Can you keep a secret? I am a terrible “holiday” person. There, I said it. Apart from the fact that Neil and I are so very rarely in Canada for Christmas and even more rarely sharing it with family, I find it really hard to get organised enough to buy gifts and make cards and get everything sent off in time – most of my family and many of my friends are far away enough that you basically have to send anything before December to ensure it arrives in time for Christmas. Even Air Mail. The other day, Canada Post informed me that it would take up to 3 weeks to send calendars abroad. I was kind of like “Lady, there are multiple flights that leave to all these destinations daily – seriously?” but this was met with a blank stare and a request for $16 per calendar. It’s a pity that I want to customize gifts because otherwise, I would seriously sit and do EVERYTHING for the holidays online. I can DO online. And I can even do online on time
So in the spirit of the “last minute” holiday person that I am, I bring you a few gifts that you can purchase online – a mini-round up of some of my favourite products that I have been asked to review or take a look at over the past little while. I’d be happy with ANY of these gifts under my (non-existent) tree and hopefully you can find something for that hard to buy person (we all have one of them on our lists, right?). And don’t worry - there’s even something for YOU too!
First up, I’d like to introduce you to the Omakase Box. When I was contacted by Nancy to see if I would like to review this, I was intrigued…
A box of tasty surprise treats? Delivered to me every month? Wow – this is something I would love… to give! The “Omakase ninjas” secret mission is to “search high and low, cross oceans and scale mountains, to find the tastiest, weirdest, and coolest bites. We adhere to the 5-second rule. We eat everything (sticky or salty, jiggly or firm) and only bring back the good stuff.” During the Christmas of 2010, the 3 ninjas finally got fed up with the lack of exciting foods in their lives and started searching for the coolest, wierdest, and tastiest snacks they could find. A few months later, they started sharing snack boxes with their friends, and the rest is history. For just $26.50 a month plus tax, it’s the gift that keeps on giving all year. Omakase Box is also donating $1 per every box to Food Banks of Canada this holiday season – all the more reason to support this innovative young company.
Need your box as a Christmas gift? All orders after between now and Christmas will get their first box in January, but recipients will receive a card telling them their first box will arrive the middle of January.
Disclosure: I received an Omakase box at no cost to me. I was not otherwise compensated for writing this post – writing about it is my choice and all opinions are 100% my own.
If wine is more what you are after for your holiday gifts, look no further than…
I’ve been so impressed with WNOTL this past year – Neil and I visited something like 17 wineries for the Wine and Herb program in the spring, and last winter, I got a sneak peek of the WNOTL “Days of Wine and Chocolate” and “Taste the Season” programs. I personally can’t think of a better gift for the wine and food lover in your life than a weekend pass to the Days of Wine and Chocolate. They will explore pairings of two of their favourite indulgences – wine and chocolate, as they tour the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Each stop features a premium VQA wine matched to a delectable chocolate selection, from classic flavours to unexpected surprises. A romantic celebration for two or a great reason for a girls’ (or guys) getaway weekend, Days of Wine & Chocolate is the delicious final event of Winter in Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Country. Click here for details about Winter in Wine Country.
Days of Wine & Chocolate touring passes are $30 per person (plus applicable taxes) and can be used any of the event weekends. Purchase your Days of Wine and Chocolate touring pass online or call Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake at 905 468-1950.
Disclosure: Neil and I will be attending the Days of Wine and Chocolate event in February as guests of WNOTL through Loud+Clear. I was not otherwise compensated for suggesting this as a holiday gift and were I not already receiving some, these passes would be on my list for myself these holidays!
If your gift recipients are interested in trying out some new-to-them restaurants, how about…
A new concept just launched in Toronto, the Tuesday Foodie card gets foodies 30% off food at 21 neighbourhood restaurants over the course of a year. Tuesday is traditionally the slowest night of the week for restaurants and Tuesday Foodie’s mission is to help restaurants fill seats while giving Toronto’s foodie community a break. Founder Calum McGuigan has capped the number of cards sold to ensure that foodies aren’t competing with each other for reservations, a common problem with other restaurant promotions. “The Tuesday Foodie card makes the perfect stocking stuffer and, if you buy it by December 20th, it will be in your hands before Christmas. At $60 each, Tuesday Foodies gift cards could potentially save your foodie friends as much as $250 (after the price of the card) throughout the year .
Disclosure: I received a pair of Tuesday Foodie gift cards at no cost to me. I was not otherwise compensated for writing about them and, whilst I obviously have not tried the concept out, I anxiously await January when I will. I’ll hopefully blog about my experiences at different restaurants and let you know if this is as good a deal as it sounds!
If people on your list have a sweet tooth, look no further than…
Located in the heart of downtown Toronto Le Dolci aims to bring fun, foodie education and fabulous sweet treats to the city. Offering sweet classes including cupcakes and cake decorating, cake pops, cookie decorating, macaron classes, truffles, and more, Le Dolci offer gift certificates making this a perfect gift for those with a sweet tooth on your list this year. See all class descriptions here and check out the schedule here.
