Food and lifestyle expert Cassandra Anderton of Good Life Vancouver rounds up top gifts for food and drink lovers
As the weather cools down, nesting mode kicks in, and more nights are spent at home sipping festive spirits, baking holiday goodies and cooking up a storm. To make holiday magic happen in the kitchen, gift one of these suggestions to each of the foodies on your holiday gift list.
1. For those who raise a glass
Gillespie's Fine SpiritsThere is nothing more festive than the newly released Christmas Baubles crafted locally in Squamish by Gillespie’s Fine Spirits and available at Legacy Liquor Store or online. These boozy baubles filled with craft spirits come in singles ($7.50) or a 12-pack. They are available in Sin Gin, Lemoncello, Raspberry Gin, Cranberry Gin and Pink Gin.
Blasted ChurchHow about a special bottle for those who’ve been very nice this year? The Okanagan's Blasted Church offers great labels of their "spiritual" sips, including the Big Bang Theory Red ($21.50)—with hints of cranberries and cherries—or the Hatfield's Fuse white ($16.75), which is perfect with seafood dishes. Spearhead Winery's Pinot Noir makes an impressive gift, as does a bottle of Sea Cider Rum Runner Cider ($19.65) from Vancouver Island. From further afar, the Morgon 2017 from Mathieu and Camille Lapierre is a certain Beaujolais smash ($44.99), and if you have a budget to blow, Dom Perignon Rose Limited Collection 2005 ($295) is sure to impress.
2. For those who love coffee and tea
StarbucksYou know you’ve got a few Starbucks addicts on your list, so a gift card tucked into one of their shiny new Double Wall Ceramic Sparkle Blend Tumblers or perhaps a Black Sequin Cold Cup would be sure to please. We've been enjoying the new holiday flavours from Nespresso, including the Exotic Macaron and Madeleine. The company's Vertuo machine is on sale over the holidays should you have someone that is really into coffee on your list... and has been extra good this year ($249).
Silk Road is a local option. Both their outpost on West 4th Avenue and their Victoria shop are full of wonderful teas, mugs, tea towels and plenty of wellness products. A great gift would be the Winter Spell, a bewitching blend of mulling spices, apple and black tea, delicious with equal parts heated apple juice or milk. Add a shot of brandy or rum for a real treat!
3. For those with a sweet tooth
Beaucoup BakeryIt wouldn’t be the holidays without extra sugar, so why not give something super sweet such as the Beaucoup Bakery limited edition cookie box in a special holiday tin ($60)? Beaucoup’s owner, Betty Hung, also has a new cookbook out, French Pastry 101, and it would make a great add-on. Chez Christophe has DIY Chocolate Bark Kits in candy cane spiced hazelnut, as well as his yearly seasonal chocolate sculptures.
Facebook/Terra BreadsTerra Breads is always a go-to for holiday cookies. This year, they’re baking up brown sugar wreath cookies topped with pistachio and raspberry crisps, gingerbread bear cookies, toasted cashew and cardamom spice shortbread and a double-baked croissant with cranberries, dark chocolate and more. Put together a package with a few of each and you’ll be invited back every time!
Facebook/Ganache PatisserieFor Bûche du Noël (or yule logs), we rely on Ganache Patisserie... and we always get asked to bring dessert once hosts figure this out. 2018's flavours include Coco Amande Chocolat and Caramel Café Pistache.
4. For those who cook
Shopping for something food-related during the holidays or anytime throughout the year? You must stop in at Gourmet Warehouse. Use Anna Olson’s newest cookbook, Set for the Holidays, to plan your holiday cooking. Chef Ann's Tequi-Lime and Grand Marnier sauces make great stocking stuffers and Vista D’Oro’s The Preservatory offers a rhubarb and vanilla preserve that has become a gifting favourite.
Singletree WineryTo kick holiday cheese and charcuterie plates up a notch, Singletree Winery's wine jellies are locally made, only $7.50 each and come in four flavours: Hot Siggity, Citrus Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe and Spicy Pinot Noir. Throw a few in a gift bag with some cheese from Little Qualicum Mountain Cheeseworks and charcuterie from Oyama Sausage and you’ve got another great gift.
