Sunday, December 2, 2012

Holiday Bites: Edible Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Foodie 2012

So now that we are in December - if you're not one of those people who finished shopping months ago - it's time to ramp up your holiday shopping in earnest.  Here are a few gift ideas for edible gifts for the foodies in your life.  Both high and low priced options - all $80 or under!

1. We'll Always Have Foie Gras (while waiting for our culinary William Wallace)

Weak legislators may have caved to pressure from the vocal minority, in allowing the law banning the sale of foie gras in California to take effect this July.  But luckily, they can't stop out of state vendors from selling foie to us - so you can still have your foie, and eat it too (as long as you don't resell it to anyone)!!!

D'Artagnan, respected gourmet foods purveyor based in New Jersey, has stepped up and made a point of reassuring customers in California that it's legal to purchase foie from them, as long as we don't resell in CA.

And they have a fantastic, foodgasmic, mouth-watering collection of foie on offer including a Foie Gras Sampler featuring raw slices (mmm, seared foie), truffle mousse, torchon and this amazing sounding creation called French Kisses that's made from Armagnac (French brandy) marinated prunes stuffed with foie mousse!!! For a more affordable gift or stocking stuffer that will possibly result in your foie-starved foodie jumping your bones (because I know I would, hint, hint)...there are the affordable packages of French Kisses alone for just $9.99!   

Buy from: D'Artagnan Foie Gras Sampler $66.99 Medallion of Duck Foie w/ Black Truffles $32.99 for 1lb French Kisses (foie stuffed prunes) $9.99

2. Harney & Sons Tea Sets

I'm a sucker for packaging - but Harney & Sons manages to hit a trifecta with their holiday gift sets of quality teas, beautiful packaging and palatable price points.  The Wonderland Winter set comes with a tin of tea (silk sacheted bags of Winter White Earl Grey inside), a lovely tea pot and gourmet bites to go with a civilized spot of tea from Mashuga Nuts (cinnamon spiced pecans) to citrus candies, all in a lovely blue polka dot hat box!

They also have a more sophisticated looking set of loose leaf tea tins arranged in samplers by type (black teas, green teas etc.) starting at $20 each.

Buy from: Harney & Sons Wonderland Winter Gift Set $45 Loose Tea Sample Sets starting at $20

3. Handcrafted All Natural Chocolate To Drive Them Nuts: Love Nuts / Holiday Truffles / Art Bars - Compartes

Don't let mass produced chocolate happen to your loved ones. These will drive your favorite sweet-toothed foodie and/or chocoholic crazy...I don't know how it's possible to make these as amazing as they are, but they are basically roasted nuts including almonds, cashews, macadamias, hazelnuts and pecans all hand caramelized with tahitian vanilla beans, coated in organic single-origin chocolate, sea salt and finished in cocoa powder.  Created by an artisan who started when he was just 15 years old, in a family business that has been popular with Angelenos since the 1950s.  SO insanely decadently delicious.

Looking for a lower priced item?  There are also lovely Holiday truffles including this Gingerbread flavored one with cute penguin print.

Also love their beautiful, elegant artisan chocolate bars studded with lovely dried fruits and spices ranging from goji berries to guava to pink peppercorns! Squares and heart-shaped bars available - see site for details.

Buy from: Compartes Chocolatier Love Nuts Tower $70 (currently on sale for $65) Gingerbread Truffles $14.99 Artisan Heart Shaped Bar $24.99 (square bars mostly $8 each)

4. Pressed Juicery - for LA Locals

Miracle diets come and go in LA quicker than celebrity hookups. Regular readers know I'm not at all into healthy offerings unless they taste good first, and are healthy as a bonus. 

Well the latest juicing craze meets my criteria, and I was excited to find Pressed Juicery which yes uses cold hydraulic press to produce their drinks, in order to maximize nutrients that go into each bottle -but first and foremost, taste AMAZING.  It goes down clean - you don't get the sugary stickiness from most juices - and I actually feel a huge difference in energy on the days I drink this stuff.  This place (and others riding the juicing wave) have received a ton of flak for being super expensive - but if you look at all the ingredients and process that go into this, and factor in the investment in machinery as well as time to purchase and wash the produce, then clean the machines - the $6.50/bottle price isn't completey insane.  Several friends who actually went the DIY route have complained about how hard their Vitamix or other machines are to clean, and time to prep the produce - and have said they'd rather pay for the ready to drink options.  So for those friends - gift cards to Pressed Juicery!

Buy from: Pressed Juicery (gift cards at any denomination for purchase in-stores, locations here).  Monthly shipments for nationwide destinations are also available for purchase online, but they are just way out of my imposed maximum price for this post.

5. The Gift of Pre-Cooked Gourmet for the Busy Professional

A cool new concept - 3-course dinners designed by renowned/famous chefs from Master Chef contestants to Le Cirque alumnus, pre-cooked and delivered to their door (frozen, with simple reheat/quick cook instructions). 
Perfect for your favorite stressed out worker bee who doesn't have time to breathe, let alone cook multi-course meals, especially on weeknights.

Give them a trial run of a gourmet alternative to ramen / breakfast for dinner (i.e. scrambled eggs and tears). Current meals run from Wild Boar Ragu with Truffled Polenta to Lamb Biryani.

Buy from: Pop Up Pantry $80 (2 dinners for 1 month)

6. Truffle, truffle, truffle!!!
I may be just a little biased, but truffles make the perfect gift for 'true' :P food lovers!

Gilt Taste has a lovely set of truffles three ways: truffle honey, truffle cream, and truffle carpaccio. 

Buy from: Gilt Taste truffle trio $69.95 (currently on sale for $61.99)

Or go with a jar of Black Truffle Salt that will instantly make pretty much any savory dish taste amazing.

Buy from: Sur La Table Tartuflanghe Black Truffle Salt $19.95

7. Cheese = Smile

Ok so this is a mix of edible and non-edible. Cheese fans automatically get points for good taste.  Give them their fav cut from your local artisan cheese store + a literal clean slate to present their most gorgeous slices.  For cheeses, I'm a big fan of The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, Wally's Cheese Box (West LA), and Artisan Cheese Gallery (Studio City).  Some of the best cheeses I've had there: Sottocenere (truffle cheese with beautiful grey vegetable ash rind!!), Brillat Savarin, Fourme D'Ambert. 

Buy from: Crate and Barrel Large Rectangle Slate Board $29.95, Medium Square $19.95, Small Rectangle $9.95

Got extra dough to spend? Pair the board with this fun trio of cheese slicers embossed with "sharp" "creamy" and "stinky" Buy from: Crate and Barrel $44.95 (Lower priced option: Spreader $6.95 (on sale now for $3.95) Paddle $6.95 (on sale now for $3.95), Fork $6.95 (on sale now for $3.95)
This is just a start.  Got any cool edible gift suggestions? Send 'em my way or post in the comments!

Separate post on more durable gift ideas to come!

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