Most Awesome Wine and Salad Pairings!

Every new year’s resolution needs a kick-start and if yours for next year is living healthier then this could be all the motivation you need as we pair up the best salads with some of the yummiest wines. Well with the perfect pairings you might not want to wait till next year to make every day a wine and salad occasion.

Green House Salad

When pairing salads and wines the biggest challenge is the dressing, most dressing used in salads are vinegar-based, which makes it high in acid. The main rule is to remember acid with acid so in pairing wine that is low in acidity would not provide the best option and in this case, Albarino wine is a great option since it is high-acid and will match vinaigrette-style salad dressings.

Nicoise Salad

Anchovies, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and lots of green beans are all part of this French salad best matched with a dry rose wine. The salad is made with a blend of greens while it also contains fatty tuna, therefore one of the dry rose wines to try are those produced by Languedoc.

Caesar Salad

A wine with a fuller body has the best chance of standing up to the creamy dressing of this amazing salad. What will empower the dressing is an oaky Chardonnay especially a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Australia or Washington.

Waldorf Salad

Lots of flavours blend to provide a salad to remember yet the flavour highlights include apples, grapes, a light mayonnaise dressing and walnuts that offers creamy goodness to any salad lover. The wine to pair with this wonderful salad burst of flavour is the aromatic grape Gewürztraminer with a profile of lychee, honeyed fruit and residual sugar and best to try is the Alsace.

Crunchy Noodle Salad

Key ingredients in the much preferred crunchy noodle salad are sesame, ginger and honey perfectly pairing with Riesling, these residual sugars complement all the tangy and sweet flavours in the salad. The best wine is that produced in Germany such as the Mosel.

Goat Cheese Salad

It is often said that what grows in harmony, belongs together and this is most certainly true in goat cheese salad. The crisp acidity and the zesty flavours are perfectly offered in Sauvignon Blanc and the best wines to shop for are the Pouilly-Fume and Sancerre from the Loire Valley.

Cobb Salad

Avocado, hard-boiled eggs, chicken and bacon are everything you imagine when you hear the word cobb salad and the best wines to pair this delicious salad with light roses and whites. It is the lighter wines you should try such as the Pinot Noir or Beaujolais from the Loire Valley.

The great news is that if you want to live a healthy salad life then you could also have your dessert and drink it! Sugars and acids all present in fruit-salads are masterfully paired with the taste of Moscato d’Asti which well matches the acids as well as the sugars.

2018 Wine Trends

As wine experts examine the trends in 2018 from around the world they include everything from Keg Wine to the best wine bars and, also, pays attention to the newfound appreciation for sherry, so should you long to expand your palette here are this year’s biggest wine trends.

English Wines

English Wines remains part of a growing trend, even more so with Brexit, the high quality of sparkling wines is also fully recognised in 2018. So, in this home-grown industry, the big thing is the single site still wines.


From the Mount Etna slopes comes an Italian wine that is seen by many as the fines in Europe. Consumers recognise the quality wine, even more, this year according to Rudd & Berry Bros., and it is indeed a year to enjoy high altitude, volcanic white wines as well as red from Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. A strong performance is also predicted for wines from Italy such as the fine wines enjoyed a 10% increase in sales compared to the previous year. There are also indications that traditions wines from the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions will be popular.

Keg Wine

One of the most exciting things is that 2018 is the year for the next wine dispensing trend, while previous trends included wine in a can and a bag in a box, this year it is all about Keg wine. Wine lovers prefer a wine serving mechanism that is easy to pour and taint free and the less wastage the happier the wine enthusiasts are.

Brighter, Lighter Reds

The move away full-bodied reds and over-extracted wines continue toward brighter and lighter wine styles, which includes Sangiovese and Langhe Nebbiolo from Italy, with the primary focus on red wine with fruit characters. An increase of 70% in sales comes from quality wines such as the Beaujolais Curs in France.

The Loire Red Wines

Some of the finest white wines in the world are produced by France’s Loire region, these include the Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre. The will be joined by the reds from the Loire, which have been patiently waiting for the spotlight for far too long and this year they are bound to be the tastiest favourites.


Sherry is part of every trend it is popular every year and it will be no different in 2018, what is bound to become the sherry of choice is the Palo Cortado and the Oloroso. Both carefully aged, Almacenistas oversees the maturation of sherry over many years before it can be sold to the Bodegas. The ageing of sherry is nothing short of a artistry at work and the older and rarer sherry becomes the more their sales increase and last year already saw a 68% increase year on year.

