Our Favorite Things: Gifts for Everyone On Your List
Whether you’re shopping for the holidays, an anniversary, an upcoming wedding, or just enjoying the season with family and friends, we’ve assembled a list of our favorite gifts in this year’s annual Crave Local Holiday Gift Guide. Popular gifts for foodies include Personalized Photo Mugs, recipe books and cooking kits, however, any practical gift will go down well with anyone who loves being in the kitchen. Read on for over 30 of our favorite things…
Set the Table
After the holiday season is over, give them something useful for table décor. Nested in a sleek wood caddy, Olive & Cocoa’s Vintage Bottle Caddy features ten antique style glass bottles – the perfect way to extend single blooms from seasonal arrangements that may have seen better days. Even a few pieces of fern from the back yard can make for a simple, yet lovely arrangement. The caddy comes packaged in Olive & Cocoa brown paper gift wrap with ribbon. $114 on oliveandcocoa.com/.
Gifts for Your Favorite Foodie
As the wife of a first generation American from Spain, more than once I’ve tried my hand at making (and sometimes failing at) the perfect paella.
A brightly hued rice dish from Spain, paella has become a signature and well sought-after dish, is known around the world for its unique flavors and saffron infused scent. It originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. To make great paella, however, you need not only the correct rice and ingredients, but also a quality paella pan. Traditionally, paella pans are perforated carbon steel, preferred for their rapid heat conductivity, and also due in part to the influence that carbon steel can have on the flavor of the paella.
The only downside to a carbon-steel pan is that, like cast iron, it will require seasoning before and after uses. Find that perfect paella pan at La Tienda here, along with everything they’ll need to make one of Spain’s most romantic meals. Paella kits start at under $50.
If wine and cheese lovers are on your list this holiday season, give them something even more special to taste through.
Featuring some of the best olive oil from Spain, Italy, and Greece, Olive Oil Lovers has created a “Tasting Kit” – an attractively boxed set, featuring six small bottles (3.4 oz) of extra virgin olive oil, each offering a regionally distinct flavor profile. Like wine, you’ll discover subtle nuances in each oil, as well as which appeals to each person’s own palate and preference. You may just find yourself being a bit more particular about your olive oil, once you’ve tasted the difference that high quality and a great region can bring. $29.95 on oliveoillovers.com.
A great gift for any gourmet food lover or meat connoisseur, our annual holiday gift guide reviewers loved reknowned New York charcuterie company Les Trois Petits Cochons is offering for the first time their own holiday gift baskets, available in stores and online.
Containing a selection of pate, cured saucisson, and all the accompaniments, all you need to do is add a bottle of your favorite wine. For under $50, you’ll get the following delicious items presented in a wooden box with a festive ribbon atop:
- Mousse Truffee, flavored with Pineau des Charentes and Sherry
- Paté de Campagne, made from coarsely ground pork, pork liver, onions, spices and herbs
- Saucisson Sec aux Herbes De Provence, a cured sausage with black pepper, and French herbs like tarragon and thyme
- Mini Toasts & Moutarde de Dijon
- French Cornichons – crisp, tart baby cucumbers pickled in white wine vinegar with pearl onions
- Petits Poivrons, a unique, sugar sweet miniature red that pairs beautifully with charcuteries and aged cheeses
Serving up a variety of handcrafted pâtés, mousses, terrines, sausage, smoked meats and other French specialties for over 40 years, Les Trois Petit Cochons products are now available in retailers across the country.
For more information on Les Trois Petits Cochons, please visit them online at 3pigs.com.
Absolutely no charcuterie board would be complete without a great mustard to accompany those handmade meats and cheeses. A sublime treat for any savory food lover, give them Maille’s exclusive Mustard on Tap in limited-edition flavors featuring lavish black truffle and Cep. Unusual, and rather addictive, these umami-infused mustards perfectly complement poultry, beef, parmesan risotto with asparagus and white wine, as well as a variety of aged cheeses.
Truffle and Cep Mustard: This brand new, limited-edition offering (taupe jar) combines two sought-after wild mushroom varieties to create a woody, smoky and earthy flavor marriage of mushroom royalty. The coarsely textured stoneware ceramic jar is also a limited-edition, made by Manufacture Digoin, a Burgundy-based ceramic specialist since 1875.
