Category Archives: Gift Baskets Vancouver

At East Van Roasters, Chocolate is a Vehicle for Social Change

11 Nov

topbanner-local-artisan-gift-guide

 

Vancouver has many fine chocolate shops but East Van Roasters is one-of-a-kind. Located in the Downtown Eastside, EVR is a business with social change baked right into the DNA.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Head Chocolate Maker and Director, Shelley Bolton founded East Van Roasters in 2013 as a non-profit social enterprise. Her mission was to create a training and employment program for the women residents of the Rainier Hotel located above the chocolate factory on Carrall Street.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The women in the program face multiple barriers to employment and East Van Roasters serves as a place where they can develop skills and build their resumes before rejoining the general workforce.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Head Chocolate Maker and Director, Shelley Bolton. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The business recently expanded to include a second location half a block away. The new location houses a retail bakery as well as the confection production facilities, while the original location operates as the Vancouver’s only bean-to-bar chocolate factory/coffee shop.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

The social impact of East Van Roasters extends beyond the local level. The chocolate at EVR is made in-house from responsibly sourced cacao beans. This means that the farmers that grew the beans were paid fairly. This is chocolate you can feel good about buying and giving as a gift.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Making chocolate is a long process that requires skill and attention to detail. Shelley and her team start with carefully selected raw cacao beans. The beans are sorted, roasted, cracked, winnowed, ground, refined and tempered before being molded into fine chocolate bars and bonbons.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

If you are a dark chocolate purist, you should try their single origin bars. They are made to highlight the unique flavour properties of the cacao beans. For a real treat, try a couple of bars side-by-side and observe the differences. A bar made of beans from Madagascar will taste drastically different to a bar made of Ecuadorian beans.

 

Jasmine Lukuku of ChocolateCodex. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Jasmine Lukuku of Chocolate Codex. Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

If you prefer a sweeter treat, EVR has a selection of flavoured bars and delightful filled chocolates and truffles. Some recent standouts include the chocolate dipped cacao nib toffee and layered truffles featuring pâte de fruit. The fillings and inclusions are all selected to work in harmony with the chocolate. Love Nutella? EVR sells its own chocolate nut butters; perfect for slathering on toast or eating with a spoon.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Saul Good is proud to include East Van Roasters chocolate in many of our Vancouver Gift Baskets and Canada gift baskets. 

 

topbanner-local-artisan-gift-guide

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About the Author

Jasmine

 

 

Jasmine Lukuku is a professional sweet tooth who spends much of her time baking, eating, photographing and writing about treats.

 

She co-founded chocolatecodex.com to share her love of fine chocolate with the world. Follow Jasmine: @chocolatecodex

 

 

 

 

About the Photographer

leah bio

 

 

Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities.   

 

View more of her work on Instagram: @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

Celebrating BC Jam Masters

01 Jun

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

In BC, we are blessed with an incredible selection of lovingly handmade jams. From the Gulf Islands to the Rocky Mountains, there are numerous jam masters cooking up potent preserves with juicy local fruits. In addition to the fresh ingredients, there are jam recipes in BC that can be traced back through multiple generations. Handmade local food tells us stories about our diverse local culture. When we share these foods together, we build community.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Our team at Saul Good Gift Co. had recently been searching for a jam to go into our gourmet gift baskets. This process has been extremely difficult. There are simply too many amazing options! In order to find the right jam, we asked local artisans to submit their jam for a contest. After selecting four finalists that we adore, we asked folks from our community to help us decide. We gathered at the Capilano Tea House in Vancouver BC. Attendees sampled jams on bannock and sipped handcrafted tea.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

This jam tasting event was attended by a variety of folks from our community. There were bankers, lawyers, financial planners, real estate developers, property managers, web developers, food bloggers, chefs, nutritionists, coffee roasters, local business enthusiasts…and a toddler. It was a great mix of people who offered a diverse range of input to help us decide.

Saul Good BC Jam Contest Finalists

East Van Jam 

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East Van jams are a work of art. The jars are adorned with a variety of fun characters and the product quality is superb. Natalie captures the experience of fresh local BC fruit that is gathered seasonally. She keeps the sugar low so that you can enjoy wholesome goodness while keeping your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Indulge deeper into the narrative here: East Van Jam  You can also salivate over fresh Instagram photos: @eastvanjam

 

 

SaltSpring Kitchen Co. 

