Foodie Holiday Wishlist: Top 10 from the Bay Area

| December 9, 2009 | 0 Comments
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Christmas lights at Longwood Gardens
It’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas!

All I want for Christmas is… not another pair of toe-socks (no offense, Mom) or body lotion/soap set.

The Bay Area is rife with unique eating experiences, culinary talent, and tasty goods made with lots of love. Why not support local businesses, while giving someone a gift they won’t be re-gifting?

(Ahem, for the record, if you do want to re-gift any of these, I’d gladly accept items 1 through 10).

1. CSA subscription (for the Lazy)

Buy Fresh Buy Local
Bay Area: Buy Fresh Buy Local

I love having my CSA box of fresh, organic, in-season fruits and veggies delivered right to my door every other week. Many are flexible, customizable, and available for convenient delivery to your home or nearby location. A few to get you started on your search:

2. Socola Chocolatier “Holiday Chocolate Truffle Collection {on a faux bear rug},” $25 (for the Cheeky)

Socola Chocolatier, holiday collection
Socola Chocolatier, holiday collection {on a faux bear rug}

This Oakland-based, sister-run chocolate company is modern, sassy, and full of delectable personality. The 12-piece holiday assortment includes the following flavors: Hazelnut Gianduja (a milk chocolate truffle blended with roasted hazelnuts “bundled up in a fashionable nutty parka”), Hot in Hia (a champagne truffle with notes of fruit and honey, named in honor of the bubbly personality of the girls’ grandmother Hia), Le Frog Neat (a smoky confection made with 10-year-old Laphroaig Scotch whisky), and Pumpkin Burnt Caramel (a warm mix of pumpkin pie spices, burnt caramel, Hawaiian sea salt and a splash of brandy).

3. Recchiuti Confections “Creativity Explored III: Toys,” $21 (for the Philanthropic Art-lover)

Recchiuti Confections, Creativity Explored III: Toys
Recchiuti Confections, Creativity Explored III: Toys

These art-adorned chocolates combine Michael Recchiuti’s signature Burnt Caramel chocolate confections, with the work of Vincent Jackson, SF native and long-time artist at the Creativity Explored studio. Creativity Explored is a Bay Area nonprofit visual arts center where artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell their art. $2 from each sale goes to support Creativity Explored.

4. Jimmyjane Milk Chocolate AFTERGLOW Massage Oil Candle, $28 (for After Hours)

Jimmyjane, Milk Chocolate AFTERGLOW
Jimmyjane, Milk Chocolate AFTERGLOW

If it’s a different kind of chocolate experience you’re after, look no further. When heated, this candle liquefies into high-slip massage oil made with jojoba, shea butter, vitamin E, soy, aloe, and other botanical extracts. Bonus: it comes with a body brush to assist in painting the warm oil onto the skin. Extra Bonus: it smells delicious.

5. Boccalone Large Gift Box, $52 (for the Carnivore)

Chris Cosentino, Boccalone
Chris Cosentino, Boccalone

Nothing says Happy Holidays like Tasty Salted Pig Parts. This homage to salumi contains two 8-ounce Boccalone salami (chosen from available flavors like Orange & Wild Fennel Salame, Soppressata di Calabria, Brown Sugar and Fennel Salame, and Salame Pepato), a t-shirt, and one 9-ounce jar of Whole-Grain Mustard. If the whole gift box thing isn’t your style, take your pick of hand-crafted porcine delights from the Boccalone meat locker. I, for one, may or may not be maxing out my luggage weight limit this Christmas flight home on Nduja (“en-DOO-ya”)…so much velvety, spicy Nduja.

6. Jessie Steele Aprons, $30.95-$33.95 (for the Lovely Hostess)

Jessie Steele aprons
Photo by Jessie Steele, from left to right: Bib Ava Cabbage Rose Apron, Half Audrey Cherry Cupcakes Apron, Bib Gigi French Toil Apron with Terry Towel

These vintage 1940′s and 50′s-inspired hostess aprons are so cute and fabu, they just make me want to put on my pearls, bake a cake and drink a martini at the same time.

7. Cookbooks from Bay Area Culinary Greats (for Those Who Can Take the Heat)

Ad hoc at home
Ad hoc at Home

These cookbooks will be sure to inspire some magic in your home kitchen:

Note: you may want to pair this gift with a laminating machine, drool.

8. La Cocina Artisan Gift Box, The Half-Pint, $35 (for the Snack-Happy Do-Gooder)

La Cocina Gift Box, The Half-Pint
La Cocina Gift Box, The Half-Pint

These gift boxes are filled with an assortment of hand-made, sweet and salty snacks from local small food businesses enrolled in La Cocina’s incubator program. Snack to your heart’s content and feel good about supporting local food entrepreneurs.

9. Cooking Classes (for the Ambitious)

Lick My Spoon Cooking Class
Group Cook

Because if you send someone you love to a cooking class, chances are good it will come back ten-fold! There are many options in SF alone, ranging in price, time commitment, and topic. For a more formal school setting, there is the highly regarded Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Urban Kitchen SF hosts affordable, skill/project specific classes and workshops themed around the DIY Slow Food concept (e.g. brewing Kombucha, baking bread, composting), as does CUESA at the Ferry Building. And butchery is hot as ever, as Ryan Farr of 4505 Meats or Tia Harrison of Avedano’s Holly Park Market can tell you. SF Station also has a comprehensive of culinary schools and social cooking classes in the city.

10. Unique Dining Experiences (for the Hungry)

Outstanding in the Field dinner table
Photo by Outstanding in the Field

And finally, you can’t go wrong with a fantastic meal. There is no shortage of phenomenal restaurants in the Bay Area, but if you dig a little, you can also find some interesting out-of-the-box options. Outstanding in the Field offers gift certificates (although, be sure to stay on top of the 2010 schedule once it’s announced because these stunning dinners book up quickly). For something more stealth and mysterious, check out the underground supperclub scene at The Ghetto Gourmet.

So what are you waiting for? Now Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen…

Happy holidays, happy gift-giving, and happy eating to all.

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Category: bay area, cookbooks, holidays and traditions, local food businesses

About the Author ()

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well. Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine. Stephanie's writing and photography have been featured in Fodor's Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.