Consumables make the best gifts. Especially when you’re already DROWNING in toys, books, and kids’ clothes, right? So here’s a little selection of some of the fabulous locally crafted items I’ll be buying this year for family, friends, teachers, etc. Chanukah is early, so it’s already time for some of us to get a jump start on holiday shopping. (Sorry if I spoil the surprise to my dear recipients.) A selection of favorite food-themed children’s toys and books is forthcoming, too.
Cafecito Organico: Bags of impeccably sourced, locally roasted, and attractively packaged coffee beans (love the alien on the logo and “Grown on Earth By Humans” pledge) make the perfect present for the coffee enthusiasts in your life. It’s always a good thing to support super good guys, co-owners Angel and Mitch. I also brought my brother-in-law a Cafecito t-shirt emblazoned with a skeleton proffering a steaming cup, and the ever-poignant motto, “Café o Muerte.” Words to live by, my friend.
Furthur: I first encountered these products at the Planned Parenthood L.A. Food Fare a few years ago. Granted this product doesn’t fall into the edible category, but wait! There’s a food tie-in: If you’ve been to the bathroom at Mozza, perhaps you’ve noticed the aromatic liquid soap made from repurposed cooking oil collected from L.A. restaurants. The folks at Further, however, know that just because you love Nancy Silverton’s fried squash blossoms doesn’t mean you want your soap to smell like them. So the hand soap evokes light citrus mixed with a dash of spice and bright floral notes. I grabbed a few bottles ($12) at H.D. Buttercup‘s Unique LA shop this past weekend. Further also makes candles and lotion.
Chicks with Knives’ pickles, jams & preserves: Bacon jam — could there be a more perfect iconoclastic Chanukah gift? I’ll be picking up my order ($12 per jar), along with sauerkraut ($8), pickled sun chokes, and some other goodies by the fantastic CWK duo later on this week. I can’t say I’d ever had spiced crab apples before until Rachael and Suzanne served them at the CWK dinner at our house. Their pop-up pickle shop itself happens only on Thursday evening, December 2 at 8500 Melrose Ave., and pre-orders are encouraged. (Speaking of pickle-and-preserved-food-related matters: Be sure to read Burkhard Bilger’s fascinating piece in the recent New Yorker food issue profiling Sandor Katz and exploring the fermentation movement. You’ll never think about bacteria the same way again.)
Valerie Confections: Taster Tots readers know my family consumes its fair share of chocolates, jams, and many sweet and savory treats from Valerie Confections. (Just this past weekend at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market I was reminded of why the galette is the perfect grab-and-go / nibble-while-you-shop item.) I’ve got my sister in New York hooked on the mint mendiants; even if Dean and Deluca carries the pretty white boxes tied with a lovely green bow, I still always go to Valerie’s store on W. 1st Street between Commonwealth and Virgil to send or bring them to NY. Sign up on the mailing list, or follow via Twitter or Facebook to see if any special promotions and discounts are available.
Chef Cordelia’s Popcorn: I love finding out that people I’ve known for a long time are doing really cool, interesting stuff. Since the time Cordelia Culver and I went to high school together, she’s embarked on a career as a chef and caterer, and is now making magical caramel popcorn ($9 for a 6 oz. bag). The bowls of it passed around during a party I hosted a few months ago elicited surprise and delight. As Cordelia says, it’s more of a confection, so a little goes a long way — although I’ll gladly polish off a generous serving of either the bacon truffle or orange chipotle all by myself.
Morning Glory Confections: I’ve written about MGC founder and specialty brittle maker Max Lesser, and been a fan of Max’s products for some time. His wife, Susan, is also a fellow food/mom blogger (whatever you want to call us), of Reservation for Three. Look for a Q&A with Max coming here soon! Anyway, Max’s unique fully handmade brittles, which pack in a huge range of intense and subtle flavors and textures, are proven hits.
Wines from Domaine LA: OK, so these products aren’t locally made per se, but I wanna give a shout out to our friend Jill Bernheimer — AKA our “pusher,” as my husband likes to say. Pop by the stylish wine shop on Melrose between Highland and La Brea to get personalized recs on wines and accessories from Jill. And Domaine LA’s gift packaging is elegant, contemporary and eco-chic to boot.
Bitters and Barware at Barkeeper: Again, I’m straying from the theme a bit here. But this Silver Lake boutique is one of the best examples of dedicated niche marketing and creative flair, ever. Sick of rum and eggnog over the holidays? (I’m not, but that’s besides the point.) Why not organize a bitters tasting party featuring a selection of oddball and intriguing samples from Barkeeper? And those gift baskets assembled by shining stars of L.A.’s flourishing cocktail scene are brilliant.
Fortunately, the Eat My Blog Bake Sale overlaps with Chanukah, should you want to bestow a bounty of baked goods upon your friends for nights 4 and 5 of the holiday that coincide with the weekend. Pick up some fresh and sinful goods from L.A.’s best blogger bakers at Tender Greens West Hollywood on Saturday, December 4 from 10 to 4 p.m. We had a blast at the last one so I’m bummed I can’t attend the next event, but I might have to send a proxy to load up so I can taste how some L.A. food nerds strut their stuff and do right by us in their own kitchens. All proceeds go to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.
And you can never go wrong with gift cards. Who cares if they’re not considered the most personal of gifts. I mean, what person isn’t psyched to get one? I’d be giddy if given some bucks to spend at local faves Cheese Store of Silverlake, Silverlake Wine, Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Intelligentsia, Surfas, McCall’s, Pazzo Gelato, Joan’s on Third, Clementine, Colorado Wine Co., Susina, barbrix, the Spice Station, Larchmont Larder, just to name a few. In the meantime, I’ve got a shipment of less exciting national chain store cards coming to me in support of my nephew’s school fundraiser. But I’m still thrilled to stash them away, even if I don’t have a Marriott hotel stay planned at the moment.