‘Tis the season for gift guides and end-of-year lists. My list is not pages and pages long, just eight foodie gift ideas for 2023. It’s a concise look at what’s fun and fresh and delicious, foods with a sense of place. Each makes a lovely gift for saveurs, savants and anyone else who enjoys eating. I am excited about these foods (and coffee!) and would be proud to present these to anyone on my gift list.
Got any licorice heads in your immediate vicinity? I’ve got two in my house. And there’s two little bags of Danish licorice from a renowned Danish confectioner behind each door – perfect! Honestly? I haven’t opened Door 24 yet – that one is doublewide – but I am betting that, like the rest of the calendar days, it offers a mix of timeless and limited-edition flavors like mango vanilla, crispy caramel and butter cookie. All are chocolate covered. IN the US, it’s available from Food 52 and Amazon. $60
A new confection kit from Lindsay Kinder of San Francisco includes everything you need to make about two dozen macarons. That means plentiful sprinkles, food coloring to make a rainbow of cookie colors, and edible metallic luster dust for your co-chefs who miss the unicorn everything trend. A virtual masterclass is part of the package, too. All you need to add is egg whites, butter, and a splash of cream to make glamourous French cookies worthy of Coco Chanel. $97
When you don’t know what to get a hostess or a not-so-close co-worker as a gift, may I suggest a beautiful bottle of olive oil? A good bottle of olive oil can change someone’s life with its creamy pepperiness. This oil, handcrafted in southern Italy using an artisanal stone mill, is single varietal Peranzana or Coratina, both olive varietals native to Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot. Bottle options are many – I like this stripey one pictured here or this beautiful rose gold number. 500 ml / $52
Meat from a father-daughter duo based in Marin (the extended family runs Bryans Quality Meats in San Francisco) might be just what is needed on your holiday table. Bryan and Katie’s prime dry-aged steaks are favored by brand-name chefs like Joshua Skenes (Saison, Angler) and Nancy Silverton (Pizzeria Mozza, The Barish), but taste even better when cooked yourself. I’m partial to the Jorge Gift Box for the drama of the 32-ouncer’s beefy dimensions, visible when lifting the lid on the pretty black gift box. And, the price is unchanged from last year – sweet! $96
The SoCal coffee house chain knows its way around a single-origin and offers a Big Island coffee, Rusty Ka’u, only for ordering on Sunday so it’s as fresh as possible when it arrives at your door. During the holidays, there’s 12 Days of Geisha, twelve exceptional single-origin coffees from Panamanian and el Salvadorean producers. Luckily, the Twelve Days of Christmas starts on December 25 and runs through January 6, when the Three Kings arrived to cast their eyes on a wee babe in a manger. Or something. 12 four-ounce bags / $26.95
As a food lover, knowing where my ingredients come from is of utmost importantance. So, too, for Burlap & Barrel, a Brooklyn-based spice purveyor, who puts the country of origin on each jar of spice. The Fundamentals Collection comes in 6, 9 or 12 bottle options (.8 oz/22 grams each) and always includes purple stripe garlic powder, flowering hyssop thyme, smoked pimentón paprika, sik chili, royal cinnamon and laurel Bay leaf. Each bottle is insanely aromatic, and they are all packed in a tidy box. Add an optional gift bag and sling it over your back as you arrive at a holiday party. $52.99 – 106.99
Ok, it is technically a box, not a basket but I really wanted a gift basket on my foodie holiday gift guide. This basket focuses on Chef Hugo Ortega, beloved in Houston for his restaurants, Xochi, Hugo’s Caracol, Backstreet Café and Urbe. His gift box pays tribute to Ortega’s Mexican heritage and Mexican cuisine. Even better if you want to learn how to make Mexican hot chocolate or mole, the mother sauce of Mexico. What’s included:
- One personalized copy of Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico, named by Saveur magazine as one of just six essential Mexican cookbooks
- One, 9-ounce tablet of Chef Hugo’s house made chocolate with which to make Hugo’s Mexican Hot Chocolate (or mole!) and instructions
- One molinillo, a traditional Mexican turned-wood whisk, used to mix and froth hot beverages such as hot chocolate
- Two Hugo’s mugs in which to enjoy your Mexican hot chocolate
Sorry, marshmallows are American and are not included. $65
Berkeley’s Tcho transitioned its entire retail product line away from cow milk, moving to plant-based milks in 2023. Their work resulted in a playful array of bars such as Choco Latte made with oat milk and Aw Nuts! which blends almond butter and sunflower lecithin to achieve cow milk’s creaminess, Get all the fun flavors in their standard assortment as part of a 12-bar variety pack (12 – 2.5 oz. bars). It’s gluten-free, too! $64.99
Need a Few Boozy Gift Ideas?
For a few gift ideas (eleven, actually) that are focused on alcohol, check out my Boozy Gift Ideas for 2023. Whiskey, rum, and plenty of wine.