Vancouver chef discovers local artisan talent

29 Sep
artisan caramel

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

While visiting friends one evening, a bag of candid confectioner caramels emerged. They had been newly discovered during our friend’s visit to Vancouver’s world famous Vij’s Restaurant. Since Saul Good is continually on a mission to curate the most delectable delights in BC, we were thrilled to experience these lovingly handmade, melt-in-your-mouth confections. 

 

24spice tray 9 in wide LOW

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

Like all of our favourite artisan products, it was love at first bite. The unique soft gooey goodness had a compelling story to share and we became determined to include these treats in our Vancouver gift baskets. As we pursued this new artisan, we discovered a delightful story.

 

The Story of the candid confectioner

 

One day, Stephanie Chan (image below) decided that she wanted to make something special to appreciate the boisterous women that worked in the Rangoli restaurant with her. They didn’t seem too impressed with ordinary candy…so Stephanie challenged herself to get creative and come up with something both surprising and delightful. This challenge gave birth to her signature chai caramels.

 

Stephanie Chan

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

When the women received these unique confections, they were pleasantly surprised and created quite a fuss. This sparked the curiosity of Vikram Vij, who is the owner of Rangoli and the world famous Vij’s Restaurant. When he tried the caramels, he was completely blown away. Since this discovery, Vikram and his wife Meeru have been encouraging Stephanie with insightful guidance gained from their experience as entrepreneurs. They have also been a source of inspiration, because they do a lot of good through business.

 

25-caramels in bowl 9 in wide LOW

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

 

“One of my goals is to be successful enough that I can be actively involved in the local community and use business as a platform for pursuing political and social/economic issues that I am passionate about”. explained Stephanie. “I love how Vikram and Meeru demonstrate their passion for sustainability. One of many examples is when Meeru hosted a delicious honey tasting at Shanik, (her restaurant in Seattle). She used this event as an instrument to create awareness about colony collapse.” said Stephanie

 

 

21-chopping board, orchid, red spice 9 in wide LOW

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

Since launching the candid confectioner, there has been tremendous momentum. This has led to long hours perfecting and wrapping each lovingly handmade caramel. Her success is most certainly well earned.

 

chocolate gifts

Martin Knowles Photography

 

In the kitchen, Stephanie uses whole ingredients that are seasonal, local and organic when possible. The types of caramels include Old-Fashioned: Bourbon & Orange, Bailey’s with Espresso-Infused Sea Salt and Meyer Lemon – Lavender. In our Christmas gift baskets, we are excited to be featuring Stephanie’s Chai caramels that are infused with excellent chai tea. We are also delighted to be featuring her raspberry caramels in our chocolate gift baskets. Stephanie goes the extra mile and actually juices local BC raspberries when they are in season. 

 

 

7-book, spice, yellow flower 9 in wide LOW

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

In order for Vancouver’s local artisans to thrive, we need to be collaborative and supportive. Vikram Vij offered his shop as way to incubate Stephanie’s creations. Saul Good Gifts are also a great way of supporting local artisans like Stephanie. We are proud to function as an incubator for local artisanal talent. Our support is provided with a steady flow of orders and constructive feedback. It is exciting watching our local BC artisans expand their capacity each year. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for the candid confectioner.  

 

23-wrap unwrap + spices 9 in wide LOW

Julie-Anne Cassidy Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Capturing BC summer in jars & bottles

19 Aug

Vista D'oro Farms

 

When we arrived at Vista D’oro Farms, the midday sun was in full affect. The vineyard and fruit trees were warmly illuminated and one of the farm dogs had taken refuge in the shade.

 

We strolled over to the Farmgate Shop and Tasting Room to meet with Lee and Patrick for a tour and tasting. These fine folks have been crafting preserves for our gift baskets in Vancouver over the past eight years. It has been exciting to see their business grow.

 

Local BC artisan, gift baskets vancouver

Lee (above) explained how their business evolved from produce to wine and preserves.

According to Lee, they produce everything on the farm and about 80% of what is grown on the farm ends up in a jar or bottle. For Vista D’oro Farms, preserving fruit has been proven to be a more sustainable business model than trying to sell fresh fruit at market value.

 

Lee and Patrick are self-described as ‘value added polyculturists’. This is a fancy way for saying that they take ingredients which they grow and turn them into artisan products. They have a vineyard, crops of heirloom tomatoes and over 400 fruit trees (including cherries, pears, plums, apples, asian apples, sour cherries, crab apples).

