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A selection of locally made chocolate bars makes a wonderful food gift. Photo: Hummingbird Chocolate.

#Support613 Gift Guide: For people who like to eat

By Apartment613 on November 27, 2020

Part 5 of Apt613’s holiday gift guide is all about eating delicious things without having to cook them first.

There’s a very big difference between people who like to eat and people who like to cook. So when buying gifts for the former, make sure it’s something they can consume as-is, rather than having to transform it somehow (other than reheating, which most people are fine with). I mean, love-to-cook folks would adore a giant crate of frozen duck breasts, but love-to-eat folks? Just bring them the paté. Here are some great locally made goodies for your food-loving friends and family to nosh on.


Pickles, preserves, jams, and jellies

Top Shelf Preserves

Sure, they have various cucumber pickles plus the ubiquitous beets and green beans (for your Caesar needs, of course). But have you ever had pickled garlic scapes with sriracha? Didn’t think so. Top Shelf also makes other fun condiments like hot peach chutney and tomatillo salsa. You can order directly from their online shop or find them at fine food shops around town.

Apt613 Pick: These hot-pink pickled turnips are perfect for topping homemade falafel sandwiches.

Michael’s Dolce

Small-batch, scratch-made jams, jellies, syrups, and sauces are the raison d’etre of Michaels Dolce, and if you know, you know. There really is something for every toast lover on your list, from peach cardamom to blueberry lavender, apricot chili, raspberry chocolate, or fig and blood orange, and that’s just the jams. Citrus ginger marmalade? Check. Root beer syrup? You betcha. Homemade sriracha? Yeah, they went there. A basket of these goodies and a loaf of locally baked bread (from Bread By Us, Nat’s Bread Company, or Strawberry Blonde Bakery for the gluten-intolerant) would make a divine holiday gift.

Apt613 Pick: The strawberry and balsamic jam would make even the plainest toast sing – especially with a grinding of black pepper on top.


Locally roasted coffee

Coffee lovers are nearly always happy to receive a bag of delicious, freshly roasted beans. We’re blessed with a bunch of local coffee roasters in the Ottawa area. Pick up a pound for a casual gift or a selection of various roasts for someone you want to wow. Several of these roasters offer coffee subscriptions with delivery (sometimes free, if you’re within the city) and most offer gift cards as well, if you’re not sure which roast your recipient would prefer.

Apt613 Pick: Equator’s North Star espresso roast is a good starting point for any fancy coffee drink.


YOW Popcorn Company

Flavoured gourmet popcorn is just the treat for movie lovers who are stuck at home without access to theatre snacks. Gift them a couple of bags from YOW in flavours that range from the mild (white cheddar, dill pickle, plain caramel) to the wild (taco guaco, truffle parmesan, or a fancy caramel corn like their sea salt caramel with chocolate drizzle or peppermint chocolate drizzle). Plus, you can have the bags stamped with a wide variety of messages, and if you choose one of their two pandemic-themed stamps (Stay Safe or COVID-19 Sucks!) they’ll donate 10% of the sale of those bags to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Apt613 Pick: Go big or go home – the Sea salt caramel espresso cookies and cream flavour literally has everything.

 

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Hot Sauces

Ottawa has become a bit of a hotbed (sorry) for makers of fiery condiments to sprinkle on your food. There are a number of small and up-and-coming producers, so if your gift recipient likes to feel the burn, consider putting together a spicy sampler box of local butt-kicking hot sauces. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Haico’s Hot Sauce (check out their Hounds of Hell, a collab with Stray Dog Brewing that incorporates their Shaggin’ Wagon IPA)
  • Meow! That’s Hot (come on, they have a sauce called Fire Kitty)
  • Gordz Hot Sauce (they grow their own peppers to turn them into sauces like their XXX, made with Ghost and Carolina Reaper peppers)
  • Simple Simons Hot Sauce (These guys like to mix heat with fruit, like their Curry Mango Tango or Piping Peach Habanero)
  • Saucy B Sauces (for names, you can’t beat their B a Jerk sauce)

Apt613 Pick: Meow! That’s Hot’s Cheshire Chipotle is a nice smoky-sweet starter sauce for those who need to work up to the burn.

 

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Chocolate

Hummingbird Chocolate

This tiny bean-to-bar company in Almonte is well-known by now, having won the Academy of Chocolate’s 2016 Golden Bean award for best chocolate in the world for their Hispaniola 70% cacao bar. But there’s so much more to discover: newer products include chocolate barks and inclusion bars with flavours like candied ginger or peppermint, as well as something called “chocolate salami” (no meat, just fudgy ganache and yummy stuff like nuts, dried fruits, and spices). The single-origin bars that made them famous are always a treat, and a selection in someone’s stocking will never go amiss.

Apt613 Pick: the PB & Joy bar is a nutty, deeply chocolatey masterpiece.

Olivia Chocolatiers

Looking for a gift for someone with food allergies or who is vegan? Look no further than Olivia Chocolatiers from Gatineau. Their high-percentage dark chocolate bars are allergen-free, vegan, and made from raw cacao. They also have a line of non-dairy milk chocolate bars if you don’t love the darkness. Oh, and a bar sweetened with dates instead of sugar. You can buy the bars directly from the company by the half-case, slab, or a sampler pack, or look for them around town (I’ve often seen them at the counter at Bridgehead).

Apt613 Pick: the raw 76% bar is smooth and simple, like the little black dress of chocolates.


Even more food gifts

If none of these items quite fit the bill, there are places you can go to get inspired or let the food lover on your list choose their own gift. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Afrotechture

While you may already know and love Baccanalle, which serves contemporary and traditional Caribbean and Soul food in Ottawa with amazing vegan options, you may not know that its owner, Resa Solomon-St. Lewis and her sister are launching a highly-curated shopping experience in the ByWard Market (and online) featuring local Black artisans. At Afrotechture, which pops up December 5 and runs till December 20, you can find delicious things like small-batch granola, organic and fair trade coffee, plantain chips, and of course, a taste of Baccanalle itself.

Burrow Shop 

The fine folks behind Buchipop created the Burrow Shop online grocery market near the start of the pandemic, to help people shop locally-made food and beverage products in a contactless and safe way. They’ve got tons of locally-made goodies from farmers and makers across the region. Check out their snacks and treats section for locally produced chips and salsa, chocolates, energy bars and bites, and more.

Apt613 Pick: Bisou’s dark chocolate date bites with pecan and cinnamon sound like the perfect indulgent snack for the wellness guru in your life.

 

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Jacobson’s

This Vanier food emporium (featured in our recent Apt613TV Hidden Gems of Vanier video) is stocked to the rafters with delicious fresh and preserved foods like fine cheeses and charcuterie, tinned or smoked fish and shellfish, super-fancy cookies and shortbreads, interesting nut butters like sesame cashew and maple pecan, and high-end chocolate spread from Italy. Their online shop is extensive and they do curbside pickup and local or Canada-wide delivery and shipping.

Apt613 Pick: A wedge of locally made Lankaaster gouda from Glengarry Fine Cheese will appeal to many cheeseheads.


What did we miss? Tell us in the comments about more fabulous locally made food gifts on your list for this year.