Take advantage of their Delightful December Sale – Book any class in January and get the second one at half price! Just call to book (416-262-3400) and quote ‘Delightful December Sale’ and they will register you and a friend for the class. (Valid only for classes in January, one per customer limit). Who knows, maybe I will see you in my January 27th macaron class (just added after both January classes sold out!).
If it’s baking and decorating supplies you need, the newly opened Le Dolci online shop might be a good bet for you. If you are looking for fondant, cutters, tips, piping bags or even cannoli shell molds, they are all there. With 55 products and more to be added, you are sure to find all the decorating supplies you need. You can pick up your orders at the studio (downtown Toronto) or they deliver across the GTA and Canada! If you are looking for a specific product drop Lisa or Miya an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclosure: I teach macaron classes monthly at Le Dolci. Apart from that, I have enjoyed a cupcake decorating class there myself and taken Les Petits Chefs there to decorate cupcakes for Hallowe’en. I have not been compensated for writing this post and was not asked to include this in my gift guide.
If those on your list are really hard to buy for, I don’t think you can go past…
From the website: Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants is the creation of Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini, partners who first teamed up in 1993 to open Bay Street’s now legendary Jump. Since then, Oliver & Bonacini’s unique collection of restaurants has grown steadily, among them, Canoe, one of Canada’s most celebrated dining experiences and Auberge du Pommier, serving impeccable French cuisine for over 22 years. In 2010, two new O&B concepts opened at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – O&B Canteen, a casual grab & go and market café and Luma, a stylish restaurant and bar lounge that seats 230.
I have no affiliation with this company – except that I have very much enjoyed eating both lunch and brunch at Luma (who, by the way are offering a wonderful deal on a New Year’s Eve Prix Fixe dinner that I would be taking them up on if I were going to be in Toronto – Reserve online or phone 416.288.4715) and two fabulous dinners at O&B Canteen. O&B have so many restaurants in their portfolio that you would be hard pressed not to find something to suit even the most picky of palates on your guest list. Get your O&B gift certificates here.
Exhausted after all that shopping??? And too tired to cook dinner? Well treat yourself to dinner cooked by someone else from:
Just-Eat is a website that partners with restaurants in major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal – to give customers a platform for ordering food online for delivery or pick–up. To see what they’re all about, visit www.just-eat.ca and start by entering your postal code in the search box. Gizelle from Just Eat contacted me to see if I might be interested in trying the service – and in such a busy time of year, who am I to say no to a meal cooked by someone else? Neil and I were impressed that there were 32 restaurants servicing our postal code already – Chinese, Thai, Turkish, “American”, Greek, Indian, Italian and Middle Eastern, though Thai and Italian definitely have the most offerings. We’d been craving Indian food for a while, so we ordered dinner from Apalla Indian. We were a little dubious about how far they were from us (not that far but far enough that the food really might go cold on the way here) but the menu looked so enticing that we couldn’t stop ourselves!
For $50 (including the tip that you can pay online) we ordered 2 naan, one order of samosas (2), butter chicken and beef vindaloo. Delivered piping hot…. 45 minutes early. I had made sure to check the time of my order as I didn’t want it as soon as possibly but the order arrived about 45 minutes after I placed it – the suggested delivery time. Furthermore, when I checked the order online, it said it would arrive 30 minutes after the time I asked for. On top of that, the driver arrived bearing a credit card machine asking if I wanted to give him a tip. When I reminded him that I had tipped online, he seemed a little confused but I did have my order proving that I had.
Thank goodness, the food was absolutely amazing. Yes, restaurant quality food right there in my home. The naan stayed soft until we ate them some 40 minutes later (we put them in a hot oven for a few minutes) and the food was so tasty – they certainly did not lay off the spice, which we wondered about, since there was no way of indicating heat preference which one can in a restaurant. This was enough food for 2 dinners each and one lunch for Neil so definitely a good deal.
Will I order again from Just Eat.ca? Yes, definitely. Will I phone the restaurant to make sure of my delivery time? Yes! The whole point, for me is that I would be ordering this from work to be delivered when I arrive home so an early delivery during the week is just not an option. I am hoping this might just be teething troubles with the system but I’m keen to give it another go. So go on, treat yourself this holiday season and have someone else cook for you! See which restaurants deliver to your area here.
Disclosure: I received a gift card to try out Just Eat.ca’s services. I was not otherwise compensated for writing this post. Writing about my experience was my own choice and all opinions are 100% my own.
Whew – I think that’s it. If you are buying for Toronto-area wine and food lovers, I think I have you covered. Good luck out there people – it’s getting crazy!!!
Congrats to Stacy who won my Maria Speck giveaway! I’ll be in touch soon to get your mailing address!