Local BC preserves, gift baskets vancouver

Vista D'oro Hand-cut heirloom tomato, gift baskets

 

The hand-cut heirloom tomato salsa is one of our favourites. This salsa is made from Vista D’oro Farms’s heirloom tomato plants are grown in pots in their horse riding ring.

 

More heat is generated when the sun bounces off the hard ground of the ring. This type of intensified heat enhances the taste of the tomatoes compared to those grown in a greenhouse. (You can find this salsa in our corporate gift baskets.)

Local BC farm, gift baskets vancouver

 

The original barn at Vista D’oro Farms was built over a century ago. They occasionally use this space for a local piano player and opera singer. Lee and Patrick are committed to caring for the heritage buildings and heritage trees that pre-exist their ownership of the land.

Local BC, gift baskets vancouver

In this family business, Lee makes the food products and Patrick takes care of the wine. They make many varietals using grapes that they grow. They also purchase local grapes from Cowichan Valley on Vancouver island and Keremeos in the BC interior.

 

Local BC, gift baskets vancouver 

We went ‘bin diving’ with Patrick (above) and tasted a variety of wines including: Petit Milot, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Foche, Ortega.

 

“Every vintage speaks for itself.” explained Patrick.

Local BC, gift baskets vancouver

The wine component of the Vista D’oro business began as Patrick’s hobby. It became a professional pursuit when he began to solidify his technical knowledge through academic study. Vista D’oro received their winery license in 2008. According to Lee and Patrick, the winery’s flagship is D’oro (below). It is  a fortified walnut wine made from a recipe that was brought to them by a good friend Jerome. It was the recipe of his great-grandfather and dates back to 1893. The D’oro is also an ingredient in their best selling preserves made with Green Walnuts grown on their farm.

Local BC wine, gift baskets vancouver

If you are looking for a fantastic day trip near Vancouver BC, be sure to check out Vista D’oro Farms. Spend some time in the Farm Shop and Tasting Room. Soak in the heritage surroundings as you sip D’oro in the shade. Foodies and wine lovers travel great distances for this experience. We are so fortunate to have such a wonderful place less than an hour from downtown Vancouver.

 

Vista D’oro Farms & Winery

Farmgate Shop & Tasting Room is located at

 

346 – 208th Street

Langley, BC, Canada

 

tel: 604-514-3539

 

info@vistadoro.com

 

Regular Hours – Wednesday thru Sunday 11am until 5pm

 

 

Take a Day Trip to a Heritage BC Farm

28 Jul

 

In BC, we are spoiled by beautifully diverse landscapes and nearly 20,000 farms. When we went exploring in Ladner BC, we ended up at the Westham Island Herb Farm. The experience was full of authentic hospitality. The boisterous farmers greeted us as they stood in the shade shucking garlic.

garlic

Sharron Ellis has proudly maintained her lineage and heritage by continuing the farming practices that her family began in the early 1900’s. There have been five generations of farmers in the Ellis famly. This history is visible throughout the farm’s various antique farming artifacts and the delicious food.

 

 

This adorable farm is a great example of local, family-run goodness. In the “General Store” (above), there is an abundance of fresh local produce, handmade aprons, and honey!

honey

The experience of visiting this farm is like stepping back in time. It is a delightful family day-trip that is worth the drive (less than one hour from Vancouver). If you don’t make it out this summer, the Westham Island Farm also has an excellent pumpkin patch in the Fall. The harvest-time festivities are a fantastic family adventure. Visiting local farmers is a fun way to support our local economy and a great way to connect to BC’s cultural heritage.

The Westham Island Herb Farm is open to the public 9:00 am to 5:00 pm daily (from May 1 – October 31). It is located at 4690 Kirkland Road in Ladner BC. For more information, you can phone: (604) 946-4393 or e-mail: farmer@westhamislandherb.ca 

Artisanal entrepreneurship – a delicious plot twist

08 Jul

Trugs bc artisan

It was an unexpected plot twist when Catherine Anderson became an artisanal entrepreneur. It came about during motherhood, when she decided to shift gears. As a hard working lawyer and mother, the fast paced rhythm of entrepreneurship was something that she was ready for. The decision to transition into her new role was partially motivated by a desire to build something. She loves how every task she completes in her work day helps build the future of her business.

 

Catherine’s exciting new professional chapter began when she discovered that her children were not avid fans of vegetables. She decided to get creative and hide vegetables in foods that her kids couldn’t resist. This solution became a big success and Catherine gave life to Hidden Garden. These moist and delicious gluten free cookies contain servings of veggies. Kids and adults far and wide have become die hard fans of these innovative morsels.