Chablis White Wine and Black Truffle Mustard: Also exclusively for the holidays, Maille brings back its best-selling mustard on tap for the cool-weather months (black jar). Made with black winter truffles from the Provence region, and Chablis white wine from Burgundy, this gourmet mustard will likely be the first inspiration they grab from the frig for a midnight snack.
Our annual holiday gift guide pick: the pair as an elegantly-packaged Holiday-Perfect Set: Packaged in an stylish black gift box that includes two 4.4oz jars (one of each limited-edition seasonal flavor) with a signature wooden mustard spoon for $93 on Maille.com.
Pair those gorgeous mushroom mustards with another gourmet treat this season, with a Rosemary and Sea Salt Pretzel mix from Boardwalk Food Company. An American owned and operated company, Boardwalk’s craft beer pretzel mixes whip up in just under 30 minutes, providing warm, golden brown pretzels at the ready. Only $7.99 on www.BoardwalkFoodCo.com.
If your gift list includes a globe-trotting food lover that also likes to cook, Watcharee’s authentic, mouth-watering gourmet Thai sauces are the ideal gift. Handcrafted in small batches from premium Thai ingredients, the sauces bring decadent, authentic Asian flavors to any weeknight dinner or celebration. The most versatile in the line, Watcharee’s Pad Thai sauce, blends fragrant spices, sweet shallots and tamarind, and is inspired by a recipe from traditional fishing villages east of Bangkok.
This holiday season, look for their Thai Sauces Gift Set – four ready-to-use generously sized jars of their authentic sauces. Available for $40.00 at www.watcharee.com.
Need a fast appetizer idea for early arrival guests? Be prepared with these delish spreads from Cucinoa & Amore.
Artichoke Bruschetta -go more gourmet than traditional spinach dip, with this updated twist on an old favorite. The salinity and bright, fresh artichoke flavor will satisfy every savory craving. Use it to top slightly warm French bread rounds, or as a dip for veggies.
Great for chicken or as a base for a quick homemade pizza, Cucina & Amore’s Sundried Tomato Bruschetta is sweet and tart, with great depth of flavor.
Wine & Spirits
If your idea of a great party is less work, and more play, keep this gift for yourself! Sweet, floral, and lighter in structure than traditional port wines, Otima 10 Year Old Tawny Port is an easy pairing for eclectic holiday menus. Using Portuguese grapes from the Duoro Valley aged in oak casks, you’ll notice flavors of hazelnuts, dried orange peel, candied ginger, and currants. An after dinner sipper, Otima also works well in lighter cocktails. SRP $26 for a 500 ml bottle.
According to event experts nationwide, Winter 2016 is turning into the season for weddings! What better gift to give the bride and groom than a bottle of champagne, to celebrate their love.
Made from a delicate blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, each wine is blended with 40 percent reserve wines from the Charles Heidsieck cellar, averaging 10 years old, adding further depth and complexity to the wine. Because of this red and white varietal blend, this rosé sparkler carries with it gorgeous notes of strawberry jam, white peach, and a bit of spice box. For an indulgent after dinner treat, pair Charles Heidsieck Rose NV Brut Rose Champagne with a lemon chiffon cake with whipped cream. $79 at retailers nationwide.
The 2013 Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir is Lula Cellars’ premium Pinot Noir wine and the perfect accompaniment to any date night BYOB. Its Dijon and Pommard four-clone blend produces a beautiful deep purple-garnet color, with hints of chocolate, spice box, and bright cherry. Wild strawberries, leather, clove, and allspice are present, with a redolent, almost bacon-like nose on the finish, this small lot wine is a must have for any wine lover on your list.
Awarded 93 points on Crave Local. Highly recommended, with only 450 cases produced. $45 on www.lulacellars.com
If your gal pal loves all things glitter, this gift is for her. One Hope Wine’s Glitter Edition Sparkling Wine from California is a show stopper, with tiny, refreshing bubbles, a lovely pale gold color, and aromas of fresh green apple and white peach, with a nose of freshly baked brioche that’s sure to please. Creamy, with long lasting effervescence, pair this sparkler with pears and baked brie for an elegant starter. $59 on onehopewine.com.
