But they know so much about Wine and Chocolates!
August 3, 2011 3:02 PM   Subscribe

In a few days I will be staying with friend's family in western France, at a house they own. I will be in the UK the next few days. Normally I would bring wine or chocolates as a thank you for the accommodation, but France does these much better and cheaper than the UK (I am told). I am Canadian. What could I bring that would still be a great gift, that I could find in London? It should be something like food or drink, and something of benefit to people on vacation. Price about $50. The friends I am visiting are French/Canadian and appreciate quality/luxury
posted by niccolo to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was going to say single malt scotch, but alcohol is very expensive in England, so that $50 won't get you very far.

England has some very nice cheeses. I don't know if they'd appreciate a massive hunk of stilton, but I'd sure appreciate the heck out of it.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 3:06 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

A large gift tin of amazing shortbread?
posted by cyndigo at 3:15 PM on August 3, 2011

A very fine sherry would be a thoughtful gift in your price range. A good single malt would be a nice UK present. If you can pick up a premium Canadian blend duty free on your way to the UK, that's a very good option.

I love cheese and am a huge fan of Stilton but bringing cheese to France is potentially coals to Newcastle.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:17 PM on August 3, 2011

Fortnum and Mason, in Piccadilly, stocks some really excellent traditional British fudge, which I think you'll find different enough from Canadian fudge to be of interest. (It's the texture that's particularly distinctive; at least, I haven't come across crumbly rather than squidgy fudge anywhere outside the UK.)

Wandering round there might provide all the inspiration you need, actually - it's pricey, so you wouldn't need very much inspiration to get up to your $50 budget, but I assume it's all high quality. They've got some traditional English chocolates, if you wanted to go for chocolates of a style that the French (probably) don't make at all; they've also got posh shortbread, English tea and so on.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:24 PM on August 3, 2011

...or go for something representative of Canada rather than the UK, and see if you can track down some maple syrup?
posted by kate4914 at 3:27 PM on August 3, 2011 [3 favorites]

Tea, coffee, biscuits. You can go with a single shop like Fortnum's, or try the independent tea merchants and coffee roasters dotted around town.
posted by holgate at 3:44 PM on August 3, 2011

French host/hostess gifts can be a little tricky. I would normally tell you flowers are safest.
posted by JPD at 3:45 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Scotch would be best but if not the new Gin distillery in London ( sipsmith ) has bottles for sale that hit your price range ( 20 -30 pounds ) .
Of course whether your hosts like Gin is then an issue.
posted by stuartmm at 3:45 PM on August 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's French and an online thing, but there isn't much that beats zChocolat for that quality/luxury/decadent feeling.
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 4:19 PM on August 3, 2011

I don't know - and this totally influenced from my french grandmother, but I was taught it isn't polite to bring something that could reasonably be expected to be consumed by gift giver with their host. Maybe that's uber-old fashioned, I dunno - something to keep in mind.
posted by JPD at 4:26 PM on August 3, 2011

I've seen Tim Horton's in London. If the family is Canadian they may appreciate a can of coffee and donuts.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:55 PM on August 3, 2011

One thing that Canada does very well is Ice Wine. It's not particularly common in France, so if they appreciate wine, they might like the novelty of it.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:12 PM on August 3, 2011

I've lived in France for 12 years and gifts that are to be consumed are the rule. FWIW, my French friends are aged 30-50. Wine that's local is always nice, so long as it's good (doesn't have to be excellent, just generally accepted as "good" by a healthy amount of people). Same for local cheese or chocolate, anything that shares a piece of your home shows thoughtfulness.

Really. Don't worry about its quality compared to French stuff. The French are much less snooty than they're often given credit for. The best-received hostess gifts I've given were ones with a personal touch.
posted by fraula at 1:48 AM on August 4, 2011

I think there are a few classics:

1. Colston Bassett Baby Stilton
2. Nyetimber english "champagne", or another kick ass english wine
3. Port / Scotch / London Gin
4. Jersey Royal potatoes
5. Tea

I would check out Neal's Yard Cheese first, and see if you feel inspired.
posted by roofus at 3:43 AM on August 4, 2011

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