Homesick ex-pats go damp-eyed over traditional goodies at the Celtic Treasure Chest (5639 Dunbar Street and 1535 Foster Street, White Rock). At press time, shelves groaned with Christmas pudding, biscuits, Turkish delight, chocolates, shortbread, and other delights, all from Marks & Spencer. Also here, sausages made from the shop’s own recipes. The Dubliner Irish has a smidgen of Guinness; the London Pub banger, British ale.
Stockpile these for when friends drop over. Uprising Breads Bakery (1697 Venables Street) makes its fruitcake with dried not candied fruit and whole-wheat or (small size only) rice flour ($9.95 and $14.95). Meanwhile, Mix the Bakery (4430 West 10th Avenue) brings addictive cranberry-citrus-and-candied-ginger bread ($4.95) and apricot-and-white-Belgian-chocolate bread from the oven ($5.45).
Guys stuck for ideas can catch a men’s shopping lunch at Hamilton Street Grill (1009 Hamilton Street) Monday (December 18), where a clutch of Yaletown stores will be toting in gift-worthy options. Thirty bucks includes three courses and gift-wrapping. Reserve with your credit card at 604-331-1511 or email@example.com .
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
If it’s Gastropod (1938 West 4th Avenue), quite a lot. This snappy newcomer’s name refers to a species of mostly single-shelled mollusks (class Gastropoda has 35,000 living species) that includes snails, abalone, whelks, and slugs. So far none are on Gastropod’s modern French menu. Tables are tight, ensuring excellent eavesdropping opportunities.
NOON ON THE HOOF
One place where it’s all too easy to lose sight of time is Morton’s The Steakhouse (750 West Cordova Street), home to colossal, exceptional, and expensive-but-worth-it steaks. (You can always share.) Until Christmas, lunch time is meat time Thursday and Friday (December 14 and 15, 21 and 22), arguably the best days to skive off from the office anyway.
Call Quince (1780 West 3rd Avenue) at 604-731-4645 this second and enroll your youngsters in the Holiday Baking Class for Kids on Sunday (December 17) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They’ll make Luscious Lemon Squares, Chocolate Hug Cookies, and more, and you’ll have a blessed few hours to wrap up Christmas. Cost is $75 and includes lunch.
AULD LANG SIGNS
Restaurants are already gearing up for the ultimate night of the year. Move fast to snag the $49 four-courser at Cru (1459 West Broadway, 604-677-4111). Bistro Pastis (2153 West 4th Avenue, 604-731-5020) caters to 6 p.m. early birds (three courses, $59) and 9 p.m. celebrants (five courses, $100).
No one’s more knowledgeable about our wineries than John Schreiner. His just-published Wines of Canada (Whitecap Books, $24.95) offers a historical perspective of our industry, concise winery portraits, a coast-to-coast winery tour, and more.