Tick tock. That's the sound of the holiday clock doing its thing and it is getting louder. Hanakkuh has already begun and Christmas is next week and perhaps you still haven't done anything about getting that foodie loved one or friend a gift. Well, the great thing about foodie gifts is that they can never be too late. We know some of the best gifts come out of the oven or off the shelf just in the nick of time. After years of baking holiday cookies, brownies and biscotti and sending them down the street and across the country, I'm letting some of the incredible food artisans in our area do the work.
So in no particular order of preference here are the hot foodie gifts I'd love to give or receive this holiday season:
Chocolates (photo courtesy of Hedonist Artisan Chocolates blog)
Did you know that some of the finest filled chocolates and truffles in this country are being produced right here in Central NY? Yeah, I didn't either--not until I was sent on assignment by Edible Finger Lakes to write about some amazing female chocolatiers. You can read about them in the next issue of the magazine. But for gift giving (or Valentines Day or just to treat yourself) you can order a beautiful box of chocolates and have them shipped to the lucky recipient. And if they don't love you already, one bite of any of these mouthwatering confections will seal the deal. Check out:
Wine, Beer, and Spirits
A sampling of Finger Lakes Cab Franc 2007 Vintage
Really, this is a no brainer, right? Dropping off a bottle of a Finger Lakes Cab Franc or Riesling, a Long Island Merlot, a growler of Middle Ages or Empire Brewing Company beer or anything from the new Finger Lakes Distilling will always be well received. Some wineries, like Billsboro, are even offering free shipping within New York State (you don't even have to order a case to get this deal).
If you want to go further afield then New York, check out one of the area wine shops like Vinomania in Syracuse, Savvy Wine Cellar in Camillus, or run down to Red Feet in Ithaca and ask the staff to put together 3, 6, or full case packages of wine based on you or the recipient's tastes--they won't steer you wrong.Cooking Inspiration
Books, calendars, and magazine subscriptions are just the thing to spark cooking inspiration during the winter months.
The brand new Edible Finger Lakes Calendar brings the beautiful photography from the magazine to every month of the year. Recipes and a guide to what's growing season by season shows how easy eating locally can be. You can purchase the calendar for $12.95 but why not just give the gift of a subscription to the magazine for $28 and get the calendar for free?
Cooking with Les Dames D'Escoffier With no women making it to the finals of Top Chef this round, it is easy to forget how many amazing women are rocking kitchens across the country. I've been loving this cookbook ever since I received it as a review copy earlier this year and would share it with female and male friends who appreciate the legacy and continuing contributions women make to the culinary scene.
Julia's Kitchen Wisdom. I don't care what anyone says, one simply can't get enough of Julia Child. This book is perfect for those who need a handy resource for learning/remembering the basics of cooking and building confidence in the kitchen. It isn't just about the "how" but also the "why" of preparing dishes simple and complex.
Give a Gift--Make a Difference
Menu for Hope. I can hardly believe how many thousands of dollars this six year-old food blogger event has raised for worthy causes. You make donations in ten dollar increments and gain a chance to win some incredible prizes (stay in a Tuscan villa, have a wine dinner with NY Times wine columnist Eric Asimov--get the picture?) The best part? All the prizes have been generously donated so that 100% of your donation goes to support the World Food Programme's Purchase for Progress. Check out Chez Pim's blog for updated details on the prizes and to enter.
Food Bank of Central New York. You can also make a difference right here at home by making a gift donation to the Food Bank. I can tell you much this helps--I worked with several folks from Grace Church to unload a pallet of food from the Food Bank into our Food Pantry storage area. It won't be there for long--it will be given out Thursday to folks who can't make the ends meet at their dinner table.
Just Feed 'Em
This is DIY easy: get a cute basket (those Bolga baskets would be awesome here) and fill it with a pound of locally roasted coffee, a bag of granola or muesli, organic pancake mix, maybe a bottle of maple syrup, and you're good to go. Want bonus points? Whip up a batch of scones and hand deliver your baskets of delicousness throughout the holiday season--which means from now till January 6. (For the nighttime version of this gift, take said basket and fill it with a bottle of wine, an assortment of local cheeses, and a loaf of stretch bread or baguette).
Have fun and happy gifting!