Tag Archives: gourmet food gift baskets

Title image with product shot of various chocolates

At Beta 5 Creating Chocolate Is A Work Of Art

14 Jun

You’d be excused for thinking the storefront of a chocolatier hidden in an industrial area of Vancouver wouldn’t be particularly busy on a Thursday afternoon. But the steady traffic of customers showed that people obviously know where to find them.

BETA5 Retail Space

Beta 5 was created by Adam Chandler and Jessica Rosinski, who had a creative vision for pushing the boundaries of chocolate. The name Beta 5 refers to the form-5 beta crystal structure, a stable form of cocoa butter crystallization that is created when chocolate is properly tempered.

I visited Beta 5 to learn about their unique approach to chocolate. As Adam gave me a tour of their kitchens, he shared their philosophy and how they take great care in the process, opting for methods that are more time consuming but yield a better product.

BETA5 Adam Portrait infront of fridge holding tray of choclates

Why did you start Beta 5?

Adam: It was the desire to have a creative outlet.

I had spent 10 years in the industry working for other people and while I still had my own creative vision, it was always being influenced by the people I worked for.

In pastry, you are limited in the opportunities available to you, so the purpose of Beta 5 was to have a space where we could explore our creative vision we saw for pastry and chocolate.

BETA5 CreamPuffs

What inspires your work?

Adam: There’s not really one thing in particular. For a lot of the core product, it starts with the ingredient. We want to showcase the qualities of main ingredient.

For example for the Okanagan dark chocolate cherries, we don’t want either the chocolate or the cherries to overwhelm each other. We search for the best quality cherries we can find and then pair them with chocolate that goes well with those particular cherries.

There’s a lot of stuff we do that is a lot more out of the box. In those instances we pull inspiration from any number of places. An idea like camping, outer space or tropical vacation and then work backwards and try to tell the story. We use textures, flavours and colours that convey the bigger idea and start to tell the story.

BETA5 chocolate production

What makes Beta 5 different?

Adam: The creative approach we take. While we want to do things differently, we really want to challenge ourselves and see what is possible.

A lot of others do what has been done before. We like to push the boundaries, using vegetables and different ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think of when you think of pastry and chocolate.

We want to explore the possibilities of those types of ingredients to create something different and add something new to the conversation.

A lot of chocolate is rich and comforting and perfect for winter. We paired cucumber, mint and chocolate because we wanted to come up with a flavour that would be light, crisp and refreshing. Something that people would want to eat in summer.

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What are the values that drive Beta 5?

Adam: The two things more important to us than creativity are quality and consistency.

Our creativity has no value if we aren’t putting out a quality product, consistently. We want people to depend on us as a supplier and know that everything we produce is the highest quality. We need to develop that trust so we can push the envelope and have people take a risk and try the new things we create.

Describe a typical day at Beta 5

Adam: There really isn’t a typical day at Beta 5. We designed it that way.

Things are much more repetitive in bigger production environments and we wanted to be inspired to come to work.

BETA5 chocolate production

We run a small, well-trained production team who are trained in everything. Each day there is a lot of variety. The day could be spent making bars or caramelizing nuts or pebbles or polishing and painting molds. The only typical part is that it’s a day spent around chocolate.

For me the variety makes for a more enjoyable experience.

At Saul Good Gift Co. many of our gift baskets include Beta 5’s delicious chocolates. You can see the full section here

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Heirloom Tomato Worship & Vista D’oro Salsa

24 Oct

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When we design corporate gift baskets for Vancouver businesses, we strive to create unique artisan gift experiences that can be shared throughout an entire team. Some examples of shareable office gifts include: The Cubicle Party, The Department Party and the The Corner Office Party all found in our Holiday Gift Guide.

 

 

The new Heirloom Tomato Salsa from Vista D’oro is a great example of how a classic item can become extraordinary. This is not your average last-minute chips and salsa. This salsa captures the feeling of an afternoon at a local Vancouver farmer’s market. It also carries the unique story of local heirloom tomatoes. 

 Local heirloom tomatoes deserve worship.

 

They are works of art that took many generations to create. Therefore, we should give them the love and respect that we shower on important historical paintings, poetry, literature and sculptures.