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The anchor on the jar of Saltspring Kitchen Co. jam is an appropriate symbol. Melanie is an anchor for the perpetual momentum of island artisan excellence. She is a pro with her products and she paints your palette with both sweet and savory ingredients. These jams are fun to combine with other gourmet foods. Check out the Pairing Guide here: SaltSpring Kitchen Co.  and follow the island vibes on Instagram: @saltspringkitchenco

 

 

 

 

  kitskitchen

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The kitskitchen’s  claim to fame is their nourishing local soups. They are rooted in a mission to make lifestyles healthier and easier. In their soups and jams, they allow the organic ingredients to speak for themselves. The goodness of their products seems to soak into your cells and make them smile. You can learn more about their offerings: kitskitchen and follow them on Instagram:  @kitskitchen 

 

Le Meadow’s Pantry 

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At an early age, Geneviève fell in love with harvesting and foraging. Her jam style is influenced by her lineage and her travels in Europe. Le Meadow’s Pantry cooks classic jam using a traditional copper pot method. Learn more about Geneviève’s creations: Le Meadow’s Pantry and follow her on Instagram: @lemeadowspantry 

 

 

 

 

 

We are excited to find opportunities to include these jams in customized corporate gift programs. For our year-round gourmet gifts, we have selected Le Meadow’s Pantry Blueberry Honey Jam. Based on the feedback we received, it is ideal for a wide audience. 

Jam Tasting Slideshow – Photography by Leah Villalobos Bartok

About the photographer

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Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities. You can view more of her work on Instagram: @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

 

 

 

Chef Annabelle Choi’s charcoal sourdough made with local grains

05 May
Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Annabelle Choi is a talented chef and baker based in Vancouver. She was trained at Ballymaloe, the world-renowned cooking school located on an organic farm in Ireland. She’s known for her sourdough bread making workshops; events that sell out within hours of being announced.

 

We met up with Annabelle on a sunny spring afternoon in the kitchen of Elysian Coffee to talk about her approach to cooking and her love of Canadian-grown products by GRAIN. The series of photos below capture the process of making her legendary charcoal sourdough. 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How did your education at Ballymaloe inform your food philosophy?

 

Ballymaloe was one of many things that helped me understand the significance of honouring where our food comes from…before it even hits our cutting boards as chefs. The 100-acre organic farm and surrounding natural permaculture illustrated what it means to respect the art of terroir, and how it’s so essential to stay humble in one’s craft, as we’re just mere instruments trying to communicate the true work that is done before it even reaches our hands.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

 

What are your favorite local grains to work with when making baked goods?

 

I usually exclusively use GRAIN for their legumes & wheat grains, and Anita’s Flour for my bread making needs when I’m doing large orders.

 

 

 

How did you discover GRAIN products?

 

It’s hard to pinpoint as it feels like GRAIN has always been my go-to grain provider, but I think I started using their products right as they started reaching out to wholesale clients. Shira (co-founder of GRAIN) would come into Matchstick Coffee Roasters where I founded an all natural bread program at the time, and we got to geeking out over bread and legumes. I used them for one of my first pop-up dinner events for Kinfolk Magazine, and I was hooked!

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Do you notice a difference in quality between local grain and legume products and the mass market products?

 

Definitely. When you have a smaller, localized purveyor who cares about their community, consistent quality, and customer relationships, you get a product that doesn’t need much manipulation if at all to create beautiful tasty dishes.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Mass produced bread products have a list of the following: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), DATEM, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness)… I don’t know about you, but the latter just scares me as I can’t even pronounce half of it.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How do you approach working with an unfamiliar ingredient?

 

I research first, then play, then dial it in. Usually, someone has done a lot of work trying to figure out where that ingredient came from, and what it’s original purpose was in the natural world. I think if I can first understand that, then I can best honour its potential as an inspiring part of a dish or product.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Have you ever had a kitchen disaster that resulted in a great new creation? A happy accident?

 

Oh man, those situations are ones that I think chefs/cooks both hope and fear for haha. I’ve definitely had my share. Most start with me looking sad at first at the object of my initial failed attempt, but then pushing myself to be creative so I don’t create waste, which usually results in happy, interesting outcomes or at the very least, lessons learnt!

