Welcome to Follow Me Foodie’s Holiday Gift Guide!
Top 10 Edible Gift Ideas & “Must Haves” for the Local (BC) Foodie & Gourmet!
Being from Vancouver, BC I had to write a post for the locals with attention to BC products. We have plenty to be proud of and it was really hard to narrow down the list to a “top 10″… so I didn’t. I included some extras and this isn’t really a “top 10” either, but just 10 (or 14) things I really like and would like to receive in my stocking… or at my front door.
I tried to choose things that you might not have heard about already. That way there is a better chance you will impress the foodie you’re shopping for. I do have a few “givens” in there, but I like to call them classics that you can’t go wrong with. Also a few of the items are only available during the holiday season so you might want to stock up!
1. Beaucoup Bakery Christmas Gift Box – Beaucoup Bakery is one of the most anticipated restaurant/cafe openings this year let alone this season. News has been spreading fast about chef-owner Jackie Ellis’ pastries, desserts and baked goods. And for excellent reason too! I was sceptical with all the hype, but after trying them I can honestly say that her passion shines as much as her desserts.
This box was filled with 2 Marcona Almond Caramel Bars, 2 Valrhona Chocolate Brownies, 2 Salted Caramel Blondies (with walnuts), 4 Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies, and 4 Valrhona Chocolate Chip Cookies. If you’re shopping for a sweet tooth then this will do it… unless they are allergic to nuts, dairy, or gluten… then try something else from this gift guide.
My full post soon, but my highlights were the Marcona Almond Bar and the Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookie. Also, take note that she’s using Valrhona; that’s already a sign of high quality ingredients and it’s a philosophy she carries throughout.
Price: $52.50 for gift box shown above (does not include HST)
Where to buy: Beaucoup Bakery
2. Oyama Truffled Duck Pâté with Black Truffles – To be honest I haven’t even tried this one yet, but I am a fan of Oyama sausages, hams and pâtés. This is a Christmas favourite and it’s made with 100% duck and no pork and actual shavings of black truffles. They also have duck pâté with figs, goose pâté with truffles, rich duck prosciutto, and a Christmas ham made from an old family recipe ideal for Christmas Day. It might be kind of odd giving someone a slice of pâté for Christmas, but that’s why you get them a few.
Where to buy: Oyama Sausage
3. Untamed Smoked, Cask Aged Chanterelles – Hey mushroom lover! No, we’re past the high school stage. You won’t come across these mushrooms anywhere else. They’re hand harvested from Western Canada’s remote forests by Untamed Forest which is a company based in Vancouver Island. These mushrooms are fire-dried, smoked in alder wood and aged in red wine oak barrels. I’m surprised each mushroom doesn’t have its own name and cradle, but I’d be happy to adopt one… or some.
Where to buy: Untamed Feast
4. B.K.H. Singaporean Beef/Pork Jerky – The rumour has it that jerky is the new bacon… or some say it’s chicken skin, but regardless you should try this. If you’ve only experience the American styles of beef/pork jerky than try something different. Singapore is famous for their jerky and we’re lucky to have places in Vancouver making it just as good. Singaporean beef/pork jerky is sweet and savoury (spicy option available) and very moist. It’s not leathery and they actually slice the meat here without grinding it up. B.K.H. Jerky is a small family run business and they’ve been specializing in jerky for over 40 years. It’s made fresh every day from Canadian grown cows and pigs and it comes vacuum sealed. These addictive snacks are gluten free and MSG free too. Personally I enjoy the pork more, but one of each never hurt.
Price: $14.95 for ½ lb of pork/beef jerky
Where to buy: B.K.H. Jerky
5. Monkey Butter PB – Mmmm peanut butter. Taking peanut butter to another level with fun twists. These sisters are on a roll and after 1 year they’ve expanded their product line and are now selling online. Prepared in small batches and with all natural ingredients, they offer flavours like maple bacon, white chocolate pretzel and new flavours like coconut and gingerbread for the holidays. These make great stocking stuffers for all ages.
Price: 375g jar for $10.49
Where to buy: Monkey Butter PB
6. Bittered Sling Extracts – I mentioned Kale & Nori Bittered Sling Extracts in Follow Me Foodie to BC Ingredients & Products, and they deserve to be mentioned again. This Vancouver based catering company have brought extracts and bitters to a whole new level by offering artisan flavours like Plum & Root Beer, Grapefruit & Hops, and Crabapple Cardamom. The popularity of bitters have increased in the last couple years due to the interest in classic cocktails where bitters were an essential component to the drink. Bitters are often associated with cocktails, but you can use them in cooking and they work just like extracts. Use them in sauces, dressings, cures, baking or even to make ice cream.
Price: Varies depending on location.
Where to buy: Everywhere now! In BC, Alberta and Ontario – see locations here.
7. Do-It-Yourself Cheese Kit – 1: Cut a hole in a box 2: Put your CHEESE in the box. Geez… what were you thinking? Anyway I mentioned Do-It-Yourself Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Kits in my Top 10 Gift Ideas & “Must Haves” for Foodies & Gourmets, but I discovered this Canadian based company last week. They’re based in Calgary, but they have a rep in Vancouver who is selling the kits as well as offering private cheese making classes/parties.