Over the last several decades, there has been a staggering loss of family farms and the heirloom varieties that they produce. In addition to this loss of unique and delicious beauty, we are at risk of losing the intelligence and wisdom of these tomatoes. Heirloom varieties possess the valuable results of environmental adaptation and genetic diversity that allows higher survival rates in their indigenous environments.

 

From the deep red ‘Neves Azorean Red’ to the yellowish-orange ‘Azoychka’, it is important that we celebrate and protect the hundreds of heirloom tomato varieties, so that future generations can enjoy these edible pieces of history.

 

According to the folks at Vista D’oro, their salsa is great on Halibut, or combined with avocado and sour cream!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Local + Small is Beautiful: The Amazing Missing Goat Farm

21 Aug

 

 

Missing Goat Organic Jam & Blueberry Farm is local organic goodness at it’s best. That’s why we are proud to feature this jam in our Vancouver gift baskets. Although Heather and her family have customers and retailers begging them to grow, these humble folks are keeping their homemade creations small and handmade.  

 

 

 

 

 

We were grateful to have the opportunity to vist the Missing Goat Organic Farm in person. In addition to receiving the gift of some legendary organic blueberries, we we got some fresh organic garlic and met some of Missing Goat’s leading characters: Heather and Lily (mom and daughter) Oliver (the dog), Lola (the chicken) and the Missing Goat…who is apparently still missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heather told us about how she is maintaining the reality of a family-run homemade business and sustaining a healthy work/life balance. “At one point, our jam was carried in sixty stores throughout B.C. I didn’t like the feeling of losing connection with the people selling my jam. It was never my intention to create a jam empire. I got into this because I love organic farming and making homemade jam,” explained Heather. “That’s why we scaled back to twelve retailers. I like making deliveries in person and staying connected.”

 

 

 

 

This historic sixty-year-old farm entered it’s Missing Goat incarnation thirteen years ago. The blueberry field is nestled within bushes of lavendar, hydrangeas, and weeping willow trees. It all seems like a dream manifested into reality…which isn’t too far from the truth. Heather spent her early twenties watching Eliot Coleman and Martha Stewart. She dreamt of organic farming and finding her own style of homemade artisan creations. Her hard work, succinct vision and clean style have allowed this idyllic dream to become a successful reality. Stay tuned for Heather’s upcoming book!

 

 

 

 

We previously featured the Missing Goat Blueberry Jam in “What Does Mr. Good Eat for Breakfast?”, because we believe that it is an important part of a well-balanced local organic breakfast…and it is something that we honestly eat on a regular basis. Our tireless search for the best local products throughout B.C. allows us to guarantee that we have found the absolute best of the best that exists in B.C.

 

 

 

Missing Goat jam is a small batch artisan masterpiece!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local Food Made Easy: Vista D’oro Gourmet Gifts are Deliciously in Season

15 Mar

Vista D'oro

Eating locally and in season is a Utopian dream. Who doesn’t want the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious food to eat? I love growing food in my yard and shopping at the local farmer’s market down the road. Eating local is a great ethos to move towards…but in reality a hard thing to do 100% of the time. 

 

At the Saul Good Gift Co., we love helping people discover easy ways to enjoy local organic goodness as much as possible. We’ve written about our friends at Vista D’oro Farms before and we think that this local BC farm creates some of the best artisan products on the market. Patrick and Lee grow bountiful delights at their beautiful Langley farmstead. With their crops, they create artisan fruit, nut & wine preserves using ingredients that are in season. They make the locavore lifestyle easy and fun! Patrick came by this past week with a few jars of what’s new at Vista D’oro and I wanted to share a bit from my tasting experience.

 

 

1. Green Heriloom Tomato with Garam Masala

Made using tomatoes from their fall harvest this preserve is actually from their fall line. I enjoyed it on savory crackers along with some mild goat feta. The spices are subtle and complimentary, not overwhelming.

 

2. Spiced Apple & Gewurztraminer

Made using apples from their farm this sweet preserve is full of fruit. It looks like there is a whole apple in there. You can’t make this kind of product in a factory!

 

3. Green Walnut & Grappa

Made using walnuts from their farm and an Italian liquor. This preserve has a unique taste that’s surprisingly good. Usually, when I think of grappa I imagine a swift shot that I put it back as fast as I can. Vista D’oro did a lot better with this. It is a flavour experience that you do not want to rush. This preserve was nice on a cracker and also works well in Parisian Macaron gift baskets made by local confectionist Kitchening With Carly.