 

Chocolate_Chip_-_High_Res_-_cropped_largeCropped_Ginger_Snaps_Front_largeCropped_Red_Velvet_Front_large

 

Shifting from law to entrepreneurship requires a high tolerance for risk and uncertainty. It was a brave leap and Catherine has embraced this new chapter with focus and dedication. In addition to Hidden Garden, Catherine adopted an adorable line of artisan products called Trugs.

 

You may have tasted their delicious salsa that we feature in our Vancouver gift baskets or you may have met the folks of Trugs at the Whistler Farmer’s Market. Catherine has also been nominated for an award from the BC Food Processors Association and featured in Business in Vancouver.

 

We fell in love with Trugs salsa, because it is fresh and full of delicious tomato chunks. The ingredients are pure and simple (tomatoes, onions, vinegar and spices). It does not contain tomato paste or additives that you find in most commercial salsas.

 

Trugs bc artisan

The Trugs line of handmade products also include preserves, salad dressings, condiments and syrups. The salad dressing is a great addition to a dinner party. These vinaigrettes have a look and quality that is reminiscent of a high end bottle of wine. You can also use the salad dressings as an incredible marinade. We recommend marinating fresh BC seafood in the Limoncello Herb Vinaigrette.

 

We hope that this artisanal chapter will continue for many generations. It is local entrepreneurs like Catherine that inspire innovation in our local economy and keep BC fresh and delicious.

Investing in Appreciation

17 Jun

Appreciation in business and corporate gifts

Appreciation is an art that creates tangible value for your business. It is an investment that strengthens team performance and continually enhances your professional relationships. Meaningful gratitude can be as simple as an announcement at a meeting or a thoughtfully written card. Numerous studies have confirmed the business value of “thank-you”. One recent study of over 1,700 employees by the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that over half of all employees intended to search for new jobs because they felt under-appreciated. In the book “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace,” co-author Paul White cites that 88% of employees leave their company, not for money, but for feeling unvalued. Here’s a few tips for how to appreciate your staff, teammates and key accounts:

3 Tips for Meaningful Appreciation & Corporate Gifts:

1) Make it Specific & Personal

An extraordinary corporate gift is more than an obligatory gesture. It is an opportunity to nurture meaningful and memorable connections. Make the gift experience all about the recipient and get specific about why you are recognizing them. This will always make your gesture more memorable. If you are appreciating your hard working team, it is great to focus on what they specifically did and how this created value for you.

Example:

Joe – Thank you for the excellent design work that you did on our latest project. Your creativity and attention to detail helped me build rapport with our clients.

2) Be Public When Appreciating Your Team

Appreciation is best done publicly and criticism is best done privately. A lot can shift when you set time aside and make appreciation a priority for your business. It encourages this behaviour, so that your team is more likely to echo gratitude amongst themselves. It can help dissolve office politics and prevent turnover of employees.

Some companies will appreciate a hard-working employee by giving them a corporate gift basket that they can share with their family. This type of gift can strengthen morale, because you are acknowledging an employee’s family as an extension of your team.

3) Always Include a Memorable Greeting Card

Personalize the message by using the recipients name and by using “I” statements. This creates a sense of direct personal connection. You can further personalize your message by referencing a shared experience or a specific attribute of the recipient.

Example:

Corporate Gifts Vancouver

Where the streets are paved with kale

26 May

Sole Food and Saul Good Gift Co.

You may have encountered Sole Food Farms in Vancouver’s Downtown core or enjoyed their produce in meals at your favourite local restaurant. This innovative social enterprise demonstrates how we can address social, environmental and economic issues through thriving local business. Sole Food has been growing since we first met Seann Dory in 2009 on a rooftop in Stathcona. He was dreaming about transforming empty parking lots into vibrant urban farms. It has been inspiring to see how reality has exceeded his dreams. 

Sole Food is taking their social enterprise to the next level and has the goal of opening a pay-what-you can organic produce stand at Main & Terminal along with a full retail location at Vancouver’s Granville Island Market. These permanent produce stands will support farm expansion by creating full time year round employment opportunities for Sole Food farmers while addressing food security and nutrition issues in the inner city. Help Sole Food grow!

Seann Dory - Living the dream

Seann Dory – Living the dream

We started Saul Good Gift Co. because we saw business as an opportunity to address social and environmental issues in our community. By sourcing the best local artisan products, our gifts are meaningful. We appreciate that the folks at Sole Food grow artisan quality produce and we have designed Vancouver corporate gift programs to include Sole Food CSA shares.

