2019 was a huge growth year for BONAFIDE. We made some big changes in how we operate this little engine that could including getting focused on the kind of clients we wish to represent and ensuring our values are aligned so we can tell the best stories and provide really memorable experiences. We didn’t travel as much as we had in previous years, as big projects had us spending a lot more time in Alberta this year but we have all sorts of adventures lined up in 2020 so stay tuned and follow along.
The BONAFIDE Box is our annual tradition – a way for us to showcase some of our favourite things by friends from coast-to-coast and beyond…Look back at memories we’ll cherish for years to come and celebrate shopping local. This year, we’re letting the cat out of the bag and giving recipients a chance to share our finds with their friends and followers!
Share this page so we can keep the love going and help drive profile to small business and entrepreneurs across Canada.
On behalf of the BONAFIDE tribe, thank you for supporting, endorsing, referring and connecting us to a growing network of wonderful humans who enable us to keep doing what we love with clients and partners we are so proud to work with.
Creating the BONAFIDE Box is quite the project to wrap up each year and we couldn’t do it without Chris and the team at Destroy the Box Creative…not only did they create this website but also all of the collateral for the BONAFIDE Box AND Gary, Taylor, Troy, Jona and the team at Mountain View Printing – who print and assemble the boxes each year. We are so grateful for your support and friendship…
Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and a prosperous 2020!
Flavürlust – UMÉ Hot Sauce
When he’s not climbing mountains all over the world, our pal Chef Nico is cookin’ up delicious concoctions for Toronto-based Kappa Foods. This year, that wild, daredevil mind created an addictive I-cant-stop-eating-it-but-it-kinda-hurts hot sauce that we are hooked on. A combination of mulled vinegar, Canadian honey, Piri-Piri, Szechuan peppercorns, smoked paprika, and a bunch more secret stuff is blended together to make this sultry liquid heat that has become our new favourite dumpling drizzle and fried stuff condiment. It looks a bit dangerous, doesn’t it? We’re into it…We hope you are too.
Buy it online here.
Brassica Mustard – Cranberry Honey Mustard
The product we have gifted the most when out-of-town guests are visiting is, without a doubt, Brassica Mustard. Former chef/OysterMan/specialty foods wholesaler Eric Giesbrecht is now at the helm and preserving the recipes put on the map by the original owners in 2001. Using the highest quality locally grown mustard seed and honey, he’s playing mad scientist and creating new flavours to add to the original line-up of Roasted Garlic, Horseradish, Dill, Black Pepper, and Cranberry Honey. No charcuterie board is complete without it and the New York Times agrees – click here to see “Mustards from the North” gracing their pages online and in print!
Meta4 Foods – Grass-fed Ghee
Also known as clarified butter, this grass-fed ghee from Meta4Foods is among the highest quality available and locally made. With the Keto craze at an all-time high, we thought this multi-purpose and very-good-for-you fat is perfect for making hollandaise sauce (eggs benny, anyone?), bullet-proof coffee and light schmear on fresh-baked bread and pastries (a little goes a very long way). Because of its high smoking point, it’s perfect for toasting spices and adding buttery goodness.
Here’s a recipe from Eric at Meta4Foods:
Eric’s Showstopper Hot Chocolate Breakfast Drink
The cinnamon oil and cayenne together combine to create a spicy treat – the end result is pretty much a kind of warmed glass of “Mayan Chocolate Ice Cream”.
- 20g chocolate powder (I like heirloom/organic varieties but it’s not essential)
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 2 drops cinnamon bark essential oil* (can replace with 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon)
1oz MCT oil
30g grass-fed ghee (use more if you want to skip lunch! …..I use up to 60g)
- 10g cocoa butter
- 300ml spring water, just off the boil
Blend on high in a blender for 30 seconds or until frothy. Can also be done effectively with a stick/wand blender
*I use oils from 100% therapeutic grade oils from Young Living and Doterra
Herbologie – Cinnamon Verum and Black Peppercorns
Award-winning Chef de Cuisine at Edmonton’s RGE RD, Davina Moraiko told us about her friend Aga Wajda-Plytta, a chartered herbalist who launched her small business importing herbs, spices and botanicals directly farm trades and cooperatives, ethical importers, and wild harvesting practitioners. When we sampled the Cinnamon Verum and Black Peppercorns she buys from a farm in the Zanzibar Islands, located off the coast of Tanzania, it completely knocked our socks off — this is the guuuuuud stuff #trust. Aga’s cardamom, peppercorns, Icelandic kelp and silk chili flakes can be found in the pantry at RGE RD and now, Herbologie can be found in yours too. Purchase them online here!
