The Hired Belly is an incurable lastminute shopper.
But it's deliberate, you understand, all part of fueling the season with uncharacteristic generosity.
Luckily for the culinary inclined there's no shortage of taste-filled options to get you off that last minute hook...
. Stollen moments
Every year Four Seasons legendary baker Gerhart Weitzel is temporarily coaxed out of retirement to recreate his incomparable Christmas stollen. One taste and you'll see why: It's sweet but not too so, seductively moist and so nice it's almost naughty. At $20 it's a steal. Available at Yew Restaurant (604-689-9333) until the end of December.
. Alternate Port
Sometime late one evening at Boneta 2.0, we suggested to Neil Ingram that maybe something other than Port would be wise. Boneta's ever eloquent owner (a classically trained actor) promptly reappeared with a bottle of Primitivo Manduria, Tradizione del Nonno-or "Grandfather's tradition"-assuring us that it would prove to be the perfect (slightly) lower in alcohol alternative to Port, as it's unfortified. It's incredibly over-the-top rich, raisin-y and smooth. Think blue cheese and walnuts. A perfect gift for the wine weenie in your life who thinks they've tasted everything. $29.99 at B.C. Liquor Stores.
. Porcine perfection
Bacon is the flavour of the year, including sweet and savoury bacon jam and chili bacon chocolate from Xoxolat. No surprise, then, that the hottest item flying off the shelves at Edible Canada at the Market is Sea to Sky Seasonings Bacon Salt ($9.99) with which you can adorn anything you choose-although nothing beats putting it on the rim of your Caesar. It also rocks on hot buttered popcorn. Be sure to check out the guest chef market dinners, which are already starting to sell out, as another super foodie gift. More info at ediblecanada.com.
. Tasteful tomes
We're convinced Barbara-Jo's Books to Cooks (604-688-6755) has the best assortment of cookbooks for gourmets real or imagined anywhere. This year's must-have for the serious cook is Jennifer McLagan's Odd Bits ($39.95). You may recall McLagan as the author of highly successful Fat. This book is equally timely, in that it celebrates using the entire animal, with a wealth of recipes spanning everything from ox tail to offal. Lazy supermarket cuts of tenderloin, New York and prime this or that have spoiled us. But the economy is re-shaping the way we look at cheaper cuts, too long ignored-and extremely tasty when properly prepared.
Stocking stuffers? James Nevison's updated and bargain-packed Had a Glass is the best $8.95 you'll spend on wine this year, while Len Deighton's French Cooking for Men ($21.95) is a delightfully tongue-in-cheek sexist and jam-packed primer from the prolific writer, (complete with easy to follow comic-style strips) for the aspiring man-chef in your life. Info at bookstocooks.com.
. Festive sips
Few people have as much fun with wine as David Scholefield, the former B.C. Liquor Stores senior buyer who now has his own B.C. label. Just re-tasted, BS (Bartier Scholefield) Gamay RosÃ© 2010 (made by Michael Bartier) is a festive drop guaranteed to light up any holiday party. Or, as Scholefield likes to say, it's "RosÃ© you can gargle with!" Private Wine Stores, $25. Merry Christmas!
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