The holiday gift-giving season will be out of the oven shortly, a merry post-Thanksgiving feast of hunting and gathering that somehow seems to arrive at the table each year before we do.
It’s not too early to cook up ideas for stocking stuffers, host gifts and under-the-tree presents for your favorite food enthusiast. To help, we’ve prepped some dishy ideas.
Bee reporters and editors (Debbie Arrington, Chris Macias, Carla Meyer, Allen Pierleoni, Blair Anthony Robertson and Tim Swanson) have once again assembled a list of recommended food- and drink-centric gifts, all with “Made in (or Near) Sacramento” figuratively stamped on them. Comestibles, potables and associated gear don’t come more regional. All are relatively affordable – with prices topping out at $50. Go ahead and dig in.
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‘Best Food Writing 2015’ ($15.99)
For those who enjoy a literary feast, the annual “Best Food Writing” anthology offers plenty to chew on. Highlights from the 2015 edition include Anthony Bourdain flashing back to food memories on the Jersey Shore; Russ Parsons of the Los Angeles Times reflecting on a sublime roasted chicken recipe; and James Beard Award winner John DeVore musing about Taco Bell and self-identification. And don’t miss the profile of wine iconoclast Tim Hanni by The Bee’s Chris Macias. Pick up a copy at bookshops including The Avid Reader (1600 Broadway, Sacramento); 916-441-4400; www.avidreaderattower.com.
‘Bite’ gift boxes ($9.75-$33)
Jennifer Kaye, who recently opened About a Bite Bakery in downtown Sacramento, came up with these unique bite-size cookie-candy hybrids that are true Sacramento originals. Her best-selling original Salted Caramel “Bite” starts with a shortbread cookie, topped with a sea salt caramel, dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with fleur de sel. For gift boxes, choose an assortment from 15 different flavorful (and seasonal) combos such as Honey Hazelnut, Chipolte Salted Caramel, Mocha Crunch and Strawberry Balsamic. Prices: four pieces, $9.75; nine pieces, $19.50; 16 pieces, $33. Find them at About a Bite Bakery (1200 K St., Suite 9, Sacramento); 916-638-8949; www.aboutabitebakery.com. D.A.
California Gold Gin ($30)
Adam Stratton and Cris Steller know whiskey, rum, gin and vodka, which they make under the Engine 49 label at Amador/Dry Diggings Distillery in El Dorado Hills. Their unique 80-proof California Gold Gin gets its sweet bouquet and golden hue from the addition of “cold infused” citrus and mint, which complement juniper berries and other botanicals. It makes an unusual martini, and marries well with mixers. Find it in Nugget Markets, Total Wine & More, BevMo and at the distillery (5050 Robert Matthews Parkway, El Dorado Hills); 916-542-1700. It’s also at other stores and is served in many bars and restaurants; visit www.engine49.com for the complete list.
Chocolate stiletto from Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats ($35)
Pump up the holiday spirit with this unusual gift for the shoe-loving chocoholic on your list: a hand-crafted chocolate high-heeled shoe. Made by Lisa Kaysinger of Mrs. Kay’s Sweet Treats, this edible size 6 comes in a variety of colors (white, milk, dark or pink) and designs. Kaysinger also makes mini chocolate shoes and matching purses as well as chocolate-dipped bacon and other goodies at her bakery (9671 E. Stockton Blvd., Elk Grove); 916-647-9318; www.mrskays
Dad’s Kitchen garb ($20-$48.86)
At Dad’s, one can choose from a vast selection of craft beers, eat comfort food made from organic ingredients and revel in a beer-sign-driven, Americana decor so busy it makes Mel’s Diner look Scandinavian. But kitsch is never complete unless it’s wearable. These durable T-shirts and sweatshirts distill the spirit of Dad’s into a clean design that captures the warmth and retro vibe but subdues its visual clamor. Dad’s Kitchen (2968 Freeport Blvd., Sacramento); 916-447-3237; Ilovedadskitchen.com.
The Green Boheme gift card ($5 minimum)
Chef Brooke Preston serves up raw, vegan, organic and flavorful creations including “livin’ nachos,” made with cashew “cheese” and walnut “beans.” The restaurant turns classroom for $35 “Dine & Demo” events at which patrons eat dinner and dessert before watching a presentation on how to prepare an item from that evening’s menu. Though the website does not yet list specifics for 2016 demos, they happen most Mondays. The cards also are good for regular restaurant meals. The Green Boheme (1611 Lead Hill Blvd., Suite 160, Roseville); 916- 474-5609; www.the-green-boheme.myshopify.com.
Local honey from Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies ($6-$7 per pound plus container)
One of the best ways to taste the flavors of Sacramento is through its honey. At Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, you can choose from a variety of single-flower honeys that highlight different notes and aromas. The orange blossom honey, for instance, has a distinct orange zest flavor and gentle bitter finish and is good with tea. The wildflower is more nuanced, with caramel and floral notes, perhaps has slight grassy aroma, and an overall richness that many like for baking. For a hefty gift, consider a 4-pound jar for $27.95 to $31.95. Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies (2110 X St.); 916-451-2337; www.sacramentobeekeeping.com. B.A.R.