 

Vista D’oro preserves have made a comfortable place in our gourmet gift baskets and a warm place in my heart as well. Patrick and Lee are the type of entrepreneurs that we need more of in this world. I admire how they live with the seasons in the farm fresh air. Thanks for sharing the fruit of your labour with us!

 

 

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Add a Parisian “Macaron Moment” to Your Local Holiday Gift Experiences.

29 Nov

Since TwentyOSix, the Saul Good Gift Co. has specialized in creating gifts from the best local Vancouver products. Throughout this ongoing journey of discovering excellence, we have enjoyed listening to the stories of Vancouver’s top artisans. Several of these artisans have cultivated old world mastery through their studies in Europe. Although studying abroad may seem counter-intuitive in the local movement, the process of importing knowledge is sustainable. When knowledge and skills are taught and applied to local business, it is an amazing renewable resource.

 

Carly is one of Vancouver’s local artisans who has steeped her skills in the heritage of European knowledge. In addition to studying French cuisine and patisserie training, she advanced her skills to a level that qualified her to become a teacher. After cultivating her ability to create magical “macaron moments”. Carly returned to Vancouver and started creating Parisian macarons locally. One of Carly’s key strengths involves innovative recipes and unique natural ingredients. Her colours and flavours come from ingredients that are pure and whole.

 

We think that there is something artistic and poetic about gifts that are made from scratch by an artisan who refuses to compromise the purity of ingredients and we are grateful to have Carly’s amazing macarons in our local holiday gift baskets.

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What Does Mr. Good Eat for Breakfast?

18 Nov

Those little jams in gift baskets are kind of cute and they do add some colour to traditional baskets that are suffocating behind layers of cellophane. We respect that some people choose these little ordinary jams as gifts. However, we think that your gift recipient deserves something more unique.

When I created Saul Good Gift Co., I was determined to find the absolute best of the best in BC for our local Vancouver gifts baskets. It has been a long journey and I am proud to say that we have discovered amazing local treasures . When it comes to jam, Missing Goat knocks it out of the park. The ingredients are pure, the sweetness is subtle and you can taste each sun-ripened organic blueberry dance in your mouth….and maybe even sing a little bit.

How is Missing Goat created? It comes from a sixty-year-old certified organic blueberry farm in South Surrey BC. This family-run farm has been creating Missing Goat jam for the past 12 years. In addition to the farm, this family also runs a little shop called the “Shabby Shack”. It is stocked with their own organic jam line and fresh picked organic blueberries. If you want to order blueberries during berry season, be sure to call in advance!

Missing Goat Organic products are handmade. Everything is done by hand. Seriously…everything! The chopping, mixing, stirring and even the labels are done by hand. Each batch of organic jam has three pounds of fruit in it. One batch of jams produces only 6 jars of jam. They use slow cook, old fashioned methods and they do not use commercial pectin. This allows them to use 3x times more fruit than sugar in their recipes.

As you see in the image above, I enjoy Missing Goat jam, organic eggs, organic spelt toast and organic coffee for breakfast before embarking on my daily gift basket adventures. At home, our jar of Missing Goat jam is almost empty. At the Saul Good Gift Co., we believe that everyone deserves a divine jam experience. If you want to add some extra homemade charm to your gift basket, try adding Missing Goat jam. You won’t be disappointed.

Vancouver’s Best Chocolate – Cocolico by Wendy Boys

22 Nov

 Cocolico

 

Cocolico helped me to love chocolate. Before I met Wendy Boys, my appreciation for the delicate nature of this wonderful substance was superficial. Her story is great. Her training in a Parisian culinary school built a strong foundation before working under Rob Feenie for 10 years in Vancouver’s well renown Lumiere restaurant as his head pastry chef. After making chocolates gifts one holiday season her family and friends convinced her to go out on her own and Cocolico was born. 

