Local Bounty: Holiday Gifts

Edible Christmas Giving

Temecula Olive Oil Company gift box
Photo by Caron Golden

Temecula Olive Oil Company custom gift box

Chanukah has passed but Christmas is just ahead and if you still have gifts to buy friends and family—and they are obsessed with all things food—I have some no brainer suggestions for you. San Diego is rich in local food products and experiences. These represent some of the best you can find and, in fact, I’ll be a guest on today’s Midday Edition on KPBS FM at noon to talk about many of these gift ideas. Listen in!

Temecula Olive Oil Company creates custom gift boxes you’ll be proud to give to loved ones or valued clients. You can hand pick the products to include—which can range from a bottle of early harvest oil, Vanilla & Fig Balsamic, and Lemon Citrus Olives to, oh, Citrus Reserve Olive Oil, Crema Verde, and Honey Truffle Mustard. And more. Their brick-and-mortar shops in Old Town San Diego, Old Town Temecula, Solana Beach, and Seal Beach are crammed full of tempting products. Or, you can do your shopping online.

Opera Café & Patisserie in Sorrento Valley makes gorgeous French pastries. Quel surprise! Surprise your Francophile recipient with a wrapped 30-count multi-flavor macaron pyramid for $39.95. They also have adorable traditional Christmas cookies—gingerbread men, snowmen, and a Christmas tree—for the little ones.

Salt Farm sea salt samplers would make lovely stocking stuffers. A five-pack could include Black Truffle Salt, Roasted Garlic, Chipotle, Citrus Vanilla, and Ethiopian Curry. You can find their stall at the Little Italy Mercato and Hillcrest, UTC, Imperial Beach, Golden Hill, and Point Loma farmers markets or shop at their Etsy shop. A bonus? A portion of the proceeds will go to the San Diego Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids Backpack Program.

Speaking of spices, now that San Diego has its own b&m Penzeys Spices shop in Hillcrest, head over and pick up a collection of any of their more than 250 spices and seasonings. The Cooking Gift Box, for example, includes cinnamon, Mural of Flavor salt-free seasoning, Penzeys minced garlic, pasta sprinkle, Penzeys pure vanilla extract, a Kind Heart Pin, a Love People. Cook Them Tasty Food dish towel, and a 24-page story and recipe booklet—all for $19.95. There’s a Baking Mini Gift Box set, A Grill and Broil 4 Jar set, a Pepper Gift Crate, and a Taste of Mexico 8-jar gift set.

Venissimo fulfills the holiday dreams of cheese lovers. You can pick up a beautiful slate cheese board and planer, plus a couple of cheeses, honey, and handmade stolen. Spreaders, honey sticks, mini planers, and condiments make perfect stocking stuffers. Or sign your recipient up for a cheese-making class, cheese and beer pairing class, or any others at their Academy of Cheese.

Great News in Pacific Beach not only has a fabulous selection of housewares and some of the best cooking classes in San Diego—they also have a new book called Great Food! ($26.95, Chef’s Press, Inc.). The book includes more than 200 menus and recipes from classes taught over the last 20 years. Contributors include Katherine Emmenegger, Deborah Schneider, Mineko Moreno, Stan Glenn, and Mary Ann Vitale.

Do you have a brew lover on your list? Here’s another book just released by Chef’s PressBrew Food: Great Beer-Inspired Appetizers, Main Courses, and Desserts ($24.95). Beers and ales aren’t just for drinking. They can add powerful flavor and textures to fish (think Hefeweizen-Coriander Baked Sea Bass), curry (Spicy Curry with Crispy Pork Belly and Hop Oil), and even cake (Black Marlin Cake with Cocoa Malt Ice Cream and Raspberry Coulis). Chef’s Press has also published Chef Brian Malarkey’s new cookbook, Come Early, Stay Late ($29.95).

Chocolate! I just can’t decide. Do I suggest Dallmann Confections in Del Mar with her sophisticated truffles and bonbons? Perhaps you should go to one of the Chuao Chocolatier shops for their bonbons, hot chocolate mixes, or new chocolate bars? Or Eclipse Chocolat for a caramel gift set or stocking stuffers of Burnt Caramel Rocky Road? And, of course, there’s the soulful Caxao, which sells at the Little Italy Mercato and Hillcrest Farmers Market, offering holiday gift boxes filled with truffles, caramels, and bars. You can’t go wrong with any of these artisans.

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