Gigi Importing – Organic Kamut Pasta and White Truffle Oil
When we heard Mena Vanacore of Brampton-based Gigi Importing was joining us in Edmonton for less than 24 hours to celebrate the Italian Centre Shop’s 60th Anniversary, we were NOT going to let her leave without a great story to tell. A night full of surprises (including an appearance by David Rocco of La Dolce Vita fame) extended well into the wee hours of the morning with full tummies and belly laughs. Mission accomplished!
Mena and big bro Flavio graciously sent over White Truffle Oil (add a couple of drops on eggs, a drizzle on beef carpaccio or a splash in melted butter for mashed potatoes) and delicious whole grain pasta to share with each of you this year.
All of these ingredients can be found at the Italian Centre Shop!
Here’s Mena’s recipe for Fettuccini with White Truffle Cream Sauce:
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon white truffle oil
- 12 ounces cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 lb. fresh fettuccine
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
- Add 1 tablespoon of salt to a large pot of boiling water.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing often, until the mushrooms are cooked.
- Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Pour the heavy cream into the saute pan and heat it over medium heat until it simmers.
- Add white truffle oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, lower the heat to very low.
- Keep warm over very low heat. Meanwhile, add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente.
- Drain the pasta, then pour the pasta into the truffle cream.
- Serve hot in shallow bowls, garnished with extra chives and Parmesan.
Mojo Jojo Pickles & Preserves – Pickled Carrots
We met Johwanna (JoJo) Alleyne years ago during her previous life as a photographer and our paths crossed once again while sourcing locally made products to showcase on Global Edmonton on August 3 – Food Day Canada. During a kitchen tour, we learned a canning bee was the “TSN turning point” for Jojo’s creative mind. What started as pickling seasonal vegetables and heritage eggs have evolved to a line of preserves, ketchup, relish, and even shrubs. She’s one of the coolest women entrepreneurs we know and her commitment to the community is unparalleled. Enjoy Jojo’s signature pickled carrots — they’re a great addition to charcuterie boards and an excellent line of products made in the prairies.
Check out Jo’s Caesar Mix in Air Canada EnRoute here!
Aurora Importing – Riso Bello Pronto Risotto
As one of Italy’s top-selling risotto brands, Riso Bello makes this quick-cooking version for the busy home cook, and the Italian Centre Shop served up hundreds of samples during its 60th Anniversary festivities. The team at Aurora Importing was at all four locations finishing its preparation in wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano and it was an absolute hit. For risotto at home, we always add more cheese and a big knob of butter to make this short-cut extra luxurious. This is a super handy emergency side dish for last-minute entertaining!
Over the holiday season – keep an eye out for Aurora Importing at Italian Centre Shop locations…They’ll be serving up samples of panettone and torrone from Italy!
WORTHY small-batch jams + preserves – Spiced Blackberry Jam
We learned very quickly the saying “everyone has a story” rings true for Worthy founder, Ashlee Steinhauer. After overcoming a few bumps in life (as we all do), the decision to call her budding small business WORTHY was a reminder that we are all worthy of a wonderful life filled with joy and love. This kept her motivated to push forward and follow her passion. Today, Ashlee is making her mark cooking up small-batch jams and preserves, using flavour combinations like vanilla rhubarb and black cherry chai, but more importantly, each jar is made with integrity, intention, and gratitude.
It’s working…Her jams were included in Avenue Magazine’s 25 Best Things to Eat in Calgary and proudly stocked by the Italian Centre Shop! Our favourite vessel for this Spiced Blackberry Jam is piping hot corn fritters. Totally drool-worthy…
Gold Forest Grains – Pioneer Pancake Mix
John and Cindy Schneider’s farm in Sturgeon County has become one of our favourite places to visit each summer. One of many memorable moments of 2019 was RGE RD’s first farm dinner of the year, where it rained six inches in two hours and stopped just as dessert was being served— go figure, right?
