Look no further than Beechwood for holiday food bounty
by Jane Heintzman (This article appeared in the December 2021 edition of the New Edinburgh News)
Of all the months on the calendar, December is the most intensely food-focused of all: households are busily gearing up for family gatherings, parties (COVID-style) and other festivities to celebrate the holiday season. Adding intensity to the focus on food are the myriad cherished traditions which shape our holiday planning.
Food options abound in our neighbourhood: there are eight high-quality food suppliers within the 2.7 km stretch of Beechwood/Hemlock from St. Patrick Street to St. Laurent Boulevard. Their offerings range from cooking and baking essentials to prepared fresh and frozen meals, sweet and savoury baking, and fully-cooked Christmas dinners.
For 31 years, Epicuria has been a go-to gourmet food hub in our community, specializing in prepared take-out foods and catering. Current owner Tracey Black still feels the pandemic’s impact on her business, but has pulled out all the stops to stock the store with specialties for the holiday season.
Epicuria’s December menus feature four tasty choices each week, including traditional favourites such as turkey breast with all the trimmings. The freezers are fully stocked with prepared meals and side dishes, including savoury pies such as tourtière and chicken pot pie—perfect for informal meals. Order online for pick-up or delivery.
Epicuria’s pastry chef Kristie Fellows has gone all out for the holidays: her tempting creations range from mincemeat tarts to vanilla mocha Bûche de Noël, decorated gingerbread, shortbreads, fruit cake, plum pudding and more. ‘Tis the season to savour the bounty!
If a fuss-free Christmas dinner is on your wish-list, Epicuria offers a fulsome feast featuring sage butter-basted turkey breast and leg, artisanal stuffing, cranberry sauce with pan gravy, and seasonal side dishes. But supplies are limited, so advance orders are essential!
Orders can be placed online, by phone, or by visiting the store (the online shop will closed from Dec. 19-Jan. 4). Epicuria is located at 357 St. Laurent Blvd. Contact 613-745-7356 or epicuria.ca.
Bread & Roses Bakery’s long history dates back to 1988 when it set up shop in the heart of Beechwood Avenue. Current owner Chris Green took over in 2008, and made the move to larger premises on St. Laurent Boulevard following the 2011 Beechwood Fire.
Neighbourhood bakeries are traditionally the hub of all things sweet and reminiscent of childhood—never more so than at Christmas. Bread & Roses fills the bill with holiday treats such as yule logs, colourfully decorated cookies, Santa’s Whiskers, mincemeat pies, rum balls, and more.
Chris notes many of Bread & Roses’ regular menu items are also naturals for holiday gatherings or cozy afternoons by the fire. Choose from yummy tea loaves such as carrot apple and banana, or sinful squares like mocha brownies and Nanaimo bars.
Complementing the sweet offerings are the bakery’s specialty breads such as sourdough baguette, beautiful braided challah loaves and focaccia. And for impromptu, easy-prep suppers, try their tasty savoury pies such as tourtières, chicken curry pie or sweet potato veggie pie.
Chris’s simple message for the holidays: “I wish everyone kindness to each other, and health and happiness in the year ahead.” Bread & Roses Bakery is at 323 St. Laurent Blvd. Contact 613-745-2087 or breadandrosesbakery.ca.
Having an old-fashioned butcher shop in the heart of Beechwood Village is near the top of the list of what makes this community great. “Just like that, we blink and it’s been six amazing years and counting,” says Andrew Muckleston, reflecting on the swift passage of time since Muckleston and Brockwell launched at 127 Beechwood Ave.
The store is gearing up for a brisk business in Christmas turkeys in the weeks ahead. Andrew’s advice: “Definitely pre-order your turkey if you want one for the holidays; if you can pick it up ahead of the rush, we can vacuum seal it for you. Dec. 23rd is our last pick-up day, and usually the busiest.”
If turkey is not on your menu, Muckleston and Brockwell is well stocked with other options, notably fine cuts of beef, poultry (whole chickens and parts), and pork specialties such as double-smoked bacon for holiday breakfasts.
Andrew warns that pre-ordering is no hundred per cent guarantee of success: “We work with small farms, and sometimes things happen: sizing issues, delays and mix-ups out of our control. But we’d never leave a customer in the lurch,” he tells NEN. “We’ll go above and beyond to find a suitable replacement item, if not better. That being said, the more notice we have, the more time we have to work out any kinks we encounter!”
Muckleston and Brockwell is extending its hours of operation over the holidays to handle the rush: Dec. 20, 11:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Dec. 21, 11:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Dec. 22, 11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.; and Dec. 23, 10:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m.
However busy it may get, Andrew is characteristically optimistic: “In the end, everyone is fed and happy (and tired!!).” Find Muckleston and Brockwell Butchers at 127 Beechwood Ave. Contact 613-745-2244 or mucklestonandbrockwell.com.
The Jacobsons tradition as a hub for local foodies is now at 15 years and counting. Founder Susan Jacobson’s daughter Dominique now runs the show at 103 Beechwood Ave., maintaining its gourmet traditions—not least, an abundance of specialties for the upcoming holiday season.