South Africa

South Africa’s new wave of younger winemakers continues to make waves in the industry as people from around the world continues to search for quality and value in wine. The wines to look out for are from Mullineux, Eben, Sadie, Craven and that is naming only a few of the exciting wines produced by South Africa.


I can’t say I had ever tried South African food until last night, which, as I quickly discovered, has been a deplorable loss on my part. I’ve been completely missing out.

Narayanni’s, a Whyte Avenue staple since 2010, serves up some of the finest curry I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. While the food is primarily Indian cuisine (as a result of immigration in the late 19th/early 20th centuries), it comes with a delightful South African twist: fewer dairy-based items, roti instead of naan bread, and a subtle European spin on items like the braised kale and cabbage. It’s the kind of cuisine that will leave you feeling content and full–warm and fuzzy–without weighing down your stomach with starches.

The restaurant itself is really hard to miss, once you know where you’re going. Just head one block south of Whyte at 101 Street and you’ll find yourself in front of a bright red door and panel, with a huge sign right above it. Inside, Narayanni’s is homey and comforting, with relaxed ambient lighting and the friendly murmur of other guests filling the spacious room. The buffet stands at the centre, with dishes lined in a circle around a barista used to make their signature hot chai drinks.

They have a neat selection of South African wines by the bottle, giving diners the authentic cuisine experience. We were recommended a bottle of the Excelsior Cabernet Sauvignon (2010) by daughter and Front of House manager Youmashni Naidoo; to our delight, it was amazing. Similar to a full bodied malbec but with less powerful tannins, this wine paired beautifully with the spicy curries on the menu. The only danger lies in the wine’s drinkability–we had polished off the bottle before we knew it.

The food–oh, the food–was delightful. It’s strange to enjoy a meal that’s both hearty and filling and yet not feel sluggish afterwards. The majority of Narayanni’s menu is dairy free, many items are gluten free, and vegan options are abundant (they even offer a vegan buffet on Tuesday nights). My favourites were the chicken curry (moderately spicy), the grilled masala chicken (tender and flavourful), and the braised kale and cabbage (surprisingly spicy).

While Narayanni’s has only opened for dinner in the past, Old Strathcona residents and employees can now rejoice in the fact that the restaurant will be open for lunch Tuesday to Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The lunch buffet features four gourmet South African Indian courses: home-cooked soup, salad, chicken curry (local, free-range, hormone/antibiotic-free), and three vegan entrées for only $12 a person. If I worked anywhere near Narayanni’s, I’d make this lunch buffet a weekly routine. For the quality of food you’re getting at that price, you’ve really got no excuse.

One of the things that makes Narayanni’s such a genuinely friendly restaurant is that it’s completely family owned and run. The Naidoo family, also the proprietors of Whyte’s Block 1912, are the brains behind Narayanni’s South African Indian cuisine. In one of my tweets during the visit, I likened the restaurant’s chicken curry to my own mother’s excellent curry–unsurprising, really, since the curry at Narayanni’s was cooked by the mother of the Naidoo family and co-founder of the restaurant, Selva Naidoo. We also finished off the meal with some cinnamon-infused rice pudding, prepared by Narayanni’s dessert master and father, Daya Naidoo, as well as cups of regular chai and pistachio chai.

Along with their new lunch buffet ($12), vegan nights on Tuesdays ($15), and lamb items in the buffet on Saturdays ($25), Narayanni’s is currently also holding a spring special on Wednesday nights, offering the dinner buffet at $15 a person, rather than $20. To be honest, even $20 a person for an all-you-can-eat buffet of this quality is extremely reasonably-priced. You’ll be hard pressed to find the same quality of food at a better price at any other Indian restaurant in the city. At $15 a person, it’s a bargain!

My experience at Narayanni’s was excellent and beyond expectations. The friendly, welcoming atmosphere, the unbelievable food, the clear passion each member of the family has for the business they’ve created–every aspect of this restaurant appealed to me. They’ve made it very easy for me to give a rave review because, quite simply, Narayanni’s is wonderful. And I cannot wait to go back.