Pink gin, you say? Yes, it’s actually a thing. The original tale hails from a seasickness cure, created by the Royal Navy. How well that worked is a story for the history books, but with Bitter Truth’s Pink Gin, what once was a medicinally-purposed cocktail is now in a bottle, ready for you and yours to try at home. Perfect for an ice cold, dry martini with a twist.
Notes are slightly licorice, with flavors of lemon peel, light juniper, and citrus spice. The Bitter Truth Pink Gin is 40% ABV and retails for $39.99.
Awarded 91 points on Crave Local.
For the on-the-move mixologist, the Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set can be carried in flight hand luggage as the ideal companion for all globetrotters who won`t settle for anything less than perfect drinks during their flight! Including 5 different flavors in a lovely designed tin box this kit is also the perfect addition to the cocktail lover’s home bar.
Includes Bitter Truth’s Celery, Aromatic, Creole, Orange, and Jerry Thomas bitters. $27 online.
If you’ve got a chile head on your list, look no further for an exhilarating cocktail experience than award winning Soltado Tequila. Made from 100% blue agave, hot Serrano chiles, and Mexican cinnamon, this handcrafted spirit is likely one of the hottest gifts they’ll get all season. Dial the spice up or down, depending on how you choose to mix it. Blends beautifully with Irish cream in a coffee cocktail, or with cranberry and lime for a spicy twist on a Cape Cod. $39, ask for it at local retailers.
97 Point Rated, 5 Stars
For whisky lovers on your list, give them something new from the house of Suntory, in Japan. Although most Japanese whiskys are a single malt, Toki (meaning ‘time’ in Japanese) is a blend of three malts and grains: the Hakushu American white oak cask malt whisky – chosen for its unique freshness, mellowness and spectacular green apple notes, the Chita – a heavy-type grain whisky, with stone fruit and vanilla custard notes, and the Yamazaki – a Spanish oak cask malt whisky, which adds woody and bittersweet chocolate notes to the blend. The resulting product is less traditional bigger body whisky, and more of a lighter, sweet taste, and crisp body-a perfect pairing for Grandma’s caramel pecan pie.
Suntory Toki tasting notes on Crave Local can be found here. $38 in select retailers.
American whiskey fans will love Cedar Ridge’s Iowa made Single Malt Whiskey. With their ‘grain-to-glass’ approach, you’ll taste a clean, crisp spirit, with citrus fruit and vanilla on the finish. Aged in a combination of wine, rum, and brandy barrels, and created in small batches, it’s a true taste of the Midwest in a bottle. SRP $48 at select retailers. If you’re wanting the gift recipient to enjoy this whiskey in style, you might also want to look at whiskey decanters and glasses from the likes of websites such as https://www.cornetbarcelona.com/products/sagrada-whiskey-glasses.
Kitchen & Home
Iron deficiency affects nearly 3.5 billion people. For women and those suffering from anemia, iron is even more important to include in our diets. Created by a socially responsible B corporation, each Lucky Iron Fish can be added to any pot, simmered for 10 minutes, then removed, providing you with up to 90% of your daily iron requirement.
For each purchase, a second Lucky Iron Fish is donated to a family in need through partnerships with nonprofits and NGOs around the world. $25 on http://www.luckyironfish.com/shop.
Last year, Lucky Iron Fish donated more than 40,000 Fish, benefiting an estimated 84,000 families in need.
Hexclad, a leader in innovative cookware, has unveiled a new product suite that blends tri-ply stainless steel with a patented, non-stick surface to provide durable, high-performance every time you cook with it, without the worry of PFOAs, a carcinogen sometimes seen in nonstick surface coatings. Feature include:
- Faster heating and greater heat retention
- Lower energy use, longevity and strength
- Ultra-effective nonstick surface that enables less sticking of food items without the use of oil
- Stay-cool handle, which doesn’t require potholders or grips during use
- Oven safe up to 500 degrees
- Tri-ply layered construction via laser on both the inside and outside of the pan to enable superior nonstick capabilities
We tested Hexclad’s pan using oil, and even delicate fish like salmon did not stick. It’s also a head-turning ‘funky’ design, definitely popular with our Instagram fans! Hexclad’s 10″ pan retails for $99.99, and includes a lifetime warranty. Find it at hexclad.com.