Marketing manager Lauren Watson is enthusiastic about the specialty Christmas cheeses topping the list of holiday highlights. The combination of pandemic-related supply chain interruptions and the impact of Brexit on the free flow of British cheese, have led to some uncertainties about this year’s line-up. But fingers are crossed that the traditional favourite Vacherin Mont d’Or will be available for the holidays, along with popular picks such as Tania, Colston Bassett Stilton, and Brie de Meaux (a must for any cheeseboard, in Lauren’s view!)
Sweet lovers will find such goodies as traditional mincemeat pies, Nat’s Bakery rum balls, Christmas stollen, and much more. And no seasonal feast is complete without chocolates: Jacobsons’ selection ranges from Anna Stubbe chocolate bars (a Jacobsons exclusive) to boxed chocolates from Belgium, Italy and the United Kingdom.
For holiday entertaining, the store offers cheese, charcuterie and patisserie platters for local delivery or pick-up. And as always, Jacobsons’ freezers are fully stocked with frozen prepared meals and savoury pies from such fine suppliers as the Village Kitchen and Dream Come True Kitchen.
Jacobsons welcomes both online and phone orders, as well as in-person orders when you drop into the store. Jacobsons is located at 103 Beechwood Ave. Contact 613-746-6002; jacobsons.ca.
The Passmore/Phillips family owns and operates Nature’s Buzz, Beechwood Village’s long-running supplier of all things organic. As per its holiday tradition, the store has stocked up on fresh, organic turkey.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to radically downsized holiday gatherings, so whole turkeys (which dominate the dinner table and challenge the carver) are no longer in high demand. Instead, Nature’s Buzz has ordered boneless, skinless turkey breasts, as well as breasts and legs with skin-on and bone-in, from an organic supplier in Charlevoix, Que. Co-owner/operator Nancy Phillips notes that pre-orders of turkey are not essential, but you’re welcome to call the store to place an advance order (no deposit required).
Another holiday highlight at Nature’s Buzz is Harmony Organic Eggnog, an incomparably delicious seasonal offering from Harmony Organic Dairy in Kincardine, Ont. (Fun fact: Harmony owners, the Andres family, were the very first organic dairy farmers in Canada). Find Nature’s Buzz at 55 Beechwood Ave. Contact 613-842-0280; naturesbuzz.ca)
When COVID restrictions brought an abrupt end to the parties and large gatherings that were the raison d’être of Table 40, Ross Fraser and his team swiftly pivoted to set up Fraser Takeaway and Bottle Shop, an outlet for gourmet take-away meals and accompanying libations.
“Our goal was to provide our guests with the Fraser food they know and love in the comfort of their own homes,” explains general manager Thessaly Lloyd. The shop operates primarily online, but Thessaly adds, “we also love it when people pop in to browse the wine selection or pick up some frozen goodies!” Opening hours are Thursday through Saturday, 4:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m.
The store currently offers both prepared foods such as lasagna, quiche, moussaka and many soups, as well as weekly meal kits for two and easy-prep dinners which are simple to reheat and serve. The highlight in December is a takeaway Christmas dinner with ample fare for a gathering of four people. (Visit the online shop for orders and details on the weekly menu.) Thessaly’s favourite on the holiday menu is Duck Tourtière: “It’s a must try! It’s loaded with duck, pork, fragrant spices and orange, wrapped in a buttery crust—full of festive flavours!” Find Fraser Takeaway & Bottle Shop at 7 Springfield Rd. Contact 613-749-1444 or frasercafe.ca.
“We’re proud of this year’s extensive selection of delicious foods for guests and family gatherings over the holidays,” Metro Beechwood manager Shawn Steinburg tells NEN. He takes special pride in Metro’s many options for fuss-free entertaining, ranging from ready-made, pre-cut cheese and charcuterie platters, to artisanal pizzas, prepared savoury meals, fresh fruit and veggie platters.
If a roast is on your menu, Metro’s meat department has a range of choices from fresh or frozen turkey to high-quality cuts of beef, lamb, pork, ham and chicken. And not to be forgotten is Metro’s large and fully-stocked fresh produce department, supplying the greens, root vegetables and fresh fruit to complement your protein of choice.
Thoughts inevitably turn to sweet baked goods in the holiday season. “Our bakery has a vast selection of mouth-watering breads, buns, cookies, croissants and much more, baked right here in the store,” Shawn assures, “and don’t forget our fresh cakes, pies and all your favourite holiday desserts!”
“From-scratch” cooks can load up in Metro’s 11 aisles of grocery items, packed with all the essentials for holiday cooking and baking, along with seasonal “finishing touches” such as cranberry sauce, gravies, stuffing and eggnog.
Shawn’s final reminder: “Check out our Metro Entertainment Booklet in store or online, where you can pre-order ready-made platters when entertaining over the holiday season.” Metro Beechwood is at 50 Beechwood Ave. Contact 613-744-6676 or metro.ca.