10131 81 Avenue
Edmonton, AB
(780) 756-7112


Cured Wine Bar

A great charcuterie is a beautiful thing. And its recent popularity, Edmonton’s growing need for meat, cheese, and selected accompaniments, has stemmed additions to menus all across the city. Every aspiring restaurant, pub, and gastropub has a variation of charcuterie on offer—and the sad thing is that many of them are supremely disappointing.

I mean, sure, you can stick a few slices of salami and a chunk of cheddar on an oddly-shaped slab of wood and call it whatever you like, but a great charcuterie—a charcuterie you go 25km out of your way to enjoy—is a work of art.

Cured Wine Bar, a recent addition to south Edmonton’s Ellerslie and Summerside neighbourhood, clearly takes pride in their art. Similar to Ampersand 27 on Whyte Avenue, Cured offers a build-your-own charcuterie and cheese board, with a variety of cured and dried meats, seafood, paté, and imported and domestic cheeses to choose from. Partner that with a selection of shared plates, from simple olives and pickles to clams with double smoked bacon, squash salad, and phyllo-wrapped brie, and you’ve got a well-rounded menu to appeal to even the most pretentious self-proclaimed foodie.

The restaurant also offers an excellent wine list, including two bottles of red priced at $1000 for the big spenders and an enomatic wine system, which allows them to offer small (as tiny as 1oz) tasters of select fine red wines.

I’ve dined at Cured twice now and each time I have been wholly satisfied with their charcuterie. While Ampersand charges per item, Cured lets you choose five meats for a set price and an addition of cheese at $5 an ounce. The “small” board (1-2 people) is $32 and the “large” (approx. 3-4 people) is $46, although you can get all of the meats on one board for $125. Each board automatically comes with accompaniments such as crostinis, condiments, and dried fruit, so you don’t have to pay extra for mustard like you would at Ampersand (thankfully, since Cured’s mustard is unbelievable).

Between my two dining experiences at Cured, I’ve decided that my favourite meats were the spicy soppresata, smoked salmon, and smoked duck prosciutto. I’ve yet to try one of the patés, though, and am dying to give the rabbit and blueberry terrine a taste.

Cheese-wise, you can’t go wrong with favourites such as the smoked gouda, seven-year aged cheddar, and gorgonzola. The highlight of the cheese section, though, was the saganaki. We saw the server walk by with a sizzling, fiery pan of some kind of cheese and knew we had to try that for ourselves. It’s a beautiful addition to any charcuterie and I strongly recommend you give this cheesy Greek delicacy a try.

It should be noted, however, that Cured only takes walk-ins and the dining area is fairly small. We’ve never had any issues going before 6pm or going a bit later in the evening, but it fills up fairly quickly during peak hours, particularly on the weekend. It is a beautiful dining room, though, and the ambience is romantic, slightly bustling, and perfect for any number of occasions, from date night, to work meetings, to drinks with a close friend.

Cured Wine Bar
2307 Ellwood Drive
Edmonton, AB T6X 0A9
(780) 756-3722


2015 Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

This year was not my first time attending the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival, nor will it be my last. With more than 130 wineries, more than 180 breweries and distilleries, and 31 restaurants and food vendors in attendance, this year’s festival took indulgence to a whole new level.

Held again at the Shaw Conference Centre on November 6th and 7th, the festival brought together wines, beers, and spirits from across the globe, offering them alongside food samples from some of Edmonton’s most popular restaurants. The entire main hall was filled with booths doling out samples of anything from Chinese vodka to chips and salsa.

As per usual, the RMWFF operated on a tickets-per-sample basis. Unlike Winefest, which has an all-inclusive ticket price, the RMWFF allows guests to purchase sample tickets at fifty cents a piece so that they can control how much they spend. Drink samples ranged upwards from 3 tickets, with the most expensive sample belonging to the festival’s pièce de résistance: the Ledaig 42 Year Old Scotch–worth more than $7,000. A 1/2 oz sample of this treat went for 240 drink tickets. That’s $120 for half of a regular shot. For what it’s worth, some friends of mine were able to sample this scotch and I had to listen jealously while they told me it was the greatest thing they’ve ever tasted…and they don’t even like scotch on a normal day.

