City Bites

ON THE SCENE: Just in time! Three tasty last-minute gift ideas

Are you a last-minute shopper? There’s no shame in it. If you hadn’t waited so long, you may not have come across these three fun suggestions for the foodies on your gift list:

For the Italophile: Adopt an Olive Tree

When I first heard about a program that provides an opportunity to “adopt an olive tree in Italy” for a year and receive the oil your tree produces, I had mixed feelings. First it was giddy excitement and then some healthy cynicism set in. But after reading up on Nudo, I’ve learned that it’s the kind of marketing gimmick that’s truly a win-win, sharing some of the features of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where you invest in the grower up-front and reap the rewards related to a single farm over time.

It’s not too late to Adopt-An-Olive Tree as a last-minute gift for the gourmands on your list, even until late Christmas Eve, thanks to digital adoptions! For $116, the customer will receive an adoption certificate with specific information about their tree and two shipments of oil over the course of the next year. A two-litre can of cold-pressed organic, extra-virgin olive oil will arrive in the spring and a trio of flavoured oils (lemon, chili, and orange) follows in the fall. The website even gives customers the option of selecting a specific grove by learning about the farmer, the varietals, and the flavour profile of the oil.

As someone who is happy to drink olive oil off a spoon and appreciates any opportunity for Italian armchair travel, this is an appealing opportunity. From now through Christmas morning, each customer will receive a digital copy of the certificate with information via email within 12 hours. Paper copies will arrive by snail mail. For more information visit: www.nudo-italia.com

For the Foodie-Who-Has-Everything: Omakase Box

I’d heard about a bacon-of-the-month club and a cheese-of-the-month club, but recently — through the wonders of Twitter — I found out about a couple of Queen’s University Commerce graduates who have created Omakase Box, a unique snack-foods box for monthly subscribers (available for 1, 2, or 3 months; $26.50, $53, 79.50 plus tax, delivery included).

The name, “Omakase” is Japanese for “It’s up to you, chef,” which alludes to the mysterious nature of the hand-picked treats inside each box.

According to the “OBox” blog, the food-loving, globe-hopping entrepreneurs “search high and low, jay-walk, slide through subway doors, and examine every aisle, to find the tastiest, weirdest, and coolest bites.” The items come from near and far and I understand scouting trips to Ottawa led to the discovery of Michaelsdolce jams, Roast’d nuts, and Don Fernando’s La Viva Rolls from Continental Delicatessen. “Every time I visit it’s a whole foodie adventure,” says the company co-ninja Nancy Huynh.

Huynh tells me it’s too late to guarantee a gift card will arrive before Christmas, but that gift orders for an Omakase membership are still welcome ($1 from every box goes to Food Bank Canada) and the recipient’s first box will arrive mid-January. Remember, the contents of the box are never revealed in advance because the surprise is part of the fun!

For the Locavore: Richard Nigro’s limited edition small-batch Hintonburg handmade preserves

Back in April, chef and co-founder of Juniper Richard Nigro, told City Bites about his plans to develop a line of artisanal preserves, sauces, and spice rubs. He has since launched a website with recipes and detailed information about his products, which he sells out of his home. These include: peach brandy lacquer, mostarda di mantova, smoky tomato chili catsup, sicilian tomato basil jam, ramp-truffle vinegar, ramp-sun dried tomato relish, ramp almond parmesan pesto, and  charred tomato ginger chutney.

Delivery or pick up at Nigro’s home in Hintonburg can be arranged in time for the holidays by visiting the website, richardnigro.ca, and using the contact page. All preserves are $9. Most products are made using ingredients from the Parkdale Market and farm gate. (Please note: they are not made in a nut-free kitchen.)

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