Grocery giant goes beyond traditional palate



laurie wilson for metro toronto


President’s Choice chef Chris Loizon gives a demonstration on decorating a cake.

With the largest holiday package released in its 24-year existence, grocery giant PC is going beyond the typical cranberry sauces, gingerbread houses and turkeys to add decidedly international flavours to the Canadian palate.

While the unveiling of the President’s Choice Insiders holiday collection includes many time-honoured favourites, many items were also plucked from all ends of the Earth. Pre-cooked foreign dishes aim to help people stray from the ordinary while saving time and money.

“Why be traditional?” asked Loblaws Brands executive vice-president Martin Jamieson. “Tastes are changing, people want to be excited and re-energized by food. We’re challenging Canadians to think differently.”

The three-piece Chinese dim sum collection is handmade and can stimulate the eyes as well as the taste buds. Its creation had the folks at President’s Choice scouring dim sum restaurants from China to Toronto where they shared ideas with chefs on the best possible recipes.

They settled on a seafood flower dumpling, wild shrimp har gao and pork shui mai, all pre-cooked so it will only take minutes for them to steam before being served.

Chinese, Indian and Thai combo meals make eating foreign easy and accessible for those who crave quality dishes but don’t want takeout. Eighteen different worldly combos aim for straight out of the microwave restaurant quality.

The semi-boneless leg of lamb was picked from Australia, where unique feeding techniques result in a milder flavour. Lambs are typically grass grazed, but Down Under they are fed a mixture of grains and alfalfa.

“Feed has a lot to do with your end product when it comes to lamb,” said resident lamb expert Alison Tulett.

The leg gland is also removed, taking out the strong aroma and gamey flavour. Every bone except the shank is removed, which brings cooking times down to about an hour and a half after thawing.

Dessert meant a trip to Argentina where they found the authentic Latin American dessert topping dulce de leche. The creamy, caramel-like drizzle can be added to almost anything for an added layer of sweetness. The cooking process only calls for simmering a can of sweetened condensed milk for a few hours. Safety can be a concern when sealed cans become pressurized — it’s probably better to let PC make it in a controlled environment.

The product list will be available in the President’s Choice Holiday Insiders Report, at available Loblaws stores, this Saturday along with the rest of the products.