With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to start seriously thinking about gifts for your loved ones, friends, work colleagues and “Secret Santa” names on your present buying list.
Instead of purchasing the usual trinkets and knick knacks why not consider buying locally-made handcrafted edibles? In doing so, not only will you be gifting a unique and delicious treat, but you will also be supporting local artisans.
With a collection of small, locally-based companies whipping up a range of delectables guaranteed to wow, here’s our guide on 8 great local foods that can make a great holiday gift this season.
The Lemon Square
Made with fresh lemons, B.C. butter, Graham Cracker crumbs and dusted with coconut, The Lemon Square is the perfect little treat to gift those who have a hankering for all things sweet. Handmade right here in Vancouver by Dan Spratling and Wally Mitchell, The Lemon Square is rich, dense and wonderfully zesty.
Individual squares cost $3.50 each, while one dozen squares are priced at $33 ($2.75 each) and Mini Share Packs at $11. You can place orders through the website. The last delivery date will be on December 17th ($30 minimum order). Spratling and Mitchell will also be hosting a “open house” at their kitchen, where people can enjoy a complementary Eggnog and purchase Lemon Squares. This will be the final opportunity to purchase before Christmas.
Find them: Online and at various locations (please check website)
Salted Caramel Pecan Popcorn from Batch Sweet Kitchen
You’ll find a fabulous and dangerously addictive gift in Vancouver-based Batch Sweet Kitchen’s Salted Caramel Pecan Popcorn. Created by Sara Karby in small batches, this utterly scrumptious treat is comprised of popcorn, unsalted butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, pecans, baking soda, kosher salt, and Maldon salt. The 135 gram bags have a shelf life of 16 weeks and are so delicious you’ll want to buy one (or a handful) for yourself too!
Find them: Online and various locations
Gourmet marshmallows from Marsh&Mallow
Who wouldn’t love to receive a bag of gourmet, squishy, melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows? Operating out of her own kitchen here in Vancouver, Marsh&Mallow’s founder Carly Bloch whips up an array of artisanal mallows in an enticing range of flavours, including classic vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel, and coconut. Bloch has even created a happy hour line with flavour combos like whiskey salted caramel, baileys and cream, and margarita (made with fresh lime juice, salt and of course tequila).
Light as a feather these plush morsels of chewy goodness are comprised of local and organic ingredients (when possible). They are all named after their flavours and there are no hidden unnatural additives. Bloch’s marshmallows come packaged six generous pieces to a bag. Each bag is heat sealed to lock in freshness. They start at $15 per pack for the regular marshmallows, the happy hour marshmallows are $18 per pack, and the retro marshmallows vary in price.
Find them: Online only
Decadent chocolates from Cakes by Anjan
A box of chocolate is a universally appreciated gift. However, this year instead of buying your typical store bought, big name varieties why not purchase a box or two from an independent, local supplier. Handcrafted in small batches from her own kitchen Anjan Kaur, who operates Cakes by Anjan, creates a variety of unique and exciting chocolates, in addition to exquisite custom-made cakes and cookies.
Although Anjan has a Monday to Friday office job, it is baking that is her real passion. As a certified pastry chef, Anjan’s weekends are dedicated to crafting an assortment of delicious treats. Offered in a variety of flavours like white chocolate with dried blueberries, zesty orange, strawberries and cream, and lemon lime, there’s sure to be flavour to satisfy even the most fussy of chocolate eaters.
Packaged in a box of eight, Anjan’s chocolates are priced at $12, and with no preservatives have a shelf life of three to four weeks. The chocolates are available for pick-up and delivery in the Richmond and downtown area.
Find them: Online only
Handmade jams and chutneys from Kits Kitchen
In addition to their homemade soup selections locally-based Kits Kitchen also produces a variety of fruit jams, chutneys, and seasonal spreads which are comprised of organic and locally-harvested ingredients. While gifting jams and chutneys may seem like an old-timey thing to do, these tasty spreads are certainly not outdated, especially when ordered from Kits Kitchen. Vibrant in colour these jarred condiments, free from any nasty additives, are best savoured on thick slices of crunchy sourdough or spread over meat before grilling.
Find them: Online and various locations (please check website)
Zimt Artisan Chocolates
More chocolate, however, this time these certified organic, dairy-free line of treats will be well-received by your vegan friends. Raw, vegan and simple, Zimt chocolate contains only a small fraction of coconut sugar, no preservatives and no filler ingredients.
Crafted right here in Vancouver, Zimt Artisan chocolates are the creation of Emma Smith, who began making these treats as healthy and delicious alternatives to chocolate already on the market. The process and ingredients used also differ to other chocolate makers, first of all the chocolate is fermented and not processed under high heat, which retains many of the antioxidants and nutrients found in the cacao bean; they use only a few ingredients; all ingredients are organic; and they source from sustainable farmers. Zimt chocolate is available as blocks, truffles, and macaroons.
Find them: At various locations (please check website)
Beans from East Van Roasters Coffee
For coffee-obsessed friends and family it couldn’t be easier to find them the perfect drinkable gift. Here in Vancouver we are blessed with a bounty of local coffee roasters. While you can take your pick as to which roaster you choose, you should not pass on the opportunity to grab a few bags of organic fair-trade beans from East Van Coffee Roasters.
Sourcing and roasting their beans, mainly from the Dominican Republic and Peru, East Van Coffee Roasters offers a handful of bagged bean varieties. Some blends produce a rich earthy cocoa flavour, while others showcase notes of tropical fruits and prune plum.
In buying a bag of East Van Roasters Coffee, not only will you be obtaining a great gift but you will also be helping PHS Community Services Society who operate the Gastown locale. In addition to selling a range of products, East Van Roasters has been designed to provide training and employment to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel.
Find them: East Van Coffee Roasters, 319 Carrall Street
Caramels from The Candid Confectioner
Just as pretty as they are edible, these delicious caramels crafted by The Candid Confectioner are great stocking stuffers. Focusing on crafting small-batch, handmade caramels, Stephanie Chan creates a whimsical variety of flavours like chai, passionfruit with black cardamom and ginger, bourbon and orange (Old Fashioned), baileys with espresso infused sea-salt, classic with sea-salt, raspberry, and lemon lavender. The caramels retail from $11 to 15 per 150g bag depending on the store they’re purchased from.
Find them: At various locations (check website)