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Do you have any Vancouver food heroes?

 

One of my all time favourite chefs to have collaborated and eaten with was Jesse McCleery out on Galiano Island. He is co-owner of Pilgrimme Restaurant and is one of my local food heroes as he truly respects where his ingredients come from. Jesse is incredibly humble about his work, where the dishes really celebrate the terroir and aren’t overly plated/precious.

 

Another would be Kris Barnholden from Latab Restaurant in Vancouver. Kris has an excellent palate, considerate and well-thought-out menus where he also celebrates the narrative of his ingredients quite beautifully.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

 

Your sourdough bread making classes are very popular. What are your students most surprised to learn about the bread-making process?

 

Yes, it’s pretty exciting to see so many folks interested in all natural sourdough! I think what most students find surprising during the class is the amount of time and work that is needed for one batch of bread. As someone who personally celebrates the process in all things, I think it’s a very important lesson to learn for folks who are leading busy lives, and are used to modern conveniences. It kind of puts things into perspective and calls on a simpler time when life wasn’t always dictated by money as a means of currency. I think understanding the narrative, from ingredients to the transformation of a simple grain, can become inspiring and worth pursuing.

 

 

Annabelle’s charcoal sourdough (below). 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

What advice do you have for the novice home cook who would like to include more local grains in their diet?

 

Start small, and give into the fear that it might f-up at the first try, and just go for it. I mean, if you can boil water you’re already past the novice stage when it comes to grains. Just remember that grains need to be broken down in some way to make the nutrients available to you, whether that’s by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How can our readers find out about your upcoming workshops and events?

 

The best way to find out about upcoming workshops and events are to head over to my Instagram or Twitter account, @annabellechoistudio, or check out my Facebook page: Annabelle Choi Studio. I also encourage those who are looking to sign-up for bread workshops specifically should email me to be put on the waitlist, as they sell out fast: info@annabellechoistudio.com.

 

We want to give a big THANK YOU to Elysian Coffee for lending us their kitchen and to Shira from GRAIN for providing products for this photo shoot. 

 

You can find local GRAIN products in Saul Good Gifts: Kitchen sink and Superior staples (below).

new home gift vancouver

 

About the author

Jasmine

 

Jasmine is a professional sweet tooth who spends much of her time baking, eating, photographing and writing about treats.

 

She co-founded chocolatecodex.com to share her love of fine chocolate with the world. Follow Jasmine on Instagram: @chocolatecodex

 

 

 

About the Photographer

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 8.55.34 PM

 

Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities.   

 

View more of her work on Instagram:  @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

 

[Recipe] Canadian Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

07 Oct
Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

A Lighter Take on Fall Comfort Food

 

With Fall, we enter comfort food season. And what is more comfortable on Thanksgiving than a good old-fashioned sage bread stuffing? Some of my most cherished food memories involve sitting down at the holiday table and diving into my mother’s homemade bread stuffing. Gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, everything else was a means to that comfortable, aromatic goodness.

 

However, that same comforting goodness also tends to make you feel heavy and tired. It also doesn’t make for much of a meal, should you have any vegetarians at the table. Think of the recipe below as a solution to both problems. With the profound aromas of leek, brown butter, and sage, this dish has many of the warm, comforting qualities of an old-fashioned bread stuffing without the heaviness.

 

And for the vegetarians at the table, this dish is packed with protein. Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain boasts 6 grams of protein per serving and cooked chickpeas offer 15 grams of protein per cup. So this dish allows vegetarians to savour the autumnal comfort of Thanksgiving dinner while also enjoying balanced nutrition.

 

Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

Ingredients

1 Kabocha squash, about 5 pounds

1 tsp butter

Generous pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt

1/3 cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp butter

1 bay leaf

1 ½ cups Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain

1 ½ cups vegetable stock

Pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt

1/3 cup butter

1 ½ tbl fresh sage, sliced fine

¾ cup leeks, diced fine

1/3 cup carrots, diced

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup raw cashews

1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 tbl red wine vinegar

Vancouver Island Sea Salt to taste

Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

1)       Preheat your oven to 350F. As it heats, take the squash and slice off the top, about an inch below the stem, so that it will make a nice bowl. Scoop it out, place a teaspoon of butter inside and season with a generous pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Place the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet and place into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the butter has melted. Then take the squash out of the oven, spread the melted butter around the interior with a pastry brush, flip the squash upside down, and place back into the oven until roasted, about 45 minutes.

