Great gifts from local vendors for the epicurean on your holiday shopping list
Wherever you are in the world, whether you celebrate on Christmas Eve or Day, chances are there is a specific dish you’re looking forward to having during your holiday feast. Many countries have at least one unique dish, beverage, or tabletop tradition that makes the holiday special to them. For instance, Jamaica has Sorrel Punch – a spiked brew made with hibiscus that is said to loosen tongues and release inhibitions at Christmas time. Estonians sit down to a feast of blood sausage served with cranberry jam, boiled potatoes with sauerkraut, oven baked meat like pork, and marinated pumpkin. Greenland celebrates by indulging in mattak (whale meat), suaasat a hearty soup and kiviak which are little Auks fermented in a seal skin. In the end, it is the food that brings us all together during special times and occasions.
Just Roll With It
Christmas cookies are a popular tradition around the world and some notable ones include papparkakor from Sweden, letterbanket from Holland, biscotti from Italy, and lebkuchen from Germany. Designs pressed into carved wooden boards for springerle or speculaas have been popular for centuries even pre-dating some of the most popular well-known holiday cookies. A pressed cookie made using an embossed rolling pin makes a pretty gift to give without having to worry about icing and decorating. Britannia Kitchen & Home has a fun selection of embossed rolling pins for the holiday season and essential items for baking. Each pin is made of solid beech wood, engraved with unique designs and easy to use. Simply roll out your favourite cutout cookie dough, roll with embossed pin, cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and bake. Other uses include embossing homemade noodles, pastry crusts, marzipan and fondants.
Large Embossed Rolling Pin | Britannia Kitchen & Home | $29.99 – $59.99
A Turkey’s Tale
In Chile it is common to roast a Turkey served with apple and plum sauce plus an assortment of sides before attending Christmas Eve Mass or “Misa de Gallo” at the local church. Some areas of Mexico like to cook a turkey with stuffing and cranberry sauce while other regions will enjoy bacalao and champurrado. A traditional turkey with Yorkshire pudding is served up in England while Australians wake up to ham on toast for breakfast with homemade mustard, then enjoy a hot lunch of roast pork, ham, chicken and turkey. Here in North America we can’t get enough turkey throughout the holidays complete with all the trimmings.
When it comes to turkey, sourcing local and fresh is best. For four generations Winter’s Turkey Farm has been producing high quality, sustainable and humanely raised turkeys. The turkeys are free range, organically grown, and raised on a whole grain diet that results in a flavourful bird on your holiday table. Fresh birds are available in October and December, while frozen can be purchased throughout the year. Visit the website to find local retail locations and for ordering options and details.
Now that you have your turkey, you are going to need the proper vessel to cook it in. Zest Kitchenware carries a range of items to assist with all your turkey roasting needs. The All-Clad Stainless Roasters with Racks are large, in charge and available in two sizes. The lifter rack helps remove a large turkey from the heavy-duty stainless-steel roasting pan, while the upright handles offer a secure hold when transporting around the kitchen. Built to last, these roasting pans are the only pans you will ever need.
Fresh Local Turkey’s | Winters Turkey | $63.00 – $86.00
All-Clad Stainless Roaster with Rack | Zest Kitchenware | $159.99 – $199.99
This is the year we have become reacquainted with our kitchens. More cooking, more baking and entertaining social media trends. Filling our Instagram feeds this year we’ve seen baked sourdough, whipped coffees, windowsill vegetables, focaccia gardens, pancake cereal, pantry meals and multicultural recipes. Learning a new cooking skill or cuisine is the best way to introduce new foods into your diet and to your family. An owner of our own collection of cookbooks we are drawn to International cookbooks as they transport you to another time and place. The Cookbook Co. Cooks is our favourite place to buy a new cookbook as they offer a very large selection to choose from including International bestsellers and local Canadian authors. One of our current favourites is Falastin, featuring recipes that weave together the food, culture and people of Palestine as written by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley. It is an absolutely stunning book to give as a gift or gift yourself. Other recommendations you will find in the store include anything from Yotam Ottolenghi, Tel Aviv: Food. People. Stories. by Haya Molcho, and Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food by Nik Sharma.
