PACIFIC PALATE – Don Genova

Prepare for Christmas with chocolate traditions

I used to think November was one of those strange months that was abnormally quiet in the world of food. The calm before the holiday storm, as it were.

The harvest is over. Apples have been sauced, pumpkins carved, flesh turned into pies or filling for ravioli. The quince from the old tree by my driveway painstakingly washed, chopped and simmered into thick paste or juiced and added to local cranberries and apples for Paradise Jelly. The vegetable garden has been ripped out, loaded with compost, about 60 garlic cloves planted for harvest the following July. Nothing to do except put my feet up in front of the woodstove with a cup of hot cider and watch old episodes of The Galloping Gourmet.

A relaxing November seems to be wishful thinking over the past few years. I feel this pressure to get on top of things in time for … Christmas. I said it. Christmas. Now, I’m not one of those people who get the Christmas decorations out right after the last trick-or-treater has knocked on the door. I’m a firm believer in waiting for at least the first week in December. But there are things to be done ahead of that. If you want a decently-aged fruit cake, you have to start at least a month before you plan to serve it. Even making a fruit cake usually spans several days, what with soaking fruit in liquor and so on.

Then there are the chocolate letters. I have a tradition of buying Dutch-made chocolate initials for everyone on my list. If you wait too long, you can’t find all the letters you need in the few stores that stock these treats.

Luckily, the European-style bakeries in Victoria have been keeping busy in November as well, not only bringing in the imported treats I love, but producing their own goodies for the holiday, including my favourite Italian holiday bread, panettone, the dried fruit-studded brioche-like bread with the big domed top. Start checking bakeries like Fol Epi, The Italian Bakery and Ottavio’s as we get closer to the holidays for homemade panettone goodness.

Don Genova is a Vancouver Island-based award-winning freelance journalist specializing in food and travel. Find him online at dongenova.com.

 

 

Just Posted

BEHIND BARS: Taking a trip down Mexico way

Cafe Mexico’s bar and general manager Jhol Spindler gives us a fresh take on mezcal and tequila

PERFECTLY POTABLE: Spanish blends make delightful pairing partners

Monday wine columnist Robert Moyes looks home and abroad for good vintages

Range of top-notch performers unveiled for 2019 Jazzfest lineup

Tickets go on sale this Friday for announced June shows at the Royal and McPherson theatres

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Marine magic at play in James Bay

Ogden Point and Fisherman’s Wharf are destinations for locals and visitors alike

Royal Theatre rate hikes on hold for now; user groups remain unhappy

Symphony, Pacific Opera, Dance Victoria call for public consultation on future use of Royal

BC Arts Council receives another funding boost in 2019 provincial budget

Greater Victoria arts organizations helped in latest round of operating assistance grants

Most Read