Many nights before Christmas a certain group of folks dream about sugar and plums, a KitchenAid stand mixer, a Wolf stove or just about anything that has to do with food. Sometimes they aren’t the easiest of folks to find gifts for. With that in mind, here are a few ideas (some splurge) for the best people in your life who love you and food (but not necessarily in that order).
Who knows? One of these gifts and might get you a great meal in return.
Some like it hot…
Grocery stores can be great places to shop for food folk. It would be easy to stuff a stocking with any old hot sauce, but we like these local items.
At Tops in Hamburg we found Krista’s Jerk Sauce & Marinade ($5.99), Mighty Taco Sauce ($4.29; comes mild, too) and Hamburg’s Mammoser Tavern’s Original Chicken Wing Sauce ($4.79).
At the McKinley Wegmans we found Ted’s ($3.99) and Zweigle’s ($3.49) hot dog sauces, and to our (happy) surprise Lloyd Taco Rocket Sauce ($4.99).
Ironically, we found a gift called just that from Public Espresso at The Hotel Lafayette (391 Washington St.). Owner Sam Scarcello said The Coffee Nerd Sessions ($65) are planned for 2016.
“We've been encouraging people to buy them as gifts. Classes will be held in 2016 once our Grant St. space opens, but we are taking reservations now to gauge interest and see how many classes we'll need.” Classes are for those who want to get in-depth about the farm-to-cup process. There is also a Coffee Nerd kit ($48) that’s a “pour over” coffee kit that includes coffee.
Or the Kold Brew Craft Kit ($20).
Another option is the Public Offering Coffee CSA ($60). Choose “Roasters Choice,” “Espresso” or “Single Origin” options. (Note: Recipient must be able to pick up the gift at either the Washington Street location or Tuesdays at BreadHive at 123 Baynes St.).
Or simply buy coffee in 12 oz. bags and pair with one of the cute Buffalo mugs or cups from across the street at the Visit Buffalo Niagara at the corner of Washington at Lafayette Square.
Salad days gift basket
Zetouna Tunisian olive oils are deliciously different than oils that come from Italy. The retail store on Elmwood closed in May, but owner Sonia Ayada says in addition to her online store, Lexington Co-op (807 Elmwood) and Bavarian Nut Company (822 Elmwood) sell her unique oils and balsamic vinegars ($6-$33). Both good places to find items to add to your gift.
“Tunisian olive oils are hand-harvested and cold pressed. Tunisia has a mild climate with warm sunshine, rich soils and ample rainfall that allows the olives to remain on the trees until matured,” said Ayadi.
At Penzeys (783 Elmwood Ave.), shop for salad dressing mixes, like Country French Vinaigrette ($7-$13). Or choose one of the Salad Lover gift boxes ($29-$60). Gifts of salts and peppercorns for those who prefer simplicity are available too. Nearby D’Avolio (830 Elmwood and other locations) also sells oils and balsamic vinegars.
A well-honed gift
Any serious home chef will love a quality knife, and Premier Gourmet (3904 Maple Rd., Amherst) carries a large selection.
A basic chef’s knife, paring knife or serrated knife are always solid choices too. Pricing is better with a Premier Card. A nice companion gift is a certificate from Povinelli Cutlery (3810 Union Road, Cheektowaga), the company that sharpens knives for local restaurants. Drop off knives and get them back ready to go. Povinelli also offers Residential Service that includes return shipping for $35.
Bread and butter them up
Five Points Bakery (44 Brayton St.) serves up fantastic breads, including ready to bake cinnamon rolls from the freezer. But dig into the cooler for this outstanding butter. Butter as a gift? Yes. Located in Hamilton, NY, the Kriemhild Dairy Farms butter ($12 for a large log) is unbelievably creamy and delicious.
It’s too good to use for cooking. Savor it on just about anything you can put butter on. It will even make your mother-in-law’s rock-like Christmas brunch muffins taste good. A basket of bread and butter would make a nice hostess/host gift or addition to the holiday table.
What food enthusiast wouldn’t love a gift certificate for T-Meadow Farm for pork or chicken? Owner Rich Tilyou says folks can order gift cards online or get them at the Elmwood-Bidwell Winter Market at Buffalo State (Buckham Hall) or at the Horsefeathers Winter Market (346 Connecticut St.).
Tilyou alternates venues so be sure to call to find out where T-Meadow will be set up. Gift cards are available from $10 on up in any amount you choose.
