Give a local gourmet gift this holiday season. You’ll be supporting the very people who make these delicious things here in Winnipeg, while your loved ones will receive something they really relish—perhaps even relish itself!
While there’s no chance we could get all our favourite makers in this gift guide, we’ve tried to cover all the c's—cookbooks, ceramics, cheese, condiments—along with stocking stuffers, and a few big ticket items too.
Spread the love with gifts that really jam!
Flora and Farmer (686 Portage Ave. #100B) is owned and operated by chef Kim Bialkoski, who makes some amazing products that will make your spreads sing. Her jams and spreads make excellent stocking stuffers, and are often available in cute little three packs that are perfect for host gifts and for under the tree. We are obsessed with her fermented salsas, while her lineup of other ferments will actually be good for your loved one’s guts.
For more condiments, check out our series from March, aptly titled March with the Makers. In it, you’ll find incredible mustards (Smak Dab holla), hot sauces (1882, we down with you) and pastas (Made by Paste for life!). One producer mentioned in the these guides is Welchinski’s, who, along with incredible charcuterie, also makes “the Champaign of mustards” that come in these great little gift boxes which are perfect for under the tree.
Say Cheese (and charcuterie)!
One of the many great things about cheese is it’s really fun to shop for, particularly at the city’s cheese emporiums.
At Fromagerie Bothwell (136 Provencher Blvd.) the coolers are stocked with every variety that Bothwell makes (including the Monterey Jack with black truffles, and the maple-smoked extra old, both of which makes the best grilled cheese). The Cheesemongers Fromagerie (893 Corydon Ave), has introduced us to some of our favourite cheeses from Canada and around the world, all while providing a shopping experience that is a gift in itself (seriously, who doesn’t love talking about cheese, especially when the term “triple cream” comes up and you immediately want to melt that stuff right on a crusty baguette). Right now, the mongers are making gift boxes that pair various cheeses with local condiments, along with fun things like locally roasted coffee and charcuterie.
For more of all of the above (cheese, condiments, cured meats—Ie. the ultimate host gift), check out Sharecuterie. We’ve been big one this business by Cassandra Carreiro since we started using them for summer picnics, as the ordering system is easy (you can customize the boards) and the charcuterie (or edible bouquet) is delivered right to your door.
Magical markets (and some online ones too)
Does Villeneuve’s updated Dune still have you thinking about the spice? If so, head to one of the city’s worldly food markets for a wide range of spices and uncommon items from far-flung locales.
Dino’s Grocery Mart (84 Isabel St.) is one spot that immediately comes to mind (particularly after reading David Sanderson's great piece on this West End staple in the FreeP), as they carry literally anything you could be looking for – be it from India, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and all points in between. We tell you, this place is as peachy as Timothée Chalamet himself. Heck even Kyle MacLachlan would agree (that’s the extent of our Dune references, we promise).
Two more West End gems are Dong Thai (459 Notre Dame Ave.), which specializes in condiments and ingredients from all over Asia, and El Izalco (696 Sargent Ave.) for a great selection from Central America, including dried chilies, and hard-to-find sauces like our fav, Lizano from Costa Rica.
Christmas already came early for Italians in Winnipeg when the Azzuri won the Euros this summer, so now’s a great time to check out one of our acclaimed Italian Markets. (Particularly, as our city’s robust Portuguese population will tell you, the World Cup may be out of reach come March). Natale is made easy at spots like De Luca’s, La Grotta, Calabria Market and Mottola Grocery. These markets have it all, from a great selection of espresso and imported goods from the Old World (Rummo pasta makes a great stocking stuffer) to decadent desserts and so many options when it comes to gift packages.
La Grotta in general looks so festive at this time of year, with huge displays of those Panettone cakes that now come in all sorts of flavours (as our co-worker Graziella, whose family comes from Calabria states, “if you are coming to an Italian’s house this Christmas, you better be carrying one”). Deluca’s South Landing is also the spot in the city if you are looking for a big-ticket espresso machine and Mottola Grocery also has plenty of high-end brewing machines too along with the fanciest toasters you’ve ever seen.
For a hyper local focus, St Norbert Farmers’ Market always has you covered. It is now open on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., plus the online market features over 1,000 products from 70 vendors.
