Did you know that more Canadians shop Black Friday than Boxing Day? The traditionally American retail event is now our most popular too, and with the current state of the pandemic pushing people to shop online, the situation could go horribly wrong for small Canadian businesses.
Thankfully, it’s looking promising: Canadians are showing a greater interest in keeping their online spending at home according to a recent survey with 90% considering it important to support Canadian retailers this season.
We’re 100% part of that. So we went forth to profile our favourite local spots that have provided for us during the year, and to help give them a little boost in return.
Unsurprisingly they all involve really good food. Okay, mostly Italian food. Let’s just get that out of the way. We promise to give you other options besides Italian (just don’t tell the bosses).
BC Buy Local Week
While writing this blog we discovered the campaign BC Buy Local Week . It’s pegged for Nov 30-Dec 6, just after Black Friday. What timing! Their website notes,
During the holidays, the average Canadian spends about $1600 on travel, food, drinks and gifts. B.C. Buy Local Week encourages consumers to shift 1% of that spending — just $15 — to a local business, or a local grown or local made product, to keep money circulating in communities and keep good jobs in B.C.
Just $15? We can do better than that! To get started, check out their “7 Ways to Buy Local” and then share your local purchases in social media with their hashtag #BCBuyLocal. Here’s what we’ll be buying, hashtagging, and gifting.
Cannoli King / Italia Bakery
2828 E. Hastings, Vancouver
For anyone on your list with a sweet tooth. Italia Bakery is one of the best authentically Italian bakeries in the Lower Mainland, baking from scratch since 1985 (Cannoli King is an extension of their business). We may have consumed many cannoli from here over the years, but what has won us over is the superb selection of delicious pastries, cakes, biscotti, bread, and macrons…oh my!
What We Love
Bringing someone a scrumptious cake or pie. Besides Italian classics (hello, Tiramisu), there are beautiful options like Limoncello Cheesecake and Raspberry Mascarpone, all available in different sizes.
If you’re afraid that you might impulse-buy a dozen pastries while picking up your dessert gifts, pre-order online.
NOVERO’s Gift Pick: Cannoli Pyramid
Go for the cannoli! Choose six fresh-filled mini cannoli, stacked on a cake board and finished with a ribbon. There are at least 10 flavours to pick from, we recommend nutella as one. Make sure to give your gift on the same day that it’ll be enjoyed – close to dinner – so the cannoli stays crisp!
We also like the idea of the pizza kit with fresh dough, signature pizza sauce, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Pick up a special olive oil and lemon olives while you’re at the shop, add a bottle of wine, and you’re giving the great gift of an easy, fun dinner.
3433 Commercial Street, Vancouver
If you know someone who gets pie-eyed at the sign of a bread lame, you’ve got a serious sourdough baker on your hands who’d appreciate the professionally-tested baker gifts available at Flourist. Even if your giftee is like us (err, what’s a bread lame?), there are many other thoughtful kitchen gifts on their online shop.
The two female entrepreneurs behind Flourist opened the retail bakery, cafe, and mill in early 2019 after originally starting out as an artisan flour miller and dried goods company called Grains. They now supply some of the city’s best restaurants, and despite closing the cafe during the pandemic, the company pivoted to offer an online farm-direct grocery service featuring their baked goods, prepared foods, and other locally-produced products.
What We Love
We have a deep affection for Flourist’s freshly-milled organic flours, whole grains, and dried beans, which are 100% traceable to Canadian farms. In fact, the farmers are profiled online and on some of the beautifully simple packaging.
And we dare you not to get distracted by their amazing recipes while you’re poking around their website.
NOVERO’s Gift Pick: Pasta Board Set
All kinds of handmade pasta can be made with this deluxe 6-piece Pasta Board Set, made from beech wood and packaged in a linen bag for gifting. Hours of pandemic entertainment for adults! Group it with a bag of Durum Semolina flour or a pasta maker.
Second pick: The Bread Baker’s Bundle, everything needed for a bread enthusiast to try their hand at sourdough bread. Not included – but available in their store – is sourdough starter.