Price: $25-45 (depending on the type of cheese kit)
Where to buy: Make Cheese Inc.
8. Marzipan Ginger Cookies by Chef Kev – These are wheat (gluten free) and dairy free cookies from Chef Kev who is a pastry chef in Vancouver. I discovered his products last year at the Granville Island Farmers Market – see here. These were my favourite cookies from him and they are incredibly soft, moist and tender cookies with a slight chew and a crisp meringue like exterior. They’re sweet, but not overly sweet and they’re quite gingery with home made soft and chewy candied ginger and a bit of ginger powder throughout.
Price: $6 for bag of 8-10 cookies
Where to buy: See his Market Dates
9. Cold Smoked Sablefish (Black Cod) – I fell in love with the smoked sablefish I tried at Russ & Daughters in New York and I’ve been trying to find something similar. Fresh Off the Boat specializes in seafood for the home, restaurants and catering. They are well known for their cold smoked sablefish which is alder smoked with no dyes or colouring. Sablefish is an “idiot proof” fish and it’s extremely moist, buttery, flaky and it melts in your mouth. If you’re tired of getting smoked salmon, then try this! It’s Ocean Wise too! It comes vacuum sealed and they deliver to your door if you’re in White Rock, South Surrey and South Langley areas. Please contact them for details on delivery for other locations/areas.
Where to buy: Fresh Off the Boat
10. Thomas Haas Christmas Stollen – Last year I wrote a post called Follow Me Foodie to the Stollen Smackdown where I ate 18 stollens to find “the best”. Well “the best” doesn’t exist, but my favourite ended up being Thomas Haas’ Stollen. I’ve even tried a couple this year to see if the T. Haas stollen could be beat, but nope, it still reigns supreme. However I did come across one that had vanilla bean seeds rolled into the marzipan and that was a delicious idea, but the stollen itself didn’t have the intense buttery flavour like the Thomas Haas’ Stollen does.
11. Maple Castella Pumpkin Bread – What’s the point of telling you about stuff you already know or have tried? That would be going grocery shopping for someone, not buying them a gift. It’s not that fun when you give a “foodie” a gift and they say “I’ve had this before”. Darn it. This on the other hand is something not many people have tried. Maple Castella is a Taiwanese bakery in Richmond, BC and I discovered their pumpkin bread when I first started blogging in 2009. I dedicated a post to it and I like it as much now as I did then. It’s a very soft, fluffy and sweeter type of egg and butter based bread with Japanese Kaboocha squash puree swirled throughout. These are made fresh every day and sell out super fast so call ahead to reserve a loaf. I’ve tried about 15 things at this bakery and this is my favourite. I freaking love it.
Price: $8 for a loaf
Where to buy: Maple Castella
12. Pumpkin Tarts from Savoury Chef – If you prefer the more traditional route for pumpkin desserts than these will do. These are delicate mini pumpkin tarts with a thin and tender vanilla tart shell, moist and creamy smooth pumpkin filling, chantilly cream, and candied walnuts on top. I was introduced to these at the Taste BC 2012 fundraiser and it won the Peoples Choice Award for ‘Best Food’ that evening. I know I voted for it and I still think about them from time to time. Pumpkin tarts aren’t only for Thanksgiving and these are offered from October to February. Savoury Chef is a Vancouver based catering company and these are ideal for office treats, events, or holiday dinner parties.
Price: $25/dozen – they only sell by the dozen and the delivery minimum is $50.
Where to buy: Savoury Chef – 1175 Union St., Vancouver BC (Must pre-order)
13. Northern Divine Caviar – This is another one I mentioned in Follow Me Foodie to BC Ingredients & Products! I have to mention it on this gift guide because I’m so proud of it. If there is someone you really want to spoil this Christmas than this is a great way to do it. It’s Canada’s first white sturgeon farm grown on BC’s Sunshine Coast and is considered one of the world’s best caviars. It’s a sustainable caviar that is Ocean Wise. The eggs are plump, and the texture is smooth, and slightly creamy and there is no fishy taste or “pop” which is usually due to added preservatives. This is truly the best caviar I’ve had to date… not that I have it everyday, but it’s one I won’t forget and can separate from others.
Price: 30g Tin – $88
Where to buy: Northern Divine
14. Minus 8 Vinegar (Ontario, Canada) – Okay so I’m cheating because this is outside of BC, but whatever. It’s worth a mention. It’s the Lamborghini of vinegars. It’s one of the most, if not the most, pretentious and luxury vinegars around used by world renowned chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Jean-Georges Restaurant in New York) and David Daniels (The Federalist in Boston). It’s named after the degree in which the grapes are picked in Ontario and less than 5000 bottles are made each year. It’s made like ice wine and has an intense flavour of sweet dark raisins. A few drops is all you need and it’s often used as a finishing vinegar.
Note: If you’re international, another great alternative that’s more affordable is the 10 year old Famiglia Dodi from Acetaia Dodi Artisan Balsamic Vinegars produced in Modena, Italy. I also like the Noble Tonic 05 which is a refined finishing vinegar from Mikuni Wild.