As I don’t love to shop (and I certainly don’t love crowds), I try to avoid setting foot in a mall during the holidays if at all possible. So this weekend I set out to create a menu of edible gifts for my friends and family… and yours. These are foods procured from some of my favorite websites (and a few new finds) that you can order without leaving the comfort of your homes, offices or favorite coffee shops.
I think I got a bit carried away. But do you have any idea how many fabulous food-stuffs are available out there?
And really, who wouldn’t love to receive delicious food for the holidays?
I know I would (hint, hint)
So here goes…
1. Counterculture Coffee Holiday Box – $15.25
Of course coffee would be high on my list of suggested gifts… I discovered Counterculture Coffee at Arlington’s Northside Social coffee shop, and I am currently addicted to their Finca Mauritania. Each year, Counterculture creates a special, limited-edition Holiday Coffee dedicated to celebration and good cheer. They donate a portion of proceeds from every pound they sell to an organization doing important work in the communities where they source coffee. This year’s blend has notes of brown sugar, bittersweet chocolate, and pecan.
2. Hippie Crack Granola from Baked and Wired – $4.95-11.95
If you don’t have time to whip up a batch of my Olive Oil Granola with Dried Cherries for your friends, this is by far the best granola I’ve found in DC. The folks at Baked and Wired coffee shop bake it in their kitchens (in between batches of those crazy donut muffins, bars and cake cups). It is a fabulous mixture of toasted rolled oats and sliced almonds, dried cranberries, apricots, cherries, and currants, and sweetened with just a dash of honey and coconut. Perfect with yogurt for a healthy holiday breakfast.
I could spend hours reading the holiday catalog from this Ann Arbor, Michigan mega-deli. They sell amazing edible gifts from around the globe. One year we received a Praise the Lard Box, and last year we surprised a friend with the Forbidden Foods Club. The Charcuterie and Cheese Box includes La Quercia’s Borsellino Salami, French Cornichon Pickles, Dutch Gouda, Zingerman’s Nor’easter Cabot Cheddar, Mediterranean Olives, a loaf of Zingerman’s Artisan Bread, Sam Edwards Smoked Berkshire Ham, Zingerman’s Virginia Peanuts and Rustic Bakery Olive Oil and Sea Salt Flatbreads… a collection big enough to feed a party of 10!
I discovered this wonderful Chutney at my favorite local meat shop, The Organic Butcher of McLean. The Virginia Chutney Company makes a range of wonderful products, but this is their best selling item – a gingery balance of spicy and sweet. We usually pair it with manchego, but it is reportedly perfect with cheddar, and it makes a great glaze for pork. I’m looking forward to sampling other offerings, including the Cranfiggy Chutney and the Balsamic Fig Chutney.
5. Mountain Rose Apples – $32
If you and your friends love food, I hope you’ve discovered Provisions, the dreamy online shopping site from the folks at Food52… it is a treasure trove of fabulous gifts for foodies. These stunning apples caught my eye to share with you, as they are reportedly rare and in limited supply. They’re currently grown only in the Mount Hood River Valley of Oregon by a small multi-generation family farm. With a flavor profile that varies between slightly sweet and mildly tart, and an aroma of strawberries and cotton candy, they are a pleasure to eat — and to share with and delight others.
6. Ethnic Milwaukee 4-Jar Gift Pack – $33.99
I love the creative team at Penzey’s Spices, which offer dozens of wonderful gifts in the form of boxed herbs and spices. Perhaps because I so loved my four years in Milwaukee (beer! cheese! sausages! custard!), this particular collection caught my eye… a sampling of delicious spice mixes based on the rich cultural heritage of Milwaukee. The collection includes Old World Seasoning, Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle, Galena Street Rib Rub, and Fox Point Seasoning.
7. Baker’s Crate Gift Pack – $169.95
So I had to include one more crazy splurge item from Penzey’s – this box stuffed with a cornucopia of baking spices. It includes: Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon, Ceylon Cinnamon, Cinnamon Sugar, Baking Spice, Ground Cloves, Ground Ginger, Minced Lemon Peel, Dutch Blue Poppy Seed, Mulling Spices, Ground Allspice, Ground West Indies Nutmeg, Ground Cardamom, Ground Anise, Cream of Tartar, Vanilla Sugar, Dutch Cocoa, Natural Cocoa, Madagascar “Bourbon Islands” Vanilla Beans, Pure Vanilla Extract, and Pure Almond Extract. Can you imagine the amazing array of baked goods you could create with this box of wonder?
8. I’ll Take it All Six Piece Box from Megpies – $19.99
I read about Megpies in Sweet Paul magazine earlier this year, and it was love at first sight. Megpies tarts started from a weekly bake sale on a stoop in Brooklyn, and have turned into a phenomenon. Because really, who doesn’t love a treat reminiscent of pop-tarts? But these are all-natural buttery pastries filled with jams and hand-made chocolate, and cinnamon cookie fillings… what could be a better gift?
I love the idea behind this sampler from California’s Rancho Gordo. The beans are the results of an effort to help small farmers continue to grow their indigenous beans in Mexico, despite a multitude of trade policies that seem to discourage genetic diversity and local food traditions. They are working with small farmers, mostly in the Hidalgo area (with plans to expand). These beans are their local beans and quite likely this is the first time they’ve offered outside of their region, let alone outside of Mexico.