2801 St Johns St, Port Moody
Small restaurants have been really hard hit by the pandemic. Many have shuttered. Business from any outdoor area that they hustled together is now being dampened by winter rain. BUT if you’re not comfortable with dining in, online ordering for carry-out and delivery is still available—and we’re happily taking advantage of this.
The Di Meglios make this pizzeria in the heart of Port Moody a bi-monthly visit (that’s how good it is). Over 1,100 almost five-star reviews on Google means we’re not the only ones that value this little neighbourhood spot’s contribution to our food world. We think it’s the combination of high-quality Italian ingredients, the authentic wood pizza oven, and the team’s passion for their craft.
What We Love
You’re not going to make us pick just one thing, right? We worship the truffle fries, eggplant parmigiana, and montanare (a handmade pizzette with tomato sauce, parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil). Any of their pizzas are outstanding. We hear their 2020 pizza challenge winner, cafonta, is stellar too. We’ll be ordering it on our next visit.
NOVERO’s Gift Pick: Gift Certificate
We ask you who doesn’t love a night off from cooking or rummaging in their fridge for a fast meal? And who doesn’t love Italian food…especially authentic Neopolitana style pizza? Wow, that’s a lot of people that you just figured out a gift for.
125B Glacier Street, Coquitlam
Delivery: Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky area (Bowen Island up to Whistler)
This company has become legendary (couldn’t help ourselves) for their grocery service in 2020 when so many other grocery retailers struggled to meet the surging demand. Since Legends already specialized in delivering consciously-sourced food ingredients to restaurants and retailers across the Lower Mainland, supplying good food to homes was a natural next step.
Suzanne Di Meglio sums up our affinity for Legends: “I love love love this service especially since our family isn’t eating out as much.” The selection of ‘ridiculously good food’ and other products is mesmerizing—all delivered to your home the next day, seven days per week.
What We Love
Two things: One, we connect deeply with their ethos, “to make a positive impact on our local food ecosystem…We believe in contributing to a world where supporting your local farmer, producer, and restaurant is a way of life.”
Two, we adore ordering from the Friends of Legends section, featuring products from local restaurants. We may not be eating out so much any more, but we’re able to support our favourite spots from the comfort of our home.
NOVERO’s Gift Pick: Curated Gift Boxes
[See the image at the top of this blog post and the above image]
Imagine a professional chef curating a selection of local staples and goodies for you by theme, then tucking it in a carton for gifting. All you have to do is order it online and have it delivered (or deliver it in person for extra gratification). FYI, the gift boxes over $100 include a $25 gift card to Legends Haul.
22266 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge
Our fondness for this little gem of a place is simply because of their wonderful Neapolitan-based food. It’s made with quality ingredients that are organic, locally sourced, ethically farmed and/or imported from Italy.
Everything they offer here is delicious, from their baked goods and cappuccinos, to their freshly-made pastas and charcuterie boards. All of their bread is made in-house, and they offer low-carb and pizza dough as options too. We’re excited about their new grocery section which includes a lot of Italian items.
What We Love
During the pandemic, Daniele and Rosangela (the owners) created a concept to help their customers called Family Meals. These are authentic Italian meals feeding four, made with beautiful ingredients, usually including pasta, meat, salad, bread, and dessert. There’s nothing like eating a home-cooked meal that you didn’t actually cook. We’ve ordered quite a few. Check out their Instagram or Facebook pages for the latest offering, and be sure to order the day in advance.
We’re also huge on their vegan and gluten-free menu options. It’s rare to find bakeries that are able to do both gluten and non-gluten treats well!
NOVERO’s Gift Pick: Custom Basket of Italian Goodies, certamente (of course)
They have a variety of baskets pre-made in store, or give them 24 hours notice and they’ll put together the perfect gift basket to anyone you’d like to show your appreciation to.
We spied one with a coffee theme: cappuccino cups, colourful little moka pot, Italian coffee, and torrone. That’s going on our list.
Mangiamo and happy shopping, everyone.