1% for the planet

We are proud to support Sole Food through our 1% For the Planet commitment, and love to see how they’ve progressed over just a few years in business. Sole Food is so much more than organic urban farms. In 2013, the Sole Food social enterprise grew 20 tons of food, sold to over 37 awesome restaurants, removed 2,300kg of CO2 from the atmosphere by planting 400 fruit trees, and employed 20 people from the Downtown Eastside. In addition to providing meaningful and accessible employment opportunities, they are also making healthy organic food more accessible to our downtown residents. 

Mother’s Day gift ideas – Vancouver top picks

29 Apr

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

As an adult, it can be hard to think of Mother’s Day gift ideas that capture the adorable heartfelt quality of handmade childhood creations.

mother's day gift ideas vancouver

While many of us adore handmade crafts and long for heartfelt gift experiences, it can be difficult to find the time, energy and resources to make things ourselves. Fortunately, Vancouver has an incredible supply of local artisans.

 Mom’s don’t need more stuff 

This year, let’s appreciate moms with memorable and meaningful Mother’s Day gifts that are both lovingly and locally made. Skip the over-packaged and predictable gifts that will likely become clutter and/or landfill. Connect with the artisan behind the gift and fall in love with their story.

mothers day gifts vancouver

In addition to eliciting a genuine appreciation from mom, locally handmade gifts provide an opportunity to support the folks who are generating more meaningful local shopping options. This year, our top recommendations for memorable Mother’s Day gifts in Vancouver are Got Craft? and Olla Urban Flowers.

Got Craft?

Got Craft? showcases 75 local vendors with a wide variety of curated handmade goods. There are endless Mother’s Day gift ideas all under one roof! As Vancouver’s largest indie craft fair, Got Craft?, returns this spring for its 15th show from May 10-11, 2014 between 10am-5pm at the Maritime Labour Centre, located at 1880 Triumph Street in Vancouver, BC. Admission is $3 at the door, and children (10 and under) get in free.

 got craft? vancouver

Some of the vendors at Got Craft? can also be found in our Vancouver gift baskets at the Saul Good Gift Co. We are grateful to be a part of the local handmade movement that is making our city more interesting and distinct!

mother's day gifts vancouver

The organizers of Got Craft? are appreciating the benefits of settling into a great home here in East Vancouver. “We’re super excited to be doing the show in one of our favourite Vancouver neighbourhoods,” says Andrea Tong-Tucker, one half of the husband-wife production team. “The East Village is the perfect place for Got Craft?’s long term home.” 

Olla Urban Flower Project

In addition to being an incredibly unique flower shop, the folks at Olla are creating more than stunning beauty.  The Olla Urban Flower Project is run by Megan Branson. This local social enterprise is designed to generate jobs and prosperity in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. They also repurpose bouquets from corporate events and redirect them towards non-profit organizations in the DTES.

mother's day gifts vancouver

If you have any other creative Mother’s Day gift ideas, please comment below or on our facebook page. Do you have any memorable Mother’s Day gift stories? We love hearing from you! 

 

 

relationships

How sharing is good for your Vancouver business

11 Apr

Written by Christabel Shaler – Saul Good Gift Co. Community Manager

 

The sun was setting over the shoreline of Cortes Island as I built sandcastles with children covered in face paint and blackberry stains. It was 2004 and I was working as a nanny to save up for my next semester at the University of British Columbia. During these long summer days, I was invited to participate in conversations with the family I worked for. They were involved in social ventures and taught me about how business is able to address some of the world’s biggest environmental and social issues.

 

As I approached the completion of my undergraduate degree, I noticed that the pre-existing job market was disintegrating rapidly. I had planned for opportunities that were beginning to wash away in the recession. The competition for opportunities was so fierce that I saw my peers intensely competing for volunteer positions.

 

Despite all the impossible obstacles, I was never able to shake the idealistic ideas of social ventures. I began writing for the Vancouver Observer and learning how to listen to my city. The wreckage of collapsing systems began to give life to conversations about new economies, local economies and sharing economies. Through the process of capturing these stories, I soon realized that the vitality of our local economy depends on interconnection. 

 

Although the concept of sharing may summon warm and fuzzy feelings, it is also practical, logical and good for business. A thriving business is like an organism that needs the right environment and resources to make it thrive. It also requires reduced overhead, so that unnecessary expenses will not crush your dreams alongside your profitability.

 

From my experience working with the Saul Good Gift Co., I have directly experienced the tremendous value of sharing.  

