All things food and drink make solid gifts, especially the stuff that can be shared. Because isn’t that what the spirit of the season is about? With that in mind, here are some last minute ideas for the gourmands and sippers on your list…
MIDDLE EASTERN GOODNESS
Scoop up some authentic and elusive Middle Eastern kitchen staples like special spice blends (Falafel spice, Shish Tawouk, and Makanik) and delicacies like “Warak Enab” (stuffed grape leaves) and “Kibbeh” (Lebanese dumplings) at Jamjar on Granville Street. If you’re handling the holiday cooking this year, their selection of grab-and-go meals will provide some welcome respite from turkey exhaustion.
MAKE IT SUNTORY TIME
For some reason watching Lost In Translation has become a holiday season tradition in the Scout office, even though the movie has nothing to do with Christmas. Maybe there’s just something especially Santa-like about Bill Murray, or perhaps it’s the whisky — Japanese Suntory “Toki” Whisky, to be exact. Imagine curling up with a dram of the stuff after all the presents have been unwrapped and then taking a nap. Bill said it best: “For a relaxing time, make it Suntory time.” Currently $51.99 a bottle at BC Liquor Stores.
VEGAN CHOCOLATE ARTS
It’s a rare person who doesn’t love chocolate, especially those with the most dietary restrictions. If you’re shopping specifically for a vegan friend or relative, then save yourself the headache and potential mis-step by hitting up Chinatown’s Vegan Supply (250 Pender St.) or by popping by Chocolate Arts in Kits, which also has an assortment of vegan chocolates that will satisfy the entire scope of sweet teeth and look beautiful to boot! Hot chocolate, chocolate bars, boxes of truffles and other specialty chocolates are all made with 61% dark chocolate, and their brand new chocolate “milk” is made with a base of 71.1% dark chocolate and cashew milk, rounded out with a splash of coconut cream. Bonus: While you’re picking up treats for others, take a breather and treat yourself to a hot drink and pastry at their little cafe.
We want a copy of the latest book by local wine scribe John Schreiner, Icon:Flagship Wines from British Columbia’s Best Wineries. It details the backstories and qualities of some of British Columbia’s most iconic wines. Loaded with vertical tasting notes, insider anecdotes and gorgeous photography, it looks like a highly informative and palate-readying read. As such, we feel it would make a great gift for wine lovers, especially those with cellars full of the local stuff.
Few people will argue that beer is an essential pairing for family festivities. Luckily, this time of year there are several new, specially-timed holiday releases from local breweries and most of them are aged, dark and strong in flavour. This means not only can they hold up to heavier seasonal foods, but they’re also generally very boozy. For someone with the right sense of humour, Powell Brewery’s 24 month bourbon barrel-aged “Murder” porter is a very limited bottle-only release that, at 11.2%, will definitely get the job done. But if that’s too ominous, then fellow East Van brewery Luppolo has just released this beautiful handmade gift box containing a bottle of Evoluta bourbon barrel aged Dubble and two branded Teku glasses for sharing it ($70, available at the brewery).
Cheese & Tourtiere, Please!
Cheese basically guarantees smiles, and a visit to Les Amis du Fromage will set you up with a spread of the good stuff (including the pictured La Tur rounds from Italy, $21 each) and its perfect accompaniments, plus less expected delicious seasonal baked goods. Case in point: their cheese shortbread is a wonderful marriage of cheese and holiday cookie, available in three flavour combos: Pecan & Gruyere, Stilton & Walnut and Gouda & Caraway. Additionally, if you feel like flipping the bird at Turkey Dinner then try a Tourtiere (Quebec meat pie) instead. At the time of writing they have limited stock of their second batch of the specialty available in 5″ and 10″ sizes ($12.50 – $38 each). The tourtieres are made from a time-tested 50-year-old family recipe including meat that’s entirely hand cut, so we’re sure that these won’t be around for long!
Westcoast Meets Italy
The best Italian food is usually the simplest, where the quality and integrity of its ingredients shine through. Chinatown cafe and grocer, Pazzo Chow, knows this well; the amount of greatness that they are able to pack into their tiny space is remarkable! Their west coast holiday gift box is no different: it contains just the right selection of local specialty food items to create a phenomenal home cooked Italian-inspired dinner.
A book of roving recipes from the streets of Los Angeles? Yes please! The recipes in Guerrilla Tacos were compiled and written by chef Wesley Avila alongside dozens of mouthwatering photos by Dylan James Ho and Jeni Afuso. It’s an inspiring, colourful page turner that will be appreciated by the street food aficionado on your list. It’s quite a hot piece at the moment, so look for it at your neighbourhood bookstore.
South China Seas
The bustle of Granville Island may not be the most relaxing environment for hunting down last minute gifts, but if you’re strategic with your approach then it has a lot to offer by way of South China Seas. Hit their “Wall of Fire” and pick out some interesting hot sauce for the bravest, boldest palate on your list. Pro tip: Keep your stress levels low by taking alternative transportation to the Island by way of the seawall or Aquabus; get some fresh air hopping between artist studios, the Net Loft and the Market, and by taking a load off with a beer at Granville Island Brewing or a Happy Hour cocktail a short walk away at Grapes & Soda.
Have your soup & detox too!
The word “Cleanse” can have some very unsavoury connotations…but The Juicery Co. has a rad, seasonal and unintimidating alternative to the typical juice-only diet that sounds palatable because it includes one of our favourite winter foods: soup! To start, at three days it’s actually a manageable commitment that includes four juices plus two Kits Kitchen soups. Bonus: free delivery! This can be the perfect, thoughtful (and pre-NYE enabling) gift for the health-conscious person in your life. We also think it would be a pretty damn fine gift to ourselves. Especially since The Juicery Co. is doing a 20% promo to coincide with our potential post-Christmas hangover remorse, from December 26th to December 31st. Partake and stay in your PJs by using the online code ‘warmingdetox’.