Going on the Saturday evening session of the RMWFF can be somewhat trying because it’s one of the busiest times of the festival, but we never felt like we waited too long for a sample. If a line-up at a booth was too long, there were plenty of others within a stone’s throw away to fill the gap. Here were some of my food and drink highlights from the show:

Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus – Sweet Sticky Ribs. Imagine rib ends rubbed and smoked, tossed in their signature sticky sauce, and infused with Original 16 Copper Ale. I mention these first because they were, in fact, phenomenal. “Impressed” doesn’t even BEGIN to describe how much I liked these.

Masi – Campofiorin (Italy). A favourite of mine. Ruby red colour, dry, and medium-to full-bodied.

Canadian Club – Chairman’s Select Maple. Smoky, full-bodied, and delightfully sweet, this is definitely one for sipping and not for mixing. For those who don’t generally drink whiskey, I feel like this would be a good segway into a whiskey education.

Three Amigos Authentic Mexican Restaurant – Tequila Lime Chicken Tacos. There are a number of great Mexican restaurants in Edmonton, so it’s saying something when a particular taco stands out above the rest. These had a surprising amount of heat, which I appreciated and thoroughly enjoyed.

Chayee Bourras – Reserva (Argentina). A lovely red wine. Tasting notes: a rich and full-bodied wine with dramatic aromas of black cherry, vanilla, spice and coffee.

Central Social Hall – Albacore Tuna Tataki and Won Tons. These are an ongoing favourite of mine, which I eat without the won tons (gluten intolerance, and all). Light, delicious, and beautiful when paired with both whites and reds. Yum.

Okanagan Premium Cider – Dry Pear. I’m a huge fan of Okanagan cider and pear ciders in general. This was refreshing without being too sweet. Much better than Palm Bay, in my opinion.

With delicious food and more drinks than you have time to sample, you can’t go wrong. Always a pleasure, Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Fest. Always a pleasure.

Giveaway: Tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival

It’s one of Edmonton’s biggest foodie events of the year–filled with tasty nibbles and more booze than you have time to taste–and, this year, it will be even bigger.

Here at Wine + Dine, we’re giving away two tickets to the Rocky Mountain Wine and Food Festival Saturday afternoon session (12-4pm) on Saturday, November 7th!

Simply enter by retweeting the following tweet BY MIDNIGHT ON OCTOBER 31, 2015:

You can learn more about the event, which vendors will be present, and what breweries and wineries to expect at

And that’s it! Best of luck! We’ll announce the winner on Monday, November 1st.

Please note that tickets include admission to the event; tasting coupons must be purchased separately.


Seafood. Steak. Wine. Few things give me greater pleasure, especially when I have access to all three at once. Which is why the Lobster Summer tasting event at The Keg was such a pleasant (and mouth-watering) experience.

On July 16th, I attended an event at South Edmonton Common that showcased The Keg’s Lobster Summer promotion, a 15-year annual tradition that features dishes made from Canadian hard-shell, full-meat lobsters shipped over from the North Atlantic. Owen Abrams, The Keg South Common’s General Manager, informed us that the restaurant brings in Atlantic lobsters every summer and humanely kills them as they’re used.

Alongside communications partner Kwittken, The Keg’s event brought together food bloggers and local foodies to taste this year’s selection of seafood dishes, including a number of new starter and casual plate options.

“We’ve added a few dishes to adjust to the rising prices of seafood,” said Owen. “We’ve added some lighter seafood fare, which is more casual and at a lower price point so that everyone can enjoy it.”

We started the evening with the Szechwan Lobster—golden fried lobster and shrimp with a mix of chilli peppers, red peppers, and asparagus, all tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Szechwan Lobster

For the gluten intolerant (a.k.a. me), the starter was a Shrimp Cocktail with chilled black tiger shrimp and a martini cocktail sauce made with olives and gin—two of my favourite things. The tiger shrimp were gigantic: a perfect starter for one person or to share. These dishes were paired with a glass of Knotted Vines Chardonnay, Viognier and Riesling from British Columbia—the medium sweetness and light aftertaste of this wine went really well with the Shrimp Cocktail.

Shrimp Cocktail

Two of the Lobster Summer menu’s new casual plates, the Crispy Lobster Tacos and the Lobster Roll, were brought out. I was unable to taste either, but the consensus at the table was that the Lobster Tacos were a nice light dish, while the Lobster Roll had generous helpings of lobster and shrimp to match the heaviness of the brioche roll.