Our friends at GoodLocal also have plenty of culinary gifts available online, including curated boxes to make your shopping incredible easy.
And finally, we're huge fans of Black Market Provisions (550 Osborne St.)—and you will be too. It has a fantastic selection of condiments and local goods, along with gifts, cards, and fun items for your kitchen. While there, be sure to get yourself a ridiculously good salad to-go to award yourself for shopping (and perhaps a cookie too).
If you’re going to buy gourmet ingredients, a cookbook is an obvious pairing.
Want to learn to make colourful confections and show-stopping tiered cakes? Check out Jenna Rae Cakes and Sweet Treats. This book by Jenna Rae Cakes (sisters Ashley Kosowan and Jenna Hutchinson, whom have shops on Academy, at The Forks Market and in Island Lakes) features 100 of their most popular recipes, with chapters on cupcakes, macarons, cream puffs, cakes, cookie sandwiches, and so much more.
For something less sweet and much more holistic, check out the Buck Naked Kitchen by Kirsten Buck. Based on Buck's super-popular blog, this gorgeous book is brimming with recipes that are either gluten-free, vegan, and paleo friendly. Plus, Buck even has a honey dill recipe too, which is just about as Winnipeg as it gets.
If you want a quintessential regional cookbook, check out Out of Old Manitoba Kitchens by our friend Christine Hanlon. This historic, heavily researched cookbook presents more than 80 recipes from the area, covering Franco-Manitoba dishes, Icelandic dishes (byway of Gimli, MB), Métis meals, and plenty of Eastern European and Mennonite recipes too.
Even though some of the restaurants no longer exist, Winnipeg Cooks by Robin Summerfield (with photos by another local, Ian McCausland) is always a great option. This award-winning cookbook by the original author of this website features great recipes from notable local chefs who are still rocking like Kristel Pastorin (The Grove), Sean McKay (The Mitchell Block), Chocolatier Constance Popp, and Loïc Perrrot (Tall Grass Prairie), along with recipes from places that we wish still operated, like Sherbook Street Deli (chef Jon Hochman, who now owns Gunn's Bakery has a recipe for coffee cake, and schmaltz and gribenes), Chew (from chefs Kyle Lew and Kristen Chemerika-Lew), and of course, Segovia (from chef Adam Donnelly). McNally Robinson at Grant Park has copies (see link above), and we also have a few left at the office, one of which we'll give out to anyone who shares this guide on Facebook and tags us to see. (We'll draw a winner on Dec 17).
Now that you have the food stuffs sorted, you might want to give a gift that people can plate on.
Winnipeg is #blessed with many great ceramic makers these days, all of whom have been firing up those kilns non-stop. To browse a vast assortment, check out The Stoneware Gallery (778 Corydon Ave.). You can shop online here too or head to lot.ceramics (403, 290 McDermont Ave.) to see what Lynne has in store. In the south of the city, The Sounding Stone (104 Trottier Bay) has you covered, and in Kildonan Crock a Doodle (1605 Regent Ave. W.) invites you to come paint your own pottery – a great gift idea for little ones.
We just purchased some absolutely gorgeous “bark plates” from pepo.ceramics, who regularly brings her products into the city and whom also sells on etsy too. As you’ll see, Jenn’s lineup of plates, cups, garlic holders and oil jugs are an epicurean’s dream (and look so good on the Gram).
d. a. Niels Gourmet Kitchenware also has plates, along with every kitchen gadget imaginable and perhaps the city's best selection of knives. Here you'll find perfect items for beginner cooks (the Global carving knife/fork set is perfect), along with all manner of cooking for the experts on your list.
Beer and mech
Winnipeg's 20+ breweries and distilleries also make holiday shopping easy, as the majority of them have gift packs available that combine beer (or gin), merchandise and glassware. The one pictured at the top this article from Little Brown Jug retails for $100, and features a crew neck, flight glasses, a selection of this season's beers, and a really warm (and fashionable) toque.
GC’s in the house, jump, jump for joy*
Finally, can’t decide on anything physical? Get a gift card. All of the city’s best local restaurants sell them and it’s a great way to support them this holiday season.
*If you caught this “Whoomp! (There it is)!” reference we applaud you.