 

2)       As the squash cooks, place 2 teaspoons of butter into a medium-sized pot, along with the diced onion, minced garlic, bay leaf, and a nice pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Sweat over medium-low heat until the onion is transparent.

 

3)       Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, and then add the golden quinoa. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the moisture. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, replace the lid, and set it aside.

 

4)       Heat a large pan and add the remaining 1/3 cup of butter. Cook the butter over medium heat until it has finished sizzling and the solids begin to brown. When your brown butter is ready, the milk solids will have taken on a medium brown colour and the butter will give off a sweet, nutty aroma. Remove the pan form the heat, so as not to let it burn, and add the sage.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

5)       Once the sage has finished sizzling, about 5 or 10 seconds, add the leeks, carrots, bay leaf, and a nice pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and sweat until the leeks are transparent and the carrots soften, about 5 minutes.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

6)       Add the cashews, pistachios, and cranberries, stir to combine, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

7)       Add the chickpeas and quinoa, stir to combine evenly, and heat the entire mixture through. Season to taste. Flip your cooked squash upright by grabbing the parchment paper underneath it to lift it gently from the pan.

 

8)       Fill your squash with the finished quinoa mixture, garnish as desired, and serve.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish or 3-4 as a main course.

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

 

Total cooking time: 90 minutes

 

This blog post and recipe were created by writer and chef, Charles Macurdy (below)

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Lovable local dry goods – Vancouver Island Salt & Saskatchewan Quinoa by Grain

07 Oct

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Eating local is not all about produce and protein. Sometimes, the most pleasant surprise comes in the form of a locally produced dry good you may never have considered was locally available. 

 

Here are two beautiful, Canadian products which not only boast lower carbon footprints than their imported counterparts, but they also give you a different look at some familiar staples. 

 

Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain

If you don’t think that you like quinoa, it’s probably because you have only experienced other varieties. The usual white commercial quinoa tends to get mushy. This can make it hard to use because the texture and flavour are working against you.

 

Golden quinoa is a much different product. When cooked, it retains a nice tooth. While it’s not exactly crunchy, neither does it get mushy by the time it’s cooked through. In that sense, the texture is reminiscent of red quinoa.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

At the same time, golden quinoa also has a pleasant, nutty flavour. The flavour and aroma are distinct from that of red quinoa, even though the textures are similar. Canadian farmers have been cultivating their unique brand of golden quinoa for years, resulting in a product which cooks and eats like no grain you have ever tasted.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Because it remains fluffy when cooked, golden quinoa substitutes perfectly for cous cous. Not only is this a high protein alternative with a lower glycemic load, but its nutty flavour adds an earthy dimension that cous cous never would.

 

Vancouver Island Sea Salt

 

When you taste this salt, you taste the west coast. If you have ever gone swimming in the ocean here, you will recognize its flavour in this sea salt.

 

One of the first things you will notice about Vancouver Island sea salt is that it appears clumpy. Its texture is due to the unique profile of nutrients found in British Columbia’s waters. When you harvest sea salt, those delicious impurities remain in the salt and leave it feeling almost like wet sand.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

So, while it does not pour like ordinary table salt, neither does it taste like ordinary salt. You can almost taste the entire coastline, kelp-lined shores, and dark green waters of British Columbia. A few grains on your tongue and you have the taste of a summer day, emerging from the ocean after dunking your head below the waves.

 

This also makes it the perfect choice for seasoning some of our beautiful local seafood. What better to season a fresh salmon fillet than salt extracted from the very water where it swam? Its unique, briny character also pairs well with vegetables and fits into almost any savoury application. 

 

You can find these products in our Kitchen Sink new home gift basket (below)

 

Kitchen Sink - New home gift basket

 

 

You can play with these dry goods and make the delicious seasonal entree below: [Recipe] Canadian Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Eliminating the noise – Canadian chocolate legend Thomas Haas

17 Sep

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When we met Thomas Haas in person, he was warm and welcoming. His chocolate shop is a thoughtfully designed space where you can feel comfy and at home. When chatting with him, we discussed how important it is to be yourself and never waste time comparing yourself to other people.