Lobster Roll

Instead, I was given a plate of the Scallops and Bacon, another favourite of mine. The scallops were cooked perfectly and I enjoyed them with a glass of Veramonte “Ritual” Pinot Noir from Chile–a lighter red wine that paired perfectly with the delicate scallops.

Scallops and Bacon

We were all fairly full to bursting by this point, so being presented with a huge plate covered in a 6oz sirloin steak, half a lobster, and grilled mushrooms was almost laughable. I gave it my best effort but, despite the tender medium-rare steak and buttery sautéed mushrooms, I was only able to eat the half lobster.

Steak and Half Lobster (Image courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar)

To be fair, our meals were also accompanied by a 1lb lobster tail (we had one per two people at the table), so I’m sure you can understand why I was in a food coma by this point. Finish that dining experience off with a glass of J. Lohr Estates “Riverstone” Chardonnay from California and I’d say that Lobster Summer was a complete success.

In all honesty, I’ve always been much more a fan of crab than lobster, but this event and these dishes turned my opinion around completely. The half lobster was lovely, but the 1lb lobster tail was the centrepiece of the entire event. It was huge—as well it should be, at $40 per tail—and pieces dipped in the ramekin of butter would melt in your mouth. A superb example of lobster at its finest.

I was very impressed by The Keg’s Lobster Summer menu and also very appreciative of their diligence in accommodating my gluten intolerance. Owen spoke to me before and during the meal to ensure that everything was suitable—and it was. More than suitable, in fact.

I’ll definitely be returning to The Keg to enjoy items from the Lobster Summer menu before it ends on August 30th. If you’re having a special occasion dinner or simply want to treat yourself, I strongly recommend adding the 1lb lobster tail to your meal. You won’t regret it.

The Keg Steakhouse + Bar (South Edmonton Common)
1631 102 Street
Edmonton, AB T6N 1M3
(780) 485-6530

Cover photo courtesy of The Keg Steakhouse + Bar

Cookie Pairing at Baseline Wine

Wine and cheese: standard. Wine and steak: played out. Wine and cookies: wait…what?

It might sound like an unnatural pairing, but Baseline Wine recently bit the bullet and put the two treats together in a Cookie Pairing event. In partnership with Kathy Leskow from Confetti Sweets, the two Sherwood Park businesses combined their wares to offer a selection of delectable cookies paired with wines and liquors chosen to enhance flavours, bring out subtleties, and shock those who thought it couldn’t be done.

However, if you’re an avid wine drinker or someone who likes the challenge of a pairing, you’d know that anything is possible. Ryan Tycholas, manager of Baseline Wine, was our gracious host during the Cookie Pairing event on November 14th, which focused on a variety of six alcoholic drinks selected to pair with six of Kathy’s cookies.

We started the evening with a glass of prosecco to cleanse our palates then dove right into a Hochheimer Königin Victoriaberg Riesling and coconut cookie pairing. These two tastes, when put together, brought out another depth of flavour in both the cookie and the wine. As we would learn throughout the night, a perfectly paired couple has so much more to offer as a pair than as individual tastes. In any case, I loved this pairing and bought myself a bottle of the riesling after the event–which is fairly significant, since I don’t usually drink white wine.

We moved onto the next pairing: Smashberry White with Kathy’s sugar cookie. I’m not usually a fan of sugar cookies and I wasn’t a huge fan of the Smashberry on its own, but I well and truly liked these two together. The sweetness of the cookie amped up the sweetness of the wine, making them a great mix. The vanilla flavouring of the sugar cookie was an excellent counter to the acidity of the wine.

Course three included a glass of Earthquake Zinfandel and a delectable chocolate chunk cookie with Skor pieces. This was one of my favourite pairings of the evening–rich, heady flavours with a beautiful hint of caramel decorated each bite and sip. Delicious.
Next up was Molly Dooker’s The Boxer wine with Kathy’s peanut butter cookie–a good pairing, as all the others had been throughout the evening. I’m not much of a peanut butter cookie person, though, and shiraz is always touch-and-go for me, so this was probably the least memorable pairing for me. (Which isn’t to say that I still didn’t enjoy it!)

My ultimate favourite came near the end with the Taylor Fladgate Port and breakfast cookie pairing. The breakfast cookie had a nutty flavour that went brilliantly with the heavy sweetness of the port. Together, they were a beautiful pairing with hints of cinnamon throughout.

