You’ve Gotta Try This in December

This is your indispensable companion to all that is fresh and delicious in Vancouver right now

I had a narrow escape the other week when I fell down the stairs and shattered a toe instead of my neck. It’s made me feel awfully appreciative of the world, and I’ve been hoovering up my favourite things in a cloud of anti-inflammatory drugs, pain meds and gratitude: a really good slow-cooked chicken stock with plenty of star anise, cardamom and ginger made into a truly great chicken soup (just get a rotisserie chicken and do it at home! You got this). Baguettes warmed from the oven slathered in sea salt Normandy butter (grab some from Benton Brothers on Granville Island). Creamy coconut milk chai hot chocolate. A really cold glass of buttery, salty Palo Cortado sherry. Have a wonderful time over the holidays, try and drink gin-spiked eggnog from a moose mug, and indulge in every single one of your holiday favourites. Life is short! Go devour it.

1. Say hello to your new coffee friend

I’m always on the search for a new Irish cream-style liqueur for the holiday season (and beyond!) and my pick this year is Five Farms. Gold winner in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition last year, made from single batches of fresh cream from five family-owned farms in County Cork combined with premium Irish Whiskey, this is freaking delicious. The tasting notes say: “an inviting nose of butterscotch, caramel fondue and vanilla bean jumps from the glass. The lush palate coats the mouth with flavours of coffee with fresh cream, dulce de leche, coconut, maple, and Belgian waffles.” And I pretty much agree. What’s delightful about this is the welcome lack of chemical aftertaste and over-sugared mouthfeel that you sometimes get with other cream liqueurs. Oh! And this comes in an adorable old school flip-top milk bottle too, and it’s on sale at BC Liquor stores until December 30th!

2. Get festive AF at the Fairmont

I’ll let you into a secret: the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is one of my favourite places in the city. There’s a Holly Golightly quote from Breakfast at Tiffany’s that just about sums it up for me:
“The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?…Well, when I get it the only thing that does any good is to jump in a cab and go to Tiffany’s. Calms me down right away. The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”
The lobby of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is my Tiffany’s; I love its quiet elegance, so imagine my happiness that this year it’s home to a new pop-up holiday bar which will run till January 1, on Tuesday to Saturday evenings from 5 to 11, offering season sips and snacks, super cute decor and a life-sized advent calendar will unlock a “delightful daily surprise such as daily features and Champagne pours.” When I read the press release, I turned into a walking heart emoji… this is just fabulous!

3. Budget burger BOGO

Cheers to the Alibi Room for running a buy-one-get-one-free classic burger deal to the end of the year if you sign up here. It’s known as one of the very best burgers in town, and if you’ve never had it, grab a friend and go experience a slice of half-price heaven with 6 oz all-natural beef, lettuce, tomato, zucchini pickles and smoked onion mayo. My advice? Add the cheese for $2 more. Always add the cheese.

4. Holiday dinner sorted at Forage

Can’t cook, won’t cook? Leave it up to the pros and whizz over to beloved West End staple, Forage where they’re offering a three-course feast for dine in ($75 plus tax and tip) or takeout ($55 plus tax and tip) on Monday, December 25. The set menu features a baby kale and arugula salad; JD Farms specialty turkey with traditional trimmings and smoked boneless Fraser Valley pork rack as entrées; and a dessert course of sticky toffee pudding. That is cracking value, and you know ’cause it’s Forage, it’s gonna be tasty as hell. For larger groups of friends and family, the restaurant is also featuring a whole JD Farms specialty turkey with all the trimmings that serves nine adults for $395 plus tax and gratuity, with limited pick-up options also available that evening. Seatings and pick-up times for the Christmas Day Dinner service are available at 4 p.m., 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

5. Miracle on Main St.

Main Street Brewing is kicking off the holiday season with its fourth annual Miracle on Main Street Toy Drive to benefit the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (DEWC) on Friday, December 1 at the Mount Pleasant brewery (261 E 7th Ave.). The Toy Drive runs till Tuesday, December 12, and every guest who drops off unwrapped toys, games, sporting goods or gift cards (with a minimum value of $10) will receive a complimentary flight of four Main St. flagship beers—Naked Fox IPA, Main St. Pilsner, Secret Krush Lager and Kingpin Pale Ale—as well as entry into a series of a dozen prize draws taking place December 12th through 24th.

All winners will receive a six-pack of Main St. beer and a $50 gift card to local merchants in the Mount Pleasant area, like AJ’s Brooklyn Pizza Joint, Como Taperia and Smitty’s Oyster House on Main Street. Every entrant over the age of 19 will also be entered into a draw for the grand prize of Main St. beer for a year (one flat of Main St. beer per month beginning in January 2024) to be announced on Sunday, December 24. Go support them, this is an awesome cause. All donations made to the Miracle on Main Street Toy Drive will be delivered to the DEWC prior to its annual Children’s Christmas Party on December 16.

6. Au revoir, Jules

I hate to see a good restaurant leave, and after 16 years as a Gastown staple, Jules Bar à Vin is closing its doors with the final service on December 31st. Chef/owner Emmanuel Joinville said. “Jules has been a labour of love for me since day one and making the decision to bid farewell is a bittersweet one, but it’s time for me to pass the torch to a new generation of culinary talent,” says Joinville. “It is with deep gratitude and love that I embark on the next adventure and enjoy semi-retirement. I won’t say it’s the end, but ‘jusqu’a la prochaine fois’—until the next time.” There are still a few weeks to enjoy Jules’ delicious Parisian-inspired bistro fare, so go say merci for all the good times before it’s gone for good.

7. Don’t skip the Chez Christophe reindeer

Dear everyone. I want one of the Chez Christophe chocolate reindeers for Christmas because look at it! Made entirely of 35 percent caramelized white chocolate (my favourite thing) with a 42 percent milk chocolate base and 63 percent dark chocolate decor. Filled with dark chocolate and caramelized white chocolate corn puff dragée, it’s freaking adorable. Although, I just spotted that the chocolate Santa has a little chocolate croissant and rolling pin, so maybe I want that too—available in-store and online, hint, hint!

8. Say cheers to aromatic bubbles

I’ve banged on for years about how great Township 7’s sparkling wines are and guess what, they just won the coveted trophy for Best Canadian Sparkling Wine at the 2023 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in London, England. They won with their Seven Stars Rigel, which is made with 100 percent riesling. Bubbling over with toasty brioche-y notes, zippy lime zest and a truly can’t-stop-drinking-this addictively dry minerality, I adored this and can see that it would be a very happy friend to all your seafood dishes over the holidays, as well as an absolute cracking solo sipper with a bag of chips!