Falastin and other International Cookbooks | The Cookbook Co. Cooks | $19.95 – $150.00
Festive Afternoon Tea
In London, a Christmas afternoon tea includes a festive spread at many of London’s fancier hotels. Offerings might include finger sandwiches, scones or pastries, treats like cakes, biscuits or mince pies accompanied by an assortment of teas while enjoying carolers or a small choir. In Calgary you will find a few places offering afternoon tea, however we recommend creating your own family tea tradition by making finger sandwiches, holiday cookies and picking up a selection of teas. The Naked Leaf in Kensington carries a fine assortment of teas to help get you started, a lovely selection of English teapots including Japanese teapots, teacups and matcha bowls. We are smitten with the English Toaster Teapot, a charming and whimsical teapot made in England and think it’s the perfect gift for
the tea lover in your life.
English Toaster Teapot | The Naked Leaf | $128.00
From Italy with Love
Sweets play an important role during the holiday season, and in Italy, one of the most famous holiday sweets is panettone. The traditional
version of this cake features candied fruit like lemon and orange, raisins, and nuts. Other variations available include cream, frosting, even liqueurs
such as limoncello. Browse the market aisles to find panettone sold in tins, beautiful packages, even ornament-sized boxes perfect for hanging on the Christmas tree. Typically, it’s enjoyed after a meal with a glass of Prosecco. Other Italian sweet treats during the holidays include pandoro, cannoli, zeppole, marzipan, torrone and nougat. Find all these goodies and more at Lina’s Italian Market in the North and Lina’s Italian Supermercato in the South.
Panettone | Lina’s Italian Market | $35.00
Not your Shaw Christmas log
French family meals are known for three things: lasting for several hours, being the scene of political family feuds, and traditional holiday desserts. A holiday tradition once started to mark winter solstice was the burning of a very large log in the heath of your main room. Occasionally it was so large the rest of the trunk stuck out offering inspiration for a log shaped dessert. At least this ensured continuing warmth as it slowly burned through the day and night under a watchful eye. Each year Parisians delight in the traditional Bûche de Noël, a lightly rolled sponge cake covered in chocolate or coffee butter cream textured to resemble bark and the ancient tradition of burning the Yule log. These cakes are made more elaborate by molding frosting to resemble a cut branch, decorated with merengue mushrooms and sugar leaves. French bakery owner chef Philippe Poncet at Eclair de Lune prepares the most delectable and sought-after French pastries in his bakery in North Calgary. During the holidays you will find this dessert available to order as well as several other pastries you might want to consider treating yourself to during the holiday season.
Bûche de Noël | Éclair de Lune | $50.00
Pâté à viande
Tourtiere is a French-Canadian meat pie enjoyed across Canada and even some bordering areas of the United States during the holidays. Like many cultural dishes, the region you come from dictates the flavour profile in this pie. Traditionally, the meat was cut into small pieces with a knife, however these days its more common to see ground meat in the pie consisting of pork, beef, veal or other game meat. Warm spices are mixed in, and sometimes the addition of potatoes and vegetables to complete the pie. We’ve been indulging in this treat for the last ten years thanks to our friends John from Quebec and his wife Jody who have a special process of cooking the mixture twice, adjusting spices as needed, keeping the fat in the mix and filling a pie crust made using lard. If you are not as lucky as we are to have a friend who makes pâté à viande, you can pick up one of these delicious Tourtiere’s at any Pie Junkie location or Flavours of Quebec in the Calgary Farmers’ Market. Both businesses offer an assortment of sweet and savoury pies. Pie Junkie also has available English mince and Turkey Dinner pies. Flavours of Quebec carries a variety of items imported from Quebec.
Tourtiere | Pie Junkie | Mahogany, Kensington, Spruce Cliff | $40
Tourtiere | Flavours of Quebec in the Calgary Farmers Market | $6.50 – $19.99