Finally, we paired a glass of RumChata with a ginger snap cookie and enjoyed the combination of milky sweetness with the gingery bite of the cookie. I thoroughly enjoyed this pairing and thought it was a brilliant end to a great tasting event–akin to a glass of milk and cookie before bed time.

And with that, we were all stuffed to the brim with excellent sweets and drink. Ryan and Kathy provided a unique experience that takes a daring spin on the traditional wine pairing event. That risk paid off with a number of perfect pairings and a room full of convinced tasters. I’m looking forward to seeing what Baseline Wine and Confetti Sweets will come up with next!

Baseline Wine
11 Athabascan Avenue, Unit 172
Sherwood Park, AB T8A 6H2
(780) 449-4448

Confetti Sweets
41 Broadway Blvd
Sherwood Park, AB T8H 2C1
(780) 570-5080


Serving up delicious espresso-based beverages with local chocolate fixings, charcuterie boards made with a variety of cheeses and cured meats, and liquor to delight everyone (wine, scotch, bourbon, port, cognac), Cavern is a revelation in everyday coffee shop gastronomy.

Cavern is a next generation coffee shop. Similar to (the dearly departed) Roast, the cafe offers not only amazing coffee, but a variety of beautiful food items and lots of liquor. Lovely, lovely liquor.

Found in the basement of Phillips Lofts on 104 street, Cavern is a small (i.e. four 4-top tables and a small bar) but beautifully well-kept cafe that specializes in one of my favourite things in the world: cheese. The restaurant sells retail cheese along with a light menu for brunch and lunch that features some excellent cheese board and charcuterie options.

Featured cheeses include anything from Spanish manchego, to the Cheesiry’s lavender pecorino, to British cheddar. Cheese-lovers will find much to rejoice in at this particular location – pair your favourite cheese with a hearty latte, a glass of malbec, or mini chorizo. Whatever you like.

It might sound like a regular cafe/diner/cheese shop to you, but there are several things that make Cavern really stand out above the rest.

First, they’ve built a partnership with JACEK Chocolate in Sherwood Park and have utilized this partnership to expand their menu offerings. Guests can order a hot chocolate made from JACEK chocolate, or a mocha – a latte that comes with a chocolate JACEK spoon for you to stir in. You can order a cheese and JACEK Chocolate pairing for nibbles. You can buy JACEK Chocolate bars at the till.

Secondly, I’m a fan of nice bathrooms in restaurants. It’s that small, unexpected touch that can really impress me about a place. Cavern’s individual bathrooms are a work of art in white marble and shiny brilliance. They’re just lovely.

As for food, I’m convinced. I ordered a Charcuterie for One, which included two cheeses or meats. I selected the prosciutto di parma and the brie de meaux, and paired them with the Don Rodolfo malbec. Beautiful.

The charcuterie came served on a lovely slate cheeseboard with a handful of almonds, figs, cranberries, apricots, and pears. On a separate slate board came half of a baguette and a delicious jam, both of which were spectacular when combined with the brie.

The prices are reasonable at Cavern, too – $16 for a Charcuterie for One, which is enough for a light lunch, and $8 per 6 oz glass of wine. You can get a fresh baguette sandwich for $11 and a UK-inspired brunch of baguette, cheddar, fruit, and accompaniments for the same price.

All in all, Cavern won’t break the bank, but it’ll definitely tantalize those taste buds.

#2, 10169 104 Street
Edmonton, AB T5J 1A5
(780) 455-1336


Best Christmas Gifts for YEG Food Lovers

That’s right…you can run, you can hide, but you can’t avoid the fact that Christmas is right around the corner. It’s hardly possible to ignore the fact that radio stations, media, and storefronts have made the complete 180 from Halloween-pushing to full-blown festive paraphernalia. Ugly Santas and cheesy decorations abound, Edmonton.

Speaking of cheese, I’ve got some in this article. If one of your loved ones is a foodie, then you’re in luck. Food lovers are the easiest people to buy for during the holiday season. Just buy them food.

Well…ok. Don’t buy them just any food. Stay away from the horrible Christmas gift staples, such as crackers from Costco, Toffifees, and god-awful chocolate liqueurs. You can give a great foodie gift without breaking the bank; it’s all in thinking outside of the $2 box.

On the other hand, in some cases, it’s obvious. You know someone who loves wine? (And maybe blogs about it? *ahem*) Buy them wine! You know someone who can’t live without coffee? Buy them coffee!

