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Knock the last few names off your Christmas lists with these delightful gifts from our fave Victoria boutiques.
Anything passing itself off as a Victoria gift guide must include the handmade, the artisanal and the gourmet. So, that’s exactly what we sourced. Herewith, our favourite finds from the provincial capital. (Photo: Kelly Brown)
Carey Salvatore’s Pigeonhole Home Store brings serious rigour to the notion of the considered home: beautiful gifts abound. Throws by Linen Way ($165) see an ultra-soft blend of alpaca and wool in black or neutral colours, suitable for any living space. Also in store, and not to be mistaken with the re-gifted peach candle mocked in a recent Saturday Night Live sketch, Sydney Hale candles ($42) come in such scents as clementine and clove, oaked bitter orange, and cypress and cassis. pigeonholehomestore.com
Just arrived at Still Life, a Lower Johnson Street favourite for men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, the Vanguard saddle bag ($350) from Portland-based Tanner Goods sees a timeless combination of stiff English bridle leather and brass hardware. stilllifeboutique.com.
At Picot Collective, locally made ceramics earn pride of place. Sarah Leckie’s etched tumblers ($25 each; sold individually) in black and cream fit beautifully into your palm making them ideal for slow sipping. Abstract designs are unique to each handmade piece and reference patterns similar to those found on African mud cloths. Picot Collective, picotcollective.com.
Online only (but carried at many Victoria retailers), Steele and Co.’s elegant soaps, salts, skincare, and shaving products are made in Victoria using a traditional cold process method and infused with fragrances and botanicals from the west coast. To wit: The mud bar ($9) is packed with seaweed and scented with clove and eucalyptus; the liquid castile hand soap ($30) is scented with bergamot. Steele and Co., steeleandco.ca.
Credit the long growing season, an established micro-brewery scene, burgeoning Island wineries, and a plethora of high-quality producers, grocers, and restaurants: Victorians are mad about their food. For the, likely many, foodies on your list, Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria has an unsurpassed selection of chutneys, pickles, and cured meats (the Venetian-style and lemon-fennel salamis are outstanding). Owner Cory Pelan recommends their new foie-gras parfait, which joins the ranks of their other top-selling pates (from $7). Whole Beast Artisan Salumeria, thewholebeast.ca.
The Root Cellar stocks an exceptional mix of locally made artisanal food products that make quick work of stocking stuffers or host gifts. Among them: Salt Spring Island Kitchen Co. jams and preserves; the candied jalapenos ($10) are a revelation. Hint: For an instant gift bag, pack items in one of their leather-handled woven totes ($30). The Root Cellar, therootcellar.ca.
The Cook Culture chainlet is one-stop shopping for home cooks and includes a smart collection of accoutrements for the young chef. Opinel’s Petit Chef Set ($48) features a finger guard and a four-inch chef knife with a loop near the handle that protects fingers while forcing proper chopping technique. Cook Culture, cookculture.com.
Bolen Books is a locally loved bookshop that also carries board games, puzzles, toys, art supplies—and fine paper goods in which to wrap them. Of course, local authors and publishers are well-represented on the shelves. Among them: British Columbia From Scratch ($40), a culinary love letter to the province by Vancouver Island native Denise Marchessault. The book is organized by season and recipes cover off coastal seafood, Fraser Valley meats, and Okanagan fruits. It also includes a section on basics like stocks and versatile dressings that any self-respecting home chef should master. Bolen Books, bolen.bc.ca.