The abundance of talented farmers, chefs and crafts people in the Monterey Bay Area means there is a locally produced gift just right for each person on your holiday list. Buying local helps keep your dollars in our community and supports the fabulous advertisers that make Edible Monterey Bay magazine possible. Here are some of their suggestions. Click on the name of the business to visit their website.
Foodie Hosts and Hostesses
Friend in Cheeses jams and jellies made in Santa Cruz come in delicious flavors like Strawberry Tarragon, but you’ll be the most popular guest at the party when you bring along a jar of their Pinot Cherries from New Leaf Market or Stone Creek Kitchen . Spicy sweet Serendipity Saucy Spreads are another option from Santa Cruz. They come in jewel colors and flavors like Cranberry Jalepeño or Hungarian Pepper Jam, and can be picked up at the downtown Monterey Farmer’s Market as well as New Leaf Market, Stone Creek Kitchen and Whole Foods.
To make the holidays even sweeter, choose a box of artisan chocolates, sea salt caramels or gourmet truffles in flavors like Meyer Lemon Lavender at Ashby Confections. They can be purchased at the Aptos shop or online.
Or opt for a Holiday Cookie Box from the Bakery Station in Salinas. Their boxes include 3 dozen cookies in delicious varieties like cranberry-white chocolate biscotti, mint French macaron and double chocolate.
Perhaps something longer lasting is in order for that hostess or a favorite Aunt or Uncle. Be sure to consider the gold holiday collection of serving plates at Annie Glass of Watsonville—perfect for setting out cookies for Santa—or stunning Simon Pearce blown glass pitchers at Stone Creek Kitchen in Monterey.
Petite Provence in Capitola is another delight for entertainers, with their brightly colored rustic French tablecloths, serving dishes and tote bags, while La Sirena Antiques in Santa Cruz offers a feast for the eyes and a delight for the senses. The boutique is filled with wonderful things including jewelry, cards, clothing, textiles, French antiques and even Italian Rhum Chocolates.
Do it yourselfers
New Leaf Market has two gift ideas for the DIY set. How about a Back to the Roots Mushroom Growing Kit that will produce 1½ pounds of oyster mushrooms in just two weeks or a Krups Coffee Grinder for the freshest tasting brew ever. While even those without green thumbs can enjoy success with a Green Sprout Kit for growing healthy alfalfa sprouts, available from Sustainable Santa Cruz. Or go whole hog and give an entirely new skill set with a gift certificate for Eco Farm’s Butchery Skills Seminar on January 22nd, offered by master butchers along with two meaty meals.
Cookbooks from Earthbound Farms co-founder Myra Goodman also make a good introduction to healthy and sustainable food. Signed copies of The Earthbound Cook and Food to Live By are available at the Earthbound Farm Stand in Carmel Valley.
Do-it-yourselfers may also be interesting in learning about the healing powers of fermented foods. Creative Cultures Foods is offering three classes at the start of the New Year—home crafted probiotic drinks, the power of fermented foods, and sauerkraut as art and medicine—gift certificates are available.
Grandmas and Grandpas who love to cook
For those dearest relatives, give grass-fed Prime Rib or pasture-raised Porchetta from El Salchichero in Santa Cruz and hope that you will get a dinner invitation. Or for a gift that lasts beyond the holidays, how about a CSA share from a local farm. Jamie Collin’s Serendipity Farms in Monterey offers weekly boxes of seasonal organic fruits and vegetables for $25 and Route 1 Farms in Santa Cruz begins its 4-month winter CSA season on January 15th, with prices ranging from $210 for a weekly individual size box to $350 for a family share and pick up locations throughout the county. Pezzini Farms in Castroville is also suggesting a fresh box of their world-famous green globe artichokes accompanied by a choice of dipping sauces: lemon-dill, garlic Dijon or pesto. It’s a truly local gift available for shipping throughout the continental United States.
In Hollister, the charming shop San Benito Bene is brimming with locally produced bath and body care products, as well as gourmet spices, olive oils and premium chocolates just perfect for those who love to cook local.
A gift box assortment of gourmet olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars would also be most welcome. You from dozens of varieties at the True Olive Connection in Santa Cruz, along with locally made gift items.
And a sure-fire hit with those who love to cook and eat would be a box of natural, dry-cured and smoked Baker’s Bacon available online for shipping anywhere in the US with a holiday ribbon and card or direct from the HQ in Sand City on December 19th and 20th only.
Green thumbed friends and relatives would love a gift registration to EcoFarm 2013— the west’s oldest and largest sustainable farming conference—taking place for the 33nd consecutive year at the Asilomar Conference Grounds on January 23-26th.
Indulge your loved one with a Body and Soul package at Bernardus Lodge. It begins with two spa treatments, including vinotherapy or marine-inspired treatments, and covers a leisurely gourmet dinner and romantic overnight stay. Continue the romance at home with authentic Beeswax candles available at New Leaf Markets and at the Earthbound Farm Stand in Carmel Valley, where they also stock have locally-milled Big Sur and Bonny Doon soaps that make perfect
Too busy gourmets
Nowadays there’s no shortage of would-be gourmets who just don’t have time to cook, pick a pair of house cured meats for them from El Salchichero in Santa Cruz. A few slices of Smoked California Prosciutto or Lavender Viognier Salami and a bottle of wine makes an instant party.
Of course, the whole fabulous dinner would be just as welcome. You can buy gift certificates for delightful sustainable seafood dining at Ted and Cindy Walter’s Passionfish in Pacific Grove.
You know we all want to change the world, but the people up on the Slow Coast north of Santa Cruz are one step ahead with their Slow Coast Gift Pack, a gorgeous reclaimed redwood fire-branded box filled with goodies from local producers. Everything from jam and honey to soap, cards and a tee shirt make this the perfect way to shop local.
You needn’t look far for a bottle of local wine to give to the wine lover on your holiday list, but why not give a wine club membership that provides bottles throughout the year. Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley offers several different levels of wine club membership with a slew of added benefits, as well as delicious pinots and chardonnays.
In Santa Cruz, we suggest the Soif Terroirist Wine Club membership, which includes two exceptionally delicious wines each month from small estates employing organic or biodynamic viticultural practices. Or you might opt for a wine club membership at Bonny Doon Vineyards, which sends out three exclusive wines each quarter before they are released to the public. Bonny Doon Vineyards also has great gift packaging in the form of a six-bottle cigar box, for giving their signature wine Cigare Volant.
Your own stocking
Lastly, Santa’s helper deserves a treat too. For yourself, be sure to check out the unusual holiday decorations at Tancredi & Morgen. This season the focus is on folklore and the Carmel Valley shop is decked out with medallions and milagros. Rustic ornaments made from recycled newspapers and magazines are on offer at Earthbound’s Farm Stand, as well as lovely insect and flower cards made by local artist Manuel Balesteri using photos taken at the farm stand.