I’ve categorized this list according to the type of foodie you’re buying for. However, if you’re lucky and they’re just an all-around food lover, feel free to mix and match. And don’t worry – I’ve included gifts from a range of prices.

Happy shopping!

For the Cheese Eater

I love cheese. You love cheese. We all love cheese.

Monogrammed Cheeseboard from Indigo, $19.50
A cheese lover always needs a good cheeseboard. This monogrammed cheeseboard makes a stylish and personalized gift for those friends who love all things cheese. It comes with a monogrammed spreader and a festive green ribbon. If you’re really nice, you’ll give this gift with a nice slab of cheese, too.; also found in select stores.

A Gift Card to Cavern, denominations vary
One of 104 Street’s newest additions, Cavern is a retail cheese store and café/bar. Cheese lovers can relax with a custom-made cheese and charcuterie board paired with their favourite wine, beer, scotch, sherry or port. All cheese can also be bought to take home. It’s the perfect little hole-in-the-wall getaway for cheese lovers.; 10169 104 Street; (780) 455-1336

A subscription to the Cheese of the Month Club at Everything Cheese, $195 for 3 months (9 cheeses), $375 for 6 months (18 cheeses), $545 for 9 months (27 cheeses)
A new addition to the offerings at Everything Cheese, people can now sign up for 3-, 6-, or 9-month subscriptions to the Cheese of the Month Club. Each month, three selected cheeses will be delivered to your door. Subscribers will receive approximately 750g of cheese, attractively packages and delivered with serving suggestions, drink pairing recommendations, and tips. This gift is a pricier option, but definitely worth the money for cheese fanatics!; 14912 45 Avenue; (780) 757-8532

Jams, Jellies, and Chutneys from Fruits of Sherbrooke, $5 each
Fruits of Sherbrooke is a fruit rescue operation that saves fruits from throughout Edmonton, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park. All fruits are then made into preserves, such as jams, jellies, and chutneys. These are amazing when paired with cheese (I’m a huge fan) and will last for a long time. Flavours include: Spiced Rhubarb Jam, Chocolate Cherry Jelly, Apple Lime Cardamom Jelly, Hot Pepper Rhubarb Spread, Lemon Pepper and Gin Jelly, and Peach, Peppers, and Port Jelly. The Fruits of Sherbrooke booth can be found at the Downtown Farmer’s Market, which is now in City Hall for the winter. All products have at least 60% rescued fruit, with some that are made wholly from rescued local fruit.

For the Wino

Wine lovers like…wine. So buy them some!

A bottle of Domaine Bousquet Grande Reserve Malbec, 2010, <$25
Firstly, this is an excellent wine for those who like malbec – and who doesn’t like malbec? It’s made from organic grapes at an Estate located in Gualtallary, Tupungato, at an altitude of 1200 meters (4000 feet) above sea level, one of the highest points in Mendoza. One of the great things about most Argentinian wines is that the high altitudes reduce the chance of insects, mold, fungi, and grape disease. This means much less pesticides and, in some cases, none at all – yay! The wine is composed of 85% Malbec, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot, and 5% Syrah.
Several locations throughout the city – use to find.

Torre and Tagus Wine Rack from Call the Kettle Black, $39.95
I know so many wine lovers who don’t have a good wine rack (or have a hideous old contraption that they’ve inherited from past generations of wine drinkers). Most people don’t drink a bottle a day, so this wine rack—which holds four bottles—is perfect. It has a modern design made from MDF wood and will make a countertop look fabulous., 12523 102 Avenue; (780) 448-2861 or 444 Riverbend Square; (780) 434-1622

A Monthly Case Sampler of wine from deVine Wines and Spirits, costs vary (approx. $200)
If you really love the person you’re buying for, this is a great gift. deVine puts together 10 to 12 full-sized bottles of wines in their Monthly Case Sampler, allowing you to discover and taste a variety of brands that you might not normally consider. It’s great for the budding wine drinker and established wino alike. It’s also a great way to get that cellar started, if that’s what you’re into.; 10111 104 Street; (780) 421-9463

