If you have not yet started holiday shopping for the food lover in your life then this quick guide is guaranteed to get that special person really excited - and make shopping for them much easier. There are many gift guides online that are fit for foodies, but the featured products are usually expensive, hard to find and often times useless (come on, who really needs a crappy pineapple slicer?).
Many of the gift guides available online lack a focus on things that you can actually eat and we all know that the way to a food lover’s heart is, not surprisingly, food. The holiday season is made for indulging in all things delicious, so here are 8 local things that food lovers really want to see under that Xmas tree, plus pairings that will make those gifts extra special.
GIFT BOX WITH LOCAL FAVORITE GOODIES
Show them how you really feel with a gift box filled with handpicked local goodies that they’ll go bonkers over. The easy part is finding a gift box and filling it up, but the difficult (and fun) part is figuring out what local establishments they love. Maybe you can ask for “recommendations for a friend visiting town” and see where that takes you.
Consider: La Cocina is doing a holiday gift box this year that has tons of local goodies that I can fully endorse and is bound to make any food lover happy. It’s not only fun and delicious, but you’re also contributing towards a wonderful cause by supporting local food entrepreneurs who are trying to build a life by doing what they love. Prices ranges from $35 to $100. You can check it out here: La Cocina Gift Box or visit the kiosk at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.
There’s no better way to say that you really put thought into your gift than local artisan chocolates. It’s not as simple as picking up a box of chocolates (or maybe it is). People have different chocolate preferences from 100% cacao to 30% or lower cacao. There are bars to pieces, with or without filling, truffles, and the list goes on. The key here is to find out what type of chocolates will make their heart melt.
Local Chocolates I Love: Dandelion Chocolate (San Francisco), Chocolatier Blu (Berkeley), TCHO (San Francisco/Berkeley), Nosh This (San Francisco)
Perfect Local Pairings: Blue Bottle Coffee (Oakland), Miette Marshmallows (San Francisco)
I love giving cheese because it can be enjoyed in so many different ways. You can eat it as is with a piece of hot crusty bread, turn it into a grilled cheese or create a pizza. There are tons of varieties of cheese made with cow, goat, or sheep’s milk, or even a combination. From the buttery brie to the stinky cave aged blue, or smokey gouda to raclette. Be sure to know what type of cheese your food lover prefers. It’s probably best to not get them something completely unique unless you know their cheese profile. Sometimes the cheesiest gifts are the best gifts.
It’s the perfect time to pick up wild mushrooms! You’ll see specialty stores and grocerers with chanterelles, nebrodinis, chicken of the woods, pom poms, lobster mushrooms, hedgehogs, and many more varieties that are foraged and only available during this season. They are priced anywhere from $10/lb to $30/lb, so a pound or two of a mixed variety would be sufficient for 1 to 2 people. As a person who loves cooking and eating mushrooms, this is a thoughtful gift that would be greatly appreciated (and will save your fellow mushroom lover some money).
White Truffles from Alba
If you have about $70 to $100 to splurge and want to give a grand gift to a very special person in your life that you know will appreciate it, you’ll want to grab a white truffle from Alba. These truffles are known as the “diamond of truffles” because they are rare and highly prized for its wonderfully intense fragrant aroma. For best results, it should be used within 3 days after foraged.
Note: You may also need to grab them a truffle shaver if they do not already have one.
Where to Find White Truffles Locally: Far West Fungi (San Francisco)
Charcuterie & Meats
For true meat lovers, you cannot go wrong with the gift of salami, sausages, pancetta and other cured greatness. The process it takes to create charcuterie is greatly appreciated in the food world and depending on what you get, it may have a long shelf life that allows it to be consumed for a few weeks even after opening. You’ll be thought about every salami slice.
Local Charcuterie Spots I Love: Boccalone (San Francisco), Fra’Mani (Berkeley)
Perfect Local Pairings: Cow Girl Creamery’s Mt Tam Cheese (San Francisco, a couple of doors down from Boccalone in the Ferry Building), Boccalone's Grain Mustard (San Francisco)
Pints of Local Ice Cream
Ice cream is the kind of dessert that has the power to put a smile on almost anyone’s face. We have a great selection of local ice cream with unique flavors like Bi-Rite Creamery’s ricanelas (snickerdoodle with cinnamon ice cream) and Humphry Slocombe’s secret breakfast (cornflakes with bourbon). The ice cream scene is very popular, often consisting of long lines for a scoop, so picking up a pint as a gift would make you truly heaven sent.
For loved ones with an extreme sweet tooth, a box of alfajores will make them thankful for having you in their lives. Imagine two shortbread cookies filled with dulce de leche then covered in powdered white sugar. If you are a skilled baker, you can make these at home or buy them at specialty bakeries or hole-in-the-wall Salvadorean restaurants. If you do decide to make this at home, you’ll probably win this person’s heart forever.