Sweet Thea Stollen
Max says: At this time of year, I usually send out festive party invitations to all my closest feline friends. And once the RSVPs start rolling in, I begin an exhaustive search for a choice array of top-notch treats for all my whisker-twitching pals. Alongside the heaping bowls of gourmet kibble––turkey-cranberry varieties are always popular––I order sliced beef and juicy smoked salmon. But it’s the sweet items that most of my guests scamper over here for during the holidays.
And that’s where near-legendary local bakery Sweet Thea comes in. Their delicious, made-with-love Fruit Cakes and Plum Puddings are always a hit at my Yuletide soirees. Tabitha the tabby is particularly fond of the former (she’s crazy about raisins), while Oliver––a well-upholstered lap cat who is always purring––would happily eat his body weight in puddings if we let him. Naturally, we always have some festive Sweet Thea cookies to nibble on as well––they pair particularly well with a saucer or two of fine eggnog. My favourite variety? The tail-thumpingly good Chocolate Lebkuchen Cookies.
But the finale of every one of my celebrated Christmas parties is the unveiling of the traditional Stollen. Secretly invented by a bored German bakery cat in the medieval era who batted a ball of marzipan into a fruit loaf mix from the high shelf he was sitting on, this festive treat is a must for any holiday gathering.
There’s a great deal of ceremony involved in our Stollen feasting. First, we gather in a circle around the plate, each of us licking our lips and imagining sinking our teeth into the lightly-sugared crust. Then, in unison, we raise or heads and yowl thanks to Felix, the German cat who created this marzipan-stuffed masterpiece all those years ago.
Finally, one of us––a different cat is chosen every year for this special honour––steps forward and smells the Stollen intently. After a few tense moments, this lucky feline rolls over and sends out a great cry of pleasure, as if fifty pounds of fresh catnip had just fallen from the sky. The Sniffing of the Stollen is a centuries-old tradition for festive-minded felines. And it’s always followed by a confection-based free-for-all as we all dive in and devour the loaf.
I’ve tried many different Stollens over the years. But the only one that makes me howl with pleasure like this is the special loaf produced by Sweet Thea. Available in regular (450g) and large (800g) sizes, this raisin, citrus, rum and almond-sliver delight is a perfect holiday treat for everyone. And at its heart is a generous interior of soft, sweet marzipan.
But don’t take my word for it. Why not try a Sweet Thea Stollen for yourself this year? Believe me, you’ll soon be rolling over, exposing your belly and yowling with unbridled festive joy.
Price: Regular $15; large $25
Where to buy: You can order your Stollen from the Sweet Thea website. It can be sent to you (shipping extra) or you can pick it up at their stores on Main Street in Vancouver or Duncan Way in Langley.