The Strong Buzz Holiday Gift Guide
Gifts every food lover in your life would love to receive this holiday season
I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of Gift Guides already…but this one is the best one. 😂Seriously though, I’ve put together a tidy, affordable list of great gifts for every food lover on your list, and rest assured all of these I would be happy to receive (hint, hint.)
Date Better (package of 6 for $36)
So sorry to disappoint you, but this gift is not the gift of dating advice or some magical matchmaking service. You’re on your own there. (Sadly, me too.) But…if you or someone you love has a thing for dates, like really good Medjool dates that are rich, sweet and tender, and taste almost like a caramel, and perhaps are filled with peanut butter and coated in organic dark chocolate? I have the gift for you and yours: Date Better!
Date Better dates come in three varieties: Cashew Lime Crisp—filled with creamy cashew butter and crispy toasted quinoa, coated in 85% organic dark chocolate and infused with lime; Almond Java Crunch, filled with almond butter and crunchy espresso beans robed in dark chocolate; and my all time favorite, Peanut Butter Crisp, a timeless classic filled with peanut butter, wrapped in dark chocolate, and speckled with cacao nibs.
Not only are these dates delicious, and good for you (Fiber! Potassium! B-Vitamins!), but the packaging is just gorgeous. You could just give me an empty box and I’d be happy (well better if not empty, but I’ll take what I can get). The takeaway here is that if delicious dates would get someone you know excited, then these beautifully packaged treats are the ideal gift.
Stuff them in a stocking on the mantle, add them to a housewarming basket, put them to use in your office Secret Santa, or just buy a box of each and devour them at home on the couch, while you watch Fleishman is in Trouble.
Lots more fun and festive holiday food content is coming your way this month! Get on the list!
Onino Crispy Chili ($20 each, or $40 for a subscription)
I’ve written about Onini Crispy Chili ($20) before, but it bears repeating here. This is the greatest crispy chili you will ever encounter. Made in small batches by Cristy Lucie-Alvarado, a recipe developer who has worked most of her life in food marketing, it’s packed with slivers of freshly fried chiles, garlic, toasted Marcona almonds, and sesame seeds.
You can spoon it on eggs, fish, steak, chicken, avocado toast, rice, noodles, cardboard, shoelaces, whatever, it’s the best. You will eat it by the spoonful and wonder how you ever lived without it. The good thing is, you don’t have to.
Graza Drizzle Extra Virgin Finishing Oil ($20)
I love a good olive oil, don’t you? I mean, who doesn’t? This one is a favorite of mine for a couple of reasons. First, it tastes great – grassy, fruity, and bright. Second, I love the cute green squeeze bottle, which will look lovely on your kitchen counter. (Doesn’t it look nice on mine?!) But it doesn’t just look nice…it’s functional! It makes it a cinch to drizzle some oil on to finish off a salad, a ceviche, a piece of fish, what have you – anything that needs a little last minute gloss and love. Third, and hey, we don’t really need a third reason…but I’ve got one: it’s reasonably priced! I can’t drop more than $50 on olive oil. Sorry, people. This is $20 well spent.
These Two Cookbooks: Claudia Fleming’s Delectable and The Dynamite Shop Cooking School.
There are the two books that you need to gift this holiday season. The first is Delectable, because Claudia Fleming is brilliant and this is her first book since The Last Course, her legendary book (with the recipe for her signature Chocolate Caramel Tart!) written with the fantastic Melissa Clark.
Lots has happened since then; Claudia ran the North Fork Table & Inn with her late husband Gerry, and more recently has been cooking at home, and is now head pastry honcho for all of Danny Meyer’s restaurants.
Claudia has channeled all of her past experience into Delectable, a collection of recipes all developed and tweaked in her own small kitchen. There’s a mix of old favorites and new fangled ideas, including her first foray into recipes for savory baking, so you’ll learn to work with yeast, how to make an eggplant caponata tart, and how to frost a layer cake. And you’ll be baking with Claudia. On these pages, which she wrote with Catherine Young, it feels as though she’s there with you. The best!
The book has more than 140 recipes divided into Breakfast & Breads (Blueberry Muffins; Rhubarb Scones), Doughnuts & Cakes (Cider Doughnuts; Devil’s Food with Earl Grey Cream); Cookies (Grapefruit Rugelach; Pizzelles; Maple Shortbread); Pies: (Nectarine and Fig Tart; Plum Cobbler; Kumquat Tatin); and Savories (Chickpea Crackers; Tomato Crostata).
The other book you need to gift is The Dynamite Shop Cooking School Cookbook! This is a no brainer because it teaches your kids to cook. Like really cook. Read more about it in my review of the book, here.