 

modo car

 

In addition to using shared vehicles and shared office space, we also share a social enterprise fulfillment company called Starworks and a unique delivery modality called Zipments (it is like booking a carpool for gift basket delivery in Vancouver) 

 

Sharing improves the quality of our service and connects us with interesting folks in our community. Our work with Zipments has been fun and collaborative. They provide excellent delivery services. We are part of the same local business community and we both care deeply about what we do. It is a refreshingly human experience! 

 

Our shared office at the HiVE is full of great folks doing fascinating work. We can attend events and workshops that connect us with fresh ideas and valuable knowledge. 

the HiVE

According  to Tom Wynn, the HiVE “provides office space for small business, entrepreneurs and sole proprietors who would otherwise be priced out of the downtown market.”

 

Another example of shared work space is the Commissary Connect. This shared industrial kitchen is used by many local artisans featured in our Vancouver gift baskets, such as Batch Sweet Kitchen, the Candid Confectioner and Melliferra Bees. The process of sharing professional kitchen equipment and food storage alleviates the burden of unnecessary overhead expenses. By reducing start-up costs, it makes it easier for local artisans to bring unique delectable products to our food adoring city.

Sharing is positive change woven into everyday life

Our everyday actions and purchasing decisions speak louder than anything. If you want your business to thrive, you need to be able to step back and imagine your personal and professional actions contributing to the economic and cultural vitality of our entire city. You need to be willing to get over yourself and share.

The Evolution of Valentine’s Chocolate Gifts

03 Feb

Vancouver Valentine's Day chocolate gift by Saul Good Gift Co.

Thousands of years of chocolate gifts

The connection between love and chocolate is timeless. From Aztec emperors and Mayans in 1500 BC to Madame Pompadour and Louis XV in the 1700’s. The joy of chocolate gifts have been explored through mythology and science for ages. The original latin name for the cacao tree is Theobroma Cacao and means ‘Food of the Gods’. This name was chosen in the 18th century, around the same time that Valentine’s Day became popularized in Europe.

Theobroma Cacao Flowers
Theobroma Cacao Flowers – Image by Annmarie Kostyk

In recent history, chocolate has been mastered by chocolatiers and examined by scientists. The combination of art, science, and chocolate has resulted in delicious discoveries.

Theobromine

Chocolate gifts increase health and happiness

When scientists have explored the good feelings offered by chocolate, they discovered that there are increases in dopamine, serotonin and phenylethylamine. These brain chemicals all contribute to our sense of well being, connection and love. There are also flavonoids and antioxidants found in cocoa, that have been associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced risk of cancer. According to the 2003 edition of the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, “A cup of cocoa (using pure cocoa powder) has double the amount of antioxidants as green tea.”

Vancouver Valentine's Day chocolate gift by Saul Good Gift Co.

Local handmade chocolate gifts are heartfelt

For the past eight years, we have enjoyed featuring an abundance of brilliant BC artisans and chocolatiers in our Vancouver gift baskets. This year, we are delighted to offer our first edition of the our Valentine’s chocolate gift basket featuring masterful creations by BC’s Cocolico, Beta 5, and Denman Island Chocolate. In addition to having high standards for deliciousness and creative Valentine’s Day gift ideas, these fine folks use excellent high end chocolate for all of their products.

 

You can be sure that your gift recipient will enjoy the the indulgence, the health benefits, the handmade goodness, and the timeless gesture of affection.

 

The art of corporate group gifts

14 Nov

Office Party Throwdown

Over the years, we have carefully cultivated an assortment of corporate gift baskets that are tried tested and extremely delicious.

The art of group gift experiences

One of the first questions we ask our clients is if their corporate gifts are being given to groups or individuals. Why? Because gifts for groups must be easy to share.

 

The main reason you want a gift designed for sharing is that you want to avoid the awkward scenario of “Who wants the tapenade? Who wants the little jam?” That kind of conversation is not a team building experience. It can be literally divisive.

 office gifts

The ideal gift experience for a group involves a bunch of people gathered around, enjoying their treats and talking about how great it’s been to work with you over this last year. When you share amazing gourmet gift baskets amongst a team, there is a collective moment of happiness where everyone feels special and appreciated.

 

Easy to share gifts create the framework for a well planned corporate gift program. It is our pleasure to offer gifts that are thoughtfully designed with handmade, heartfelt delights. We specialize in making your gift recipients feel good and we love to make you look good too.

Our Top 3 Corporate Gifts for Groups

The Fancy-Full

fancy-full

The Department Party

department-party

The Office Party Throwdown

office-party-throwdown