I recently had to buy a birthday gift for a close friend, who was one of those people who had everything they needed and really wanted nothing else. It was an almost impossible task to get him anything at all, so I turned to the one thing that always appealed to him – food! I went to my favourite small scale, local Italian grocery store and scouted the aisles for the perfect gift. I was looking for the one thing or things he would never buy for himself but would be thrilled to find in his fridge or pantry (although he doesn’t really have a ‘pantry’, just a couple of cans and jars in his cupboard) for when he wanted a delectable snack or the perfect addition to a regular sandwich or salad. Bingo – I had no trouble stocking up on some great stuff. For starters, a jumbo jar of gourmet artichokes, imported directly from Italy and grilled and marinated in a great quality oil. These are complete decadence compared to the sad regular vinegar-y ones we’re all used to.
Next, a signature blended mixture of sweet and hot peppers called the Italian Bomba. This spread is great with cheeses, on sandwiches and a fantastic addition to take any sauce or spread to another level – mayo, pan sauces, hummus, pasta, go crazy.
As well I chose a jar of grilled eggplant from a great line of pickled, spicy marinated vegetables and ended off with a jar of amazing sour cherry gourmet jam.
All of these are unique and fantastic choices, sure to jazz up any meal. You can use them alongside a main course, or to add some extra flavour and punch to salads, pastas, paninis, flatbreads, rice, etc. It’s worth it to spend a little more to have some great quality ingredients and have these items handy when you’re in a hurry to whip something up for guests, a snack or a quick dinner. Spend some time in your local Italian food joint and use some creativity to imagine what you could do with the vast array of specialty marinated vegetables, sauces and spreads. These are a mainstay in my cupboards and I guarantee they will become regular go to items when you are putting together a cheese plate, a quick lunch or dinner, appetizers, side dishes, salads, sandwiches or flatbreads. At the very least, they’re a great option when you’re in a jam to find a quick gift for that someone who has everything.