This is your indispensable companion to all that is fresh and delicious in Vancouver right now
Jingle, jingle, blurgh, right? I know. It’s dark, it’s rainy and I think we’re all pretty much over this. But, we've gotta keep going. Do I really need to say this? It’s better to spend the holidays alone rather than spending New Year in the ICU. I’ll be doing Christmas solo and guess what—it will be fine. You can do it too, especially if you decide to #TreatYoSelf with these tasty delights.
So grab napkins, surrender to stretchy pants and stuff your faces, folks, 'cause it’s messy as hell out there...
1. Hey Nikki: How can I help local restaurants right now?
Leila KwokIn so many ways! I asked a few restaurant managers what they need from us right now. The majority supported gift cards.
"It’s the perfect time of year to support your favourite local, independent restaurants.” Although, make sure you use those gift cards sooner rather than later. "They can become a liability in financial statements as they hang on the books indefinitely waiting to be fulfillled/realized."
Everyone agrees though, takeout (pictured: Café Medina's Medina After Dark), dine-in and delivery all help your local independent restaurant (“Pre-ordering takeout or holiday deliveries would be amazing too!”).
One thing that everyone needs to watch is being kind: “Respect safety standards and protocols, such as maximum six per table and no mingling. I’ve had reports of guests challenging and berating staff on these standards. Restaurant teams have it tough enough—they don’t need the extra pressure.”
In short: don’t be an asshole. Do be that cool person who buys provisions, gift cards and pre-orders holiday take out as gifts. Thank you.
2. Order Mr. Bannock at home
Mr. BannockOne of my favourite food trucks and all-round Indigenous food superstars, Mr. Bannock now has a provisions shop online where you can stock up on everything from bannock mix and smoke spice blends to chocolate bark for delivery. Or, you can order up fresh-made bannock treats, such as bannock tacos (pictured) or bannock eclairs, and decadent hot chocolates and espresso-based drinks made with Spirit Bear Coffee for pick-up at Bannock HQ in North Van. The provisions make perfect stocking stuffers, so get shopping!
3. Only buy locally crafted spirits
Facebook/Sheringham DistilleryHere are three stunners to take you through the next few weeks...
I’m a sucker for mini-packs of anything and I adore the look of Sheringham Distillery’s Aromatics Tri-Packs. The pack contains 100 mls of their award-winning Seaside Gin (my favourite martini gin of the moment), along with their new Lemon gin, and their London Dry. I’m guessing this will sell out, so make sure you snap this up now.
Odd Society’s Hives for Humanity Single Malt will be released on December 3rd and it sounds amazing. Each year they collaborate with Hives for Humanity to make barrel-aged honey, and three years ago, after they emptied the honey, they refilled the cask with single malt. The result is a luscious, honey-infused Christmas sipper.
I love Long Table Distillery’s Långbord Akvavit. Pop it in the freezer and have a shot with smoked salmon. Try it at the end of a big meal (it’s a great digestif), or really as a wonderful pairing with any Scandi-dramas you may be marathoning over the holidays.
4. Get Forage at home
ForageOne of the dining rooms that I would miss most in this world if anything should happen to it is Forage: it’s where I go to celebrate, commiserate, brunch with the gang, or just enjoy a heaped bowl of gnocchi at the bar by myself. I’m excited to see that they’ve launched a provisions page where you can order up favourites such as their Truffled Mushroom ‘soil’, traditional German Stollen and local IPA Mustard to be delivered to your door. On top of that, you can have the team whip up Christmas dinner for you if you pre-order now for pick-up of a four-course premium feast from December 18th to 25th. Love it or lose it, people, and I never, ever want to lose Forage.
5. Feel festive with Les Amis du Fromage
There are certain festive delicacies which we only get to enjoy once a year and the place to go to indulge in all of the very best of those is, of course, Les Amis du Fromage. Their unmissable tourtière goes on sale on Friday, November 27th. You want to get one of the large ones. Trust me.
Their peerless port-soaked stilton (whole wheels aged for six weeks, soaked with Taylor’s LBV port goes on sale on Wednesday, December 2nd.