Oro del DesiertoA good olive oil—or three—is a must in any food lover’s kitchen, and recently we’ve been finishing things off with the Spanish organic oil, Oro del Desierto available at Cook Culture, where you’ll also find local Vancouver Island Sea Salts, a staple in our kitchen. Another great spicy stocking stuffer would be Chef Jeffery Young’s Char-Blue Spice Rub, which comes in beef, pork and chicken.
5. For a little help in the kitchen
Our editor at BCLiving recently curated a Rose Gold Bundle, which makes an excellent gift for that person who has everything. It includes rose gold measuring spoons and cups, rose gold Moscow Mule mugs, rose gold Mint Julep cups and a rose gold pen too!
All-CladSmaller apartments mean smaller appliances and more multi-use kitchen equipment. The Staub Cast Iron Wok ($300)—which can sear, braise and steam—is compact and light, replacing several other pans, while the seven-cup Kitchenaid food processor ($139.99) fits right on the counter.
Bed Bath and BeyondGood saucepans are always welcome, and we recommend giving the non-stick All-Clad two-piece hard anodized fry pan set ($140), which features a flat bottom and flared sides that make flipping foods effortless.
BrevilleWe’re also adding the Breville Smoking Gun to our kitchen. Even if your special someone owns everything, I bet they don’t have this yet. This tool infuses a smoky flavour into dishes. Once again, head to Gourmet Warehouse or Cook Culture for these items.
6. For the (cook) bookworm
Oh Sweet DayThis year, we perused many a cookbook and were super impressed with all the local tomes. We’ve used Angie Quaale’s Eating Local in the Fraser Valley as a guide to the valley many times ($29.95). It includes 70 locally-inspired recipes, suggests day trips, and even features hand-drawn maps to ensure you get the insider scoop. The Food Gays released Cooking in Color ($29) and it is chock full of food styling and photography tips, plus so many colourful plant-forward recipes that you’ll be inspired to spend more time in the kitchen.
Abrams BooksVancouver Eats celebrates our city with 90 recipes from 45 of the city’s greatest chefs and restaurants, without getting overly complicated, and local Oh Sweet Day! has everything you need for holiday baking and beyond. From a bit further east, we’ve been loving Matty Matheson’s cookbook/storybook, simply called Matty Matheson: A Cookbook, as it’s full of his memories of growing up in a food-centric family, boasting recipes from both his youth and his time as an acclaimed chef.
PenguinYotam Ottonlenghi released Ottonlenghi Simple this year and is making it easier for us to cook with this book full of Middle Eastern-inspired recipes, most with 10 or fewer ingredients, and easily prepared in 30 minutes or less. Ina Garten just released Cook Like a Pro, where she delves into both simple and more complex cooking techniques that you’ll want to add to your repertoire. Nigella Lawson's At My Table would make a welcome addition to any book shelf, with its delicious recipes for Chicken Fricassee, Sticky Toffee Pudding and a generally uncomplicated flair.
For those wanting to get into technique and theory, Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat is an absolute gem of a reference guide, full of all of the "whys" and "hows". Modernist Cuisine's extremely weighty Modern Bread is for those with serious baking ambitions (About $700 for all five cookbooks in the series).
7. For a true foodie experience
In My KitchenFor those that really do have everything, an experiential gift is the way to go. In My Kitchen provides attendees with great new techniques. These classes are intimate cooking experiences where talented cooks invite you into their actual homes to share both recipes and culture. We’ve cooked with Melissa—who taught us Umbrian techniques, including handmade pasta—and Naomi, who shared the umami flavours of Japanese cuisine. If you think your recipient would prefer a night out on the town, perhaps a food tour would be more appropriate. Vancouver Food Tour offers craft beer and food tours through Gastown or Chinatown, and can even plan a custom tour just for you and your guests.