Pair the gift with a cast iron Lodge grill pan from the Made in America Store with locations at the major malls or the store in Elma (900 Maple St.).
Call to make sure they have the pans in stock. The 12-inch square griddle is $40; 10-inch round is $30 while the huge 20”x10” is $72. Grill on your stovetop or use in the oven.
Gifts that keep giving
Extend the holidays with these items. For the food shares, be sure the recipient is OK with picking up, or volunteer to do it — a nice way to keep in touch.
Nickel City Cheese & Mercantile (423 Elmwood Ave.) offers a cheese of the month club at various price points from one month ($55) to one year ($660), and doesn’t include Fed-Ex delivery. Each month the recipient receives three half-pound pieces of cheese.
Owner Jill Forster says, “Every month, I choose three different cheeses. It may be to new the shop, new to me or something we are all loving at the time. I write tasting notes for each month.” The shop can also put together any type of gift basket too.
Parker’s at 1216 South Park (formerly English Pork Pie Company) offers a large variety of gifts. The Classic Gift Selection ($50 plus shipping, free if you pick up) is a nice sampling of English fare that can be put in the freezer or used right away.
The gift includes six small pork pies, two Cornish pasties, 1 lb. each of English bacon and Parker’s classic sausages.
Farmers & Artisans (4557 Main St.) offers a few options, starting with a “Soup Share” of house made soups that use all natural ingredients (vegetarian available).
Soups come frozen or fresh. A 13-week share is $122.85 (one quart per week). The winter share starts Dec. 20, but owner Julie Blackman says for the holidays they can double up the first order.
Beginning in January are an egg share — half dozen or dozen per week ($29.25 or $52.65 for 13 weeks) — and milk share (whole or low fat options), which start at $39 for 13 weeks for a quart each week. Pick up at the store for all shares.
“Customers could purchase a gift card redeemable for one of the share options. We would include a card with information on the shares, start times, etc.,” said Blackman. New this year is Cheese of the Month (6 months) that will feature NY State cheese with food and/or beverage pairing for $125.
Blue Table Chocolates offers monthly chocolate subscriptions that are delivered. Owner Ben Johnson says orders placed before Dec. 18 will include delivery in time for Christmas. Subscriptions are for 4 or 6 months, in 12- or 24-piece boxes ($60-$170, plus shipping).
Typical subscriptions include limited seasonal flavors, like Caramel-Apple Cider, but can be adjusted.
“Upon request we can send any of our collections each month, or our sampler boxes containing each of our classic 12 flavors,” Johnson said. Subscriptions are paused June-August (heat), but leftover months carry over. The Globe Market (762 Elmwood Ave.) also carries the most popular chocolates (Salted Caramel, Pure Dark and Raspberry) and through the holidays Blue Table will be at the Horsefeathers Market.
Buffalo’s distillery scene has grown in leaps and bounds, with most major liquor stores carrying the brands. Fill a basket of cheer with items from Lockhouse Distillery at 41 Columbia St., Black Squirrel Distillery at 1595 Elmwood Ave., Tommyrotter Distillery at 500 Seneca St., BFLO Distilling Co. (at liquor stores) or the new Niagara Distilling Company at 459 Ellicott St.
Add mixers, like bourbon soaked cherries and bitters from the great gift store KegWorks (1460 Military Rd.) that sells everything cocktail — from shakers and muddlers to glassware and bar books — in addition to beer making supplies. The staff recommends black walnut bitters for the perfect Bourbon Old Fashioned.
Include a cool red barn marbled wood bottle pourer ($15-$30) from Queen City Shaken & Stirred (1455 Hertel Ave.) that has a Buffalo Nickel in the top.
Queen City Shaken & Stirred also sells gorgeous wood muddlers ($30-$35).
And fun vintage glassware.
Bath and body…
No, you cannot eat these gifts, but even foodies need to shower. The organic goat milk infused soap and skincare products from local Alpine Made (Beiter & Sons' Farm) are plant-based and made with natural ingredients.
Owner Kerry Beiter says the best place to buy is at the Elmwood-Bidwell Winter Market at Buffalo State (Buckham Hall), online or take a ride to their farm at 5363 East Creek Road, in South Wales. Alpine Made products are also available at the Lexington Co-Op Market on Elmwood and Grabber & Sons 3242 Harlem Road, and Natural Harmony & Holistic Health at 8665 Sheridan Dr.
Buffalo food …
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.