And—best till last—the amazing Vacherin Mont-d’Or, from the dark forests and rich pastures of the Jura mountains in the canton of Vaud, France arrives around December 8th to 11th! I’ll let the Les Amis du Fromage crew explain why this is the Christmas treat to beat all treats: “Just as with great wines, to allow its flavour to fully emerge, it must be allowed to "breathe" at room temperature for a few hours before eating. When it is ready, it becomes slightly runny and to enjoy its smooth, creamy, texture it is best eaten with a spoon. Connoisseurs also appreciate it as a dessert, or as an evening meal, served heated with Helmer's potatoes or crusty bread.”
If you’ve never tried this amazing cheese, give it a whirl and start your new holiday tradition. If you have, well, you know how wonderful it is!
6. Dump the big delivery apps, use FromTo instead
PidginWhen COVID kicked off and restaurants had to madly pivot to a take-out/delivery model, what many folks didn’t realize is that the fees that third-party delivery apps charge leave many of the restaurants you’re trying to support desperately short-changed and often losing money on orders.
Enter FromTo, created by Pidgin owner Brandon Grossutti: “Ordering with FromTo is a long-term investment in your community. We support your local restaurant by not charging outrageous fees, we support our driver who might be your neighbour, and we support the customer by ensuring they get the service they need in a transparent, fair and reliable way, while keeping their dollars in the community they live in.”
The next time you want to order delivery, first check the FromTo website to see if your restaurant is there (if not, call 'em and ask why not?), but with a couple of dozen of the city’s finest including: Chambar, Buckstop, Ask for Luigi, Maenam and, of course, Pidgin on the roster, low-cost, sustainable deliveries—that won’t break already fragile restaurants—can happen.
7. Help Nuba help out the community
NubaAt a time when hospitality folks are experiencing tough times, t’s kind of amazing (but also not at all surprising) to see folks like Nuba help feed the hungry. Until December 31st, every time you order a meal kit, Nuba will donate two meals to the Wish Centre, a local charity that works to improve the health, safety and well-being of women involved in Vancouver's street-based sex trade. There are four different kits starting at $54 for the vegan kit with 12 portions including vegan stew, Mjadra, red lentil soup, falafels and sides, through to the 20-portion Mixed meal Kit ($145) bursting with chicken shawarma, lamb merguez meatballs, salad, soups, stew and more. Order at nuba.ca for pickup at all four Nuba locations in Gastown, Mount Pleasant, Yaletown and Kitsilano Sundays through Thursdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m.
8. Shop online for the West Coast Christmas Show & Artisan Market
I always used to love attending this super-fun holiday show packed with gifts, food, culinary presentations and more. There were always so many free samples. However, I’m pleased to say that sensibly, the team is taking the initiative to go online this year in a COVID-safe format with ‘The Shops of the West Coast Christmas Show.’ Sign up to get email news of their e-store launch. Support local vendors and safely shop for tasty treats!
9. Stuff your face with fancy chocolate and cake
Facebook/BETA5So, local legend BETA 5 is now offering a delivery service to the Lower Mainland, just in time for more lockdown restrictions and the desperate urge to eat your feelings and make the sad go away with sugar, butter and cream. You can’t ever go wrong with their cream puffs and this year they have a festive pack of three for just $20, including Santa’s Belly with gingerbread mousse, a Christmas Tree with peppermint Chantilly and the ever-awesome Lump of Coal with eggnog mousse. Check out the whole holiday collection here and get your orders in fast!
Over at my other favourite spot for treats, Thomas Haas, it is all about the cake. Yes, I know there are exciting chocolates and other treats, but this year Thomas’s superb bûche de Noël game is next level with eight different flavours. Is this a Pokemon ‘gotta taste 'em all’ situation? Quite possibly. Choose from all dark chocolate Blak #5, Champagne Truffle, Chestnut Mont Blanc, Dark Chocolate Orange, Hazelnut Praline, Milk Chocolate Tiramisu, Matcha Yuzu and Milk Chocolate Passionfruit. Order online for pick up on December 23rd and 24th.
10. Stop the presses!
A-ha! A last-minute contender for your takeout Christmas feast is Homer Street Café, offering three generous courses to feed two people including turkey, stuffing, all the trimmings and cookies! Dishes are pre-cooked so you just need to reheat and enjoy. Orders for pick-up may be made by contacting the restaurant directly (604-428-4299) or via Tock as of December 1, 2020. Holiday packages may be scheduled for pick-up anytime December 21st and 23rd.