If you’re like me you probably don’t need anything. You’d rather select your own clothes, books and jewelry. You have all the artwork you need, and your cabinets are overflowing with house wares. So, what gift would be most appreciated? Food, of course!
One great reason to buy food gifts–food doesn’t add to life’s clutter. You’re going to eat it eventually. You probably won’t treat yourself to that extravagant French honey or box of handmade chocolates, so what a treat when someone puts that in your stocking! Did you know that kids really like food gifts too—just watch when they open up a box of gummi worms or a gift certificate to Georgetown Cupcake!
Here a few local places to find the perfect gift for the food lovers on your list.
Dominique and Anna Landragin are the owners of this upscale wine and micro-brew neighborhood shop. They also offer specialty food items. Touring the well-appointed shop, you’ll find French honey, loaves of brioche made daily, vinegar and olive oil, all good options for making a gift basket. Charming Anna says when selecting gifts, pick a theme like Italian or French food items, but don’t forget the wine!
This gourmet grocery store has so many wonderful choices awaiting the particular eater. You can find wine, caviar, smoked salmon or gourmet chocolate. They sell unusual mustards, pasta and for the purest ingredients in any salad dressing, try DeLouis vinaigrette in fig, pommes and mutard. The store has an outstanding selection of fine wines and gourmet cheeses too—Sottocenere with Truffles, Manchego with caramelized walnuts, French raclette and farmhouse Stilton to name a few of the highlights.
Cornucopia feels like you’ve stepped into a real Italian grocery. Here’s the place to sip an espresso while you purvey this extravagant collection of gourmet Italian cookies like linzer or biscotti and cannolis. The shelves are stacked artfully with Ceriollo marinaras and puttanesca sauces, pasta noodles in unexpected shapes, bags of flageolets and pearl spelt, lemon olive oil, chestnut puree and cappuccino cake. The ice chest contains homemade lasagnas, eggplant parmesan and pumpkin ravioli. Everything has either been made fresh or imported from Italy. If you visit at lunchtime consider ordering a deli sandwich with paper thin salami sprinkled with balsamic vinegar on a crispy baguette. Cornucopia sells trays of appetizers if you want to impress your guests.
Open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, the Farm Women’s Market sells a few extraordinary food items directly from the bakers/farmers–handmade caramels, artisan cheeses from Virginia farms, St. Michel’s baked croissants and pastries, exotic teas and matching teapots. They have a stall with decadent fruit or nut pies, cookies and cakes, as well as locally grown produce. The shopkeepers are very friendly and enjoy getting to know the preferences of their customers.
Stop in for a cup of tea in the uber-relaxing anti-Starbucks tea shop, and while you’re there, you’ll discover the incredible selection of fine, loose teas–more than 100 kinds–and a wonderful selection of tea accessories. One item that caught my eye for the tea lovers in my life–finishing spices including Enchanting Chai, Fennel Fusion, Gourmet Ginger and Tantalizing Turmeric. These spices add a new dimension to a cup of tea and come in reasonably-priced gift packs. If your special person enjoys tea year round, you might give her tea-of-the-month club. Zen Tara also hosts tea tasting parties and sells pots, mugs, storage tins and brew baskets.
For a shop specializing in imported Italian pottery, they also sell spectacular food products–gnocchi di patate, pastas made with squid ink or beets, orroasted acini perfect for soups for example. For the person who has everything consider splurging on an ancient balsamic—they sell one that tops out at $125 per bottle—it’s thick as molasses and just as potent. The olive oils are there to sample, and they are the “the nouvelles”–meaning superior for being recently processed. Drizzle some over your fish dishes or bread. For the sweetest treat, pair your food gift with some Italian pottery–for a gift they’ll treasure.
If you want to treat someone special to something special, consider giving your foodie a gift certificate to a recreational cooking class at L’Academie in Bethesda. Classes include bread making, cake decorating, crab feast, knife skills, date night, grilling and homemade pastas to name a few.
Happy Holidays to you!
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.