You’re on your way to the chalet in Blue Mountain and friends will be dropping in for a dinner party. What were you thinking by planning that on your arrival night? You hop into the LCBO for a couple of fine vintages, stop into Dags & Willow for some cheese (Riopelle of course is on the list) but there is no time left to cook. What to do?
The Occasions Food Hall is now open on Huron St. beside Sobeys in Collingwood. Every time it comes up in conversation, people ask what it is and, the answer is a place that you can pick up amazing gourmet foods to thaw or heat at home.
This food boutique is part of a larger company, based in Mississauga, called Better Food concepts. They produce and supply food products to hotels, private clubs, restaurants and casinos. The two couples who own the wholesale business moved to the Collingwood area and decided to open their first retail store.
The space is large, inviting and uncluttered so the food is easily showcased. Inside, you’ll find unique, “chef-inspired” products ranging from Italian pastas and sauces, fine mustards, truffle salts and oils to hand-crafted hors-d’oeuvres and appetizers. There is a line of speciality chocolates specifically ideal for wine tastings and a large selection of dessert items such as tartlets and other mini-desserts.
On our first visit, we couldn’t resist picking up some lemongrass chicken dumplings, steam buns, pasta, apple oatmeal flans and scalloped potato souffles among other things. While most items are packaged in bulk, it’s easy to take out what you need and return the rest to the freezer. Most items are ready to eat my simply thawing or by reheating in the oven 8-10 minutes and serve.
In the brief time they have been open, sales have surpassed their expectations and customers seem to be an equal split of full-time and part-time residents. They’ve already developed a following of repeat customers and word is quickly getting around about this new venture.
Occasions is only open Wednesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Fridays when they are open until 8 p.m. They are working on an enhanced website listing their offerings but for now, you’ll have to let your eyes feast on the goodies in store.