Although it was a wet summer and it was tough tending to the fields, their Schneiders’ Heritage Park Wheat flour was a runner-up in 2019 Made in Alberta Awards and is featured in delicious products at Bon Ton Bakery, the bread program at RGE RD and available at the Old Strathcona Farmers Market and online.
Gold Forest Grains’ hearty Pioneer Pancake Mix with whole golden flax and rolled oats is our go-to when we feel like “adulting.” Grown-up pancakes don’t get more “grassroots” than this — the date stamped on each package is the date the grains were milled and packed.
Cochü Chocolatier – Latte Chocolate Bar
When we stopped in to visit Anne Sellmer in her little chocolate factory, in late-August she was already planning for another holiday season and when we saw freshly ground Phil & Sebastian Ethiopian coffee beans going into a big pot of caramelized white chocolate, it stopped us dead in our tracks (as it should)… It won Gold in the 2017 Academy of Chocolate Awards in London, England!
Paracanna – Gummy Candy Making Kit & Refills
With the legalization of cannabis edibles just a few weeks ago, we thought it would be fitting to include these super-cool grown-up gummy making kits we discovered while sourcing corporate gifting for a client earlier this year.
Victoria-based Paracanna encourages responsible cannabis use to consumers by enabling the control of dosage when creating DIY edibles.
Not a cannabis fan? Do regift this kit and refills to a cannabis enthusiast for Christmas (we won’t be offended!). If you are a fan and make some, please store safely out of reach of kids.
Find these fantastic DIY kits and refills here.
PARK Distillery – Maple Rye
It’s no secret one of the perks of being Calgary-based is the close proximity to the epic Rockies. Right on Banff’s Mainstreet, you’ll find PARK Distillery + Restaurant + Bar. The grains used in their spirits are from high-altitude family farms while the water used is fed from six nearby glaciers. Book a tour if you’re in the neighbourhood (they run daily at 3:30 pm) and get a glimpse of where the magic happens. On shelves near Master Distiller Matthew Hendriks’ workspace, find concoctions being tested in mason jars and, a few steps away, get an up-close look at the beautifully branded barrels aging gin and rye. Stay awhile and order the rotisserie chicken with extra gravy (it’s delicious) and start with the “Skoki Lodge” cocktail featuring PARK Maple Rye, Wild Turkey Bourbon 81 Proof, Park Cacao Nib Tincture, bitters, and orange zest.
The team at PARK believes no winter should go without Maple Rye (made with pure Quebec maple syrup) — so please, enjoy a tipple of the best we’ve ever tasted!
Shop their online store today!
Folding Mountain Brewing – Parkway Porter
We get teased a lot when we use the word “research” — it’s often air-quoted at our expense — but in this case, longtime friends and former college roomies, Aric Johnson and Jason Griffiths, really did research brewing while attending Mount Royal University. Today, they are business partners and their passion for frosty cold brews has them at the helm of Folding Mountain Brewing located in their hometown of Hinton, AB near Jasper.
Our clients proudly served Folding Mountain Beer this year at RGE RD’s Farm Dinner Series, SABOR’s annual Seafood Festival media launch and a Food Day Canada collaboration dinner. It was just awesome to see guests try both signature and seasonal products while meeting the dynamic duo.
Planning a visit to Jasper? Make sure to pit stop at their Taphouse and Kitchen but in the meantime, enjoy Folding Mountain Parkway Porter, winner of Best in Class at the 2019 Alberta Beverage Awards.
We really love their merchandise too! Check it out here.
RGE RD – Farm Booklet and Pen
An exciting addition we had to our roster this year was Chef Blair Lebsack, partner Caitlin Fulton and the team at RGE RD. Hosting out-of-town guests at RGE RD is always a joy because, to us, the dining experience really exemplifies prairie hospitality — casual, but poised, knowledgeable but not pretentious, kind and humble. That experience is amped up every summer when the crew rolls up to farms throughout rural Alberta to host RGE RD’s fabled farm dinners. Every experience is different from a custom menu, unique settings, fresh ingredients.
This year, Mother Nature unleashed her wrath on them, but they didn’t bat an eye — this crew is badass. Each place setting at their farm dinners included this booklet highlighting their partners and coveted recipes. Have a gander and stay tuned for the opening of their new venture, The Butchery by RGE RD, in early 2020.
