by Margaret Cabaniss
I’ve done a SlowMama holiday gift roundup for the past few years now (2011, 2012, 2013), but for 2014, I had big plans. I was going to be prepared — so starting way back in January, I began pinning gift ideas that appealed to me as I came across them throughout the year, thinking that, come Thanksgiving, I’d have my list pretty much made for me.
Well. I just took a look at that Pinterest board full of great gift ideas, and I realized that 95% of them are food- and booze-related. (Hey, I love what I love.) So rather than attempt to pull together a comprehensive list of every good thing this year, I’m just making one list of some of my favorites that would make fantastic gifts for your own similarly single-minded loved ones.
In no particular order:
Polenta serving board. I didn’t even know this was a thing until I read a post on The Kitchn about hosting an Italian polenta supper party, but I was immediately on board. (Er, so to speak.) This would make such an impressive presentation, even if you’re not serving up a trough of polenta on it.
Homemade gin kit. I have no idea whether this gin would actually be any good (though early indicators are encouraging), but it looks like an awesome experiment anyway — and the closest you’ll get to making your own booze without a pot still or bathtub. A fun gift for the home experimenter — or, if they’re more a whiskey fan, try Wassmund’s whiskey barrel-aging kit.
Trubee honey. We’ve talked here before about how hard it can be to find good raw honey; Trubee offers to ship it right to your home. I love their description of the honey created by their “free-range” bees as “the taste of nature in a particular place and time” — and they have different honey “vintages” to back it up. Pick up some beeswax and lip balm while you’re at it.
Cocktail books. This entry is a twofer because I couldn’t pick just one. I think of bartender and cocktail blogger Jeffrey Morgenthaler as sort of the Alton Brown of the booze world, breaking down the whys and hows behind a truly excellent cocktail in The Bar Book. Then help them put those newfound skills to good use: Jim Meehan’s PDT Cocktail Book lays out more than 300 cocktail recipes, including classics and new favorites from his celebrated New York speakeasy, in a gorgeously illustrated guide. I’m volunteering now as taste-tester.
White Whale mixers. Meanwhile, if they want a great cocktail the easy way, without all that fancy book-learnin’, try a small-batch cocktail mixer — just add the spirit and garnish. Hide the bottles in the kitchen, and no one need be the wiser.
Rancho Gordo Sweet Sampler. I mentioned their fantastic beans in a past roundup, but they do sweet care packages, too. This one holds all the ingredients (…well, almost) to make a pretty extraordinary bananas foster.
Old Salt Gift Sampler. If their tastes run more toward the savory than the sweet, try a selection of gourmet sea salts. That black powder looks amazing.
G & G Mercantile’s Sideboard. And finally, if you can’t choose among the above, just get them the whole kit and caboodle: Garden and Gun‘s Mercantile shop offers a gift subscription to some of the amazing Southern food and drink they feature in their magazine throughout the year. This is the care package to end all care packages.
Not pictured: vintage barware, tea towels, a subscription to their favorite cooking magazine…the options here are pretty much endless. For more unique gourmet gifts and accessories, check out the rest of the G & G Mercantile or Food52’s Provisions.
Where else do you find great food-and-drink gifts? Any favorites you’re giving (or hoping to receive) this year?
PS — Don’t forget all the great homemade treats you can give as gifts this time of year: Try some roasted rosemary pecans with cranberries, chocolate truffles, or a thoughtful housewarming gift.