 

 

Being authentic is one of Thomas’ secrets to success. It is interesting that this attitude is extended into how he works with chocolate. We are delighted to feature some of Thomas’ delicacies in our chocolate gifts and we are fascinated by how and why these chocolates are so delicious. The following is a review that dives into the details of Thomas Haas treats – thoughtfully prepared by local chef and writer Charles Macurdy.

 

Thomas Haas practices a very direct approach to chocolate.

 

Consider his dark chocolate bark. It is simply a disc of 79% cocoa dark chocolate, studded with dried fruit and a few nuts. That cocoa mass is substantial enough that you have a very rich dark chocolate, but not enough that it throws the whole thing out of balance.

Saul Good Christmas 2015 6568-EDIT

The orange rind and dried cranberries play off the bitterness in the chocolate, but also emphasize some light, fruity notes which might otherwise go unnoticed. Meanwhile, a few blanched almonds and slivered pistachios help to draw out the more earthy tones. So, at first blush, it might appear a bit simple. But it becomes a more and more elegant presentation of chocolate’s true character the more you eat it. When you have a perfectly handled piece of chocolate like this, all you need is a little something to help the chocolate speak for itself.

 

Letting chocolate speak for itself

 

His hazelnut crisp shows you another look entirely. Here, you have a small bite of exceptionally smooth milk chocolate paired with a big hazelnut flavour. Again, it is a very familiar combination. Anyone who has ever tasted Nutella will understand it immediately. Except that here, the hazelnut is in a crispy praline, so there is a delicate crunch when you bite into it.

Saul Good Christmas 2015 6660-EDIT

The creamy texture of the milk chocolate wraps around the crispy praline and the flavours of hazelnut and chocolate pair with a light caramel flavoured backdrop. Suddenly, a familiar thing has become a subtle surprise.

chocolate gift baskets

And what this all illustrates is the way that a skilled hand can manage chocolate without feeling the need to make it complicated. You can almost hear him saying “I don’t have to wow you. The chocolate will take care of that.”

 

Flavours as a counterpoint

 

His focus is on more familiar pairings, presented in with a delicate and refined touch. Of course, there are still a few surprises, like ginger, cardamom, thyme, and even matcha green tea. But they all seem to make sense.

 

Consider the chai bark. It is basically the same thing as the dark chocolate bark, except that the base is a spice infused milk chocolate. And as you eat it, within the smoothness of the chocolate, the spices of chai present themselves. So as you taste the cardamom and cinnamon, you get an almond or a cranberry and, just like with the dark bark, they round out and counterpoint the other flavours.

 

But as you taste the spices, the chocolate, the fruit, and the nuts together, you start to realize that this is not only the flavour of chai, but the whole thing together starts to take on the character of fruit cake. And once you notice it, you start to see how much sense it makes. Almost like the comparison was always obvious. Simple things, executed with restraint and skill, can make for truly novel surprises.

 

 

Honey sweetens our local economy

15 Aug

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Vanilla infused honey drizzles nicely on toast and melts perfectly into black tea. As that sweetness dances on your tastebuds, it is interesting to take pause and reflect on the hardworking honey bees and how incredibly important they are. In addition to being nature’s little artisans, their pollination is essential to local food production. 

 

vanilla

 

The honey we feature in our local gourmet gift baskets is from Mellifera Bees. Borrowing its name from the Latin Apis Mellifera, or “honey-bearing bee,” Mellifera Bees was founded by beekeeper Melissa Cartwright, whose first name means “honey bee.” She harvests honey from backyards and rooftops in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. It is unprocessed and infused with organic and fair trade ingredients from independent BC businesses.

Local bc honey                         Melissa Cartwright (photo by Tara Dwelsdorf for This Fair Land)

 

Like many local artisans, Melissa has seen some good success with her products. However, she faces a unique business challenge, because her bees are a vulnerable workforce. The decline in bee populations has been a serious global issue over the past decade. In order to maintain a steady supply of honey, Melissa needs to have a diverse selection of local hives.