Askinosie Chocolate Covered Malt Balls ($16.50)
I don’t like Whoppers. Chocolate-covered malt balls that taste like chalky cocoa-infused moth balls are not for me. When they show up in my Halloween Bucket…errr..my kid’s’ Halloween Bucket, I am actually crestfallen. So I was surprised to find that I LOVE Askinosie’s Dark Chocolate Covered Malt Balls.
My friend Dawn brought them to a dinner party I hosted, and to be honest, at first I thought…oh no, malt balls…but then I thought, Dawn would never bring anything that was not delicious. So I gave them a try. And then I could not stop eating them. One after the other, popped them in my mouth and then realized almost all of them were gone.
I should never have doubted how good they would be because they are made by Askinosie, the award-winning sustainable and fair trade bean-to-bar chocolate makers. The company was founded by Shawn Askinosie, a former lawyer who dumped all his money, hopes, and dreams into a chocolate making business that he grew with his daughter Lawren. The father-daughter team is dedicated to sourcing exotic cocoa beans from remote regions of Ecuador, the Amazon, Tanzania and the Philippines directly from smallholder farmers. The company makes its chocolate by hand in small batches at a micro-factory in Southwest Missouri, shares profits with its farmers, and Lawren focuses specifically on empowering women cocoa farmers and the girls in their communities.
So you’re eating an amazing snack—dark and chocolatey and crunchy and full of coffee malted, and you’re helping empower small women-owned farms. Go you!
Tea Cookies from One Girl Cookies ($26)
There may not be an easier or more magical gift to give (or send) this holiday season. Who wouldn’t love to get a box of beautiful cookies in the mail?! These precious little tea cookie gift boxes from One Girl Cookies are filled with a selection of six of the shop’s best selling jewel-sized cookies, all made by hand in Brooklyn by husband and wife Dawn Casale and Dave Crofton. In your gift box you will find the Lucia (chocolate caramel shortbread layer bar); the Lana (a chocolate sandwich cookie filled with raspberry jam); the Juliette (chocolate cinnamon ganache sandwiched between two hazelnut cookies); the Penelope (a thumbprint butter cookie covered in chopped nuts filled with apricot preserves that I served at my wedding!); the Sadie (an orange butter cookie topped with a light glaze and covered in shredded coconut); and the Susanna (a spicy oat cookie accented with crystallized ginger). The cookies are packaged with love and tied up with blue ribbon and old photos of the Casale and Crofton family. Be sure to get a box for your fine self.
Give the Gift of Ice Cream in Winter from Morgenstern’s (price varies)
I don’t know about you, but I happen to think ice cream is a year-round food. It also makes a pretty great holiday gift, especially if it’s the small-batch ice cream made by chef Nick Morgenstern. This is the ice cream of your dreams. Flavors with swagger and sass, chocolate that tastes so deeply of chocolate it makes you feel like you’ve never tasted chocolate before. Seriously, with that first bite, you become, in essence, a chocolate virgin all over again. So yeah, if it’s Morgenstern’s, I’ll be eating ice cream all winter.
To your loved ones, you can send a variety of Morgenstern’s frozen offerings: a Banana Salted Chocolate Ice Cream Cake, or a Classic Four Pint Pack (Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter Cup, Schoolyard Mint Chip, and Rockiest Road). But my favorite gift would be the Choose Your Own 4- or 6-Pack, which allows for a good variety and a complete customization from a list of over 25 flavors!
Nick’s got an entire library of flavors devoted to chocolate, another section just for vanillas, and even one all about caramels. My favorite flavors (if you’re curious) are Tahini and Jelly, Raspberry Dark Chocolate, Coffee Caramel Butter Pecan, Cardamom Lemon Jam, Olive Oil Strawberry, and Green Tea Pistachio. So here’s what you do: light a fire, get some blankets, gather a bunch of spoons, a group of friends, and pass the pints. Holidays made.
The Flaviar Whiskey Advent Calendar ($260)
This is a splurge gift for sure, but if there’s someone important in your life who really loves whiskey and you have a chunk of change to spend, this is for you. This Whiskey Advent Calendar is really more of a whiskey chest, filled with 24 carefully-curated mini-bottles from the seven seas of Whiskey: Bourbon and Rye, Scotch and Irish, Japanese and Taiwanese, Danish, Welsh, and Israeli — and one wild card surprise. In addition to the whiskeys, the calendar comes with a Glencairn Glass, an Embossed Leather Coaster, and a Tasting Journal! It’s a ton of fun for the recipient, and hopefully you’ll be invited to share some if there’s a big tasting party! Cheers!
This is a great gift guide! Very unique ideas!