’Tis the season to schlep around the stores, trying to find the perfect gift for people who have probably been complaining for the past year that they have too much stuff. One solution: edible gifts! Better yet: luxurious edible gifts, produced or sold by local suppliers. Here are a few ideas for the foodies on your Christmas or Hanukkah list. Take note: all sites offer more options than I’m mentioning.
What better way to say, “I love you and I’m pretending to be rich?” Hansen Caviar in Kingston is the oldest caviar house in existence, or so it says on their Web site. They offer domestic, Israeli, and farm-raised Russian osetra, sevruga, and beluga, and mini blinis to convey the scrumptious black pearls to your mouth. You’ll also find gravlax and a variety of smoked salmons, pates, and truffles.
Yes, technically, Champagne comes only from France’s Champagne region, but Baldwin Vineyards in Pine Bush fakes it with a good Brut Sparkling Wine, as does Hudson-Chatham Winery with its semi-dry sparkling Blanc de Blanc.
Brandies and Liqueurs
Since branching out into distillery-ing in 2002, Warwick Valley Winery has been concocting some delicious fruit brandies and liqueurs. The black currant cordial is to swoon for.
Sprout Creek Farm cheeses are handmade on the Poughkeepsie farm using milk donated by happy, grass-fed cows and goats. Forty bucks buys you a gift pack of three types: Bogart and Eden (both made from raw cow’s milk) and Madeleine (delicate and delicious, despite being described as “old goat”). There are pricier packages, too, and you can buy a whole wheel of the prize-winning Toussaint.
Old Chatham Sheepherding Company’s championship Camembert is divine, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
One frozen-solid, all-natural pheasant from Quattro’s Game Farm may not sound like a glamorous gift, but I’d be thrilled to get one (or two), beautifully wrapped in a cooler, all ready to defrost and cook for a New Year’s Eve dinner a deux. (Hint hint, Santa.) Quattro’s is an old-fashioned, family run operation, so you have to telephone: 845-635-2018.
Banana cream, lemon chiffon, blackberry, and that British Christmas favorite, mince, are among the two dozen sweet pies baked at Noble Pies in Warwick. Choose one, two or (my favorite) three for a gift basket.
All the teas at Harney & Sons are simply the best, trust me. You can order online, but it’s fun to go to the tasting room in Millerton and have a cuppa while you marvel at the array.
Flavored Oils and Vinegars
Go and sample some at Scarborough Fare in New Paltz, and browse the condiments while you’re at it. You don’t have to be a gourmand to enjoy a well-stocked pantry.
Chocolates from Oliver Kita
Show me a grinch who doesn’t like chocolate and I’ll show you a grinch who hasn’t tried a heavenly, hand-made morsel from Oliver Kita in Rhinebeck, or Heidi & Arthur in Valley Cottage, or Krause’s in Saugerties, or Vasilow’s in Hudson. Why not get a sample from each and have a tasting?
Nuts and Berries
At Pleasant Stone Farms in Middletown and Ellenville, you’ll find all manner of organic goodies, from chocolate to veggie dogs, along with the usual array of nuts and berries, herbs, spices, and specialties for those with gluten and other intolerances.
Jams and Chutneys
Beth’s Farm Kitchen in Stuyvesant Falls makes more than 90 flavors of jams and preserves, including yummy elderberry. Choose one or two for an inexpensive stocking stuffer, or go mad and get a dozen.
Dinner Somewhere Nice
A gift certificate to a good restaurant — or even a favorite local joint — is always appreciated. (Ed. note: Click here for a list of the Valley’s restaurants and eateries.)
OK, this is a present that should not be wrapped and placed under the tree, but I know a lot of foodies (with freezers) who’d really appreciate a portion of a local, humanely raised, pasture-fed, heritage-breed animal. Among the many farms that offer them are Elk Ravine in Amenia; Full Moon in Gardiner (where you can also get goat); and Turkana in Germantown.