I couldn’t resist giving a shout-out to this amazing collection of beans… Just imagine the cozy winter dishes your friends could create with this collection of beans from around the world. Take a minute to read the descriptions on the website… The collection includes Ayocote Amarillo, Ayocote Morado, Moro, Lila, Silvia Flor de Junior, Royal Corona, Christmas Lima, Cranberry, Large White Lima, Mayocoba, Midnight (2 bags), Pinto, Pinquitos, Yellow Eye (2 bags), Yellow Indian Woman, Garbanzo, Scarlet Runner and Flageolet. And be assured, the gift will arrive with a description of each of the beans…
In my quest for the perfect edible gifts for my friends this season, I stumbled on the amazing website Goldbely. These explorers of food are on a mission to seek out the legendary local restaurants, amazing artisans and great gourmet food purveyors that produce amazing regional products… and make it easy for us to order these items at home. From Barbecue to baked goods, this site offers dozens of mouth-watering options. Let me warn you, it is very easy to get lost on this website for hours… But I have highlighted three of their offerings below:
11. Hoosier Sugar Cream Pie from Nicks Kitchen – $39.95
(Joe, this one is for you!)
12. Dave’s Coffee Milk Sampler – $39
(Dave, you and I are going to become best friends…)
(I can get Jeni’s in the DC area, but if you can’t get it in your corner of the country, it is truly amazing stuff. Well worth the splurge.)
This is another item I discovered at my The Organic Butcher of McLean… and wow. And of course I had to include something infused with bourbon on the list. Noble matures Quebec maple syrup in charred American oak barrels, with just a hint of raw Tuthilltown bourbon. This combination and process produces a distinct bourbon, maple and oak flavored syrup. Wouldn’t this be nice on holiday pancakes?
Growing up in Michigan, I’ve always had a soft spot for the wonderful preserves of American Spoon Foods. This collection Includes Early Glow Strawberry Preserves, Sour Cherry Preserves, Red Haven Peach Preserves, Red Raspberry Preserves, Blueberry Lime Preserves, Bartlett Pear Preserves, and two 5-oz. packages of their Classic White Crackers.
Oh, I couldn’t decide between the two, so I simply had to include another option from American Spoon Foods. This Holiday trio sounds dreamy – Honeycrisp Apple Conserve, Vanilla Pear Conserve and Spiced Cranberry Chutney – Yum!
17. Fat Toad Farms Classic Caramel Quartet – $50
Oh my word. When I run away from home, I’m heading to Fat Toad Farms, where they make their caramel sauces in small batches with fresh milk from their own herd of pastured dairy goats. These rich and creamy, not-too-sweet sauces reportedly deliver the unmistakably tangy depth of your favorite chèvre balanced with the simplicity of fresh milk and pure cane sugar. For this quartet, you can choose between Vermont Maple, Spicy Dark Chocolate, Cold Brewed Coffee, Salted Bourbon, Vanilla Bean or Cinnamon. I’m not sure I’ll be able to decide…
18. Mince Pies from Many Kitchens – $13.99
Christmas Mince Pies are hight on my list of favorite food experiences while living in London… (the Marks and Spencer brand were particular faves). So I was thrilled to find this version of the classic from Brooklyn’s British Baking Company on the wonderful Many Kitchens website (yet another site where it is quite possible to get lost for hours).
19. Garrett Popcorn – Garrett Mix – from $33.00
Garrett’s Popcorn has been a Chicago tradition since 1949. I discovered the addictive Garrett’s Mix – a combination of cheesy popcorn and caramel corn… and rarely visit Chicago without indulging in a bag. Garrett’s ships tins of all sizes, making it easy to share this treat with friends and family beyond the Windy City.
20. Espresso Nut Butter – 13.95
I love the way the crew at Big Spoon Roasters thinks. Their Espresso nut butter combines fresh-roasted Mission variety almonds, fresh-roasted Runner peanuts, Counter Culture’s Big Trouble Espresso, raw wildflower honey, and a touch of sea salt to create a richly textured, slightly sweet nut butter highlighted by the perfectly roasted espresso’s signature notes of dark chocolate and caramel.
21. Almond Ginger Butter – $13.95
Let me repeat. I love the way the crew at Big Spoon Roasters thinks. Their Almond Ginger Butter combines fresh-roasted Mission almonds with golden-hued crystallized ginger from Fiji, organic cane sugar, and sea salt. The resulting vibrant and lemony almond butter is absolutely delightful.
22. Sfoglini Pasta of the Month Club – from $75
Treat your friends to a monthly adventure in pasta from this Brooklyn-based producer of small-batch pastas. They will enjoy some of the same pastas that are served at revered New York restaurants, plus seasonal pastas exclusive to club members. Sfoglini’s pasta of the month club includes a welcome card, one bag of their beautiful signature organic pasta and one bag of their seasonal specialty pasta made with the unique ingredients they source from New York City farms and local purveyors. Chef Steve Gonzalez will also include a recipe and wine pairing suggestions for the pastas he’s selected.
I discovered Teapigs during my Internet quest this weekend, and I love their quirky take on teas. This collection includes chilli chai, chocolate flake tea, popcorn tea, liquorice and mint, rooibos crème caramel, and yerba mate. Check out the website to explore a range of other unique choices. (This one is for you, Luke!)
24. O Fig and Balsamic Vinegar Trio – $36
If you have a friend who loves salads, it is well worth taking a peek at the creative offerings from O Olive Oil. This particular trio includes O Fig Balsamic, O California White Balsamic (which imparts dreamy clean notes of pear and almond) and O California Balsamic.
25. Bunches and Bunches Mole Trifecta – $36
I love the earthy complexity of moles, but never seem to have the time to make them myself… So I was intrigued to discover this trio of moles from Bunches and Bunches. The trifecta includes a rich Red Mole, a dark Smoked Mole and a bright fresh Green Mole…. each could definitely create a wonderful weekend dinner.
Ok, friends and family… be sure to send me your requests… because with a list like this one, I really don’t see a need to head to the mall this holiday season…