Matchbook The Arsonist 2012 red table wine ($22)
A bottle of wine can’t be beat as a go-to holiday gift. Plenty of regional vintners offer rich wines for a fair price, but in this case, we’re looking at Yolo County and a petit verdot-based wine that offers a full-bodied drinking experience, a moderate alcohol level of 13.8 percent and a very reasonable price tag. This densely colored wine is blended with cabernet sauvignon and merlot for a Bordeaux-like blend that pairs smashingly with a juicy holiday roast. Available at Nugget Markets and at www.crewwines.com.
Midtown Jerky ($7-$8)
Beef jerky is the food that helped win the Old West, but a far less rugged recipe comes from Ryan Dye’s Midtown Jerky Co. The tasty snack comes in three flavors (with Bacon on the near horizon): Sesame Citrus, with orange juice in the marinade, topped with white sesame seeds; Black Pepper, packing a bit of bite and chew; and Sweet Heat, rich with brown sugar and crushed red peppers. The beef is sourced from choice cuts of top round and eye of round. Find them online at www.midtownjerky.com and in markets throughout midtown.
Napa Valley Bitters grapefruit bitters ($25)
All craft cocktailiers worth their waxed mustache or vintage coupe glass know that bitters are the secret sauce for creating the best libations. Bitter brands abound in the marketplace, but these handcrafted and highly aromatic grapefruit bitters are a perfect stocking stuffer for the spirits lover on your list. Just a few drops will add flavors of citrus, ginger, honey and other spices that are a perfect exclamation point in a Paloma cocktail or gin-based drink. Find them at www.napadistillery.com.
The ‘Perfect Bloody Mary Gift Pack’ from Preservation & Co. ($50)
Jason Poole nabbed the title of “California’s Best Bloody Mary” in a competition sponsored by Absolut vodka, and now you can re-create this heralded drink in the comfort of your own PJs. As owner of the specialty foods business Preservation & Co., Poole has assembled his once top-secret ingredients into a pack that will make your gift recipient a hero at his or her home-cooked brunch. Poole’s award-winning mix comes with a jar of his black-pepper asparagus, sriracha salt and a kit for infusing vodka with lemon peel and more. Available at Preservation & Co. (1717 19th St. #B, Sacramento); 916-706-1044; www.preservationandco.com.
Rebel Confectionery & Jams caramels ($7.50-$15)
The motto at Rebel Confectionery is: “We do a few things, and we do them well.” Once you taste the creative lineup of caramels, crafted with skill by owner Deb Ray, you’ll likely agree that’s an understatement. The caramels are incredible, with a wonderfully smooth texture and flavors that pop. Newest flavors include a duck-fat-and-goat-milk caramel dubbed “What the Duck,” and an olive-oil-based caramel topped with pine nuts. A caramel vying for instant legend status is the coffee stout topped with cacao nibs that’s made with milk stout beer from Bike Dog Brewing in West Sacramento. All the caramels are sold in packs of six for $7.50 or $15 per dozen. Order them at www.rebelconfectionery.com. B.A.R.
Sacramento Brew Bike gift certificate ($20-$33.50)
All those people singing and laughing while pedaling can’t be wrong. These days, you can’t go anywhere in midtown without encountering one of Sacramento Brew Bike’s 15-person pedal-powered vehicles. The business is a local success story and has expanded to three “bikes,” along with a taproom at its headquarters (1519 19th St., Sacramento; 916-952-7973). The bikes are a moving party, which stops at some of the best pubs in the area. The tour is a great way for locals and newcomers to get an introduction to the city’s dynamic beer scene. Tours are available for two hours or three hours. Prices range from $20 to $33.50 depending on the day. Order gift certificates at acbrewbike.com.
Temple Coffee Roasters etched mug ($20)
Along with locally roasted, nationally recognized coffee, Temple sells nifty coffee paraphernalia. Its black-brown “etched mug” is strikingly stylish but also neutral enough to go with most home kitchen pottery collections. It looks especially fetching holding Temple’s tasty Kenya Kiunyu A.A. brew ($21 per 12-ounce bag of beans). Thoughtful but not too intimate, this mug is the perfect gift for a co-worker. Or for one’s crush, since its carved-out lettering offers a modern variation on “Would you like to see my etchings?” Temple Coffee Roasters (2829 S St., Sacramento); 916-454-1272; www.templecoffee.com. C. Meyer
UC Davis estate-grown extra virgin olive oil ($15)
From the UC Davis Olive Center, this oil has special provenance. It was made from hand-harvested fruit, picked by UC Davis students from the campus’s organically managed grove. This spicy oil (in an 8-ounce bottle) features healthy antioxidants and herbaceous flavors (spiked with a note of cinnamon). It’s among several olive oils and olive products made by the center and is available at the UC Davis bookstore (One Shields Ave., Davis; 530-752-2950) or at olivecenter.ucdavis.edu/