Ultimate 2015 Holiday Gift Guide for the Local Food Lover
From handmade shucking knives to artisanal cocoa, we've got something you can pick up on your way home for every hungry belly on your list.
In order to compile a list of top holiday gifts, we tracked down a group of five Boston-area boutique owners, cheesemongers and even a "resident oyster dude" to find out what's looking fresh at shops all over the city.
Real people, reccomending real New England-made products, sold at stores just around the corner from you. We're taking "buy local" to a whole new level this year.
1. Olives & Grace, Sofi Madison, Owner
“It took me a while to find serving boards that stand out and offer something special. Peter Jackson Hussey, of Boston-based Structure Design and Build, rose to the challenge and started creating serving boards with metal handles for proper balance and presentation.”
“This is my favorite hot cocoa—in particular, the Azteca flavor. The cinnamon and chipotle peppers create a nice spice, so you don't know if it's the heat from the cocoa or from the peppers that you're feeling. A must with our Sweet Lydia's vanilla marshmallows, also locally made and sold at the shop.”
“Our friend and maker, Jeremy Ogusky, a Boston-based potter, is our go-to for strong and timeless ceramics. Often times, we'll pick up bowls, mugs and decanters at his home studio. He's exactly the type of person you want to support.”
Where to buy: Olives & Grace - 623 Tremont St., Boston, 617.236.4535, olivesandgrace.com
2. Formaggio Kitchen, Julia Hallman, Buyer & Manager
“From Backstage Farm in Blue Hill, Maine. Elena makes this traditional syrup using black currants grown on her farm. Each batch is handmade once a year when the cassis berries are ripe. This syrup is the perfect addition to any cocktail, and it's wonderful drizzled over ice cream, too.”
“Made by Michael Lee on his farm in West Cornwall, Vermont, these raw milk cheeses from Twig Farm are exceptional. Michael is best known for his natural rind goat cheeses, which provide a balance of both an earthy and savory rind, with a bright, yet creamy paste. Never adhering to any norms, Michael constantly tweaks and revises his recipes, while consistently delivering cheese perfection!”
“What began as a chocolate CSA in Somerville—that Formaggio Kitchen was a member of— is now a full-fledged bean-to-bar chocolate making operation. Eric is the man behind this amazing chocolate. He is constantly experimenting and perfecting his craft in a never-ending quest to perfect his already amazing chocolate.”
3. Island Creek Oysters Holiday Pop-Up Shop, CJ Husk, “Resident Oyster Dude”
“No holiday cocktail hour is complete without everyone standing around the sink taking turns at shucking oysters. Just squeeze a bit of lemon over them and pair with a glass of your favorite sparkling wine."
Price: $18 per dozen
“Jeremy [Sewall] is a master of so many cooking techniques—but he really shines when it comes to New England style seafood. If you want to know how to bring the cooking styles of Island Creek Oyster Bar and Row 34 into your home kitchen, this is the book to get.”
“This is my shucking tool of choice. The polished rosewood wood handle gives a glamorous touch to a knife that is perfect for the novice, or the seasoned pro."
Where to buy: Island Creek Oysters Holiday Pop-Up Shop - 142 Newbury St., Boston, islandcreekoysters.com
4. Central Bottle Wine + Provisions, Molly Hargrove, Cheese Monger
“Their motto is ‘a taste of tree’ and this couldn't be more accurate. It is woodsy and delicate and just a whiff of it transports me to Vermont, where it is made.”
Price: $18/$11 for a pint or half-pint
This is a 100 percent pure honey that our chef drove all the way to Maine to get, and it was well worth the drive. It is rich and floral and made by a small, sustainable beekeeping operation that cares for their bees in the best way possible.
Price: $18 for 12 oz
“Songbird Farm is run by a couple from Unity, Maine, who travel the country as a bluegrass duo in the off season. Their organic cornmeal is the perfect accompaniment to winter stews and braises.”
Price: $10 for 2lbs
Where to buy: Central Bottle Wine + Provisions - 196 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617.225.0040, centralbottle.com
5. Loyal Supply Co., Kimberly Lafoy & Ryan Habbyshaw, Owners
“We love Vermont. It has been our home and our weekend escape, and many times where we find amazing products. Sarah Kaeck, founder and owner of Bee's Wrap, makes an all natural, reusable alternative to plastic wrap, all from a shop in our hometown of Bristol. Bee's Wraps are made from an organic fabric infused with a combination of beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil. The result is a slightly stiff wrap that becomes pliable from the warmth of hands.”
“This glass travel mug designed by our friends and neighbors, Cuppow, is perfect for everything from coffee to cocktails. Take it everywhere you go, every day, and enjoy it every time you do.”
“The four hand-corked 1 oz. vials are sealed in beeswax and packaged with a beautiful American Oak block, in a gift box. There are four varieties: fruit, wildflower, cheese complimentary and Maine blueberry—our personal favorite.”
Where to buy: Loyal Supply Co. - 21 Union Square, Somerville, 617.996.6930, loyalsupplyco.com