Carriage House Inn – $50 Peanuts Public House, One Night Stay & Sunday Brunch for 2
There aren’t a lot of folks from these parts that don’t have a story about the Carriage House Inn. For 51 years and counting, it is truly a Calgary institution. Stories of cowboys hanging their hats in the lounge during Stampede festivities are aplenty, but to expats, it’s a hidden gem waiting to be discovered or re-discovered. The hotel is located in SE Calgary just a few minutes away from Chinook Centre and blocks away from the Italian Centre Shop. Off the beaten path with newly renovated rooms, an outdoor pool open year-round (it becomes a giant hot tub in the winter) and the friendliest, happiest employees make every visit a memorable one. Guests are always greeted with a warm welcome (just ask Canadian lifestyle blogger Linda Hoang!) and Sunday brunch is nothing short of legendary.
Start planning your next visit to Calgary and click here to reserve a room at the Carriage House Inn!
Tourism Vernon & Predator Ridge – Back to Earth PURE Hand Sanitizer and Lavender Shampoo
This year, we made the six-hour trek through the Rockies to visit Vernon, BC, and it was one of the most spectacular and scenic routes we’ve taken in a very long time. Thanks to Tourism Vernon, we had the pleasure of experiencing some of the best sights, sounds and eats this charming little town has to offer. From the majestic views from Predator Ridge’s tee box on Hole 5 and the warm scented breeze from its Lavender Meadow to the infinity pool at Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa and the frosty cold Applelanch (pure apple juice slushies) at Davison Orchards — Vernon really captured our hearts.
We noticed a lot of products we encountered are made with all-natural ingredients. Lavender amenities at Predator Ridge are made from the plants UBC helps to grow onsite and Back to Earth’s all-natural hand sanitizer made by local herbalists are now among our favourites.
POMP Salon – Kevin Murphy Fresh.Hair Dry Shampoo
We are so thrilled for our friends Cristina Reyes and Brent Assenheimer who launched POMP Salon, located in a little house near Edmonton’s river valley. With decades of experience between the duo, their friendship and chemistry is undeniable and it reflects in their loyal clientele. It’s a joy to be part of the community they’ve built, and gathering together every 4-6 weeks for cuts and colours makes every visit so much fun…
Cristina and Brent always make sure the BONAFIDE tribe is looking great and that includes making sure we’re stocked up with Kevin Murphy hair products. One of the items we cannot live without is FRESH.HAIR dry shampoo. We keep one in each of our carry-ons and travel totes so we never forget it!
Pick one up at POMP or any salon that carries Kevin Murphy products!
Gift a Green – Microgreen Gift Cards
One of our best finds of the year is Vancouver-based Gift-a-Green, the brainchild of Bryan Kinney who forever sought a way to make greeting cards cool again. Well, we think he NAILED IT with these edible greeting cards. This pouch contains a packet of seedlings, two soil pellets that magically come alive with water and a stir stick. Follow the instructions and, in just over a week, you’ll be the proud grower of a mini microgreen garden!
Pick a few up for the holidays by stopping into Chapters/Indigo, Bed Bath & Beyond or by clicking here.
Italian Centre Shop – Slate Cheese Markers
The most viewed and “liked” series of the year on BONAFIDE’s Instagram account was on National Cheese Day when we featured almost 70 images of cheese. Chefs with cheese, cheeseboards, grilled cheese sandwiches, Gino cutting wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano — people ATE IT UP (yes, pun intended) — all thanks to our work with the Italian Centre Shop.
Although over 20,000 products are available at all four Alberta locations — none fuel passion, excitement and desire in people the way cheese does. In Calgary, the 72-nook cheese wall has truly become a place of worship.
In celebration of serving Albertans for 60 years, Italian Centre Shop owner/president, Teresa Spinelli, and general manager, Gino Marghella, wanted to make sure everyone is ready to entertain with proper cheese-serving accessories this holiday season with these slate markers.
A limited number will be available at all Italian Centre Shop locations – while supplies last!