Made in France, Optiwine’s Pocket Decanter allows you to aerate wine, anywhere, and in only 10 minutes. Made out of a lightweight synthetic material with the same texture and transparency as crystal glass, without its fragility. Using their one-of-a-kind technology, the Pocket Decanter reveals all of the taste nuances of wine and make the perfect gift for professionals and wine enthusiasts alike.
Simple and efficient to use, you simply uncork the bottle, choose the correct Pocket Decanter size for the vintage and varietal, and then insert it into the bottle in lieu of the cork. Tilt the bottle, wait 10 minutes, then pour-you’ll have smoother, more lush wine, just like magic. Starting at $21 for a single Pocket Decanter, or a three piece set for under $60, find them at https://www.optiwine.fr/.
Although we rarely think about it, over 500 million straws end up in landfills each day. Like most plastic disposable items, it can hundreds of years for them to breakdown, polluting the environment, and causing harm to our lakes and river.
Founded by professional snowboarder and activist, Chanelle Sladics and her mother, Simply Straws are made from glass in simply gorgeous colors, shapes, and sizes. We loved their cobalt blue and lavender, especially in cocktail sizes for elegant sipping.
Unlike most straws, they are reusable, sustainable, durable, biodegradable and handmade in Costa Mesa, California. Simply Straws donates a minimum of 1% of gross income to various charitable organizations, including Protect our Winters and the 1% Foundation. Retails $8-$42 at simplystraws.com.
Consider this your manly man (or woman) bar trophy. At a whopping ¾ lb, the Brick is a bottle opener you will never lose, with bottle cap busting power and cast stainless design that gives your bar top, office desk, or man cave a ‘class act’ look. At $49.99, this one won’t last long. Find it on their website at yeti.com.
Retro is back, baby, and nothing’s more fun than a cheese-filled food and wine night with friends! Host a sweet and savory fondue party with this classy, shiny version of the 70’s favorite with Trudeau’s Alto Electric Fondue. With a mirror finish, ceramic double boiler, and generously sized bowl, you can switch from cheese to meat, veggies, or chocolate quickly.
- 84-ounce handled fondue pot
- Stainless-steel mirror finish
- White stoneware insert, ideal for chocolate or cheese fondue
- Electric base with thermostat control; impressive 1500 watts of power
The tested unit quickly melted our gruyere cheese fondue, and kept it hot all evening, without burning or overcooking the cheese. Broth and oil fondue also performed well, although a bit messier to keep that lovely, stainless mirror shine. Don’t be afraid to make the investment-this one’s going to get a lot of use when family is in town! $129 on shoptrudeau.com and Amazon.com.
Almost too pretty to use, and certainly the perfect gift ‘extra’ for someone special (use it in lieu of traditional gift wrap, and tie up with natural hemp twine!), Nantucket Looms handwoven collection has already become a best seller. Like your favorite sweater, this thirsty towel is highly absorbent, and festively colored in a bright red and cream open pebble weave. $58 on https://www.nantucketlooms.com/.
If you’re ready to up your gourmet chef game, cooking with the sous vide method can yield delicious results. The term ‘sous vide’, meaning ‘under vacuum’ in French, typically refers to the process of vacuum sealing food, and slowly cooking it in a water bath, usually in a plastic bag. If you haven’t got a sous vide machine yet then check out this article on the best sous vide machines you can buy. If you already have one then there is still something that might be worth getting…
The problem with most sous vide cooking, however, is that although traditional polyethylene plastic bags may be BPA-free, they’re still capable of leaching unhealthy chemicals, particularly when heated. Made from platinum silicone, Stasher bags seal perfectly every time, can be heated without worry of chemical breakdown, are dishwasher safe, and can be reused over and over. $11.99 each on stasherbag.com. Photo credit, James Ransom.
Travel, Tech, & Style
Setting out to keep the best parts of a tote bag – beautiful aesthetics and canvas interior – but with brilliant accessibility and organization features, the brilliant makers behind Peak Design have now created the most versatile travel tote you’ll ever use.
