What makes a great food gift?
First, you need fresh products that grow exceptionally well in your area. Second, local expertise or savoir-faire and tradition. Third, a little twist that makes the end-product different from what’s done anywhere else. And finally, it has to be easy to pack in your luggage and be able to travel well. Following this concept, here are my choices for best food gifts from Montreal.
The best ideas of local food gifts
My favorite suggestion for a local food gift is Ice Cider! Following the example of Niagara’s Icewine, Quebec growers have now mastered the art of picking apples as late as January, when they are frozen and covered with snow, and make this very fine product called ice cider. Great as an aperitif or to replace a dessert wine, ice cider accompanies with panache and enhances the flavors of cheeses, chocolates, foie gras and desserts. Among the best, we really like Neige Première and Pinnacle Signature. It’s the perfect food gift to carry in your luggage and it makes a great gift or souvenir!
Maple syrup is our greatest pride, as far as agricultural products are concerned. This sweet syrup is unsurpassed for taste and refinement at the breakfast table! You can purchase nice gift bottles of maple syrup at Délices Érable & Cie. Stores, located in Old-Montreal and at Trudeau Airport, also at Jean-Talon or Atwater Farmer’s Markets and in most gift shops worthy of this name. Délices Érable & Cie. also makes maple leaf shaped chocolates, filled with maple syrup or maple sugar; the dark chocolate ones are my favorite! Another favorite is the Maple covered popcorn.
Macarons are delightful French pastries, fresh, fluffy and delicious. They make a great gift for any occasion and they are appetizing to the eyes with their multiple colors. Widely available in Montreal thanks to our French roots and large French community, we are lucky to have one of the best French pastry chefs, just two minutes walk from the hotel, at Maison Christian Faure. They can assemble and wrap a box of 6 or 12 macarons that you choose from a selection of more than 12 flavors in just a few seconds.
Smoked Meat, although best eaten freshly smoked on the premises, moist and hot, can also make a great food gift to bring back home. Chances are that one of your friends who has been to Montreal before, may have begged you to bring him back a brisket of Montreal style smoked meat; it’s that good! You can buy vacuum-sealed, ready-to-travel-across-the-border, briskets of smoked meat at Schwartz or at Lesters.
Bagels. Because we seriously think that Montreal bagels are better than New York’s! While the discussion on that subject has been going on for ages, you should definitely try them and bring some back for next Sunday’s brunch at your house! Two major bakers fight for the title of best in the city: Fairmount Bagels and St-Viateur Bagels. My heart goes to Fairmount, but really, they are both amazing!
The Province of Quebec has been producing great cheeses, some of them rivaling with the best French cheeses for the refinement of their taste and their quality. Oka, Pied de Vent and Migneron are at the top of my list of local cheeses but you have more than 300 different Quebec cheeses to choose from!
Enjoy your shopping and try to resist eating or drinking them yourselves before you actually do offer them as gifts!