Russell Hendrix – Chef’s Choice Knife Sharpener
Russell Hendrix is #1 in foodservice equipment and supplies and is the largest Canadian dealer in food equipment and small wares. Literally, EVERYONE, we work with counts on the team for their knowledge and expertise around restaurant design, equipment, installation, custom fabrication, and parts/service/maintenance. For us, it’s the place we go and wander for the latest in tools, gadgets, and supplies for photoshoots, events, and TV appearances.
We often joke with friends about going home for the holidays and one of our biggest pet peeves is having to rummage through drawers full of knives trying to find a REALLY sharp one (we KNOW we’re not the only ones who suffer from this epidemic!).
Pop into one of their shops but we’ll warn you – we’ve spent HOURS exploring in there!
Ronald McDonald House – Keychain
A valuable stop we had in our career path was working in Community Relations for McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada. It was here our commitment to serving our neighbours was honed and since then, we’ve always found a way to incorporate community investment programs into our client’s marketing strategies. Our relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alberta (RMHCA) was re-kindled this year, resulting in three very special partnerships.
The Italian Centre Shop invited Top Chef Canada Winner Ross Larkin from Raymonds in Newfoundland to prepare dinner for 10 lucky auction prize winners, SABOR launched a Fish & Chips pop-up with proceeds to the house and A Cappella Catering named RMHCA its charity of choice and will be catering meals once a month for guests staying at the house.
The house provides a home-away-from-home for families who need to travel to get medical treatment for their kids and we’re really proud to support the team throughout the year.
Le Petite Marché – Plush Mini Donuts
To say that our inner circle experienced a baby boom this year would be an understatement. This also means there have been many babies and birthdays to celebrate! We discovered Le Petite Marché on Instagram and fell in love. Alana Coldwell started making felt food for her two littles to play with and now, via Etsy, these charming and whimsical plush treats are for all to enjoy!
We’re a very proud regular and continue to be absolutely enchanted by her creations. We’ve gifted breakfast sets, apple pies, campfire s’mores and a box of donuts.
Click here to check out the treasures in the little market!
A Cappella Catering – Notebook, Wooden Spoon, Holiday Take & Bake Dinner for 6
Talk about a full-circle moment! From Klondike Breakfasts to the TELUS strike in 2005 to countless birthdays and weddings, A Cappella Catering has always been the catering company Edmontonians count on. When founder Todd Rutter gave us a call, we couldn’t help but reminisce about the times we’ve worked with his team. After 27 years, Todd and business partners, Kim Mahoney and Mich de Laive, agreed it was time for A Cappella Catering to undergo a makeover and we, alongside our graphic design collaboration partners Destroythebox Creative got to work!
New logo, new website, new photography, new van wraps, new uniforms, new swag, new sales kits, new wedding program, new fundraising initiatives…The list goes on. We couldn’t be more proud of the work being done — but more importantly, happy for the newfound energy that is palpable — at A Cappella headquarters.
For those who will be in Edmonton over the holiday season – check out this fantastic Holiday Take & Bake package…We’re not cooking at all this year and we’ve placed our order.
Eat Local Magazine – November Issue
We’re always in awe of those who follow a calling to something they feel deeply about and take a chance at making a living doing it. We are constantly surrounded by people who have done just that. When we met with Edmonton-based photographer Heather Muse about Eat Local, a grass-roots culinary publication she was ready to launch, we immediately knew stories never told from Alberta’s food community would be unearthed and shared alongside beautifully styled images. This independently funded venture is fuelled by passion, family and a desire to showcase the people behind the scenes connecting with consumers, driving interest and inspiring food trends in the community.
Vin Room – Canella Prosecco Superiore di Conegliano and Dog Treats
Just as the BONAFIDE Box has become our annual holiday tradition, so has the inclusion of bubbly from Phoebe Fung and doggy treats from her beloved Pomeranian Dom. They had a lot to celebrate this year including winning Airport Bar of the year 2019 at Airport Food & Beverage (FAB) Awards in Dallas, TX.
Vin Room’s focus on comfort for travelers at the Calgary International Airport has become legendary by welcoming four-legged friends to its indoor “patio” and treating pups to a three-course meal complete with “Pawsecco.” Phoebe always says, “every day we wake up in the morning is worth celebrating…” and you know what? We couldn’t agree more.
Cheers to each of you and thank you for supporting BONAFIDE Media & PR this year.