▪ SIA Scotch Whiskey
$49.98 for 750 ml bottle; available in bars, restaurants, stores and online retailers; www.siascotch.com
Created by San Francisco entrepreneur Carin Luna-Ostaseski and funded by a Kickstarter campaign, SIA is a small-batch blended whiskey designed to “appeal to today’s modern palate.” We gave it a shot and found its flavor bright and balanced, with notes of honey and citrus and a pleasing burn on the finish. A double gold medal winner at San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2014, SIA can be found at Red Rabbit, Shady Lady, De Vere’s, Block Butcher Bar in Sacramento and Hawks in Granite Bay.
▪ The Cookie Department Fully Functional Cookies
$1.99 each; Raleys and Bel Air markets; www.thecookiedepartment.com
Made in Berkeley, these individually packaged treats promise more than sweet satisfaction. The flagship flavor – Awaken Baked – is a combo of organic coffee (the same amount as a shot of espresso) and chocolate, while the peanut butter Tough Cookie packs in a walloping 10 grams of protein.
▪ Meredith Dairy Marinated Cheese
$9.99 for 7-ounce container; Taylor’s Market; www.meredithdairy.com
This Australian family farm (run by a husband-wife team) has won numerous awards both for their superior goat and sheep’s-milk products and their sustainable farming methods. These creamy cubes of marinated cheese are steeped in a mild but satisfying olive oil blended with herbs, pepper and just a touch of salt – ideal for an appetizer, salads, or just for snacking.
▪ Spease Bees Honey
$8 per 12-ounce jar; Save Mart; www.speasebees.com
Someone at the family-owned Spease Bees Honey Co. in Elk Grove reached back to the 1920s for its slogan to describes its product: “It’s the Bee’s Knees.” Meaning it’s the cat’s meow. Or, if you prefer, the cat’s pajamas. Translation: “the height of excellence.” We agree. We’ve tasted the honey, sourced from wildflowers along the Cosumnes River, and found its well-balanced, mild floral flavor not too sweet and its consistency not too thick.
▪ The Good Stuff Watermelon Rind Pickles
$10.99 for 16-ounce jar; Corti Bros.; www.thegood-stuff.com
Local jarring genius Janet McDonald has been selling her preserves at farmers markets for a while, but now patrons can find some of her unusual concoctions – including watermelon rind pickles – at Corti Brothers. These firm, summer-tasting chucks are both sweet and spicy (flavorful, not hot) soaked in a bath of lemon, allspice, cloves, cardamom and more.
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