 

gift baskets and honey bc

 

 

In addition to a reverence of honey bees and delicious honey, there is a growing awareness that the loss of pollinators would cause tremendous devastation to our local food systems, natural habitats and our local economies.

 

According to the British Bee-keepers Association, honey bees contribute more to their local economy than the royal family.

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When you purchase locally harvested honey, you are supporting local bees and their lovely neighbourhood bee keepers. Your are also nourishing your body with awesome nutritional benefits. You can find Mellifera Bees Honey in our Vancouver Foodie gift, our Local Gourmand gift, The Locavore and The Key to Vancouver. You can also follow Melissa on instagram: @mellifera_bees and catch her Friday bee facts on twitter: @MelliferaBees

 

local bc honey

 

 

As you enjoy your toast and tea with honey, you can further support pollinators by planting flowering plants. According to Melissa, honey bees love purple flowers, such as Lavender. In addition to assisting pollinators, this resilient fragrant flower can endure periods of drought.

bees up close

 

 

 

 

 

An ordinary warehouse improving local business & local economy

06 Jul

Vancouver gift baskets - BC social enterprise

 

Our story begins on a Thursday morning at 8am. Sunlight and fresh air flow through the Starworks warehouse as pallets are received from the loading dock.  There is a calm busyness as each employee completes tasks at their work stations. Saul Good gift basket orders flow through. Projects for other local companies are completed simultaneously. It all seems quite ordinary, but there is much more to the story.

 

Starworks Packaging and Assembly is an innovative social enterprise that was started by the Developmental Disabilities Association 15 years ago. Starworks provides accessible jobs for adults with barriers to employment and scalable business solutions that help local companies to grow. This self-sustaining enterprise thrives, because they do great work. They do not receive any funding from the government. 

 

Creating Accessible Jobs 

When someone is hired at Starworks, they focus on abilities and determine what is needed for employees to succeed.  

“If someone is doing something backwards, we could take a day to teach them the ‘right’ way…or simply invert their workstation. Sue (one of the core staff members) knows how to build work stations that accommodate each individual’s skill set.” explains Kirsti Inglis, the Assistant Director of Employment Services at the Developmental Disabilities Association.

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The small talk and smell of coffee bounce around with the buzz of the work day. As we chat with Sue, she tells us about a Starworks employee named Marie (above), who is publishing a kids book. 

 

The profound qualities of this enterprise live within the ordinary. It isn’t a black tie fundraising gala. It is just hardworking folks getting the job done. 

 

It is these everyday people doing everyday jobs that build our economy. When we make jobs more accessible, we are employing a greater percentage of our local citizens. This keeps money circulating in our local economy and creates benefits for all of us.

gift baskets - social enterprise

 

Everyone deserves the opportunity to work hard, get paid properly, and feel satisfied at the end of the day.

 

Will (assembling a Saul Good gift above) is one of many awesome Starworks employees. He is one of the hardest working people we have ever met. On an average day, you will see him in shipping and receiving, bustling around and assembling some of our gift baskets. We appreciate his eye for detail, his commitment to excellence and his awesome attitude.

 

“He is one of the kindest people you will ever meet” said Sue.

Social enterprises like Starworks strengthen local business

When Saul Good Gift Co. began to grow, we were really excited to work with Starworks. It had been a dream since Saul first started this business in 2006. We appreciate the social impact that Starworks creates as our fulfillment partner. This partnership has proven to be a great fit for us as we grow our business.

 

The business model of Starworks is similar to a co-working space, because you only pay for what you need. For Saul Good Gift Co., we’re very busy during the Christmas season and this allows us to increase our capacity when required.

“We provide business solutions for companies with episodic and repetitive work. The work we do allows businesses to focus on their core competencies. An example of this is putting labels on ice cream jars for Earnest Ice Cream (below). We also have the ability to scale up for busy seasons like when we assemble Christmas gift baskets for Saul Good Gift Co.” said Kirsti

Earnest Ice Cream

Earnest Ice Cream, Saul Good Gift Co. and Starworks are all members of LOCO BC. This non-profit local business alliance is working to strengthen communities, grow the local economy and build strong, sustainable businesses. LOCO is helping to increase local purchasing in alliance with consumers, businesses, institutions and government. 

