes isn't easy but Forty Six North on Prince Edward Island is doing that with their selection of gourmet jams and chutneys. If you can't decide between Pear & Chili or Wildberry & Cracked Pepper Jam, get the best of both (actually four) worlds by gifting the Mixed Chutney & Jam box. Available in two sizes, the gift box delivers a foursome of sweet and savoury tubs. If you end up buying them for your own holiday party spreads, they'll add a little zing to your appetizers and cheese boards. Then you can crank up the tunes while proudly declaring, "This is my jam!" to your crowd of captive guests who will chuckle endlessly. 

Mixed Chutney & Jam $22.50, Forty Six North

Flowers are a lovely gift, but flour is a lovelier gift. Both taste terrible raw but friends who enjoy creating in the kitchen will love the Canadian grains, beans and freshly milled flours by Vancouver-based Flourist. All their products are traceable and farmer profiles are offered online (not for dating; to see where the products are grown). The Starter Flour Bundle is a hefty gift for any baker. Three freshly milled organic grains are delivered to your door and include 2 kg each of: Whole Grain Red Fife, Sifted Red Spring Wheat, and Whole Grain Rye Flours. 

Starter Flour Bundle $34.95, Flourist

After gaining a cult following at Toronto farmers markets, the team behind OKAZU expanded their offerings and there is no greater gift to us all. OKAZU is a Japanese miso-based chili and sesame oil condiment that adds a punch of flavour and umami to rice dishes, pasta, soup, meats, veggies and seafood. Your giftee can add it to almost anything and make it their secret ingredient for boosting savoury dishes. There's no need to choose between the offerings: pick up the OKAZU tasting set with their signature Chili Miso, Spicy Chili Miso, and Curry Miso. 

OKAZU Tasting Set $39, Abokichi

Not all plans go as… planned. Laura Waters purchased a rundown farm in North Saanich on Vancouver Island 10 years ago with the intention of turning it into a Christmas tree farm. 1,600 Douglas Fir trees were planted but instead of being decked out with lights and ornaments, they became the unique ingredient in a line of food products. Her Snowdon House line of products includes easy beer bread mixes (open your favourite bottle, stir and bake for freshly baked bread with little effort), flavoured vinegars infused with local fruit and simple dip mixes all designed to share flavours of her little farm out west.

West Coast Bread Mix $7.50, Snowdon House

Zhila Russell is the woman behind the growing brand Torshee. She arrived in Nova Scotia in 2007 with a baby and $20 in her pocket as a refugee from Iran. Now a PhD student, she launched her line of pickles and fermented fruits and vegetables at local farmers markets after trying to create tasty and gut healthy side dishes and condiments for her family. Available throughout the province and online for the rest of the country, the line of fermented products packs big flavour into small jars. The best-selling Liteh combines charcoal grilled eggplant with herbs and fermented with pomegranate and tamarind. Perfect on meat and fish or as a topping for rice or grain bowls, it's a wonderful multi-purpose condiment.

Liteh, $12, Torshee

What started as a sweet and savoury jam company on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, has quickly become a West Coast favourite with a fan base growing across the country. With flavours like Blueberry & Basil, and Rhubarb & Apple, Salt Spring Kitchen Co. has added spicy spreads and hot sauces to their gourmet line. Convenient gift packs group together sweet, savoury or spicy offerings. The Hot Sauce Collection kicks up the heat with Habanero + Curry + Orange, Morita + Espresso + Chipotle, and a hint of sweetness with Pineapple + Tumeric + Achiote. Tell whoever you gift it to that they can add it to BBQ, eggs or their favourite tacos to bring a bit of heat to the kitchen this long, cold winter.

Hot Sauce Collection, $30, Salt Spring Kitchen Co.

Oatbox is a monthly granola subscription based out of Montreal. With a long list of new flavours, high quality ingredients, and free shipping, you can send your favourite person (maybe it's yourself) two flavours of gourmet granola each month. December flavours are Gingerbread, Cranberry and Dark Chocolate. Oatbox also partners with the Breakfast Club of Canada and donates a breakfast to a child in need with every subscription purchase. 

Oatbox Starter Kit, $20, Oatbox

Can anyone ever have too much mustard? Probably not. These beautifully packaged gourmet spreads are made in Manitoba by chef Carly Minish, founder of Smak Dab Gourmet Mustard. With seasonal flavours that combine tart cranberries with red wine, or the sweet heat of local Manitoba honey with jalapeño peppers, the jars will be a welcome addition to any fridge.

Hot Honey Jalapeno Mustard, $9, Smak Dab


Pay Chen is a food and lifestyle expert on television, an occasional actress, and an avid eater who also writes about food and travel for numerous publications. 

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