 

It’s not just about skills

 

It’s about heart. Passion is what people feel and Wendy exudes an appreciation of chocolate that you taste in Cocolico products. When we met this last summer and she came by our office to show us her product line Wendy described how I could make a fantastic dessert using her chocolate sauce for a picnic I was planning with for my girlfriend’s birthday that evening at 3rd Beach in Stanley Park. Simply layer fresh local berries, sponge cake, whip cream and Cocolico chocolate sauce. Top it off with some crumbled Cocolico dark chocolate covered sponge toffee and pack in a container. An easy peasy instant hit.

 

 

Aesthetics adds to the experience

 

 

cocolico_boxLike the presentation of a meal at fine dining establishment, Wendy understands that how food looks adds to the experience of enjoying her products. Well designed packaging goes a long way, not only in terms getting people to pick up product off the shelf and give it a try, but also in how it makes you feel when you pull in out of your cupboard or as you pop it into your mouth. Very well done!

 

 

Cocolico Top 3

 

1) Vanilla Salt Infused Milk Chocolate Caramel Crunch

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Boxes of 9 irresistible delicacies, it’s no surprise these little treats made the Vancouver Magazine top 100 things to try before you die list. Wendy imports the best vanilla beans from Madagascar and infuses them with sea salt used to top these bad boys.

 

 

2) Chocolate Raspberry Sauce

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BC is berry country. Using locally sourced organic raspberries in her silky smooth chocolate sauce, Wendy knows quality and makes sure every taste is the best.

 

 

3) Dark Chocolate Sponge Toffee

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Takes me back to the days of childhood eating those Crunchie ‘candy’ bars, before I knew any better. I’ve been upgraded. This stuff is the best. Crispy sponge toffee that melts on your tongue covered in high quality dark chocolate.

 

 

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Not only for treehuggers, Hippie Chips are the bomb

06 Aug

Some jobs have their perks. One of mine is that I get to try all kinds of new local, organic and health food products for our Vancouver gift baskets. Yesterday I took a tour of one of our suppliers and got to try the newest flavour of Hippie Chips in Burnaby, BC. Tuscan Tomato is awesome, it’s well spiced and savoury, not too sweet and nice and crunchy. It pairs real well with Aji (see ‘Best Guacamole in Town‘) which is kind of tart and the combo is balanced and tastes nice. Some of the other flavours of Hippie Chips I found a bit grainy, a bit of overkill on those ancient grains with the Amaranth and Millet. Even though the Tuscan Tomato has red lentils and brown rice along with the stone ground corn, their texture is clean and not super earthy.

Top 3 things good about Tuscan Tomato Hippie Chips

1) The pink bag! It’s the most vibrant of the group and grabbed my attention. Who’d a thunk it?

2) Not too sweet. I’m on a salty savoury kick and these are just right.

3) No shady genetically modifed hydrogenated ingredients. These chips are made with whole grains, organic roma tomatoes and spiced naturally with organic onion, basil and sea salt.

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Best guacamole in town, Aji Gourmet Food Products

27 Jul

I love it when things land in your lap. When you’re on a path, putting energy in a certain direction, I’m always amazed how things find you. Over the last 4 years I’ve been on a search for the freshest, best tasting food products made in British Columbia. I was recently approached by Dyana Biagi the creator of Aji Gourmet Food Products to learn more about her line of products to be included in our selection of our Vancouver gift baskets.

First impression = Nice label!

I’m a big believer that things need to look real nice for people to pick things up in the store. I know, its superficial, but it’s true. If you’re packaging isn’t spot on, not many people will ever try your product, even if it tastes amazing. Back to Aji …

So I sat down with Dyana and tried her products, and there’s nothing ordinary about them. So this ‘salsa’ Aji that I tried tasted great on a chip by itself. Check, nice, I’m down with salsa, but wait …. she mashed up some avocados and mixed them with the Aji and voila … a super tasty guacamole! Boooom! And that’s not all. If you add ketchup to Aji you get a zingy cocktail seafood sauce and if you add a mayo or sour cream and get a flavourful tarter sauce. Definitely not ordinary!

You’ll be able to find Aji products in our Office Party gift baskets in the near future.

Top 3 things we like about Aji

1) Tastes like its made from fresh vegetables. That’s because it is.

2) Lots of ways to use it. Not just a salsa or condiment, Aji can be used to make guacamole, seafood sauce, tarter sauce, on ribs, etc. For more ideas see the Aji site.

3) Local. Local producers, local food and the local economy. That’s how we roll!