With Christmas fast approaching, you will be on the lookout for the perfect present to treat the special foodie in your life – or simply a colleague, friend or family member who has everything. You can’t go wrong with food unless you eat the present before handing it over!
Every home chef needs good olive oil in the kitchen to whip up their special dishes with flair. You can sample olive oils and fine balsamic vinegars from the inviting Vancouver Olive Oil Company tasting room. From robust virgin oils to infused flavor oils (blood orange, Persian lime, Cilantro and Roasted Onion), this store has it all. If you want to go with an even fancier touch, truffle oil is the way to go. In the same “must-have” category, let’s add fleur de sel that you can get from Vancouver Island Salt Co.
Yes, they can be smelly and they cannot be left under the tree but they feed an army of hungry people (if the gift receiver is willing to share) and to certain foodies they are such a treat. If you are not a fine connoisseur, a good way to go is to let Les Amis du fromage select high quality cheeses and create a platter for you. Platters are labeled for your convenience and come with a garnish of fresh grapes and sweet dried fruits. You can throw in charcuterie and a good bottle of wine and voilà you can cross that person off your shopping list.
An easy one: pretty chocolate truffles in a nicely wrapped chocolate box. You can go with the usual box of Godiva chocolates or even better make your own batch to offer at Cocoa Nymph’s. Another option would be to offer chunks of good quality fair trade chocolate for the receiver of the gift to get creative and bake up a storm. That way, you will most likely be thanked later with a nice chocolate mousse or other chocolaty concoctions. Salted butter caramels or artisan Hazelnut spreads make sophisticated gifts. Along the same lines, macarons are trendy and make a beautiful and colorful gift for the host and easy to grab on your way to the party.
Granted, not everybody has a sweet tooth. For salty snack addicts, the place to drop by is Ayoub’s Dried Fruits and Nuts. This Alibaba’s cave is filled with flavorful nuts (their saffron and lime pistachios are exceptional), and dried fruits and vegetables. Have you ever tried dried okra? You should! It is also a good opportunity to broaden someone’s horizons and bring Persian barberries or mulberries to their palate. Nothing is more exciting to food lovers than discovering a new ingredient. Other cuisines also offer endless possibilities, such as Indian spices (Vij’s Garam Masala) and Japanese sakes (Artisan Sake Maker on Granville Island).
If the person on your list can’t stop raving about that restaurant he or she really really likes or is dying to try that new restaurant in town, why not grant a wish and offer a special night as a gift? On the down side, this option appears to be the lazy one, but on the plus side, it is sure to please and will be remembered for a long time. You may want to make it more extravagant by offering a customized food tour: cocktails in one place, appies at this other one and the main at a third one. Vancouver neighborhoods like Gastown, Kits, Yaletown and Mount Pleasant have a cluster of excellent pubs and restaurants within walking distance from each other. If you are looking for a gift that keeps on giving, why not get a membership to a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program so the receiver gets a basket full of fresh and seasonal produces directly from a farmer all summer long.
Of course, you can always toss a cookbook in there. If you don’t know which one to pick, visit BarbaJo’s Books to Cooks. Cooking classes are always a nice touch. UBC Farm, cooking schools and restaurants along with several community centres offer workshops to learn how to make your own creations from sushi to cheese.
Please, no fruit cake!!
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