 

Our partnership with Starworks has strengthened Saul Good Gift Co. by challenging us to increase standardization. When we design gift baskets, we build step by step guides with images.

BC Social Enterprise - gift baskets

This standardized model builds quality into the assembly process while increasing accessibility for a variety of assembly workers at Starworks. By improving the clarity of our workflow, we are improving the efficiency of our entire business. This allows us to devote time and energy towards our mission to radiate happiness.

 

3 Brilliant BC Artisan Mompreneurs

05 May

Mothers Day Gifts BC

 

The delicious life of being an artisan entrepreneur is a reality that often mirrors parenthood. There are constant challenges, an intermittent loss of sleep and a rewarding heart swelling pride.

 

As we approach Mother’s Day, we want to acknowledge the unique brilliance of BC artisan mompreneurs. The awesome women we are featuring here are just three examples of many fantastic artisan momprenuers in BC.

1) Sara of Batch Sweet Kitchen: Carving her own path

Sara2

 

Sara’s Salted Caramel Pecan Popcorn is an indulgent snack with a solid fan base of customers who are hooked on the stuff (including the Saul Good team).

 

Sara3

 

 

As a kid, Sara always imagined that she would work for herself and have a livelihood that she loved. Undoubtedly, she romanticized what that would mean. In reality, she experiences her role as multi-faceted. 

“It seemed crazy to me to spend so much of your life doing something if you don’t love it. Being an artisan allows me to do what I love, to be creative, to carve my own path and to be able to share it with others. A big part of being an artisan is connecting with people – sharing your story and hearing theirs. This relationship is critical to an artisan’s success. I love giving people something to look forward to in their day, a slice of indulgence, a moment of pure joy.” explained Sara

For Sara, being available for her kids, picking them up from school, being present for them while also pursuing her own ambitions and dreams makes entrepreneurship an easy choice. She feels that it is great for her kids to see two different paths to work, success and fulfillment.

mothers day gifts - batch
As Sara’s kids grow and get older, she looks forward to them gaining an understanding of what she does and hopes they’ll be proud of what she has built and be left with the belief that they can achieve whatever they want.

 

You can find Sara’s Salted Caramel Pecan Popcorn in many of our Gourmet Gift Baskets.

2) Catherine of Trugs & Hidden Garden: Kids as co-creators

Catherine3

 

Catherine adopted Trugs Gourmet and gave life to Hidden Garden Cookies. Her children (below) have been a big inspiration behind her innovative line of yummy veggie cookies.

 

Cartherine

 

When Catherine 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. Kids and adults love these moist morsels.

 

You can find Hidden Garden Cookies in our Gluten Free Gift Basket. You can also find her delicious fresh and chunky Trugs Salsa in our Corporate Gift Baskets 

mothers day gifts - hidden day garden

Catherine loves being in charge of her life and spending her days making food she knows people will enjoy! Parenthood has increased her appreciation of flexibility.

3) Carly of Kitchening & Co. : The importance of hitting pause

Carly

 

When we first met Carly, she had recently begun integrating her French cuisine and patisserie training. From kitchens in europe to markets in BC, she is authentically passionate about innovative recipes that feature unique natural ingredients.

mothers day gifts - carly

 

 

“Being a baker seems to be a perfect fit for my personality. I’m an introvert but I value relationship above all else. Birthing the creative ideas and initiating the process in my own quiet space then evolves into creating together with my kitchen team and finally bringing the finished work to others, sharing in the experience and gathering over the creation. It is extremely satisfying.” explained Carly

mothers day - carly

 

Motherhood has undoubtedly influenced Carly’s work and perspective of entrepreneurship. It has made the finiteness of time more apparent. Parenthood has also added structure and boundaries to her business more than anything ever has.

The consequences of not putting attention and care into parenting are too high of a cost to pay in order to grow our business. With our business we can and do hit the pause button, because time needs to be put into the growth and development of our family and relationships.” said Carly

Carly’s Macarons can be found at many gourmet shops around town. You can find her legendary Ginger Chocolate Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies in our Chocolate Gift Baskets and Luxury Gift Baskets.

 

We hope that all the moms out there have a wonderful and meaningful Mother’s Day! 

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