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Love Local: Holiday Gift Guide 2018

The holidays are just around the corner that means that means it’s time to get some holiday shopping done! Nowadays, holiday shopping doesn’t need to be stressful or cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, I have completed my Christmas shopping early and have completely avoided shopping malls. That’s right! This holiday season, I am giving lots of local goodies to my friends and family from my favourite shops on Vancouver Island!

After moving to southern Vancouver Island earlier this year, I have discovered so many delicious and locally made products. From artisan chocolates to wines, Vancouver Island has it all! So I thought, why not share these local goodies with my loved ones this Christmas? Not only do I love these products and have used them time and time again, supporting local businesses is a great way for your money to feed directly back into local communities and the local economy. In my opinion, that’s much better than my money going to big corporations! And with the amazing quality of these products, they are much better than any shopping mall gift any day! 

This year, I have curated a selection of my favourite foodie products that I know my friends and family (and maybe you) will enjoy! Here are all the products that are in my Local Foodie Gift Basket this year.

Babe’s Wildflower Honey

Located at Galey Farms on Blenkinsop Road, Babe’s Honey Farm is a fantastic spot to get some local honey. As the seasons change, various varieties of honey come into season. For instance, during the summer months, you can get Wildflower and Clover honeys. During the fall, you can indulge in some Maple Blossom honey. And during the winter, their Gingerbread honey and Creamed honey is divine! There is always something new and exciting to find at Babe’s! 

Aside from honey, Babe’s has a rotating tap selection of jun. I am totally obsessed with their jun – I actually pick it up every weekend! If you have never had jun before, it is very similar to kombucha. It is a fermented green tea beverage that is sweetened with honey and has a light fizziness. Babe’s makes a variety of flavours and they are always experimenting with creating new flavours. My favourites are the classic Ginger jun, Currantly Hip (jun with black currant, rose and hibiscus) and Mermaid Tears (a vibrant blue coloured jun made with citrus, hops and blue algae). Make sure that you pick up a stamp card when you go as they have a great rewards program too. I’m saving up to 2,000 points so that I can create my own jun! 😛

For this holiday season, I picked up some mini jars of their Wildflower Honey. Wildflower honey is a common variety of honey and many people enjoy the taste. These little jars retail for $4.50 each at their Galey Farms location.

SaltSpring Kitchen Co. Jam

There are so many great jam producers in British Columbia– practically too many to count! Amongst all these amazing producers, one local company that stands out the most for me is SaltSpring Kitchen Co. Their selection of sweet and savoury jams, preserves, relishes and new hot sauces are every foodie’s dream.

SaltSpring’s jams are produced on, you guessed it, Salt Spring Island. Even though the company continues to grow, SaltSpring Kitchen Co. continues to produce small batch jams and other products using the highest quality and local ingredients. Again, seasonality is a big factor that determines what products are made, so you can’t get their products year round. I really like that model since you know that the ingredients were harvested at their peak ripeness and preserved right away, yielding the most flavourful jams.

As you can see, I have purchased a variety of their jams to give as gifts this holiday season. I love that these jams stray from the typical strawberry or raspberry jam– they are much more gourmet and are sure to impress everyone. My favoutire jam out of the bunch has to be the Raspberry & Habañero Jam  as the spiciness is an unexpected flavour in what would be a traditional raspberry jam. I also really enjoy the Onion and Thyme Jam on burgers during the summer or as a extra garnish for a roasted pork loin in the winter. As you can see from their jam and food pairings list on their website, the possibilities for what you can create are endless!

For this holiday season, I picked up the following jams for $12.99-$14.99 per bottle: Raspberry & Habañero Jam; Cranberry, Sour Cherry and Port Preserve; Hot Mango Jam; Sour Cherry, Rhubarb and Rosemary Jam; and Blueberry and Basil Jam. Check out the rest of their products here!

Rootside Cocktail Mixers

I first came across Rootside Cocktail Mixers at a craft fair market in Vancouver a year or so ago. Just one sample of their Ginger Beer Mix was enough to have me hooked on their products. I had never really used cocktail mixers before as the mixers that I always found were full of sugar, preservatives and were neon green or blue in colour. But when I came across Rootside Cocktail Mixers’ high quality and locally-made products, I completely fell in love (and my love for gin has grown stronger too)!

Since discovering the company, they have re-located from Vancouver to the city of Esquimalt on Vancouver Island. Despite the move, the quality of their products have remained the same, and they still either try to source the best local products available or use the highest quality ingredients they can find. For instance, the lavender that is used in their tonic mixers is grown locally on Vancouver Island, and their lemons that are used in their Ginger Beer are grown by a forth-generation family business in Sicily, Italy. With exceptional attention to detail and drive to produce the best product available for their customers, it is no wonder why Rootside Cocktail Mixers is a part of my holiday gift guide this year!

For this holiday season, I have purchased the gift pack of cocktail mixers. This gift pack retails for $25 and includes: Ginger Beer Mix, Classic Dry Tonic Syrup, and Cardamon and Citrus Tonic Syrup. Full-sized bottles (375ml) retail for $15.00 each. Check out their online shop to see all their products or to find a retailer near you!

SaltWest Naturals Canadian Sea Salt

Since Vancouver Island is surrounded by the ocean, it is a given that some delicious sea salt would be produced here. SaltWest Naturals produces small batch, handcrafted Canadian sea salt and bath products in the town of Sooke. While I haven’t tried their bath products yet, I can say that their sea salt is delicious!

SaltWest produces a variety of different salts. One of their most popular salts is their Raincoast Flor de Sal. This is just like the famous French Fleur de Sel in that the salt is in flaked form rather than small granules. Their Sweet Smoky Maple salt and Salted Caramel Chocolate salt are two of my other favourites, but you really can’t go wrong at SaltWest. All of their salt mixes are produced with certified organic or local ingredients. Plus, if you don’t know what to pair their flavoured salts with, they provide tons of flavour pairings!

I would highly recommend a trip out to Sooke to visit their location where they produce their products, especially during the summer months. SaltWest offers salt tours of their facility where you can see first hand how their salts are made. I found this to be really fun and very educational and would definitely go back again with friends.

As part of my holiday gift guide, I am including the Raincoast Flor de Sal and Sweet Smoky Maple salt. These packages (40-50g) retail for $6.50 each. Check out all their salt flavours and bath products at their online store! Yes!

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