For the Chocaholic

The Black Tie Truffle Collection from JACEK Chocolate Couture, $43
There’s nothing more decadent than truffles, and JACEK’s Black Tie collection exemplifies everything anti-waistline. All chocolates are made with fresh ingredients, so the shelf life isn’t as long as you might like, but that just means you get to eat more chocolates! Flavours include combinations of mint ganache, chilli, vanilla bean, burnt caramel, cinnamon, white chocolate, and raspberry. Mmm.; 406 Kaska Road, Sherwood Park; (780) 464-5200

Choklat’s Truffle Martini, $59.95
A truffle martini – doesn’t that sound lovely? Choklat, a new addition to Edmonton’s chocolate scene, is an Alberta-based company that produces and creates chocolate confectionaries completely from scratch. This gift set comes with 12 truffles, one Brazilian dark chocolate bar, and one milk chocolate bar, all wrapped up nicely in a fancy martini glass.; 8111 104 Street; (587) 524-3117

For the Home Cook

For those who love to cook…we salute you!

Evoolution Gift Basket from evoolution, $109
Evoolution’s oils and balsamics are nothing to be sneezed at. If you know someone who shuns the thought of cooking with Pam, get them this chef-inspired gift basket. It comes with the From the Olive Grove cookbook, Fused/Infused Olive Oil, Dark Balsamic Vinegar, White Balsamic Vinegar, Cascina Marchesa Balsamic Extra Jam, and Cascina Marchesa Pesto. Perfect for those who like to cook with the best quality ingredients…because it all comes down to the oil.; 10130 104 Street; (587) 521-3445

La Cucina (Italian Kitchen) Gift Basket from the Italian Centre Shop, $60 (small), $80 (medium), $100 (large)
The Italian Centre has a range of gift baskets that utilize some of the shop’s greatest ingredients and products. The La Cucina basket provides you with everything you need to cook an authentic Italian meal. You can have the gift set arranged in a colander or basket. Ingredients vary and can include tomato or white pasta sauce, pesto, pasta, canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and parmesan cheese. What else will you need to cook that perfect Italian meal?; 5028 104A Street (with 2 other locations in Edmonton); (780) 989-4869; order 4-7 days in advance and pick up from this location.

For the Food Blogger

A blogger’s toolkit for reviewing restaurants.

Ruth Reichl’s Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life Of A Critic In Disguise, $13
A food blogger’s journey is never complete without reading Reichl’s memoir about her stint as restaurant critic for the New York Times. Amusing and mostly light-hearted, this book will make you rethink how you approach restaurants and how to write a captivating, entertaining review. It’ll probably make you hungry, too.

A Moleskine Passion Journal, $26
Food bloggers are almost always writers at heart. Why not encourage their writerly passions with a Moleskine Passion Journal? These journals are a great way to keep track of, well, whatever you want. Types of journals include: Restaurant Journal/Dining-Out Experiences, Wine Journal, Beer Journal, Chocolate Journal, Recipe Journal, and Dessert Journal. If your foodie friend also happens to be a cat lover, they have a Cat Journal for that, too.;;

A Gift Card to any of the following restaurants: Corso 32, Tavern 1903, Café Bicyclette, RGE RD, Japonais Bistro.
Yeah, this is pretty self-explanatory. Food bloggers that review restaurants need to actually eat at those restaurants, right?

For the Caffeinated

Give your caffeine-loving friends some of the best coffee in Edmonton!

Iconoclast’s Original Don Coffee, $13 per lb
The Glasshouse Bistro is one of Iconoclast’s clients and a cup of this coffee will seriously make your brunch complete. It’s excellent. The Original Don beans are a blend designed to be available year round and offer a “light and bright” profile. Iconoclast, an Edmonton-based company, prepares and roasts their beans entirely by hand. That dedication to gourmet coffee sure does taste good.; 11807B 105 Avenue

Transcend Coffee Subscription, $69 for 3 months
You can get cheese delivered. You can get wine delivered. And now you can get coffee delivered. Transcend offers a Coffee Subscription, delivering you a fresh “coffee of the month” on the second Wednesday of every month. Subscribers receive a new 3/4 lb bag of mystery coffee each month, along with documentation explaining where the coffee was grown, how it was processed, and how it should be brewed. You can sign up for a 3-, 6-, 12-, or 18-month subscription and the best part is that they offer free shipping within Canada.; 9869 62 Avenue or 8708 109 Street; 1-866-430-9198

I want to hear about your shopping experiences! Did you buy any of the above as a Christmas gift? Did you try some of the items for yourself? Leave a comment below!