Flexible, foldable dividers allow for limitless internal organization options, as well as allow gear stacking, while dual side access panels let you quickly access internal sections without taking the bag off your shoulder. A charcoal grey waxed exterior keeps inclement weather out, while premium leather handles and trim keep the style up. This isn’t just a town bag, camera bag, or a tech carrier (large enough for a 13″ laptop or Macbook) – it’s an everyday bag for everyone in the modern world.
Highly versatile, we tried this tote out during (our attempt) to shoot the Supermoon appearance. Although the clouds and weather made the shoot less than stellar, our Peak Design Tote kept us organized, protected, and our equipment secure. The perfect gift for the busy traveler on your list, $189 on peakdesign.com.
A better way to take a selfie, Pulse is the world’s most powerful wireless camera remote. About the size of a credit card, Pulse sits in the hotshoe mount of your DSLR, connects to your camera via micro USB, and is controlled wirelessly via an intuitive app for iOS and Android devices. Functionality includes:
- Full Manual control of ISO/Aperture/Shutter
- Thumbnail preview of images
- Basic and Advanced time-lapse features (exposure ramping etc.)
- Start and stop video
- Long Exposure
- Self timer for setting up epic selfies or make a photobooth
- HDR Bracketing
Remote distance with Pulse can work from as far as 100 feet, leaving you free to enjoy the perfect sunrise, or snap ‘in the moment’ family portraits. $99 on alpinelaboratories.com.
Whether it’s the aftermath of all that turkey, or just a lazy afternoon by the river, sometimes all you need is place to take a cat nap! Look no further, as Kammok outdoor brands has now created the Wallby, a mini, portable hammock that weighs less than your laptop bag.
At just 10 ounces, and made from silky, high denier ripstop fabric, this colorful little ‘bed in a bag’ can hold up to 400 pounds, keeping you, your hiking gear, or whatever else you might put in it safe and high off the ground.
Combine your Wallaby with Kammok’s Python Straps -a 10 foot long, daisy-chain suspension system that can turn nearly any tree, rock, post, or anchor point capable of bearing weight into an easy way to ‘hang around’.
Wallaby and Python Straps sold separately. Get both for under $100 on kammok.com.
Whether their hiking trails, or walking off that third slice of pie, the CEP Dynamic+ Run Ultralight Socks will make for a thoughtful stocking stuffer. Offering a perfect fit and extreme durability, these socks will also increase circulation, reduce swelling and support tendons and ligaments in the ankles and feet. Because of their snug fit, and custom shape (yes, there’s a right and a left-just like your feet!), CEP Dynamic Ultralight Socks will never rub or cause blistering. MSRP: $20.00 on cepcompression.com.
As a fair trade and socially responsible brand, each Songa Designs handbag is lovingly crafted by Rwandan women, helping to create economic independence in the lives of each artisan.
Known for their specialty accessories and baskets, Songa handbags are created using traditional African weaving techniques, passed down through families over generations. Each purse is composed of locally sourced and recycled materials that otherwise would end up in landfills. This holiday season, Songa is featuring two bags – the Zuri, and the Jacqueline, with new designs coming each quarter.
The Zuri Handbag, (MSRP $69.99, meaning “beautiful” in Swahili) is the first piece to utilize off white maize leaves, sisal plant materials, and an inner brown fabric lining.
The Jacqueline Handbag (MSRP $89.99), designed by a local artisan with the same name, is skillfully handwoven with cocoa brown banana leaves and adorned with re-purposed cow horn. Big enough to carry your favorite magazines, beach cover up, and flip flop, it would also make the perfect home décor accessory, to store the Sunday paper and periodicals. Find both (with free shipping!) at songadesigns.com.
Last, but certainly not least in our 2016 gift guide is Vim & Vigr’s adorably fashionable knee highs. Whether you’re a bartender, chef, nurse, or just a working mom, nothing is more taxing on feet and legs than standing all day for work. Medical grade compression socks, however, are usually less than attractive. Give them the gift of healthy, fashionable feet with Vim & Vigr. Made with premium nylon, wool, or cotton, and a mild-moderate compression, these high-functioning socks help:
- Energize legs
- Prevent swelling
- Alleviate achiness and heaviness
- Prevent and reduce spider and varicose veins
- Aid in muscle recovery
Men’s and women’s styles available, SRP $32.95 at vimvigr.com.