Actually, the title is a little exclusive. Food-related gifts are great for anyone, self-identified foodie or not. The trick is, as with any gift, knowing your recipient. I’ve put together a list here of things I’ve either done, want to do, or would love to receive as a food-related gift. Because I like eating, drinking, and cooking, and I’d venture to guess you’re into at least one of those things as well.
Locally-Themed Food Basket
When I first moved to Portland in December 2010, I wanted to send Portland-themed Christmas presents to my family back in Minnesota. One of the best, best things about living in Oregon is not only our proximity to such a variety of so much locally-grown and made food (and food/beverage-related things), but the incredible amount of creativity in the products that are made and sold here.
Honey, jam, tonic, bitters, syrups, oils, vinegars, spreads, butters, candies, beer, wine, booze, you name it.
Portland has a unique flavor, something along the lines of hops and hazelnuts with a marionberry finish. It’s fun to package that up and send it to someone, so I did. I found candy, pepper jelly, coffee, and beer, and I bundled it up and shipped it to Minnesota.
Now that I’ve been here for more than three years, I think the gift basket I’d throw together would look considerably different than the one I built a few years ago. There’s just so much good stuff here (!!!), and I know so much more about what’s available now than I did then.
If I were to build you a Portland-themed food/beverage gift, I would start with these things:
- Portland Roasting Company
- Jacobsen Sea Salt
- Nong’s Khao Man Gai Sauce
- Aviation Gin (or other local spirit, and if I know your cocktail of choice, I might try to find local versions of the other ingredients for you, because that’s fun)
Some things because they’re my favorites, others because they’re pretty much Portland staples.
DIY Cocktail Party
My sister recently did this for a friend’s birthday, and the ideas have been spinning in my head ever since. I feel like Pinterest would be all up on this with more variations than you can shake a stick at, so the possibilities really are endless.
Here, I found a few ideas to get you started:
Hire a Personal Chef
Maybe you know a chef or a friend that can just knock catering-type things out of the park. Maybe your friends do. Or, maybe not. For their third anniversary, Nina in South Carolina used Thumbtack to find a chef at The Mediterranean Corner who she then hired to cook an at-home anniversary dinner for the couple, complete with a personalized menu.
I know how special a personalized menu can be. For my 30th birthday, friends helped me throw an intimate little birthday bash, complete with a Julep in my own name (my birthday is the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby) and a menu of some of my favorite things (charcuterie, man).
Whether you hire a friend or a pro, putting the prep, cooking, timing, and plating in the hands of someone else means you get to sit and enjoy the meal. And when you take that experience and put it in your own home (or a small, beautiful upstairs bar in a historic carriage house), it’s even more uniquely special.
Groceries, but Better
I just signed up for my first organic produce delivery and I am SO excited. I mean, LOOK at all of this goodness.
I think CSAs or other food delivery services (like Plated) make great gifts. If you’re not familiar with Plated, you choose your meal from a list of whatever they’ve got going on that week, and they send you all of the necessary ingredients, plus the recipe and photos, and you just assemble and cook! I love the idea of learning new sauces and techniques, while also having all of these decisions about what to eat and how to prepare it already made for me.
In addition to arranging for groceries to show up at someone’s door, you can also ship delicious regional favorites like Babycakes, Lou Malnati’s (and a whole bunch of other Chicago favorites, actually), Stumptown Coffee, and Philly Cheese Steaks.
So, what about you?
If you were to throw together a gift basket that best repped your current city? What would you put in it? If there was any local food, beverage, or restaurant favorite in your hometown that you could box up and send to someone (a sandwich? a cocktail?) what would that be?